Saturday, August 03, 2013

Minnesota Fringe Festival - Review - Bidgood to BidGREAT - Bid-great Indeed

Tweet review - Bidgood To BidGREAT indeed. Laura Bidgood goes solo and owns the stage with her stories like we knew she would - 4 stars

It's hard to find new things to say about how much I enjoy Laura Bidgood telling me stories.  I've liked her since I first saw her in Two Queers And A Chubby back in Fringe 2006.  I said then that "she is brilliant and gorgeous and funny without ceasing" and that assessment holds true, lo, these seven years later.  Until now, she always had her trusty sidekick Curt Lund next to her onstage during Fringe season.  This year, since Curt's getting himself an MBA, Laura has crafted a solo show all her own, Bidgood to BidGREAT: Bumps and Blunders On The Boulevard To Brilliance.  Not that there was any doubt, but an hour of Laura is just as entertaining as a half-hour of Laura.

"I've never been good at instigating fights but I'm very good at supporting them."

The basic structure of a Curt and Laura show was - Introductory patter by the two of them, then alternating stories from each one of them, several times in turn, with either a closing story by one of them, or closing patter with the two of them.  Simple and effective.  Here, it's just Laura.  The introduction here was briefer, basically providing context for the uninitiated and fans alike - "Why am I up here on stage all by myself?"  She assured us that she and Curt had not broken up, and thus, ladies looking for a gay would need to look elsewhere, for Curt is still hers.

"I love the French horn more than I will ever love you!"

Laura offered up a variety of stories, taking us from her childhood up to the present day, though this is hardly an autobiographical one person show in any traditional sense.  We hear of Laura as a young girl, perhaps more fearful of things than she should be.  We learn about how Laura's twin sister helped her stand her ground against their rather territorial terror of a next door neighbor girl.  Laura details the ups and downs of her brushes with musical instruments, and how she wanted to throw over the violin for the French Horn.  A mandatory "fun" outing orchestrated by the boss at one of her day jobs results in an afternoon of inept curling sportsmanship.  Overly enthusiastic friends predict and impending marriage proposal for her, making a couple's weekend away with her boyfriend a tad more awkward than it needs to be.  Late for work, Laura's hastily assembled outfit includes a difficult pair of sagging tights that cause her journey downtown to be more eventful than planned.

"My luscious booty, or as I like to call it, The Point of No Return."

Laura Bidgood's tales are refreshingly free of neuroses.  If there's a potentially embarrassing situation, public or private, Laura just rolls with it.  She refuses to let anything drag her down.  She compares herself to no one else's ideals of what a woman should act or look like.  Laura is her own standard of measure.  It's a refreshing way to go through life, but few of us do it.  So it makes it that much more enjoyable to immerse yourself in an hour of what it's like to go through life like Laura Bidgood does.  There is absurdity, there is humor.  There are no real villains, just the challenge of getting over yourself.

"Kidnappers, hiding in her closet with a bag of candy.  Or worse, kidnappers without a bag of candy."

It's always struck me as odd that the stories which Laura tells, collectively, don't add up to more.  It feels as if they should.  Right now, they're comic snapshots in a photo album.  They may be grouped together in some general way, but there isn't a larger narrative that ties them together.  I'm not saying there needs to be in order for the stories to be enjoyable.  One can partake of the stories like individual candies from a larger box, samples of the inner workings of Laura's comedic mind and the way it shapes the events of life into amusing anecdotes.  One of the hardest things to do in life sometimes is to keep going, and maintain your sense of humor while you're about it.  Laura has that skill down.

"Obviously he's going to propose to me in the hot tub."

And now that Laura also has the ability to craft and deliver her own solo show, maybe that "big picture" photo collage is just around the corner.  Laura Bidgood never fails to entertain me.  Part of me still can't help but wonder if one of these days she's also just going to blow my mind.  She's just that kind of woman.  She always has been.  While I'm waiting and wondering, I'm more than happy to just have the pleasure of her company, taking an hour and spinning some stories.  BidGREAT comes of all shapes and sizes - this Fringe show is just one of her many examples.

4 Stars, Highly Recommended

Next performance, TODAY, Saturday 8/3 at 5:30pm
Visit her Fringe show page for more information

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