2019 Fringe Reviews – Day 7

So much of Fringe is people taking a chance on something. You have to respect that even when it doesn’t end up working. And you also have to accept that your tastes are not everyone’s tastes.

I’ve gone to many shows that were good shows but I didn’t like them. How do you rate those? How do you review them? I don’t want to pretend that I liked them but I also don’t want to pretend that what I like or don’t like is what everyone likes or doesn’t like.

Being an artist at Fringe means I can go to as many shows as possible for free. And if you are an artist at Fringe and aren’t taking advantage of that benefit, you still have a few days to change that.

Obviously, we all have lives and maybe it doesn’t make sense for some of us. But over the run of Fringe, I learn more about acting, directing, and writing than I do in the rest of the year because I watch so many shows. I learn from what people do right but I also learn from what they do wrong.

I supposed that’s why I go through the process of writing my reviews. So I can actually have a record of what I learned.

I saw three shows last night and they were all good in one way or another. They all also had major flaws. So I’m going to see what I can learn from each one of them.

A Cult Classic

A Cult Classic feels like a play that has everything going for it and that’s why I’m not sure why it didn’t have more of an impact. The story of a bizarre doomsday cult that may or may not realize how idiotic their entire belief system is before it is too late is well staged and performed. The writing felt strong but it maybe it had too easy a time making its point?

I found myself mildly amused with the comically weird cult members who had been convinced they needed to forget how to read and thus were incapable of accomplishing the most basic of tasks without their leader (who has disappeared). There were sinister undertones as well but somehow those undertones and the comedy weren’t balanced.

I spent a lot of time thinking about how much I really wanted to like this show but never felt fully engaged. I never felt like the comedy was broad enough or the danger real enough. Maybe I was too fully aware of how cults work and so I saw most of the twists coming before the characters did.

I don’t know how I’d change this play to make it work for me. And maybe that doesn’t need to happen because while I know I didn’t care for it, I can’t point to any one thing that made it a bad show. It wasn’t a bad show. But it should have appealed to me and it didn’t. I’ll let everyone know if I figure out why.

Backstory

Backstory is a two actor play about the backstory (get it) of Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Instead of Jimmy Stewart’s perspective, we get the perspective of the conspirators and their plan to trick him.

Since I love Vertigo, I was definitely the target audience. And that’s part of the problem. If you haven’t seen Vertigo, I feel like this show would be nearly impenetrable. The story can be understood without having seen the movie but I don’t think you can understand the relevance.

And the thing is, you could have included some of Vertigo to help an unfamiliar audience. The show only runs 35 minutes. There was a lot of time to fill in the blanks.

The show also suffers from a lack of emotion. These two characters are talking about emotional challenges but they aren’t showing them. We are to believe that one of them is growing more concerned about the plot but she doesn’t seem more concerned. She just says he is.

And the other character is a controlling asshole who is selfishly trying to change his life but he seems kind of…bored.

At 35 minutes, the show is short. But if you don’t know Vertigo, I’m guessing even 35 minutes will feel long.

If you do know Vertigo, and you accept that this is what actually happened to these characters when the camera wasn’t running, I feel like you’d understand why Hitchcock decided not to include it.

Chorus

This is a good play. The performances are solid. The writing is exactly the writing this is needed for the story they are trying to tell. I have to say up front, if you like the kind of show they created, this is a very good example of that kind of show.

And I’m going to do my best to describe the show because it is the kind of show I pretty much hate.

But my hatred of this type of show is my problem.

Chorus follows a bunch of college students and their teacher on a bus tour across the country. It is told in a clipped, ensemble fashion with monologues often split between the entire cast. One line at a time. It’s a kind of poetic, distant recollection of this one time in their lives and what it meant to them.

There are so many characters and each of them gets an arc. Minor ones. One that could, on their own, be an entire Fringe show.

There’s some music. There’s a moment when a shocking news story is partially healed through song. There’s a teacher who has lost his family because the choir kids are his family.

It’s all well done and…I remember doing this kind of show in High School. It is so earnest and so deep and yet also so very shallow. To me, anyway.

The audience in the theater with me loved it. Loved it.

So that’s why I say that this is a good show. It achieves everything it sets out to achieve and everyone involved is doing their jobs well.

It is the best example I’ve seen of a show style that I really don’t like. I mean that as a complement even if it doesn’t sound like one.

Swan Song

Our penultimate performance went well with a much better than expected attendance for 10:00 PM on a Thursday.

It’s interesting being in a mystery show where the whole idea is to tell people as little as possible. You don’t want to give away all your secrets. You want the audience to experience them on their own.

I care so little about spoilers. The show can completely stand on its own. You can know what is going to happen and still appreciate the journey.

That said, I respect the desire of our producer to keep things a secret. You will note that even as I say I don’t care about spoiling the show, I’m not actually spoiling the show. Once the show closes, I’ll totally ruin anything you like, though!

About Swan Song, or Endgame, or whatever! I’m your one stop spoiler shop. DM me!

Until then, though, we have one more performance. And my lips are sealed!

 

 

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About Petsnakereggie

Geek, movie buff, dad, musician, comedian, atheist, liberal and writer. I also really like Taco flavored Doritos.

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