Fringe-for-All #1

Hey hey — thoughts on another series of previews, and another one I was involved in — both of my pieces were in the first act, however. (I didn’t anticipate being able to get in, but fortunately — well, for me — the theater wasn’t sold out, and I was able to slip in for the second half.)

One thing that definitely struck me was the number of people taking copious notes — schedules and programmes open in their laps, notating carefully show-by-show. People are really visibly using these to determine what interests them. As for whether or not you agree my own thoughts? Most of these previews should be up on the Fringe site in the next couple of days, so you’re welcome to check them out for yourself.

Nightmare Man by Studio Alathea Productions

I actually had a brief conversation with the performer backstage, in which he outlined some of the interesting stuff they were attempting to do with this. My impression of the performance was mixed: some of the levels didn’t seem that well-balanced, and his voice dropped beneath the music several times, causing me to miss what he was saying. On the other hand, I found the music and vocals themselves to be reasonably interesting, with him pushing his voice up into some very raw and ragged places at moments of tension. I’m a huge fan of horror, so I’ll probably check this out if I get the chance — I’m curious to see if the vocal tension is something that’s sustained throughout the performance.

The Devil Wears 9/11 by John Ervin

Urk. Okay, the performance was fine, with a performer who seemed to really listen to his audience and respond to them well. That said, I don’t really see myself in the audience for this: the character was essentially a right-wing cartoon, spouting monstrosities to draw gasps and laughter from a left-wing audience — it’s the kind of comedy that, in many respects, seems to me to revolve around allowing the left-wing audience to feel superior. There could easily be much, much more to the show than this, but the preview, I’m afraid, didn’t do much to suggest that to me, and since I sit through about a dozen of these shows at every Fringe Festival I go to, I’m inclined to give this one a miss.

Callahan and Lingo presents: The Last Ditch by ACM Productions

Full disclosure: I’m a member of a storytelling group with both of these performers, and have worked with them extensively over the years.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was “Take the worst aspect of your show, and turn it into your marketing hook.” This is one of the clearest illustrations of that idea I’ve seen: they learned that they would be in the Festival within the last week, and they chose to lead with that, in a piece that was sharp, funny, and clear. What it does is showcase their strengths: dry comedy writing and delivery, and a playful back-and-forth with each other — while confronting their obvious weakness (their significant lack of development time) head-on. It’s really the best possible way it could have been approached; hats-off.

License by The Black Butterfly

So this is a company that caught my eye early on, despite their lack of marketing material (and I just pulled up their Fringe site, and, ugh, that is one big wall of undifferentiated text), and I was quite taken by their last preview, which I wrote up here. So what were my impressions this time around?

Much more hesitant, certainly. A different combination of characters, this time around — a mopey indie poet-type amazing a stuffy businessman with some remarkably shallow, posturing language. And there’s two ways this could go: if this show is about ridiculing the pomposity of both of them, that’s something pretty clever that I could really groove on. On the other hand, if this turns out to be a story about the wise artist teaching the stuffy businessman to unlock his inner healing through the power of awful fucking poetry, then that sounds like something really horrific to sit through. It was not clear to me which direction the show is ultimately going from the preview, and I remain — particularly in conjunction with their previous preview — intrigued, if cautious.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Dr. Jekyll by Tim Uren

More disclosure: I’ve also worked with Tim quite a bit.

This is a show that was pretty much a gimme for me: I think the premise is brilliant (a Dr. Jekyll who only *thinks* that he’s transformed into a monster), and it’s put together by one of the finest local monologists and comedians.

If anything, I was surprised at how, er, not-funny the preview was — not that it was trying to be funny and failing, but that it was just a fairly detailed look a neurotic nebbish, with little in the way *jokes*, persay. (Although there were several effectively comic moments of him repeatedly undercutting himself, that wasn’t really what drove the monologue.) If anything, more interested.

Rambler Family Ramblers Final Christmas Reunion Spectacular by OAFtrax Productions

So here was my first really pleasant surprise of the night, a show that wouldn’t have landed on my radar if I hadn’t seen it previewed. This was definitely an example of being more interested in the singer than the song — I didn’t find much of what he was *saying* to be terribly compelling, but was totally engaged by the *way* he told it. He has a fine sense of comic timing, and there’s actually some fairly clever, subtle writing going on here (bits of self-revelation taking place in his own storytelling). Yes, interested now.

