Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Reivew - Rogue Prince - Theatre Coup d’Etat - Who Knew Falstaff Was Such A D*ck? - 4 stars

Given how captivated the movies have been with Shakespeare’s Henry IV, parts 1 and 2 over the years - from Orson Welles’ Chimes At Midnight to Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho - and considering how much damn Shakespeare I’ve seen over the years, you’d think I’d have run into Henry IV, either part, on stage by now, but nope.  So Theatre Coup d’Etat’s Rogue Prince (which I keep accidentally typing as Rouge Prince, which would be a completely different tale), provides a nice combo platter of both the Henry IVs plus a little sprinkling of Henry V to top things off and catch me up.  Should you see Rogue Prince?  I'd say yes.  It’s not perfect, but there are some great performances in it, and as with most Shakespeare, there’s some amazing material in it as well.

“God send the prince a better companion.”
“God send the companion a better prince.”

The adaptation by Gary Briggle (who also co-directs alongside Wendy Lehr) takes its cue from the Welles version, refocusing the story away from the larger “fate of kingdoms” framework, and zeroing in on Prince Hal (James Napoleon Stone) (who will eventually become the title character of Henry V) and his divided heart, pulled in one direction by his actual father, title character of the two King Henry IVs (Bruce Bohne), and his surrogate father (and bad influence) Sir John Falstaff (Gary Briggle, are you noticing a theme?). While father King Henry IV is trying to quell a rebellion spurred on by the righteous anger of Henry Percy (aka Hotspur) (Ben Shaw), and the treachery of the Earl of Worcester (Meg Bradley), Prince Hal is hitting the bars and the brothels with his trusty sidekick Poins (Damian Leverett) and Falstaff’s band of lowlifes and misfits (Corey de Dannan, Kaylyn Forkey, Anna Leverett, Don Maloney, Kjer Whiting, plus Meg Bradley and Ben Shaw - again).  Who will win on the literal battlefield, and who will win the battle for the soul of Prince Hal?  Those two conflicts turn out to be more entwined than you’d think.

“Can no man tell me of my unthrifty son?”

Coup d’Etat’s production isn’t just economical in the way it blends the two(ish) plays together into one full-length evening’s narrative, they’re also very economical in handling the sprawling cast of characters.  Seven members of the ensemble (Bradley, de Dannan, Forkey, both the Leveretts, Shaw, and Whiting) cover more than two dozen of the characters, so some aren’t just doing double duty, they get all the way up to sextuple duty.  Now the danger of this, if you’re not careful, is what I call “costume change acting” - where the actor maybe doesn’t make the different characters on their roster all that distinct from one another and so the costume change is doing a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of making the audience realize that the actor is a new person now.  Most of the cast is pretty good at avoiding this pitfall, and in fact, the real standouts in the ensemble are the ones who establish multiple characters with the greatest skill.

“A plague upon all cowards.  There live not three good men unhanged in all England.”

Meg Bradley couldn’t be more different as the treacherous Worcester, and the kindly but easily duped Dame Quickly, proprietress of Falstaff’s favorite tavern/brothel.  Ben Shaw goes from almost stealing the first act as the battle-hungry young Hotspur, to almost unrecognizable as the stoop-shouldered ancient Justice Shallow.  I actually had to double-check with the program to be sure it was the same actress, Anna Leverett, portraying both Hotspur’s wife Lady Percy, and the prostitute Doll Tearsheet, I honestly wasn’t sure she was the same person.  Likewise, even though Damien Leverett was physically recognizable as both the low-born trickster Poins, and Prince Hal’s younger brother (and Henry IV’s more dutiful son) Prince John, the way the actor physically carried himself in each role, down to the way his face was when at rest, was remarkably subtle and impressive work.

“Time has come to end the one of us.”

The triangle of a son torn between two fathers shows off all three actors well. Bruce Bohne’s tortured King Henry IV has all the regal bearing his son will, he hopes, someday acquire.  James Napoleon Stone does a fine job making Prince Hal’s transition from barhopping ne’er-do-well to warrior to leader of the nation seem smooth and gradual (even inevitable), rather than abrupt.  Gary Briggle is clearly having a ball as the dissolute Falstaff, diving into all the different sides of the role with real relish.

