Fringe Reviews – Day 7 & 8
Once a year, I try to take a night off of Fringe. As much as I love all of it, I typically need a little bit of time to recharge.
With performances every week night this year, I couldn’t completely take a night off. But on Wednesday night, I stuck to my show and nothing more. It took hard work and determination to avoid watching something else. But I pulled it off.
I wouldn’t even be a playwright if it wasn’t for Fringe. I didn’t go to school to be a playwright. I just had an idea for a show and figured that the Fringe was the best place to give it a try.
I’ve written a lot since then. And I’ll bet if I went back to that first play, I might be a little bit embarrassed. At first, I couldn’t imagine writing something by myself. Eventually, I finally gained the confidence to write a show on my own.
And this year, two different people asked me to write something with them. Which was humbling and gratifying.
The thing is, Fringe has had a fundamental impact on who I am and what I’m doing. If I am ever not involved, it will not be by my own choosing.
So here is what I saw and appeared in on Wednesday and Thursday!
A Family Friendly Pulp Fiction (Not Appropriate for Families)
This was the only show for me on Wednesday night. The rest of the evening was spent hanging out with my lovely Fearless Comedy friends at The Republic.
I think our attendance was low at least in part to our proximity to a Beyonce and Jay-Z concert. At least that’s the excuse I’m going to make for the audience being a little light. It’s easier than blaming my writing.
The Complete Works of William Shatner (Abridged)
Every Fringe artist complains about their schedules at least a little bit. While the process of creating schedules is actually quite fair and I don’t believe anyone is intentionally being screwed over, it’s something we can all talk about. Right?
Anyway, Shatner had two 5:30 weeknight performances in a row. And that really sucked.
Gunfighting: An American Story
I wasn’t totally sure what I’d get out of this show. It sounded interesting but it also featured a performer/presenter with very little stage experience.
It was probably the most pleasant surprise of the Fringe so far. Sean McArdle is a prop master and he knows a lot about guns. Real ones and fake ones. Because of that, he has some thoughts about guns in America and he might know what he’s talking about.
He starts by talking about the use of prop guns and the safety protocols surrounding them. It confirmed my decision to always use NERF guns in my shows. Way less work.
After spending time explaining how prop guns work and the safety measures surrounding their use, he went on to explain the history of the NRA and gun legislation in the US. Finally, he talked about this own ideas for gun regulation.
The entire show was thoughtful and interesting. I never lost interest and was, in fact, frustrated that he didn’t talk more about prop guns. And the history of the NRA. OK, pretty much all of it.
If someone is expecting a “show,” they might be disappointed and not because this isn’t a show but rather because it isn’t what some might define as a show.
If I could wish for one change, it would be time for a Q & A at the end of the show. I had so many questions. And I can’t remember any of them now. Damn.
If Gunfighting surprised me in a good way, Lakes 4 surprised me in a slightly more disappointing way.
Given the people involved in this show, I had high hopes. I mean sure, it was basically a Minnesota themed parody of the Ocean’s Eleven films but I like heist stories and I’m from Minnesota so it sounded like a winner.
The show was fine but it didn’t really elevate the material at all. It wasn’t bad.
But it felt a little like a church basement hot dish. Everything that was in it was good but when you put it all together, the result was something that felt a lot like every other hot dish you’ve ever eaten.
There was a lot of talent there. I just felt like it all could have been used better.
Hamlet, but Hamlet’s a Chicken
I don’t know how this show was conceptualized but Grand Island Theater took the idea of a Fringe Shakespeare show and completely reinvented it.
As I’m sure you’ve heard by now – yes. Hamlet is literally played by a chicken.
That’s just the jumping off point for a show that is endlessly inventive throughout. As the show progresses from ridiculous concept to ridiculous concept, you come to realize you have no idea what they are going to do next. You can’t guess so you just enjoy the ride.
I will note that the chicken we had (they use three different chickens) was particularly brilliant and almost seemed to understand that it was in a show. It didn’t, of course, because that’s impossible.
Nonetheless, my audience got the best chicken.
I’ve seen a lot of performances of Hamlet and this may well be the best I will ever see. It will definitely be the best version of Hamlet that features a chicken.