Once Upon a CSI by Theatre of the Cheshire Cat

So here’s a preview that I saw, and it was fine, but — it didn’t really do much to convey to me exactly what the show was about that I couldn’t already have gleaned from the title. I mean, if the comedy emerges purely from the mix of incongruous elements (in this case, CSI and faery-tales) — I just saw that, surely? I’m sure there’s more, but I simply don’t know what it might be.

A Good-Natured Gut by LS Dance Collaborative

More disclosure: I have a history of collaborating with dancers, and had the pleasure of directing Liz Schoenborn (one of the dancer/choreographers) in a production earlier this year. I’ve found her to be extremely funny, talented, and creative, and I’ve been looking forward to this show.

I enjoyed the preview piece. A lot of a dance holding my attention hinges on the music they choose, and I was pretty thrilled with their choice; I was also really interested in the mixture of mundane, everyday movements with more stylized dance. If I have a complaint, it’s that most of the choreography seemed to revolve around three bodies snapping into place in unison, and they were often a half-beat off from each other. Still, two weeks until Fringe open.

The Magnificent Story of St. Marlene’s Marvelous Moonshine (Made by Monks) by Christy Marie Kent

I recently wrote a glowing review of her last preview, which I cheerfully stand behind. I’ll confess I was bit disappointed with the preview tonight, mainly because I had the sense that the audience wasn’t getting the opportunity to see what she’s capable of. She’s a storyteller whose style relies on the space *between* words — on long, elaborate buildups and meaningful expressions shared with the audience — and tonight I found her delivery a bit tense and rushed (she skated out right at the 3:00 mark). I suspect, if such speculation isn’t inappropriate, that she attempted to do too *much* material, in too brief a time; I think she would have been better served by creating something briefer, and leaving the space she needs to build her relationship with her audience. That said, still highly recommending the show.

SCOTUS! (Supreme Court of the United States) by Serious Hedgehog Arts

This is a preview that got me both really, really interested, and really, really hesitant about the show. The writer came out, and asserted that, since her cast was in rehearsal, she felt reasonably qualified to talk about the script: and then proceeded to do what was essentially an excellent stand-up routine about the content of the play. Afterwards, I asked her if the play was as funny as she was. We both laughed, but I was only half-joking.

See, there’s no doubt that she’s an excellent comedy writer with a sharp eye for politics, but much of the strength of her performance came from her own dry, deadpan delivery — it’s hard for me to visualize that kind of material playing in another context. So really, the only thing that this preview effectively guaranteed was that the jokes would be good. Which is, actually, a pretty good guarantee for a Fringe show.

Depression Glass: A Cheery Little Play About Death and Decay by 1929 Productions

Er, I’ll confess that I found my attention drifting: an acceptably amusing premise, but the acting was over-the-top in a way that might easily make perfect sense in context, but in three-minute sound-bite form came off as a bit shrill and caused me to tune out.

How Do You See It? by Christopher Watson Dance Company

I mentioned about the previous dance performance that I thought they needed to (and easily could) pull together their performance in the remaining weeks leading up to the Fringe: here’s a company that seems to already be there. (Actually, does anyone if this is a remount? It has the polish of a piece that’s been done before.)

It’s actually an interesting compare-and-constrast case: this is one that revolves around the heightened emotions of the performers, and using dance to express that emotion through movement — which is, I suspect, more accessible; whereas the LS Dance Collaborative revolved, I think, around a fascination with more abstracted movement, which is more my own area of particular interest. I’m actually really interested to hear what other people think about this.

Uncle Tom’s Condo by Milliepadd Productions

Before this, all I really knew about the show was the involvement of Mahmoud Hakima and Kirsten Stephens, who are, in my opinion, two extraordinarily talented local artists. Oh, and that they have a fucking amazing show image.

Similar reaction to this one, as I had to the Rambler family thing — less interested in *what* the performer was I singing, than in the fact that he was singing it extraordinarily well, with a phenomenal sense of comic timing. So, really, I don’t know much of anything beyond the fact that there’s three pretty great performers in it. Which is, once again, a pretty great guarantee for a Fringe show.

Entwined by Awkward Moment Productions

Another performer I’ve worked with often, and another preview which I’ve already reviewed, albeit in much stronger form tonight, I think; she chose a stronger excerpt, gave herself room to play audience response, and left off at exactly the right moment. This was a good storyteller engaging her audience well.

Our Freaking Kids Show by Mainly Me Productions

Another discovery! (Although I’ve been a Josh Carson fan for a while, I didn’t, for whatever reason, register his involvement until tonight.)

