Contemporary dance can be mysterious. It’s perhaps both a blessing and a hurdle of the form. One reason why audiences sometimes find modern dance challenging is because they’re afraid they won’t “get it.” By nature, it’s an abstract form, so sometimes just sitting back and letting what you see and feel wash over you works best.
I had just paid a thrifty $1.60 at the Coffee Emporium, and for that I got a paper cup of plain coffee and use of the restroom. Billed as a politically charged and extremely dark comedy, The Beasts seemed like something I could enjoy as well as review: one-man show, post-apocalyptic horror, and puppetry — what’s not to like? I couldn’t wait.
Let’s start with what OTR 2081 is not. It’s not a cool walking tour of Over the Rhine as imagined by future generations. What would they say about how we lived? What insightful commentary would they offer about this moment in human history, with the benefit of time and historical perspective?
Tilly (Jennifer Roehm) is feeling a little blue — and she’s wallowing in her melancholy. Her employer, a bank, has sent her to a shrink, the self-proclaimed Lorenzo the Unfeeling (William Selnick), who falls in love with her. As does Frank (Peter York), her tailor, and Frances (Lisa DeRoberts), her hairdresser. And when Frances’s lover, Joan (Nina Yarbrough), a nurse from England, meets Tilly — she’s overwhelmed, too.
A Fringe Festival without at least three Biblical satires? Blasphemy!
But the little devils have come through again this year, thank heaven, so there’s no shortage of sacrilege on display. In a crowded field, Kleesattel Productions’ To and Fro and Up and Down — the show’s title comes from an actual Bible passage describing Satan as a kind of Rick Steves to the damned — stands out as a thinking person’s travesty.
“My name is Tallulah, and I’m a compulsive liar.” So begins Memoir of a Mythomaniac, a Fringe offering from East Tennessee State University Patchwork Players. The story of Tallulah, whose actual name is Jane, is told as a fractured narrative, combining traditional dramatic scenes of exposition with break-out scenes of movement and dance. And it works, mostly, thanks to the energy of the six, young, able-bodied and game performers in the troupe.
New Edgecliff Theatre’s contribution to the 2011 Fringe Festival, Catie O’Keefe’s Darker, has an enticing ambiance (at Know Theatre). The sparse set features a number of bare light bulbs that at times are blindingly bright and at others pulsing or dim. The effect is garish and mesmerizing, appropriate for a play with themes like anger, unrequited love and lost memory.
The 2011 Fringe’s presentation of The Body Speaks: Movement, choreographed and directed by Kim Popa and Lindsey Jones of Pones Inc is a small gem. Presented in seven overlapping vignettes, each one inspired by one of seven photos by Sean Dean, this short work (45 minutes) is entirely self-contained, creating its own language and making a statement with it. It should be on your list of shows not to miss.
In many ways the dancers in Rip in the Atmosphere (by Psophonia Dance Company from Houston) put on a good show. They are fit and committed to the movement they perform. Unfortunately, the whole endeavor seems more a display of those qualities than a solid presentation of choreographic merit, with a few exceptions.
I won’t call it the hottest ticket of the Fringe. But get to Neon’s for Fire & Light before word gets out. That patio is going to be packed, and I’m sure the good marshals will be counting heads. Cincinnati-based Incendium Arts — a half-dozen fearless and lithesome performers, with deejay — ignite Neons’ bocce pitch with a mesmerizing and dynamic display of flaming wands, batons, hula hoops, poi balls, drumsticks, even alcohol-laced spit.
Talk to the Hand is a support group, I mean theatrical work, by students from Ft. Thomas, Ky. (The production is one of three FringeNext works written, directed and performed by high school students.) This snappy satire, written by Jessica Ervin as a senior project at Highlands High School, brings the audience into the experience of attending a “friends and family” open meeting of LHPSGBCW.
hat makes revealing personal anecdotes compelling? Perhaps it’s peeling back the layers of detail to get at the heart of emotions — if not situations — we can all identify with, with what’s human. By revealing plenty and walking cheerfully to comfort’s edge with TMI (too much information), the stand-up comedian/storyteller/singer-songwriter Kevin J. Thornton pretty much kept the audience in the palm of his hand during his sold-out opening performance of I Love You (We’re Fucked) on June 3.
Issues of race and gender aren’t unfamiliar themes, but finding new ways to address these subjects isn’t always easy. Solo performer Maythinee Washington from Las Vegas brings forth a curious and rather introverted movement and pantomime-based performance piece with White Girl (presented at ArtWorks, 20 E. Central Parkway).
Paul Schuette, a grad student in composition at UC’s College-Conservatory of Music, assembled a cast of almost two dozen fellow music students to perform Music for Newspapers and Radios (Media Bridges, 100 Race St.), his nonlinear, multimedia program of performance, video, projection, spoken word and broadcast sounds.
The title of Jessica Ferris’ one woman show, Missing: The Fantastical and True Story of My Father’s Disappearance and What I Found When I Looked for Him (at Know Theatre), would pretty much seem to say it all. And yet, there would be so much, well — missing.