Fringe Reviews – Day 1
Neither of my shows open until the weekend so Thursday and Friday I can just enjoy some shows. Yesterday I saw four shows. My wife and I brought our kids to three of them and then I watched the fourth on my own.
Here’s what I thought about what I saw:
Levi and Joshua do a fantastic job creating shows that are filled with things that will make the kids laugh (and my kids giggled throughout) but also keep the adults entertained. It’s a little like a Pixar film in Fringe form.
The pratfalls are real, as Levi’s split chin attested and there are few things as entertaining as watching a comedian take a convincing fall. Both Levi and Joshua take a lot of convincing falls (and a few purposefully unconvincing ones.)
My whole family had a ball with this one. I’m pretty sure the kids would go back for the other four shows if we let them.
I think there is a problem in the way this show is marketed. The description is as follows:
Two hydrogen atoms bond with one oxygen atom to make-dance! Get silly and scientific inside our peculiar kinetic bio-textbook for the stage, a bizarre and compelling movement world as seen through a microscope!
Reading this and seeing that the show was appropriate for children seven and up, we figured it would be a silly dance show appropriate for our children.
While it is technically appropriate for children, my kids were bored to the point of anxiety. We managed to keep them quiet and calm but it was not at all easy. I think that producers need to learn the difference between something that is OK for children to see and something children would actually want to see.
The kids wanted to sit right down front and that meant I felt like we were trapped because walking out of a show is not something I would ever want to do to another artist. I would have happily removed the boys from the theatre but it would have been right in front of the performers and the audience and I just didn’t want to do that.
As hard as it is to separate the experience of trying to deal with two rebelling children, I need to say that if I’d been there without my kids, I wouldn’t have liked the show.
I thought the dancing was repetitive and dull and the music was the same. There was nothing “silly” about the dancing. It was, in fact, very dry and serious. I simply couldn’t find a way into the dance.
The dancers were good dancers and while I can’t honestly say I know what they were trying to accomplish, I’m fairly certain they accomplished their goals.
As an audience member, however, I felt like my understanding of their goals (based on their own show description) didn’t match their understanding.
Windy Bowlsby, who is also in The Complete Works of William Shatner (abridged), directed and choreographed this show. It was a huge crowd pleaser and my kids, who had just been to a dance show they despised, really enjoyed it.
After Nucleus, they were pretty terrified that all dance shows would be like that one. They didn’t need to worry.
The whole show is light, fun and whimsical. Windy is tremendously talented and she put together a good group of dancers to bring her choreography to the stage.
The audience absolutely loved the show and my family had a great time as well. If I had one criticism, it would be that the show felt like it was one dance to long. Saying that, I’ve no idea which dance I’d cut so it’s probably better left as it is.
I’ve never seen a show by this company and after they have taken the Fringe world by sotrm two years running, I figured it was about time.
Their shows are very dancelike in execution. The actors form the scenery and provide the majority of the sound effects. In the hands of a talented cast and director, the effect can be amazing. It can also come off as a clunky pretense. In the hands of this company, it is always the former.
This company has produced consistently amazing work so they don’t need my recommendation to convince people to go. They get it anyway.
So that’s day one. Three shows I strongly recommend you see and one I would suggest you don’t.
Not a bad average.