As someone who worked in children’s theatre exclusively for six years, I can attest that this conversation is terrifyingly familiar, and one that I partook in many, many times. It seemed to hit just that right balance between natural speech and jokiness that I was willing to follow wherever they led: consider this officially on my list.

Closing Thought: Writing previews is hard.


Word Ninjas: Fringe Preview Showcase

Once again, I was a performer in this: as I opened the second act, I didn’t really have the opportunity to focus on the preceding previews. I’m happy to offer my observations on the five that followed mine, however.

(A quick caveat: I am one of the regular hosts of the Word Ninjas open mic event, although I did not serve in that capacity tonight.)

History Camp by Zombie High School

I was still coming down from my set at this point, so my thoughts are a bit fuzzy: they were doing the same or similar material as I discussed in my last review, so I don’t know that I have much further to add. Except to note that they adapted to the space — the very small space, with their very large cast — rather adeptly, weaving through the audience tables as they entered, so, y’know, kudos.

The Magnificent Story of St. Marlene’s Marvelous Moonshine (Made by Monks) by Christie Marie Kent

I’ve been a participant in the local open-mic scene for over ten years now, but I’ve only had the pleasure of occasionally hosting one for the past three. One thing that fascinates me is the way these events attract people (with very little marketing energy), and how they rapidly seem to become almost self-organizing communities: there’s regulars, there’s anxious first-timers who never show up again (and a precious few who do), there’s professionals who swing by once every couple of months to work new material, there’s acts where you’re squirming in your chair fishing for something polite to say because by God you’re committed to creating a welcoming environment — and then there’s amateur performers that seem to come out of nowhere and blindside you with their level of skill, enthusiasm, and polish.

Christie Marie Kent falls into the latter category. She’s been a regular at the open mic for about a year now, and is consistently one of the performers I look forward to. She’s already begun to make a name for herself in the local storytelling scene — she was a performer at last year’s Tellabration!, and is working on the committee to organize the upcoming one in November.

She’s sharp, funny, hardworking, and didn’t disappoint tonight. She’s someone I’m looking eagerly forward to watching others discover, because she’s exactly the right combination of what I think people are looking for at Fringe: a relative unknown and a sure thing. Watch her.

Xmas Fireworks by Tales From Another Stage

Here, I wince, and report that I found the venue ill-suited for the amount of activity the event generated; I was towards the back at this point, with doors swinging and dishes clattering and voices from the other room, and found myself frequently distracted, falling in and out of the narrative and struggling to regain my place each time. He seemed a competent storyteller, and the room was attentive; alas, I missed the greater part of his performance.

Entwined by Awkward Moment Productions

Two quick caveats: I’m part of a local storytelling group with Amy Salloway (and Curt Lund, the performer of the final preview). I have no unique knowledge of their individual shows, however.

The second caveat is that this show is a rewrite and remount of a show that I reviewed last year. In fact, here’s a link to the review, since my observations remain largely consistent. She’s a seasoned, funny storyteller who knows how to work her crowd (although she loses a few no-points for running over time, due to a largely unnecessary explanation: the story speaks for itself!).

I’ll probably not be in the audience this time around, since I feel the need to prioritize new work at Fringe; if you somehow missed it last year, though, don’t let it slip by again.

This is Where Your Free-time Goes to Die by Screaming Mutes Production

This is a show that consists of readings from the often-thoughtful blog of a recently deceased local playwright. The marketing material seems to be downplaying the latter fact, which seems a bit odd to me — surely it’s one of the more compelling aspects of the production? Although I suppose — and I emphasize that I’m purely speculating — that they want the event to be an upbeat one, rather than morose.

In response to the portion of the readership that rolled their eyes at the first part of the previous paragraph — I am fascinated by (and this should come as no surprise, since you’re reading this on a blog) blog culture. I’m a late comer to the party but a rapid convert, believing it to be a wholly unique form of expression: a strange hybrid of journaling, open-mics, panel discussions, and pamphleteering. I could write (and, er, have written blog entries) about the subject at length, but in short: I firmly believe that future generations will regard those blogs that are both thoughtfully composed and properly preserved as as valuable a historical source as we regard the correspondences of those who lived generations before us.

Ahem. So, my point being that the prospect of trying to weave blog entries into something resembling coherent narrative is a really interesting problem to me.

