Friday, August 03, 2018

Fringe 2018 - Review - Fringe Orphans 4: Back in the Habit - 3 stars

tweet review - #mnfringe show 3 - Fringe Orphans 4 - be prepared for unicorn sex; be prepared to be asked to facilitate unicorn sex; and a 3-legged chair; and the feds cracking down on a girl's lemonade stand, and more - 3 stars

They saved most of the best for last in Fringe Orphans 4: Back In The Habit.  The last three segments in Fringe Orphans this time around were a great way to end the performance.  And there was one standout segment not long before them that kept the energy up and the laughs coming so we could get there.  The strength and weakness of the Fringe Orphans format is that it’s a bunch of shorts.  The whole is not always the sum of its parts.  Some parts are stronger than others.  Fringe Orphans gives Fringe artists who didn’t get a show of their own a place to mount some material and be part of the festival.  It also gives ideas that aren’t enough to sustain a full Fringe hour a chance to see the light of day.  Sometimes a one-joke premise is just a one-joke premise.  Nothing wrong with that.  Best not to overstay your welcome, or milk the material after it’s gone dry.

“A bad date is a lot like chlamydia…”

The standout earlier in the roster is David Schlosser’s Gay Dating 101.   It’s a funny and vicious collection of gay dating cliches expounded by a world-weary instructor (Schlosser, both writer and performer).  Leading us to the finish line are the trio of Lemonade Stand (written by phillip andrew bennett low, directed by Jenna Papke), I Feel Like Something’s Missing (created and performed by Kirsten Stephens), and The Sad Unicorn (written by Duck Washington, directed by Kari Elizabeth Godfrey).  Lemonade Stand finds a government inspector (Heidi Berg) clamping down on a little girl (Duck Washington) and her unlicensed lemonade business.  I Feel Like Something’s Missing was the inspired physical work of mime Kirsten Stephens interacting (and seeming to defy gravity) with a chair that’s missing a leg, and yet still balancing on the remaining three.  The Sad Unicorn explored the comic dilemma of a magical creature only seen by virgins (Washington again), who then loses the ability to see his girlfriend unicorn (Alison Anderson) the second they finally have sex.  The audience, who the unicorns both assume is an enormous collection of virgins, since we can see them, must then help the two communicate and, er, commune more intimately.

“Hello there, little girl.”
“Hey there, mister.”

The production also includes pieces by Heidi Berg (in a dazzling costume full of lights), writing and performing her own piece entitled D0C3NT, where a virtual reality tour guide informs us we humans were warned about how technology would change our lives; Tom S. Tea performing a spoken word piece about a troubling museum tour with their mother, entitled The Comedic Formula; and a running gag duo of Jena Young and Brynn Berryhill entitled Backstage Ballyhoo, where (I think) a mime fruitlessly pursues a stage manager trying to get their attention while dealing with things like costumes, and a box full of Actor’s Issues,  reappearing between each of the other scenes and letting us know when the show has run its course. There’s also a surprise fakeout in the middle of all this that I won’t spoil.

“Do not go someplace [on a date] you have slept with the staff.”

Fringe Orphans 4, like those before it, is another grab bag of entertaining bits and pieces assorted into a show that only works when the scene you’re watching works.  Most of the time, that’s enough to get it through.  If you’re looking for a change of pace that’s not all one thing or another for an hour, to sort of resettle or re-scramble your Fringe brain for whatever comes next, Fringe Orphans is the sort of thing you want to slap into your schedule.

3 Stars - Good Job

Here's some handy links to my full Top 10, Top 11-20 and Returning Favorites lists.

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