People who have been following my writing for a while know this already, so I’ll get it out of the way right now — I honestly believe that Dean Hatton is one of the most remarkable artists in the Twin Cities, and I’ve plugged the hell out of his work at every available opportunity. I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with him on numerous occasions, and that’s been a direct result of my admiration for his work — not the other way around.
Having put that out of the way, I’d like to add that I think that this is one of his best shows. So much of the struggle of Dean’s work is that he’s such a perfectionist — it takes him a while to generate material, and he can’t simply churn out sketches and stories the way that a lot of us can. But he’s hit a point in his career where he’s developed so *much* that he can start building shows out of the dozens of sketches he has lying around.
The individual sketches are, as always, solid. But what he’s been able to do with this one is combine them into something with a certain thematic resonance. Make no mistake, this is sketch comedy, with little or no actual *plot* tying the pieces together — but he’s now able to set pieces alongside each other in such a way that they create an emotional arc, beginning in one place and ending in another. He’s able to truly craft a world, one with its own laws of physics and governed by its own internal logic, that — within the context of a spiritual festival — generates not only an entertaining collection, but a somewhat coherent worldview, as well.
Which makes this all sound dreadfully serious, but it’s not. I was laughing consistently from beginning to end, and I’m confident that most audiences will. But I do want to draw some attention to the fact that, for those so inclined, there’s a lot of careful thought taking place underneath the surface of that, as well. I really can’t recommend this highly enough.