It’s certainly well-served by a trio of skilled performers. I’ve seen vast amounts of Curt’s performances over the past several years, and it’s truly interesting to watch his delivery of another’s material. He is (mercifully) not slavishly respectful, but speaks in his own voice, with his own cadence, trusting his own instincts and his own ear. Knowing that this singular voice is split between three sets of vocal cords? That’s something I’m inclined to hear.

Fringe Preview: Firsty Thursday

A quick caveat: I was performing towards the end of the first act, and my stage anxiety is such that I couldn’t really focus on the preceding performances; consequently, I’ll only be offering my thoughts on the six Fringe previews in the latter half of the show.

You Only Live Forever Once by Four Humors Theater

I confess immediately that I don’t think I’ve ever seen a James Bond movie from beginning to end; I have, however, seen the genre parodied and paid homage to frequently enough to have a grasp of the basic pop-culture formula, and that seems to be all that the show requires. Unsurprisingly considering the company’s history, this features some first-rate clowning, most of it revolving around a crude puppet show and its interactions with live actors; the snippet we saw was consistently inventive, finding new and surprising ways to use the limited pieces. Granted, they were on home territory (the company hosted the evening, and the audience was weighted heavily with their fans), but the crowd went nuts for it.

Aunt Dicey Channels Moms Mabley by The House of Zulu Productions

I actually reviewed this show back in 2009. In fact, here’s a link to the review, since my observations of this performance were pretty consistent with that one. I will note that this seemed to be a much better audience for her—the space was open (I previously saw her in the Bryant-Lake Bowl), liquor was served, and people were warmed up and anticipating comedy. While I recall a more polite, hands-folded-in-their-laps crowd the last time I saw her, she really seems to thrive on call-and-response.

(I will say that the preview ran a bit long—not that I was timing her, but it felt long for a sample.)

Hamluke by Dana’s Boys

So, the title pretty much states exactly what this show is, and you already know if you’re in the audience for this or not, rendering a review somewhat superfluous. They’ll do well, and they deserve to—so I’d like to go ahead and indulge some of my rambling thoughts about what this is.

Another confession—I actually reviewed a production of this script that took place several years back (and for which, I note, my review has been lost to the intangible ether of the Internet). I was not a great lover of the script at the time. I’ve been holding out hope for this production, since I know several members of the cast to be funny, talented, creative people.

Alas, my observation remains consistent: cast, very funny; script, less so. It’s basically a one-joke premise—taking lines from the Star Wars films and recasting them in Elizabethan English, so something akin to 2009’s Bard Fiction—and I walk away with much the same impression; it’s a good joke, but I tire of it quickly.

Okay, so, more interesting question: what would make the script work for me? I wonder if I wouldn’t find it funnier if it were played straight—there’s some flirtation with the parallels between the two sources (the Star Wars movies are dealing with some fairly grand, Shakespearean themes), but for the most part there’s a kind of constant winking at the audience—of stepping back and pointing and gesturing wildly at the jokes as they happen. I don’t know if a more poker-faced attitude would be sufficient to sustain my attention for an hour, but it would probably do more for me than chuckling at how silly the words sound all old-timey.

History Camp by Zombie High School

This was well-done: the songs were catchy, they manage to create a lot of variety as an a cappella group, the cast is incredibly charming and open and appealing—so it’s with a note of genuine regret that I observe that I’m simply not in the audience for this show. It focuses on that kind of romanticization of childhood that is simply too inconsistent with my own memory to resonate with me. This is for those who fondly remember teen camp stories and summer love, and you’ll have a great time. Alas, I’m pretty far from that demographic.

Hauser Dance Unraveled by Hauser Dance

Ooh—another quirky modern dance group with an absurdist bent! I’m an absolute sucker for this genre, and the bit I saw was consistently engaging—lots of sudden shifts and rhythm changes, consistently surprising. Also, whether by chance or design, this is a trio with three pretty dramatically different body types, and they exploit it well—one movement will be passed between all of them, and it’s amusing to what it does to their different shapes/lengths. Not on my radar before but definitely curious now.

License by Black Butterfly Theatre

When the Fringe site went live this year, I noted down ten shows that caught my eye—this was one of them. I’m pleased to say that this was my favorite preview of the night. In a lot of respects, it was the verbal equivalent of the previous piece (lots of sudden, abrupt shifts and changes, emotional as well as verbal), and a lot of it seems to be driven by expressionistic language, shifting between the colloquial and the elevated (so, yeah, of course I’m a sucker for it).

My main beef is that the actors, I think, need to—and I am aware of the irony of this, coming from someone known for fast-talking—slow down and articulate more carefully; a lot of the act was me leaning forward and trying to discern what was being said, and that’s kind of death for a piece this language-driven.