“The better part of valor is discretion.”

But Falstaff’s the problem here - not the actor, but the character.  Even though I hadn’t seen either of the Henry IVs previously (or the The Merry Wives of Windsor, in which Shakespeare brought Falstaff back from the dead, rumor has it, to please Queen Elizabeth I, who insisted on seeing the character again in a new play), the idea of Falstaff as a character (and character type) still looms so large in the collective public conscious (ok, for theater and Shakespeare nerds) that I had expectations.  Not that Falstaff would be an upstanding character with lots of redeemable qualities, I wasn’t that naive.  But I didn’t expect him to be horrible.

“Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.”

And he gets off easy in this adaptation.  In reviewing the full Henry IVs, I found out he does worse things than we even get to see in this version.  Honestly, maybe the current occupant of the White House has ruined liars for me but Falstaff’s such a bad liar, and a petty, abusive, self-serving, mean-spirited one, that I don’t find him a charming but lovable rascal.  I just think he’s a jerk.  I feel sorry for people like Dame Quickly and Doll Tearsheet who are constantly taken in and disappointed by him.  And again, this isn’t Briggle’s doing.  He didn’t write it, he just adapted it.  He’s doing a great job being just the sort of insufferable a**hole that Shakespeare put on paper.  I understand why a bunch of the other male characters in the play like him, though that doesn’t speak well of them either.  Falstaff isn’t without his own brand of charisma, it’s just not in service of a very nice human being.  Your mileage may vary.  The old goat didn’t get to be a beloved character of classical theater for nothing.  I just couldn’t stand the bastard.  And since his misadventures are such a huge chunk of the real estate of the play, it was sometimes hard for me to stay engaged and not think, “Oh not this guy again.” A lot.

“Call for music in the other room.”

Directors Briggle and Lehr use the basement space of the Calvary Baptist Church very well, setting the scenes in the royal court incorporating the actual stage space, including bringing the red curtain in and out to punctuate scene shifts (and give us a little comedy action in act two with heads popping out from behind them).  The audience is arranged in a U-shape down on the spacious floor space facing the stage, leaving a big open central area for setting up the bars where many of the characters spend their time, as well as space for battles (with some terrifying looking swords - everyone’s got a front row seat to the fighting choreographed by Adam Scarpello).  Mark Kieffer does a great job lighting an unconventional space.  Forest Godfrey’s sound design helps open up the world beyond the semi-circle of the audience and light.  Chelsea Wren Hanvy’s costume design gets us into another era, and helps populate the world with multiple characters that outnumber the actors.  Kudos to stage manager Sara Wolf for juggling all the multiple elements (and entrances and exits) of this world and keeping it moving.  The British accents threw me at first, but it is England after all, so thanks to dialect coach Jim Ahrens.  And when Doll decides to climb on top of Falstaff, I’m grateful there’s an intimacy coach on hand so thanks as well to Emma Van Vactor-Lee.

“Presume not I’m the thing I was.”

And while we’re on the subject of intimacy, a tip of the hat to Coup d’Etat for a production that sexually objectifies the men rather than the women for change.  The ladies get to keep their clothes while there are scenes in both acts featuring male characters spending much of their time shirtless.  And since they knew it was coming, the actors involved clearly put in the work to get ready.  The gay friend who accompanied me thanks you.  And I thank you.  (While I’m throwing around gender-related compliments, kudos for the cross-gender casting of so many of the smaller traditionally male roles with female actors. It gave a nice balance to the ensemble as a whole.)

“A good plot, good friends, and full of expectation.”

I’m sure those more familiar with the two parts of Henry IV will have their opinions on what was kept and what was cut, and in the current configuration it plays more like a prequel to Henry V than a story focused on his predecessor.  But Rogue Prince is a very accessible introduction to the material, and as previously stated, some great performances amidst what are sure to be polarizing characters and relationships.  A cure if you need a Shakespeare fix, full of heart and brains and guts all around (with the occasional torso thrown in for good measure).

