2016 Fringe Reviews – Day 9
I love Fringe Central because it means I get to hang out with some of my best friends for a couple hours every night. I can tell performers who really blew me away that they blew me away. I can laugh and plan new theater and eat cheese curds and be social.
Fringe is a theatrical Brigadoon. I realize that is silly given that Brigadoon is a play and, therefore, already theatrical but never mind.
Fringe springs up for a fortnight every year. Hundreds of artists come together to make theater and then we all go off to create things on our own for the rest of the year. Maybe we run into each other at a bar once in a while. Maybe a few of us do a show together.
But for a few glorious days every year, we are together. I can’t tell you how fortunate I feel to be a part of it all.
Trump count remains at 10. Pokemon Go count is considerably higher.
Mash ups are a part of Fringe. I’m not going to just that given that my show this year is a mash-up of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Seuss. What is extra clever about Mead Hall is the conceit that the show is an accidental mash up.
It’s a little like a peanut butter cup show where a little Beowulf finds its way into Road House and vice versa. The show has a terrific cast led by the always reliable Clarence Wethern and Brandon Ewald. Derek Meyer, however, made a great impression in spite of being the last performer to enter and the first to leave.
The trick to a good mash up is to either find two properties that don’t match at all and find a way to crush them together in a way that makes sense or to find two properties that actually do map together and just do your best to show how well it works. Mead Hall is an example of the latter.
I look forward to Mead Hall II.
I’m writing this review in my basement office and given the nature of this show, that fills me with more than a little bit of concern. I content myself that my house is only about a hundred years old.
Tim Uren’s adaptation of Lovecraft’s work is a tricky tightrope to walk. He works alone to create a feeling of creeping dread using only Lovecraft’s words, a little bit of lighting and sound, and his own ability to tell a story. To say he succeeds is an understatement.
His choice of venue is inspired in that it evokes the building in which the story takes place. As such, the audience feels surrounded by the same horrors as the storyteller. It creates a psychological connection that grows stronger as the story goes deeper (both literally and metaphorically).
I admire Tim’s ability to stage such a difficult work and the simple yet effective way he presented the work was impressive.
Boy, I loved the idea of this show. I did not like the execution.
The problems with this show come almost entirely from the script. I found it about as frustrating as anything I’ve seen at the Fringe because of the fundamental writing errors.
The concept, that a traveling Dungeon Master uses D & D to help couples work through their problems, could have worked. What happens though is the character play D & D and then the DM does the couples counseling.
The result is a lengthy scene where actors are seated around a table playing D & D. Just playing D & D. The climactic battle in the game could have been written to be a metaphor for the conflict in the couples’ marriage. It wasn’t.
You can’t make the act of rolling dice and reading the results interesting unless the audience has some investment in those results. There’s a reason most people play D & D but don’t watch D & D. You have to make the game mean more.
I had other issues with the poorly constructed conflict between the couple but the basic problem with this show was the way it suggested it was using D & D as a metaphor but then failed to deliver on that promise.
I think the author had a good idea. I wish he’d found a way to deliver on that idea.