So, yes—they stormed the stage and threw a big ball of muscular words at us, largely bereft of context (which, I presume, the greater show will provide). This was pretty much tailor-made for me.

Fifteen Returning Champions

No less than five can be found at the Rarig Center: Chopping Block and Charlie Bethel (the team that brought you last year’s “Tom Thumb”) is teaming to produce Beowulf or Gilgamesh? You Decide! at which audiences will be able to pick which of Charlie’s hit one-man epics they get to see that evening. He also did some of the initial script work on Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, by No Refunds Theatre Company. Fringe favorite Joe Scrimshaw presents a children’s show called An Inconvenient Squirrel. Four Humors (of “Bards”, “Deviled Eggs” and “Inspector Rex”) brings a traveling medicine show called Mortem Capiendum. And Walking Shadow is putting on Shakespeare’s Land of the Dead, in which the Globe Theatre finds itself under attack by a zombie plague.

Two great movement shows can be found right her in the Minneapolis Theatre Garage: Jon Ferguson has been collaborating with Chain Coffee Productions to create BULL “An American Story of Bullheadedness”, a twisted adaptation of Ionesco. Noah Bremer of Live Action Set has also contributed to Fools for Love by The Hastings High School Drama Club. Live Action Set itself is putting on Deviants, an adaptation of a remarkable show they did earlier this year, at the Soap Factory.

There’s at least two brilliant 90-minute productions taking place at the Bryant-Lake Bowl: out-of-towner Mark Whitney is doing his one-man show FOOL FOR A CLIENT, which easily made my top ten last year, and Vanderpan Enterprises (whose show “Three Days in Hell” made my top five) is doing Paul Bunyan Runs for President.

If it’s movement you’re interested in, there’s an embarrassment of riches scattered throughout the Festival: Sara Stevenson Scrimshaw (whose comic dancing I’ve the pleasure of witnessing in the past) is doing Dance of the Whisky Faerie, while physical theatre ensemble 3 Sticks is just bringing The Gypsy and the General back from Kansas City. Marceau-trained mime Dean Hatton – one of the best-kept secrets in the Twin Cities – is performing a tribute to his (now unfortunately late) teacher, titled Silent Poetry.

Rounding out the list, I’ll throw on two more solo performers: Tim Mooney will be presenting his third one-man show in Minneapolis, this one called Karaoke Knights. And hit stand-up comic Ben Sandell is taking a crack at storytelling in Strawberry Fields Temporarily.

But that’s not all!

Needless Nepotism

I’m one of the founders of the Rockstar Storytellers, so I won’t be talking about that show in this space. However, since the group is composed of hit solo performers — a kind of “Fringe All-Stars,” as it were — many members of the group are also producing shows in the Fringe that I’m looking forward too. I don’t know if the fact that I work with these guys disqualifies me from recommending their work — but the shows I’d like to plug are ones that I’ve had nothing to do with.

ROCKSTAR: Allison Broeren
COMPANY: Mumble Mumble, Ink Productions
SHOW TITLE: I’ll Marry You for Health Insurance and other shocking revelations
LOCATION: Rarig Xperimental

ROCKSTAR: Allegra Lingo
COMPANY: Allegra J. Lingo
SHOW TITLE: Tipping the Bucket
LOCATION: Rarig Arena

ROCKSTARS: Curt Lund and Laura Bidgood
COMPANY: True Enough Theatre
SHOW TITLE: Boys Don’t Make Passes at Girls Who Wear Glasses
LOCATION: Rarig Arena

ROCKSTAR: Mike Fotis
COMPANY: Mike Fotis
SHOW TITLE: An Intimate Evening with Fotis: Part Two
LOCATION: Minneapolis Theatre Garage

And a brief shout-out to another performer I’m working with, who also has his own show in the Festival:

PERFOMER: Michael Shaeffer
COMPANY: Empty S Productions
SHOW TITLE: Roofies in the Mochaccino
LOCATION: Interact Center

Onward to more recommendations!

JACK, Orange, and Roofies: Previews from the Rockstar Storytellers Show

JACK by Eric van Wyk

His preview during the Fringe-For-All, I’ll confess, left me cold. This still wasn’t his crowd, and the pacing still felt awkward – but this time around, I was much more impressed with the *visual* inventiveness of the show – the piece he chose to do was largely a rapid-fire catalogue of different puppets, puppets being transformed into other things, packed with lots of visual surprises. I still can’t say that I have a clear sense of exactly what I’ll be watching during the show, but I’m now reasonably certain that it’ll sustain my attention.