(Theatre Coup d’Etat’s Rogue Prince runs through October 26, 2019 at the Calvary Baptist Church in Minneapolis.)

4 stars - Highly Recommended

[L-R: Henry IV (Bruce Bohne), Prince Hal (James Napoleon Stone), and Falstaff (Gary Briggle) - a young future leader torn between two father figures in Theatre Coup d'Etat's production of Rogue Prince - photo by Craig James Hosteler]

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Seeking Writers and Actors for Bi-weekly Playwriting Group

Want to give yourself a deadline for playwriting on a regular basis? 
Want to help develop new plays and read new work? 
We may have a group for you.

Writing group meeting every other Monday (7pm) in member homes to read and offer feedback on projects on which the playwrights are currently working.

Meetings run September to May (break for summer/Minnesota Fringe Festival season)

Looking for new blood, since both actors and writers tend to get busy in cycles sometimes and we like to have a regular core of people to keep the meetings well-attended and useful.

Material to be read could be scenes, could be an act, could be an entire draft. We also have the host of the week throw out a writing challenge, just in case people want to sharpen their teeth (or pencils, or keyboards?) on something random, or use it to help jumpstart them past writer's block.

We invite actor friends in to help us read (hence the call for actors as well as writers). All are welcome to offer constructive feedback - it's neither supposed to be a lovefest nor a feeding frenzy. We're here to get better, but also to support one another. The idea is to get better collectively, rather than at one another's expense. It's not a place for fragile egos or manufactured personal drama (drama on the page only, please).

Monday Group Manifesto

Six Things We Consider Important About The Group and How It Runs

-Monday Group will invite actors to attend meetings and read most roles. Matthew will be the point dude for inviting actors, but all members should feel free to invite actors if they want someone specific to read.

-Monday Group is and will remain a group of playwrights. While the focus is on writing plays, members may bring any work that can be performed. Long pieces of prose are not appropriate.

-Monday Group members will aim to bring work to every meeting they can attend. Group members who are not pursuing individual projects will do a homework exercise, designed by the host of the next meeting. Group members are, however, not to waste any time beating themselves up if they cannot always meet this goal.

-Monday Group will hold to the Roundtable guidelines for feedback, by beginning the discussion with positive remarks and moving on to offer constructive, specific criticism.

-Monday Group will recruit new members on a mentor system. If you have a candidate for a new group member, after ascertaining the candidate's interest, check in with the group about the person. If the group agrees, bring the new person to a meeting and be willing to serve as their guide.

-Monday Group is about supporting each other in our growth as writers. We want to be, and recruit, writers who can learn from each other's work, and who do work that is inspiring.

So if you’re interested in sitting in, reach out to Matthew online (blog, facebook, twitter, instagram, website, etc.)

Monday, August 12, 2019

Fringe 2019 - Shows with 4.5 and 5 stars - Very Highly Recommended


A Cult Classic - Sheep Theater - Southern Theater

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe - A Cult Classic: Sheep Theater does it again; a pitch-black, dark comedy about an inept doomsday cult that can't seem to kill themselves (like they want to) when the time is upon them; doesn't sound funny, but it's hilarious - 5 stars

A Man’s Guide for Appropriate Behavior in the 21st Century - One T Productions (Scot Froelich) - Augsburg Studio

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: A Man’s Guide To Appropriate Behavior in the 21st Century: amazing panels of different speakers on different topics in each performance examining questions of white male privilege, in search of answers; compelling stuff - 5 stars

 A Tension To Detail - That's Enough Drama (Gerard Harris) - Ritz Theater Mainstage

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: A Tension To Detail: hilarious UK stand-up comedian @gerardharris spinning awkward, high velocity tales of his pre-comedy days (he asked for no spoilers :), much welcome and needed laughter - 5 stars

