Fringe Reviews 2017 – Day 3
Before I write my reviews, I’m going to spend a moment complaining about Fringe Central. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on Grumpy’s in spite of the fact that last night was, apparently, death metal night and the entire bar was filled with music so loud, it forced every Fringe customer out to the patio.
It isn’t that I don’t particularly enjoy Death Metal (although I don’t). It’s just that loud music is the bane of Fringe Central.
Loud music is one of those things it seems almost no Fringe central venue understands. These are actors. A whole bunch of them have to perform tomorrow. Making them shout to be heard is not helping.
I actually love going to Fringe Central because for one ten day period, you have a huge subset of the Twin Cities Theater community just hanging around with each other. It is the crucible in which new ideas are forged. Some of them are even good!
But it is also a place where getting something to eat is next to impossible because there are never enough servers. And a place where the music is too loud. And there is never enough space.
I keep hoping we’ll find a place that gets it. On Friday night, I honestly thought that place might be Grumpy’s.
Then I walked into screaming Death Metal on Sunday and found yet another place that, sadly, doesn’t get it.
So on to my reviews for Saturday!
I will note before I write my reviews for the day that I have several friends involved in the productions of Facebook Lite and Waiting for Gygax.
I will note also that I track every show I either see or perform in as part of my own record keeping. So yeah, I’m going to spend a little time talking about both of my shows. You can skip that part if you like.
When I first learned of this show, my concern was the premise seemed to allow for little more than a five minute sketch. As I think upon the show, that continues to be the problem. The premise was laid out in the first five minutes and then it was supported for the rest of the show. The joke grew stale and with a near lack of any kind of narrative arc, I lost interest. I kept wondering, why would anyone use this? Every customer was annoyed at the pointless censorship but they didn’t stop using the tool. How did the operators feel about the job they were doing? Did some of them hate it? A few of the characters were recurring characters but they didn’t change or grow so being present more than once served no narrative purpose. There were concepts to explore that would have given this show direction and weight but they were never addressed.
This is a first time Fringe producer and I’ve seen her write really funny work. Writing a full show is not the same thing as writing a sketch or a joke. I expect she will learn from what she did here and do something much better next time.
I was concerned about the premise for this show as well. Mashing up Waiting for Godot with D & D is clever enough, but was it going to work as a fifty minute Fringe show? The answer is yes because the co-authors found a way to tell a story using the premise as a framework and the actors delivered. I think they were smart to rely on the Waiting for Godot source material just enough to establish the premise without being completely beholden to it. The show is mostly not laugh out loud funny but it isn’t supposed to be. Overall, I found the show really entertaining and I think it over delivered on the promise of its concept.
The show was easily one of the best two shows I saw today. I think all of the actors did a great job finding the nuance in their characters and if there was a standout, it was Commarrah Bashar. She had the best part, in my opinion, but she also nailed it.
Because I had a performance of Katie Versus the Devils at 5:30, I needed to be close to my theater. With several shows that hadn’t opened yet, I opted to go see Get Hooked: A Pirate Musical because why not? That’s what Fringe is for! Their show page was concerning because it had no cast and crew information or additional info. I always worry about Producers who aren’t going to do even that much work. When I sat down, I saw they had a live orchestra/band and it sounded pretty good. Maybe the show would impress.
It didn’t, though.
Now I have to be fair that this was a show produced by high school kids. Many of them exhibited talent and I would expect to see them improve should they continue to produce Fringe shows. So I balance the fact I didn’t like this show with the fact that I probably couldn’t have produced something this polished when I was sixteen.
Still, I found the music was pretty mediocre and set in a range that the kids couldn’t sing. The story was kind of fragmented and the talent of the kids was all over the map.
The show wasn’t good. But it was promising. I hope these kids keep doing stuff.
Here’s where I get to express frustration over an audience review.
See, as a writer who sometimes acts, I’m frequently feel like I’m out of my depth in this show. So when an audience member gives a three star review because the show is advertised as a comedy and it is really more of a drama, I can understand their frustration.
At the same time – so what? If you expected a comedy and you got a drama, tell us how we did. Don’t tell us you believe the producer mis-identified the show. That isn’t a reason to dock a show a couple of stars.
As an actor, I can only get better if I know what I’m doing wrong. Same thing with being a writer. A review that focuses on something over which I have no control is frustrating.
The audience can write any review they like. I get that. I still get frustrated when someone docks an entire production because of somewhat unrelated criteria.
I kind of hate Josh Carson on principle. He writes more jokes into ten minutes than I write in an entire year.
Correction, he writes more funny jokes into ten minutes than I write in an entire year.
He’s also an asshole because when he teams up with Andy Kraft, his work gets even funnier. As if he wasn’t lapping the rest of us already.
Andy completely steals this show from everyone else on stage with nothing more than a couple of glass jars and his crossed eyes.
If I have one critique for the show, it was that the kid playing Charlie was frequently hard to hear. He needs to work on his projection.
The rest of the show was great and fuck you, Josh.
We went to this Bollywood dance show because our first choice was sold out. I’ve been greatly entertained by some other Bollywood shows at Fringe but I don’t believe they were by the same company.
This show claimed to be about passion but it lacked any kind of passion. The dances were…OK. The dancers were inexperienced, which is fine, but there were no experienced dancers to give the dances life.
I was also concerned that in a show filled with people of color, someone opted to cast almost all white actors in the leads. One of them was supposed to be bi-racial and she was most definitely not. I guess I just feel like there are enough actors and dancers of color in the Twin Cities, they could have found one.
Overall, the show was, unfortunately, kind of limp and uninteresting.
We had a great audience last night. They came to laugh and it made everything easier. The actors felt much looser than they felt on opening night. They felt more willing to play with the audience, which is exactly what I wanted them to do when I wrote the play.
When you are writing comedy, I can’t stress enough how important the audience is to the show. If they are engaged and laughing, your show can seem great. If they aren’t, your show can really limp along.
I don’t blame the audience for being good or bad. That’s on the writer and the performers to deliver the best show no matter what.
But I can’t deny that a good audience helps everyone on stage do their jobs. Last night we had a great audience. Thanks to all of them.