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Surfing the Fringe

By Rick Pender · June 4th, 2013 · Curtain Call
ac_cc_fringefest-lolita_providedLolita: A three man show - Provided

There are just a few days left for the 2013 Cincinnati Fringe, our annual celebration of weirdness and creativity, produced by Know Theatre. It’s over on Saturday evening (the final party is at 10:30 p.m. at the Jackson Street theater’s Underground Bar), but there’s still time to catch several productions. CityBeat writers, 10 in all, have been reviewing since day one (May 29), so I’m sharing condensed excerpts of a few commentaries here.

[To read complete reviews of each Fringe production, go to CityBeat's online Fringe hub here.]

Stacy Sims enjoyed: Lolita: A three man show. “Lolita is a controversial novel about sexual obsession by Russian author Nabokov, published and banned in the U.K. and France in 1955. It became a huge critical and popular success in the U.S., despite its difficult subject matter. It’s not the first source material that comes to mind as fodder for Four Humors, back for its sixth Fringe (having won the Critic’s Pick of the Fringe in 2012 with the charming Bombus and Berylline, a sweet, family-friendly tale about a bee and a hummingbird). But Lolita: A three man show achieves three remarkable things: It honors the source material; it lets us know that the revered plot is downright horrifying; and it is side-splittingly hilarious from start to finish. … The three actors are equally strong and a pure delight to watch. The soundtrack is perfect. Who knew there were so many popular songs dedicated to the problem of little girls?” More performances: Wednesday and Saturday.

Tony Dallas said this about The Wave by Ron Jones: “It [draws from] his experience as a college professor teaching a history course on the Vietnam War during the 1960s.

The Wave is a one-man play, the single character being Ron, a teacher played by Jon Kovach. … When a student asks him how, during World War II, the German people could not know about the concentration camps and afterward feel complicit in the Holocaust, Ron has no ready answer. But he knows it has something to do with the collective self-worth that comes from living under a dictatorship and the belief that one is part of a movement toward good. … He organizes his class in a totalitarian fashion, writing on the blackboard: ‘Strength Through DISCIPLINE.’ He asks that students no longer work toward individual grades, but instead toward a collective grade for the class. They are more than compliant.” More performances: Friday and Saturday.

Rodger Pille liked David Lee Nelson’s monologue The Elephant in My Closet: “From his days studying theater in college, Nelson had gay friends who had come out to their parents. That allowed him to muster the courage to say three difficult words to his father: ‘I’m a Democrat.’ The show chronicles Nelson’s journey to that moment. It’s a deeply personal and often very funny 75-minute monologue about growing up a dyed-in-the-wool Southern Republican, only to have his core beliefs challenged then debunked. But he’s quick to point out that wasn’t the hardest part. Changing one’s mind just takes time and soul-searching. Admitting it to one’s even-more-dyed-in-the-wool Southern Republican father … that takes guts. The show, in a classroom in the Art Academy, plays out like the hippest American history lecture you never had in college.” More performances: Thursday and Saturday

Sims had fun at Dirk Darrow: NCSSI. “Tim Motley, from Melbourne, Australia, is Dirk Darrow, a private dick circa 1937. Self-hailed as a ‘one-man comedy film noir magical mentalist murder mystery,’ Motley’s show is a winning 60 minutes of stand-up, magic tricks, hard-boiled puns and audience engagement. … The gumshoe detective story goes like this: He is a fedora-wearing, gun-toting man in love with the wrong kind of dame. Man is murdered, and with magic tricks, mentalism and plenty of help from game audience members, Darrow solves the who, what, where, when and why of the crime.” More performances: Thursday and Saturday.

Last and (frustratingly) least in terms ticket availability, Wonderheads, the duo that hit a home run at the 2012 Fringe with Grim and Fischer, has returned with Loon, a show that asks, “Can a man truly love the moon?” Kate Braidwood plays Francis, a lonely, romantic but lovelorn schlump, portly, bald and clad in mismatched attire. I was lucky enough to have a ticket for this show featuring one performer in a larger-than-life mask. Before it opened on Sunday, all tickets for four performances were claimed. Last year Know brought back Grim and Fischer for an encore. Let’s hope that happens again with Loon.

CONTACT RICK PENDER: rpender@citybeat.com



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