2016 Fringe Reviews – Days 5 & 6

20160919I had two performances on both Monday and Tuesday so I’m combining the four shows I saw on my own time into a single post!  Efficiency!

As a writer, I’m frequently focused on the intent of the material and how the artist chooses to get that material across to the audience.  That intent is extremely important.

If you are going to a show that is, at it’s core, nothing more than a trifling comedy, then all you really need ask yourself is whether or not you were amused for an hour.  If it is aiming for something deeper, then it needs to be evaluated on that level.

The fringe is filled with shows representing a variety of intents.  That’s what makes it so enjoyable.  You are constantly shifting your perceptions based on the intent of the artist.  Sometimes even within the same show.

Trump Count: 10

To Kill a Minnesotan

What a perfect example of the difference a director can make.  The script for this show was weak but what really hobbled the show was poor directing choices.  The actors had no energy. Scenes in which there should have been a lot of tension felt like some of the characters were bored.  Dangerous situations didn’t feel dangerous.  There were times where I couldn’t hear entire chunks of dialogue.

Almost all of this could have been fixed with more attentive direction.  The final scene, in particular, should have been tense and tragic.  Instead, it was unintentionally comic.

The actors definitely had the ability to pull off this show but they needed a strong hand to guide them and that was lacking.  Sadly, this is one of my least favorite shows of the 2016 Fringe.

I do have to say that I really though Matt Allex did a good job with a small role.  In the final scene, his was the only performance that felt honest.

Gilligan: A Tropical Musical

Here’s a show that was fun but lacked the spark that could have made it great.  The idea of mashing up Gilligan’s Island with “Hamilton” seemed OK to me.  I just wish they had taken the whole thing further.

It felt a lot to me like there were “Hamilton” parts and “Gilligan’s Island” parts.  Yes, the lyrics from “Hamilton” had been re-written but it still didn’t feel like it was Gilligan’s Island when they were singing.  It felt like “Hamilton” was wearing a Gilligan’s Island suit.

There also didn’t feel like enough music.  I frequently wondered why we were plodding through some rather tedious plot points when there could have been another song.

A lot of the show was very funny, though.  I have to give a massive shout-out to Erin Kennedy as Mary Ann.  She pulls off the innocent farm girl character until she is called on to bust out a rhyme at which point the audience can’t help but say “Uh-oh.  This shit is ON!”

My complaint here is that I know Erin can sing and she never gets much of a chance to do so.  This is the second year I’ve seen her in a musical that barely allowed her to sing.

I swear next year I’m going to write a show called “Yes – Erin sings this song as well: The Musical.”

That brief side not notwithstanding, there was a lot to like about this show.  I just wanted it to come together a little more than it did.

The Most Dangerous Game

I would venture that I’m one of the few people in the audience who had seen the film The Most Dangerous Game and it is possible, then, that I enjoyed it on a completely different level.  The show was a broadly comedic take on the film and the short story that inspired it.

The staging was imaginative and the performances were really impressive.  I especially enjoyed Michael Hugh Torsch as Count Zaroff.  He had a remarkable ability to inhabit pregnant pauses.

The trick with this kind of show is to ensure the actors never recognize they are in a comedy.  All the performers here took their characters completely seriously and they let the humor flow naturally from there.

Of the shows I saw on Monday and Tuesday, this one was by far my favorite.

There’s No Coffee in Heaven

This one woman show about leaving the Mormon church was a mixed bag.  I don’t know if she had a director.  I’m thinking not.  That may have been the critical missing piece.

There were moments that were felt strong and natural.  Typically when she was performing parts of a stand up comedy routine.  Others felt a little stiffer.

I was engaged throughout, though, because the autobiographical story about being raised Mormon and then living through a teen pregnancy was something I wanted to hear.  The story was interesting and while it could have been very dark, she injected it with humor instead.

She needed someone to help her with the flashbacks, though.  The writing was good but the execution was just a little bit lacking.

There were also a lot of long scene transitions that should have gone faster.  It had a tendency to kill the momentum of the show at inopportune moments.

I came away more interested in the story she was telling than I had been in the way she told it.

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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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