Fringe Reviews 2017 – Day 10
As the Fringe winds to a close, reviews are less important. I keep posting them anyway because hell, they might help someone down the road.
Last night, Fringe central was completely overrun by Coldplay fans. The proximity of Grumpy’s to US Bank Stadium provided many fans of the band with the opportunity to pre-game the concert. It also meant that most Fringe Festival participants were hanging out on the patio and trying to avoid the music fans who, most likely, had no idea the Fringe Festival even existed.
We made fun of these people a little. Not really because there is anything wrong with being a Coldplay fan but because they were invading “our” space.
Which is silly. I mean, ten days ago, this wasn’t “ours.” And tomorrow there will be no more performers with pink lanyards standing around trying to get a basket of tots.
But last night, our space and our city was crawling with Coldplay fans. They filled a stadium. And most of them were unaware of the amazing things happening all around them.
I guess that’s why we made fun of them a little. We all knew what they were missing.
This production team has produced a string of extremely successful musicals and I think this was my favorite of the three. Being a fan of Erin Kennedy, I was happy to see that she was given a lead in a musical because she should get to sing more.
The script is very clever and filled with great references to romantic comedies both popular and obscure. It made me laugh out loud multiple times.
My frustration was with one aspect of the music and that was the key. It was too low for all of the singers. The worst thing about picking a key that is too low is it makes the singers harder to hear. They can’t project the way they could in a register that is more comfortable for them. The lyrics were clever but hard to understand.
Every one of the shows by this production team shows they know a lot more about comedy than they do about music. Their comedy is top notch. Now that they have had so much success, I’d like to see their music match that level.
But hell, they are getting along great doing exactly what they are doing. And as long as they can give Erin more time on stage, I know I’ll always be in the audience.
The premise of this show is pretty simple. Comedians do a bunch of impressions. That’s literally the entire premise of the show.
The whole thing is strung together by a series of loosely formatted games meant to challenge the performers to go beyond the impressions they do well. The show has featured a rotating cast but the final show had every single one of them on stage.
Eight performers (or was it nine) proved to be a little too much at times. The most interesting games didn’t have enough time to develop because the Fringe only gives you an hour no matter how many people are in your show.
There is no denying, however, that listening to Kermit the Frog and Fozzie Bear perform a scene from Pulp Fiction is hilarious. Or watching a bunch of people try to do a Jerry Seinfeld impression even though some of them have never done a Jerry Seinfeld impression. And the Gene Wilder impression was amazing.
This show was really all about a bunch of comedy performers having fun doing comedy. And that sort of thing is easy to enjoy.
Our final performance means I can stop running lines in the shower in the morning!
As I’ve mentioned, this was a challenging show for me. I stepped far out of my comfort zone as an actor and a theater professional. It made me nervous every night.
But I did it. And I think it made me a little bit better as an actor.
I’ve talked to friends who have had less than stellar outings as an actor and their response typically is “well, I’m done acting.” Thing is, do you want to act or not? If the answer is yes, you need to understand that nobody ever got better at acting by not acting.
I mean yeah, there are a few people who are naturals. But even those people get better the more they do it. So if you want to act, you’ve got to find opportunities to do so. And you’ve got to listen to people who can tell you how to do it better.
So I’m glad I had an opportunity. And I hope I listened when I was given thoughts on how to be better. And thanks to everyone who came and watched!
I frequently point out that I don’t like modern dance. This is both true and false. I don’t like most of the trappings of some modern dance. I don’t like the repetitive Phillip Glass style music. I don’t like the fact that the facial expression is blank because I’m supposed to be focused on the movement.
I understand why all these things happen. But I frequently don’t enjoy them.
Out of the Shadows takes everything I dislike about modern dance and throws it in a blender to produce something that is truly extraordinary. It is a personal piece about dance and life that begins with a dance, transitions to a story about the dance, and then concludes with the same dance that has been completely transformed through understanding.
When that dance is performed a second time, it is an experience so different, it is as if we’ve never seen it before. We understand every moment that is presented. We see the weight of the experience of the dancer. We see the challenges, the heartache, the aching muscles, and the passion.
I don’t really hate modern dance. I just feel most of it fails to build a bridge between the dancer and the audience. Most of it feels designed to appeal only to those who are already in the know. Already fans of that type of work.
Out of the Shadows is all about building a bridge between the dancer and his audience. It is one of the best shows I’ve ever seen at the Fringe.
Buzz is a big part of the Fringe. Some shows sneak up on the audience. Out of the Shadows was one of those shows.
DUNGEON was another. After the first show, I heard people talking about it. Then I heard everyone talking about it.
It’s a theatrical experience that can’t be described. The performers use handheld light sources to create a frightening situation and environment. There is some dialogue but most of the show is accompanied by a few musicians and occasional grunts and screams.
I talked about how the two horror shows I saw earlier in the week left me unsatisfied. DUNGEON made the horror immediate and dangerous and made us care about a character who barely said a word.
The creativity exhibited by these artists was almost embarrassing. What they did with a few lights and some plastic was more evocative than what I’ve seen some fantastic writers do with words and elaborate sets. Both approaches are equally valid. But DUNGEON made it all look so effortless.
I wish the amp on the bass guitar hadn’t been so loud. It kind of blew out my eardrums at times. That’s my only complaint. And it wouldn’t prevent me from seeing everything this company chooses to produce in the future.