Fringe Reviews 2017 – Day 7
I’ve often said I love being involved in theater because none of us are really in competition with each other. I mean sure, we’d all love to have one of our shows called the best someone has ever seen but that isn’t going to happen to most of us.
The truth is, there is enough audience to go around and the only people any of us compete with is ourselves. Josh Carson writes amazing comedy. Nobody compares his work to the Guthrie. They compare his work to the rest of his work. Attendance at his shows has never been driven by how much better or worse his show is than mine (his shows are always better and no that is not false modesty).
Yes, actors are frequently in competition to get parts. It’s probably one of the reasons I don’t act all that much.
The shows in which we all perform, however, stand or fall on their own merit. We can all enjoy our own success together.
I mean hell, that’s what Fringe is all about.
I performed in two of my own shows on Wednesday and because of that, I ended up at shows that were in close proximity to my own. Sometimes, you discover something wonderful when you do that. Sometimes you don’t.
This was mostly a concert and I admit, I fell right asleep a couple of times. While I can’t blame all of it on the show, I can certainly blame the performers for a series of songs that all sounded very much the same and featured lyrics I couldn’t understand.
The performers encouraged audience members to sing along or at least use shakers and as someone who has used audience participation more than once, it bothered me because they didn’t earn it. They demanded it. Even before the show officially started they were telling the audience we had to sing along.
Audiences will play along if they feel invited and inspired to do so. And even then, not all of them will. That these performers never paused to earn the participation of their audience really put me off.
While I didn’t enjoy this show, the performers on stage were absolutely into what they were doing. They weren’t passive or checked out. They were energetic and passionate. I just wish that some of that passion and energy had been focused a bit more on their audience and less on themselves.
I am a pacer.
What I mean by that is when a show of mine goes on stage, I’m pretty much reduced to a bundle of nerves thinking “here comes the next joke – I hope people laugh.” When they do, I think “whew! I hope they laugh at the next one!”
It’s stupid and pointless but when you are writing jokes, you want to believe someone will find them funny.
If I could just pace in the back of the audience without being a distraction, I would do that. Sitting through my show is actually very difficult.
The great thing about Death in Yosemite is I’m in about thirty seconds of the show. So I can spend the rest of the show pacing. I’ve been putting in about 4000 steps per show.
While this could signal some deep seated emotional issues, I think the extra steps are good for me. How’s that for finding the silver lining?
I hated this show. It was the kind of theatre that is filled with important choices and important messages without ever once taking the audience into consideration. Actors walked around shining flashlights on their faces and looking pained or amused or frightened without any of them really constructing a meaningful or emotional experience. There were piles of subtext that lacked any context to connect the audience to any of it. One of the characters was completely superfluous and incongruous with the rest of the show.
So having stated how much I disliked the show, I have to admit that it was, most likely, exactly the show the creators were trying to make.
It didn’t work for me. At all. I felt it was laborious and obtuse and I wanted to leave the theater five minutes into the opening flashlight sequence.
But as far as I can tell, the show achieved what it was trying to achieve. So how do I review the show? They didn’t do anything badly. The performances were all solid. The staging was decent, especially given the limitations of the space in which it was performed.
And yet I still hated it.
So I guess my review is to tell you the show isn’t for everyone. It definitely wasn’t for me. But it was exactly what it was trying to be. I can’t fault it for that.
I have a certain amount of anxiety when it comes to my writing but that is nothing compared to the anxiety I have as an actor.
Katie is a tough little show. I’d really like to know how I’m doing as an actor because I just don’t do it enough to know. Reviews that say things like “the lead actress is great but she could have used a better supporting cast” kind of suck because I’m thinking “I thought I did what the writer/director asked so is the problem my acting or not?”
This is the problem with the Fringe. We all want honest feedback. When we get it, we don’t always know what it means.
But hey – on the nights I feel like I’ve given the performance my director wanted, I allow myself to smugly dismiss any criticism because to heck with those people anyway! They don’t know me!
Except maybe they do! Fuck!