Adventures While Black in Great Britain - Les Kurkendaal Barrett - Rarig Thrust

Tweet Review - 2019 #MNFringe: Adventures While Black in Great Britain: Les Kurkendaal-Barrett has an uncanny ability to package the recent events of his life into irresistible storytelling, and he's at it again, on just 24 hours' notice (a story for another year) - 5 stars

All Is Bright - Shelby Company - Mixed Blood Theater

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: All Is Bright - @ShelbyCompany and playwright Dan Moyer return with a character study of three (seeming) losers finding themselves at a turning point during a drunken Santa pub crawl; gorgeous, funny and a little sad - 5 stars

2nd visit - 2019 #MNFringe: All Is Bright: return visit to this @ShelbyCompany play by Dan Moyer; script so rich in both jokes and character, I discover new things each time I see it; like spending time with a dear old friend; coming back Sunday, too - 5 stars

3rd visit - 2019 #MNFringe: All Is Bright: one last dance w/@ShelbyCompany before they head back to NYC; a 3rd visit to these characters, these actors and this play was a wonderful way to spend the middle of closing day; Dan Moyer’s a hell of a writer - 5 stars

Beowulf (John Heimbuch, Charlie Bethel) - Rarig Arena

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Beowulf: John Heimbuch channels the storytelling spirit of the late Charlie Bethel by presenting Bethel's one person adaptation of the legend; notions of the fragility of life take on greater weight in this context; still a rousing tale - 5 stars

Bo and Howie Are DTF (Defining Their Friendship) - Bo (Kinney) and Howie (Hamlin) Have a Theater Company - Strike Theater

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Bo and Howie are DTF (Defining Their Friendship) - best thing I saw all day; an unexpected delight; a madcap, scattershot assortment of meditations on a friendship on the cusp of major change; sneakily heartfelt among all the absurdity - 5 stars

2nd visit - 2019 #MNFringe: a return trip to see the final performance of Bo and Howie Are DTF (Defining Their Friendship): just as entertaining the second time, and just as moving; two friends actually saying goodbye, parting ways (for now) as this Fringe show ends (sigh)

Booth’s Ghost - Andrew Erskine Wheeler - Ritz Mainstage

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Booth’s Ghost: new (hell, ALL) actors and writers, take note; THIS is how you do it; how you create different characters with only one person, how you use and fill a space w/your voice and presence; how you tell a story - 5 stars
Botanical Dancing - LC Creations (Lily Conforti) - Southern Theater

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe - Botanical Dancing: what a fun, joyous little dance party that was; dancers conveying the love of what they do directly to the audience without saying a word, just moving (and painting) with their bodies, delightful - 5 stars

Fool Muun Komming! [BeBgWunderful/ YEsyes/ 4sure.Hi5. TruLuv; SpankSpank: SOfun_Grate_Times] - Sam Kruger - Mixed Blood Theater

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Fool Muun Komming - resists description, so it's kind of untweetable, but... remarkable physical work and engagement of the audience by a human performer pretending not to be human; dazzling, odd, unexpectedly sweet, very Fringey - 5 stars

Followup tweet Tuesday 8/6: 2019 #MNFringe: only two more chances to see Fool Muun Komming, and one of them's tonight Tues 8/6 at 8:30pm (the other is Sunday 8/11 at 2:30pm); catch him while you can, you shouldn't miss this oddball

2nd visit - 2019 #MNFringe: Fool Muun Komming: a return visit to our strange but charming alien visitor; when he asked for a dance partner at the end, I thought, “What the hell? It’s been a weird week” He’s very good at making you feel safe, I’m glad I volunteered - 5 stars

Frankenstein: Two Centuries - Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society (Shanan Custer, Joshua English Scrimshaw, Tim Uren, Eric Webster, Joe Weismann) - Rarig Thrust

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Frankenstein: Two Centuries, the folks at the Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society conjure two monster tales in two different styles, doing their own sound FX while you listen (and watch); old-fashioned fun for all - 5 stars