Orange by Questionable Company Productions

This was like a Saturday Night Live sketch, but the old, good Saturday Night Live. The premise is a funny one – people in a building are watching the television, and trying to figure out if the hostage situation they’re watching is the building that they’re in – and it’s played in a very deadpan, tongue-in-cheek style.

Roofies in the Mochaccino by Michael Shaeffer

Talking up this guy anymore would be nothing short of nepotism. But you should see his show.

Writer’s Panel

I’m a big fan of panel discussions – but I have to confess that this was a bit of a disappointing experience for me. It was a table with some very cool writers – Matthew Everett, Anton Jones, and Michael Shaeffer – as well as some first-time Fringers who seemed to have intriguing stories to tell.
But we never really got into anything that was really interesting to me – the bulk of the questions seemed to be of the “How do you get postcards printed” variety, and I was really craving the opportunity to hear them get their teeth into a subject with some meat in it. I’m not sure what would have helped that to happen – perhaps an aggressive moderator, rather than the open-forum “town-hall” style of the proceedings.
In any case, there were also several table readings of upcoming scripts. It was interesting to have such a text-focused approach to developing Fringe shows, stripped of the performance polish that so many seem to live or die on.
All Rights Reserved: A Libertarian Rage by Maximum Verbosity
Mine, so I’ll leave it to the discretion of others to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the text.
Bronze Bitch and Dog Tag by Matthew Everett
I had the pleasure of reading this dialogue, along with the playwright. I’ll confess that his favored genre – romantic comedy – is one that leaves me cold. But his facility for well-constructed dialogue is well in evidence – it’s quick and clever, fun to read and fun to listen to. The subject matter – at least of what I’ve heard – is a bit fluffy for my tastes; but fans of this style will find much to enjoy here.
Roofies in the Mochaccino by Michael Shaeffer
I’ve sung his praises plenty, and I was as usual impressed with his material – but this time around, I noted his strengths as a vocal performer. As a fan of slam poetry, I’m critical of how shallow so much of it is – with such a limited time period in which to hit, poets will often hit a single level of intensity and maintain it throughout. But sustaining a full-length show is a different animal entirely – and Michael’s able to hit a range of levels within a single piece. (This was an excellent poem to demonstrate that, a vision of heaven populated by jazz legends. It helps that I’m deeply in love with the subject.)
Trying Guilt by Culture Mesh Collective
I first ran into this dude completely by accident – at his show “Same Difference” last year, which I saw because I stumbled into the wrong theatre while Fringing frantically. It was pretty awesome, an intelligent script about racial identity that shifted easily between prose and slam verse – and I’m a real sucker for those kinds of linguistic acrobatics. He seems to be doing something similar this time around: his preview was a slam piece, performed by one of his cast members, a cute white girl playing a homeless person. The cadence was engaging, but I had some difficulty following the content of what was said – I imagine that finding actors who have that kind of facility with stylized language, as well as the ability to emotionally engage with it, is challenging. Regardless, I’m sold on this show, if only because I so fondly remember the writer’s previous work.
Skunkape Sexkult by Mother/Destroyer
I think that this guy probably made a mistake, in attempting to read all of the dialogue himself: vocally distinguishing multiple characters is something that even the most skilled actors struggle with, and I got lost in the muddle of characters he was interpreting. Regardless, there were several clever phrases that leapt out at me – “the heaving bosom of academia” is one that I recall off the top of my head. He seems to have an ear for that kind of comedy – if he has a cast that can back it up, and the ability to structure it within a script, he’ll probably have a good show.
10.10 Post 9-11: Laughter in the Aftermath by Adam Sharp
I’m actually really glad that I got to see these guys again, since my only previous exposure was sort of half-seeing them from the back during the Fringe-For-All, and what I saw there…really didn’t impress me, much. It was fast-paced, but largely seemed to be coasting on a single Bush-bashing joke, which really makes me roll my eyes in annoyance. This President seems to be well on his way to becoming a comic stock character for generations to come, a la Richard Nixon, and at this point that character is about as socially relevant as jokes about mimes and insurance salesmen. But! This piece pleased me much better – a Romeo-and-Juliet style parody of Middle-Eastern tensions, built on over-the-top racial stereotypes. I do with they’d pushed it further – I suggested they stick one of the actors in black-face – but it was a solid joke and solidly played. More like this, please.