This gleeful hour of stage calamities conceived by Minneapolis-based partners Ryan Lear and Rachel Petrie could become the breakout hit of the 2010 Cincy Fringe. Cleverly constructed, sharply written and hilariously performed, it's a simultaneous celebration and lampoon of all that is sacred and silly in the histrionic realm.
The utterly raw nature of a Fringe production can be its greatest and most exciting asset. And that can be its biggest and sometimes insurmountable challenge. In the case of 'Just Say Know,' it's a little bit of both.
Is poetry just for English majors? 'Nevermore' says no, that playgoers can tune into iambic verse just fine. Although writer/director Amy Pettinella plays the feminine role in this two-character piece, she gives the best lines to her co-actor, Russell McGee. No surprise: He's playing Edgar Allan Poe, no stranger to good lines.
During most of the swift, sweet hour that 'Blue Collar Diaries' fills, playwright-performer Michelle Myers Berg beckons to us to step inside her memory and look around. She invites us to study and regard verbal snapshots of a dozen or so people who loomed large in the poor but secure childhood she lived in a downscale neighborhood in St. Paul, Minn.
This 'Cyrano,' by Jo Roets, is a highly condensed version of Edmond Rostand's three-hour romantic comedy. It's sleeker and sharper but lacks some of the poetry and dimensionality of the original. What remains is a post-modern machine for shaking out the story and meaning of Cyrano and Roxanne.
Dylan Shelton and Annie Kalahurka play newly minted born-again Christians whom God has sent on a mission: to convert the audience with "Soul Juice." This involves saving our souls with 'Saturday Night Live'-style sketches, including songs, jokes, puppetry and even a clown show.
Fringe veteran Andrew Hungerford's show, featuring him and Know Theatre regular Liz Vosmeier, is an engaging piece of storytelling, artfully delivered by two excellent actors. This piece of theater will stick with you because it's so human — not about "things" but about real people.
Combining black-and-white video interview segments of many diverse people responding to questions about dance with live-action spoken word, choreographed movement and some audience interaction, Pones Inc. raises questions about personal early memories of dance, what dance means culturally, why more people don't go see dance and in general why more people don't dance.
A pack of gum, a can of grapefruit juice, a pair of baby booties hand-knitted by Granny — these are the modest spoils of Jimmy Hogg's one-man performance, one of four Cincy Fringe solo shows assigned to the small platform stage at Media Bridges. The unassuming title, no-frills setting and even the rumbling Race Street traffic all serve Hogg well.
This year's Performance Gallery entry in the Fringe Fest, scripted by Brad Cupples and directed by Darryl Harris, chooses to stick to a more familiar format (the extended comedy sketch) than previous year's creative and passionate efforts. The bits that work here are usually the ones that are the most outlandish.
Playwright Roger Collins takes a hard though hardly realistic look at Iraq war vets who come home to homelessness, social invisibility and civic neglect. At times it's realistically grounded, but more often it's fanciful and elliptical, sometimes even angularly poetic. Too little of that remains in focus or receives the kind of attention to detail it requires for effective presentation and deserves for its occasional insight.
Director Michael Burke of paperStrangers performance group uses a cast of six and two life-sized puppet dolls in this intense, befeathered, modern-flavored restaging of the 2,400-year-old Greek drama by Euripides in which a vengeful woman horribly murders her own children. Burke says his curiosity regarding Medea's nature, usually caricatured as heartless and evil, drove him to create his adaptation.
Artemis Exchange offers a perfectly wonderful evening of a totally different sort here. It's deeply philosophic and not nearly as scatterbrained as it would like you to think. It's more deep-delving than over-reaching. And it's seriously funny — with laughter rumbling up from inside provocative reinterpretations of familiar parables and fables.
Co-creators Chris Wesselman and
Christopher Karr want their evolving, dark-hearted comedy to ask
audiences this question: "Where does the barbaric nature of the human
rest its head when it's unconscious?"
Mostly, Jimmy Hogg blames his dad. "He was kind of a cheapskate. He'd sneak into the circus or the zoo if he could
get away with it," says Hogg, explaining how a nice lad from southwest England became a juvenile delinquent.