the opening moment of Grim
presented by Wonderheads, a two-person troupe from Portland, Ore.,
you know this is going to be something special. A lone figure slinks
on stage to the strains of Mozart’s Requiem,
carrying a black letter. His movements are precise, with the intense
comical elegance you get from the best of the old Warner Brothers
Steven Strafford is one
hell of a performer. But his young adult life as a promiscuous, gay,
crystal meth addict was one hell of a mess. He courageously and
humorously lays it all out in Methtacular, a monologue of 80
entertaining and unpredictable minutes.
Performance Gallery is the only troupe to have presented a show at
every Cincinnati Fringe Festival since its inception. Many of those
previous productions have been intricate and brilliant, while a few
were brave experiments that didn’t quite take flight.
Rumple’s Random Reality
falls into the second category.
With imaginative but
rudimentary costumes and minimal sets and props, the ensemble cast of
The Sweet, Burning Yonder, directed by Michael Burnham,
brought John Ray’s often poetic, streaming language to vivid life
in its opening performance.
You Will Have 25 Minutes To Complete This Essay is one of two teen-created shows in this year’s FringeNext category. Written and directed by Alexx Rouse, it is a happy breeze of a piece that plays against teen stereotypes by speaking directly to them and then surprising you again with odd little twists.
Female Desires is a collection of monologues expressing the desires, needs, challenges and fears of young women today. Written by Eliza Martin, the piece is organized into four quartets of interwoven stories, loosely connected to each other thematically.
There’s a rift between Joe and Hannah, the couple at the epicenter of New Edgecliff Theatre’s Fringe piece, Quake: A Closet Love Story, by Tyler Olson. Once upon a time, the two were married and in love. But recently, they’ve split.
The 2011 Cincinnati Fringe Festival will wrap up this weekend. It’s been another year of oddball acts and powerful performances. CityBeat’s Fringe review team has been out and about on your behalf, catching the first performances of most shows and posting those reviews on a special Fringe page at citybeat.com for you to read about.
I suspect that the word “dude” has never been uttered so many times in so few minutes. John Ware and William Brown, both drama students at UC’s College-Conservatory of Music, invite you to hang out in the cluttered dorm room that is the 40-minute play The Masculinity Index. This snapshot shows us two aimless, barely post-adolescent, middle-class white males waxing and whining introspective about the “space between boyhood and manhood” and pledging to be each other’s bros/wingmen, a la Top Gun.
101 Rules for Dating (of which you will hear 20 or so…), a relationship seminar from the crack comedy team Megan Venzin and Emily Althaus, will make you laugh. An Art Academy lecture hall, complete with flip-up desks for note-taking, is the perfect setting for this informative yet cozy confessional led by a couple of love experts whose credentials seem dubious, despite the fact that they’re both wearing lab coats.
Humor involving puppets and live action, spies and parody can be dicey. It’s easy to slip right off the edge and down the slippery slope of silliness. But the creative talents who comprise Four Humors Theater in Minneapolis (back for their fourth consecutive year at the Cincinnati Fringe) have solid footing when it comes to knowing how far to push things.
Not so fast with that exclamation point. The VindleVoss Family Circus Spectacular!, a charming two-hander from Cincy Fringe favorite Karim Muasher (of Giant Bird fame) and partner Carrie Brown, has all the makings of a great show: An original concept. Memorable characters. Comedy. Pathos. Puppets. Live tigers (sort of). The most inventive use of props you’ll see on any festival stage this year.
The art of the improbable premise is a standard at any Fringe Festival. What counts is not the unlikely starting point, but how one develops and delivers from the unreasonable setup. Miss Magnolia Beaumont Goes to Provincetown (presented at the 1423 Vine venue), written and performed by Joe Hutcheson and directed by Cheryl King, shows that style, imagination, intelligence, heart, talent and daring are what make such productions worth the gamble.
Lydia Avilova was a serious, earnest woman, an aspiring writer, who crossed paths in the 1890s with renowned playwright and fiction writer Anton Chekhov. Dawn Arnold is a serious, earnest performer who has translated this intersection into a 70-minute, one-woman show, The Lydia Etudes: About Loving Anton Chekhov, onstage at Media Bridges (E. Central Parkway, enter on Race St.) during the eighth annual Cincinnati Fringe.