Secrets of the Little Yellow Diary

So I’m trying to do my first car-less Fringe, which means that I spent Monday asking anyone I happened to run into if they’d give me a ride to whatever they’re seeing next. I ended up at the Ritz, and got a humbling lesson in just how far out of the loop I am — because I hadn’t heard a damn thing about this show, and the house was packed.

It’s extraordinarily well-done — the performer is one of the old guard of musical theatre in the Twin Cities — but I can’t say I cared much for the content, which seemed to consist of adapting a bunch of diary entries by a thirteen-year-old girl into song-and-dance numbers. I spent the first fifteen minutes wondering when the play was going to start, then looked at everyone laughing around me and realized that this was the play.

This kind of entertainment really hinges on nostalgia, and it rarely works for me — my childhood didn’t resemble this. Being a pre-teen isn’t something I recall fondly, and it’s not something I really have any desire to go back to. So watching someone relive these fond memories is, I imagine, like watching someone have either a religious revelation or a mind-shattering orgasm — they’re only interesting unless you’re actually having one, and if you’re not, the experience is just kind of frustrating. In fact, watching this show, I felt the way that I often do reading Jane Austen or watching Beavis and Butt-Head — I recognize that the characters I’m seeing are intended to be held up to ridicule. But that doesn’t mean that I really enjoy spending time in their company.

Plus, watching a grown woman gallivanting about in a pair of pink pajamas — I found myself wondering whether this kind of romanticization of childhood is really healthy. But that’s a broader issue, I suppose.

So, I wrote a bunch of stuff that makes it sound like I hated it, and that’s not really true. I didn’t really laugh, although the packed house was guffawing throughout. And I’m troubled by some of the undercurrents of this kind of theatre. But she’s a phenomenally talented singer/dancer, and musical theatre groupies will have a real goldmine of material to enjoy. I’m just, y’know, not really one of them.

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