Game of Toms: One-Man Game of Thrones - Tom Reed - Rarig Thrust

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Game of Toms: One-Man Game of Thrones, finds @tbreed condensing 8 seasons of TV nudity and bloodshed down to 1 hour of hilarious songs, impressions, shirtlessness, and piles of bright red handkerchiefs; he sweats because he cares - 5 stars

Get Thee Behind Me Santa: An Inexcusably Filthy Children’s Time-Travel Farce for Adults Only - Maximum Verbosity (phillip andrew bennett low) - Rarig Xperimental

Tweet review - 2019 #mnfringe: Get Thee Behind Me, Santa: just as blasphemous, obscene and hilarious as it warns you it’s gonna be; PABL is just as smart and crazy a storyteller as he’s ever been; just the laughs and mind-bending I needed - 5 stars

Kind of Funny but Also a Little Sad - The Importance Of Being Fotis (Rita Boersma, Mike Fotis, Heather Meyer) - TRP

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Kind of Funny But Also a Little Sad: couldn’t have put myself in better hands for the final show for this Fringe than Rita Boersma, Mike Fotis, and Heather Meyer; laughing in the face of the absurdity of life and the oncoming train of mortality - 5 stars
Mad As Nell: or How To Lose a Bly in Ten Days - Rinky Dink Productions (Josh Carson) - Rarig Thrust

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Mad As Nell, or How To Lose a Bly In Ten Days - God bless @JoshDCarson and his many madcap compatriots; I needed some laughs that also fully engaged my brain at the end of a long Monday, and as usual, they provide - 5 stars

 Manic Impressive - Tristan Miller - Ritz Studio

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: to be brief, @TristanJMiller1’s stand-up show Manic Impressive was... both :) An entertaining, informative and quite circuitous tour through a brain that can make his life challenging sometimes - 5 stars

Operation: Immigration - Wandering Jew Productions (Avi Aharoni) - Mixed Blood Theater

Tweet review - 2019 #mnfringe: Operation: Immigration - celebration by a son of his late father; story of 3 countries, 3 cultures, 3 families; fascinating personal work from a ridiculously charismatic actor - 5 stars

Queer Circus - Silver Slipper Productions - Rarig Arena

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Queer Circus: I was honestly a little worried I might not be queer enough for this circus, but fear not, they welcome everyone; be prepared for a lot of flesh, but also a lot of fun; it’s a big show in a Fringe-sized package - 5 stars

Quiet Riot - Broken Box Mime Theater - Augsburg Mainstage

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Quiet Riot - @BrokenBoxMime serves up a few of their greatest silent hits from the origins of the universe to the first meeting that led to a wedding to kids' adventures in and out of a role playing game (and more); clever and fun - 5 stars

Reclaiming My Time - Jezebel Theater Company (Callie Meiners) - Crane Theater

Tweet review - 2019 #mnfringe: Reclaiming My Time: compelling personal stories of people finding their voice, in work, relationships, family, medicine and more; powerfully acted, uplifting theater - 5 stars

Relic - Jesse Factor - Crane Theater

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Relic - dancer Jesse Factor channels Joan Crawford so precisely and completely, I actually forgot it was a male body dancing onstage; mesmerizing; some of the best dance at the Fringe this year - 5 stars

Size - Sommerville Productions - Theatre in the Round Players

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe - Size: a compelling, moving, frequently laugh out loud celebration of human beings of all shapes and sizes; just as much a barn-burner as last year's Not Fair My Lady. Mom would've loved this one (sigh) - 5 stars

SplitScreen - Sterling Melcher and Meg Kirchhoff - Crane Theater
Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: SplitScreen: absolutions charming dance duo, one in MSP, one in PHL, connected by computers, video and internet, collaborating with audiences to explore and reshuffle a whimsical dance piece - 5 stars

Stoopidity - Ian McCarthy, Michael McKitt, Domino D'Lorion - Rarig Xperimental

Tweet review - 2019 #mnfringe - Stoopidity: best thing I saw Thurs.; mix of scenes, spoken word, movement, rap, w/drag show thrown in at the end, great performances to match material; hard to summarize, important to see - 5 stars

