Fringe Festival – Day 9

Niggas & Bitches: Black Men Celebrating Black WomenOne of the frustrating aspect of the Fringe is the way there is a flood of criticism in the first half of the fringe and then almost none in the second half.

For my part, I’ve always been lucky if my show was reviewed by one major news outlet.  With 174 shows, most of the press seems to divide up their choices rather neatly.  Certainly there are some shows that get reviewed by nearly everyone.

By the time the Fringe is half over, the press isn’t doing much reviewing any longer because the show only has one or two performances left. I always wish they would keep writing because if there is even one performance left, they can help the show.

Now writing reviews after the fringe is over is just silly.

But I’m going to do it anyway.

Here are the reviews of the shows I watched on Friday.

Fringe Tonight! With Jonathan Gershberg

Jon Gershberg was in a play of mine earlier this year and think he’s a great performer.

Unfortunately, I don’t think this show worked at all.  The attempt to create a Daily Show variety show wasn’t a bad thing but by producing a different show every time they performed, I don’t think there was ever the possibility of doing one show well.

The choices made in the show I watched (about the economy) worked counter to the material.  They had two actors pretend to be stoned as they presented data about legalized marijuana.  It was the most obvious thing to do and because of that, it just didn’t work.

Also, the choice to have a second host didn’t work at all.  There was no attempt to really develop a conflict between the hosts that paid off in any way so it felt like an unnecessary complication.

I’d like to this group try to do one show next year.  I think their writing would have better focus and if they wanted to make political comedy, they could do a better job.

Craigslist: Not a Musical!

I was very much in love with the premise – a group of comedy sketches inspired by bizarre posts on Craigslist.  A couple of the sketches were written by Sam Landman and I like his stuff a lot.

The show didn’t deliver, though, and I think it was the performance that was the problem.  I felt like the performers just never really fully committed to the absurdity of the show.

Near the end of the Fringe, I was speaking to another person who saw the show and, like me, wasn’t all that impressed.  I asked them what they felt about the performance and they said it seemed lethargic.

I don’t think the performers weren’t engaged.  They just didn’t look that way.  In the end, I was just never excited by this show.

Pretty Girls Make Graves

Hey, speaking of Sam Landman, he wrote this one too!

The Fringe is over so I don’t know why I’m worried about spoilers but just in case there is a remount, I want to be careful about what I say.

Pretty Girls Make Graves is a dark comedy about two women coping with loss, and the lies that separate them.

When I say it is a dark comedy, by the way, I mean it is pitch black.

I enjoyed it a lot.  Especially the the two leads, who gave performances as convincing as anything I saw at the Fringe this year.  They sold the show.  It was well written, yes, but it needed a couple of really talented actresses to make it shine.

A Mermaid in Narnaia (on LSD)

I’ve known Ariel Leaf in a “hey – I know you” kind of way for a few years.  I’ve never been to one of her solo storytelling shows until this year.

Bad call, Ripley.


She brought her audience on a journey through a troubled adolescence in a way that never felt depressing.  Yes, there is a lot of pain and a lot of sadness to be experienced but it is told through the lens of someone who has moved beyond most of that pain and sadness.

She looks back at those experiences with wit and charm and even joy. Because without those experiences, she would not have found the thing that would help her find a place in this life.

It was really a masterful piece of work.  I loved it.

Niggas & Bitches: Black Men Celebrating Black Women

Fringe executive director Jeff Larson recommended this show to me.  I don’t know that I would have gone otherwise.  So thanks, Jeff.  Well done.

A relentlessly positive piece of theater in which a group of black men celebrated black women.  I mean yes, that’s in the title, but I think a lot of people had trouble getting past the word “niggas.”  I knew a few people who didn’t even want to say the name of the show.

I found the stories of mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, lovers, and teachers made me realize how rare it is for us to step back and just appreciate people.

It was a celebratory experience and it hooked me completely.


About Petsnakereggie

Geek, movie buff, dad, musician, comedian, atheist, liberal and writer. I also really like Taco flavored Doritos.

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