Thursday, July 28, 2022

Fringe 2022 - Promising Preview (1 of 3) - She’s Already Gone

The handy thing about Fringe previews is that sometimes, there’s a couple of shows that hadn’t really been on your radar yet, but seeing a little snippet of the performance makes you think, “Hmmm, I’d actually like to see the rest of that.”  Second night of Fringe previews had three of those for me.

She’s Already Gone - Laura Dierke Productions

In 1940s Belgium, Maria is trapped somewhere she doesn't recognize. Unable to reach her boyfriend, she forms a tense alliance with her neighbor Dorothy as she slowly uncovers that things are not what they seem.

The song is what got my attention.  It’s hard to tell in the video of the preview, and was also a challenge in the room at the time because (previews being a scramble) the volume of the keyboard accompaniment in that big room overpowered the vocalist just a bit.  When they actually do the show itself, in the much smaller Augsburg MainStage space, they’ll have time to get the sound levels in balance, the space to fill will be smaller and the audience will be closer.  But even with all that, the thing that caught me was the lyrics of the song.

Sometimes with new musicals, the words and the music don’t exactly sync up.  They have to stretch a word, or pronounce it funny, or (as Mom would say) put emPHAsis on the wrong sylLABle to make things fit properly.  You can see the seams of the thing straining to fit together.  Not the case here, they ably avoided that pitfall.  Here there were a lot of words as the character is writing/reciting a letter to her absent boyfriend, but it never gets out of control or off track, and the lyrics also aren’t just marking time between words that rhyme either.  There’s information conveyed in the song that helps set the situation and help our understanding.  And that’s only half-hearing the thing.

Digging into their show page after previews, I was surprised to see most of the people involved in the show are still in high school (wouldn’t have been my first guess - I did realize they were young, just not quite that young).  That includes the writer, the director, and most of the cast.  It’s also clearly a Dierke family endeavor, since that’s a last name common to a lot of the people listed on the cast and crew page.

The promo video on their show page is also intriguing - an old big band song from the WWII era, black and white photography, a girl in period dress writing and mailing a letter (though I have to admit, given the reference to camps in the Fringe preview, the shots of the girl walking along train tracks seem a bit more ominous now).


For a few years a while back, the Fringe specifically set aside spots for a special sub-lottery for what they called Teen Fringe - this show would definitely fall in that category.  And I was always fascinated by these shows because you could tell they were done by people who were new to theater mostly because they hadn’t had years of people telling them “You can’t do that on stage” yet.  So they would do the craziest stuff.  Just unexpected, swing for the fences, wild narrative and presentational strategies.  It was just fun seeing artists play around with (or beyond) the limits of what most theater normally does.  Just people seeing what new things theater might be capable of.

In this case, it looks like they’ve decided to do a supernatural musical set in World War II Europe?!  Nazis and camps are mentioned, though thankfully we’re spared gray prison garb with yellow stars, the costumes are all quite colorful.  Also, the show image shows a young woman dressed for the kitchen, but chained up (interestingly, my brain kept deciding not to see that last part).  The title "She’s Already Gone" would seem to imply that perhaps someone is already dead and just doesn’t know it yet?  Maybe you can’t get in touch with your boyfriend because you’re not living on the same plane of existence anymore.  That’s just a wild guess, I’m probably wrong, it was a three minute preview.  It’s tagged as a mystery and the synopsis includes the phrase “things are not what they seem,” so it could end up going literally anywhere by the time it’s done.  But singing concentration camp ghosts would definitely be a new one.

I actually made a point of walking up to them after the previews were over and getting one of their postcards.  They’re right in that West Bank hub of venues so it should be easy to make it part of the schedule.  Could be fantastic, could be a total trainwreck.  But I’m super curious about this one.



(You can click on the following links to see a set of links to the full Top 10 list, the Top 11-20 list, a list of returning favorites, and the full coverage of the 2022 Fringe on this blog.) 

(Side note: Also during Fringe season, Minnesota has a primary election coming up on August 9th.  Early voting options are currently available.  You can also check out what's on your ballot ahead of time on the Minnesota Secretary of State website, as well as other voting services and information.  In Minneapolis, not only do we have the Governor and Lt. Governor on the ballot, but there's our U.S. Congressional Rep., our MN State Senator, the MN Secretary of State and MN Attorney General, as well as our County Sheriff and County Attorney, and two members of the Minneapolis School Board.  These are the people who decide what laws we live under and how they get enforced.  These are the people who decide whether or not we have voting rights.  These are the people who decide how our kids learn.  This is how we change things.  Personally, I'm alternately furious and despairing that my goddaughter and her little sister now have fewer rights over their own bodies than they did a month ago - there are things we can do, voting in the primary (and the general election) is one of them - here's a place you can go to do more.)



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