Which Middle Name of ‘Philip Seymour Hoffman’ Are You? - alleged Theatre Company - Ritz Studio

Tweet review - 2019 MNFringe: Which Middle Name of Philip Seymour Hoffman Are You? - such a fun, odd, razor-sharp bit of satirical comedy writing, breathless performance, and audience interaction; just wonderfully absurd - 5 stars

Write Me A Song - The Salvage Project (Jeromy Darling) - Augsburg Studio
(I saw this twice the last time it was here)

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe - Write Me A Song: just a tiny little miracle of creation in every performance; audience collaborates with singer-songwriter to create a brand new song in less than an hour; fascinating and fun (3rd time seeing it, woud go again) - 5 stars

Tweet re-review - 2019 #MNFringe: Write Me A Song (yeah, I already saw it, I went back again 8/8); this time Jeromy's friend Curt and his keyboard were subbing in, so I got a new experience in the same format after all; a welcome break from the swirl of everything else - still, 5 stars

Xena and Gabrielle Smash the Patriarchy - Mermaid Productions - TRP

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Xena and Gabrielle Smash the Patriarchy: nothing wrong with fan service, especially when it has good points to make, and is so damn smart and entertaining doing so; not even guilty, just a pleasure - 5 stars

You Are Cordially Invited to the Life and Death of Edward Lear - The Winding Sheet Outfit - Crane Theater

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: You Are Cordially Invited to the Life and Death of Edward Lear: what a gift this show was; a delicate balance of whimsical and melancholy; a meditation on the fleeting nature of life and theater, what we leave behind and who tells that story; wow - 5 stars


Ancient Future Division: Battle for the Existence Yeti - 5th Wheel Productions - Southern Theater
(2019 Fringe Top 20, #15 - reasons why)

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Ancient Future Division: Battle for the Existence Yeti - a beguiling and odd twist on sci fi tropes that was even funnier (and better) than I expected; some rough edges but still a cut way above most other spoofs; solid work - 4.5 stars

At Ladders, Inc. - Virginia Twins - Rarig Arena

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: at Ladders, Inc.: new dance/movement group Virginia Twins creates a whimsical office environment where ladders can be anything, and performers can do almost anything; curious to see what they tackle next - 4.5 stars

The Bisexual Unicorn and Other Mythological Creatures - Jena Young Productions - Theatre in the Round Players (TRP)

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: The Bisexual Unicorn and Other Mythological Creatures - circus tricks accompanying queer confessionals were a strangely good fit; sometimes one element stronger than the other but overall, an impressive showcase of humanity - 4.5 stars

Chorus - Michael Rogers - Rarig Thrust

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Chorus - it's so tricky using music in a non-musical theater piece; could overwhelm words, make them redundant, serve up sentiment you haven't earned; Michael Rogers and Co. come really close to getting it right (and I may have been watching it wrong) - 4.5 stars

A Confederate Widow In Hell - Breaker/Fixer Productions (Willi Carlisle, Joseph Fletcher) - Southern Theater

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe - A Confederate Widow In Hell: just like the title says (though a man in drag), along with her headless companion, take a tour of the sins of the South, not really buried that deeply; lot to think about here, but brilliantly executed - 4.5 stars

Moon River - Ducdame Theatre (Paige Quinlivan) - Ritz Studio

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Moon River - charming teen lesbian couple caught up in alternate reality 1950s where the moon has disappeared from the sky; strong cast, unusual script that didn’t quite stick the landing for me, but still liked it a lot - 4.5 stars

Nerd Rage! The Great Debates - Wonder Dave and Komedio Comedy - Crane Theater

Tweet reveiw - 2019 #MNFringe: Nerd Rage! The Great Debates: Chewbacca vs. Mr. Spock for best sidekick; Oxford Comma, yes or no; Letterkenny vs. Willow (any of them); spirited debates of good will (some better informed than others); fun improv - 4.5 stars

