Fringe Reviews – Day 1
The Minnesota Fringe has begun. As is usual, I’m involved in a few shows. I’m also trying to watch as many of them as possible.
Because I’m involved in my own shows, I tend to avoid writing audience reviews for anything unless it is a more obscure show that I think needs a nice bump. I have too much respect for any artist’s work to hurt their average star rating on the Fringe Festival site.
That’s why I blog my reviews. I can speak my mind about the show but in a way that doesn’t harm the producers chances of finding an audience.
Because the Fringe is (at least in part) about taking risks and trying new things. Even a bad show deserves an audience. They deserve the chance to have people tell them how they can produce a better show the next time around.
I’m not saying “don’t review shows on the Fringe site.” I’m saying that my own philosophy as an artist results in different choices when it comes to reviewing shows.
So all that said, here are reviews of the shows I saw on the first day of the Fringe Festival.
I’m going to go to anything in which Joshua Scrimshaw, Adrienne English, and Levi Weinhagen have a hand in the production. I know their work and I have liked or loved all of it.
Amateur Hour is an anthology show featuring some of the less polished work of the performers pulled from their teen years. Presenting raw material with a refined sense of comic timing makes much of the work better than it obviously was.
I found myself wanting to hear and see more of their youthful writing rather than have them tell stories about their youthful writing. Maybe that is because I wanted to enjoy watching talented performers squirm when confronted with their own failures.
I also really wanted to see Joshua dance to Billie Jean.
The addition of guest performers Ferrari McSpeedy and Kirsten Stephens made for a nice variety show vibe.
Mostly, this was a show filled with talented performers exploring a time when their talent was just a little bit unrefined. I enjoyed it a lot.
Miniature Horses Don’t Go To Heaven
This show is a series of short comic sketches inspired by real headlines. The sketches were pretty dark, which didn’t bother me, but they were uniformly too long.
Inevitably, I felt like the joke played out at least two or three minutes before each segment was over. They would have done better to edit the scripts they had and add one or two more. I liked the basic idea behind each segment but I never felt like the story changed enough to warrant the time spent.
A few of the actors had some difficulty with their lines, which happens given the short amount of time most Fringe shows have to rehearse. They could have had an easier time with dialogue that was less repetitive.
The show wasn’t terrible. But it missed the mark by a rather wide margin.
Four Humors Does Every Show in the Fringe
Because the show is almost 100% improv, there is always the possibility it will fall flat. That was not an issue on opening night.
I really admire the way they put together the show structure. Having a guest performer as the show producer helped to break up the improvised segments of the show they selected. Using audience reviews as a medium to drive the next part of the scene was a great way to keep the show fresh throughout.
The Four Humors guys are all very talented improvisers and that means the worst performance of this show is likely to be better than the best performances of many others. I laughed until my sides hurt and if there is time in my schedule, I’ll go again.