Fringe Festival – Day 11

WebI came nowhere close to seeing a show in every slot of the festival this year.  While I know some people have such a goal, I try to strike a balance between watching theater and doing – you know – other things.

My choices are driven a little by who I know but also what I know I’ll like.  For instance, everyone loves Transatlantic Love Affair.  They produce really good dramatic theater.  I think their theater is fine but I’m a comedian.  I like to laugh.  A really good drama is still a little bit of a waste of time for me.

It may seem strange that I’d rather watch a bad comedy than a good drama but the great thing about the Fringe is I can make that choice.  It is the theatrical equivalent of a really good brunch buffet.  Everyone is going to find something they like.

I find the Fringe one of the most enriching experiences of my theatrical career.  It has made me a better writer.  It has connected me with other artists I would never have known.  It has taught me how to be a better producer.

The Fringe is over but connections I’ve made this year will bear fruit over the next several.  And that’s while I’ll be back.

I saw four shows on the final day of the Fringe.  Here’s what I thought!

Giving Grief

After his string of very good one man shows, it puzzles me why Kelvin Hatle still has trouble getting people to watch his plays.  His writing is sharp and intelligent and he tries something new with every show.

With Giving Grief, Kelvin incorporated a lot of physical comedy into his dark comedy about a hit man who is a little too much of a nerd for the mafia.  For a performer moving into non verbal storytelling, he did a great job of showing the audience what he was doing.

I wish I’d been able to get to the show earlier in the week.  If I had, I would have been encouraging more people to see it.  I should have anyway, because Kelvin hasn’t written a bad show yet.  He probably never will.

Everything You’ve Done That Hurt Me

A fascinating show concept.  Someone lost a notebook containing an epic 20 page break up letter.  The artist reads that letter on stage, keeping all the misspelling and grammatical errors intact. When the show is over, he invites the audience to ask questions.

There was also a musician playing three songs inspired by the letter.  The songs were, unfortunately, forgettable.  The letter was fascinating.

Was the artist being cruel by putting this private letter on public display?  That was what the question and answer session was about.

Here’s my take: I’ve written some epic break up letters in my life.  They were all awful.  Filled with pain and a failure to recognize my own responsibility for what went wrong.  Would I want them to be part of a comedic show about horrible break-up letters?

Yeah.  Because we’ve all been there.  Most of us have written something like that.  If we were smart, we didn’t send it.

What this guy wrote wasn’t all that different from what many of us have written one or twice in our lives.  It was funny, to me, because I understood the pain being poured onto the page and how important it feels at the time.

When, in truth, it didn’t end up being all that important at all. I’d rather laugh at my pain.

And yes – everyone else’s too.

Demo Tape

The story in this show was little more than a framework on which to hang several original songs.  The entire experience lived or died on whether or not you liked the songs.

I liked them but I didn’t love them.  They were funny but had a very similar feeling as most of the songs were ironic commentaries on the song.  The song “Demo Tape,” for instance, was a song about recording a demo tape.  “Open Mic Song” was a song about singing at an Open Mic.

They were all clever but they were clever in basically the same way.  I just felt like it was the same joke with slightly different chords.

A true disappointment, however, was the way the show under utilized Erin Kennedy.  She had one song at the beginning of the show that made me think “wow – she has a really good singing voice” and then she never sang again!

That was truly a waste.

I’m complaining far too much about a show that was actually pretty good. I guess the main reason is because I thought it could have been so much better.

Note for producers next year: if you cast Erin Kennedy in a musical next year, let her sing more than once.

Oregon Trail: A Musical

First note: the music in this show was very good.  The singers (especially Lizzie Rainville) were all very talented and the songs themselves were clever and sounded like something you might hear from a Broadway style show.  I was super impressed.

Having started playing Oregon Trial on a teletype machine my dad would sometimes bring home from work, I’m well versed in the game.

Because of that, I couldn’t very well have anything to complain about in this silly send-up of a pop culture phenomenon.

I will say this, though.  Nobody was ever carried away by an eagle.  Not once.

Sorry guys, I liked your show but I’m going to have to call that a miss.

That important missing plot point aside, this show was about as good a show as you could expect from a musical based on Oregon Trail.

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About Petsnakereggie

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

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