War Stories - Human Beans - Augsburg Studio

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: War Stories: fascinating work in progress about young man and woman, both seduced by the same teacher, bonding and ultimately doing a full-on dance number together; wild study in opposites, cheerful and raging - 4.5 stars

For a quick list of links to my other postings, check out lists of 5 and 4.5 star shows, 4 star shows, 3 and 3.5 star shows, and shows with 2.5 stars or less; also my Top 10 and Top 11-20 new Fringe artists to check out for Fringe 2019.  There's also Returning Favorites, and Fringe Shows I Just Can't Watch Right Now, but You Probably Should.  If you want to keep me company, during my first Fringe without Mom, I'll be posting my schedule here.  Also, here's some links if you want to hit all the Fringe 2019 blog posts, or see the full Fringe Archive from years past (just keep scrolling down, or hit the different years in the archive listing for the full blog on the right side of the screen and zero in on July and August)

Fringe 2019 - Shows with 4 stars - Highly Recommended


Beat. - W.A.R. Theater - Crane Theater

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Beat. - murder among the circle of friends at the heart of the Beat movement in literature, catchy premise; women playing male roles, intriguing convention; compelling ensemble work leading to... yet another gay panic killing (sigh) - 4 stars

Mighty Real - Marvel Ann Theatre - Augsburg Mainstage

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Mighty Real: a bunch of white gay guys from various decades swapping stories at closing time at a piano bar; kind of meanders but it’s a pleasant enough way to pass an hour - 4 stars

The Overview Effect - Octoberdandy Productions (Jen Scott, Eric Heiberg, Damian Johnson) - Strike Theater

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: The Overview Effect - not really about space, this time, but it’s improv comedy so they might leave the atmosphere at some point :) Randomly chosen astronaut quotes launched earthbound stories of transition - 4 stars

Plaid Tales - no way theatre (Melody DeRogatis, Ruby Carlson, Isaac Dean Quick)- Rarig Thrust

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Plaid Tales: I root hard for plays like this, where gay characters aren’t traumatized by just being gay, and manage a happy ending; solid cast; but the time jumps weren’t clear, exposition and repetition were a big problem; good start, just needs work - 4 stars

Sandcastles - Emma Wick - Ritz Studio

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Sandcastles: first-time solo storyteller Emma Wick acquits herself well with a charming funny tale of trying to make peace with life never quite measuring up to childhood plans - 4 stars

Swords and Sorcery: The Improvised Fantasy Campaign - The Bearded Company - Theatre In The Round Players (TRP)

Tweet review - 2019 #mnfringe: Swords and Sorcery: saw the final episode last time, this time I got to see how they started a story; success or failure improvised to the roll of a 20-sided die; good fun - 4 stars

Tess Jones, Space Archeologist - MDK Productions (Michael D. Krefting) - Rarig Arena

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Tess Jones, Space Archaeologist - enjoyable feminist spin on a radio show sci-fi adventure serial hero; some performances better than others, but SO great to have Laura Bidgood back on a Fringe stage again - 4 stars

Wilhemina and Theodore’s Exquisite Victorian Adventure - Fearless Comedy Productions - TRP

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Wilhelmina and Theodore’s Exquisite Victorian Adventure: this Bill and Ted steampunk spoof is super clever and riffs nicely off the plot; but the comic timing was off; would have been a lot funnier if the pace was brisker; still, good stuff - 4 stars

For a quick list of links to my other postings, check out lists of 5 and 4.5 star shows, 4 star shows, 3 and 3.5 star shows, and shows with 2.5 stars or less; also my Top 10 and Top 11-20 new Fringe artists to check out for Fringe 2019.  There's also Returning Favorites, and Fringe Shows I Just Can't Watch Right Now, but You Probably Should.  If you want to keep me company, during my first Fringe without Mom, I'll be posting my schedule here.  Also, here's some links if you want to hit all the Fringe 2019 blog posts, or see the full Fringe Archive from years past (just keep scrolling down, or hit the different years in the archive listing for the full blog on the right side of the screen and zero in on July and August)