2016 Fringe Reviews – Day 4
I’ve been doing Fringe shows for a while now and the result is I have a lot of friends with shows. It is my stated goal to see every one of them but, of course, such a goal is stupid and impossible. After a few years, you come to the realization that you are going to let someone down and miss their show.
The secret, though, is that you aren’t actually letting them down. You see, they get it. They are in the same boat as you. They want to see your show and it just might not work out for them either.
What we all eventually learn to do is tell each other it is completely OK if we miss each other’s shows. It has nothing to do with our respect for each other and everything to do with complex schedule management.
So here’s the thing – audience or artist alike – go see what you want to see. You don’t need to apologize for missing someone’s show. We all understand that you have to make a series of very hard decisions. Thanks so much for even considering our work.
So here is what I saw on Sunday!
Trump Count: 9
The pedigree on this show is terrific. I’m pretty much a Shanan Custer junkie and there was a bonus Eric Webster thrown in. I didn’t know any of the other actors but that is likely my own damn fault. I liked this show but never fell in love with it. The characters were quirky and silly but it all felt a little bit like the first episode of a sitcom. It was a sitcom I would probably fall in love with but as a Fringe show, I felt the characters didn’t get enough room to breathe. Given the show was set on a plane, I suppose that shouldn’t have been a surprise…
Another “like not love” show. I have a long history with Star Trek (see “The Complete Works of William Shatner: Abridged”) so I enjoyed all the subtle (and not so subtle) Trek jokes peppered throughout the show. What I wasn’t sold on, though, was the narration. There was a lot of narration. I think it would have worked better if some of the narration parts had been worked into dialogue. Or if the linking narrations had been shorter. I’m saying “narration” a lot, which is kind of a subtle (or not so subtle) joke about the excessive use of…well…you know.
I did enjoy this show for the most part, though. I have to give a shout out to Matt Kessen because (as he pointed out), he and I are, to date, the only two actors to play a Gorn on the Twin Cities stage. That we know of. That statistic is probably wrong.
Third show in a row that landed somewhere in the middle for me. This show is a modern take on the Greek myth of Cassandra. It is re-imagined with Cassandra as a radio call in host and that created the biggest problem I had with the show. The two characters were basically anchored to their tables at opposite ends of the stage. It resulted in a static staging that may have made sense for the material but was fairly boring to watch. The script itself was OK but the performances were excellent. I found myself super distracted, though, when Cass and her producer argued about the use of the word “cunt” during the show. The argument centered around the use of the word and the stigma attached to it but I just kept obsessing over the problem that she’d used the word on the air and she was going to get fined. Maybe she was broadcasting on a platform not controlled by the FCC. I don’t know. I just spent a lot of time thinking about it, that’s all.
Our second performance of the show and we got some nice feedback from a few people at the show. More in a minute.
Let me just say that beyond the simple challenge for me in doing something far outside my comfort level was the fact that I chose to memorize my story. While there is literally nothing wrong with reading your story from the page in a storytelling show, I felt my story would be enhanced if I wasn’t anchored to my script. I allowed that if I wasn’t comfortable with being off book, I’d use a script. For the first two shows, I had the script on my iPad for reference.
It wasn’t easy. I’d written a nine page script. But with limited mistakes, I made it through both shows without referencing my script on stage. I even left the iPad behind for part 3 on Sunday. So go me!
Also, we got this lovely tweet from Matthew Everett. It makes any bad review melt away.
#mnfringe The Not-So-Silent Planet: mind, blown; that was some delightfully trippy sh*t – 5 stars
— Matthew A. Everett (@MatthewAEverett) August 8, 2016
So that’s great.
I didn’t see last year’s show by The Fourth Wall and I am retroactively angry with myself. I was floored by the creativity and talent of these three performers. To describe the show is futile and seriously – you don’t want me to tell you anything else beyond this – you need to go. You just need to go. Shut up. Don’t argue. Go.
Seriously, someone told me that they had to choose between one of my shows and this one and I told them to skip my show. It is that good.
Side note: two members of The Fourth Wall went to see “And To Think That I Saw it at 221B Baker Street” on Monday and I spent the whole show hoping they liked it because I felt that would somehow make me cooler.
This show has a lot in common with The ImproVoice in that it is all about a performer making up music. Tom Reed does it all on his lonesome, though. I’ve seen him perform the character before so I don’t want to say I was surprised by his talent. Except I was. He just effortlessly inhabits the character and manages to take what is, sometimes, nothing from the audience and turn it into something amazing. One performer flying without a safety net seems a little scary. Until you realize he doesn’t need one.