Fringe is a delightfully random experience at times. Over the weekend, I found myself going to shows simply because they were close to the venue I’d be performing in next. The result was a few gems and a lot of things that were…OK.
Here’s the reality of the Fringe. Most of the shows are neither great nor awful. Most of them are somewhere in the middle.
As a fellow artist, I have great respect for anyone who produces a show at the Fringe. They are all aiming to produce something of merit and with very few exceptions, there is merit in everything that appears on stage. Reviewing a show, for me, should be an act of encouraging them to get better rather than tearing down their efforts.
Trying and failing is something we’ve all done. The best producers at the Fringe have failed. At something. I hope. Otherwise they suck.
So I saw a lot of stuff that didn’t really impress the heck out of me this weekend. And that’s OK. If any of the producers read my reviews, I’m sure that you are happy with your show. If you find something in my review that will help you with your next show, great. If not, keep writing shows (if you want to) and remember that the best reviewers out there aren’t trying to tear you down – they are trying to make you better.
…which implies I think I’m one of the best reviewers and I don’t think that but anyway on to the reviews…
Fringe week stumbles on!
I’ve known Josh for about five years now. He’s one of those personalities that is linked with the Fringe for me. I can’t imagine Fringe Festival without Josh Carson.
You always know when Josh is in a room. It isn’t just because he has a loud voice. It’s because he is so animated. He doesn’t ever seem to stand still for very long.
Because his writing is a lot like that, I have to assume that Josh’s outward personality is a reflection of his mind. It just doesn’t stand still.
When I write a show, I’m frequently concerned that it is too short. I’m never convinced I had enough to say.
Josh’s problem is the opposite. He has so many jokes, he runs out of time to tell them all. When I watch one of his shows, I’m almost afraid to laugh for fear of missing the next punchline.
Problem is, I can’t help but laugh because his jokes are too good.
I’m not going to lie. I resent that a lot.
His shows are popular because he writes scripts that appeal to just about everyone. I could (and should) bring my kids to his shows. They wouldn’t get every joke but they would get a lot of them.
At fringe central, Josh’s table is one of most crowded and the loudest. He’s got a personality that draws people to him. And the people he attracts are a lot like him.
It is the nature of the Fringe that it brings together so many creative minds over a ten day orgy of artistry. I’m naturally drawn to the comedians because I feel I understand them.
Or at least I want to understand them.
Josh is a perfect example of why I love the Fringe so much. He and I might never have met had it not been for our mutual involvement in this big weird theater thing. I’m a better person for knowing him because watching what he does and who he is makes me strive to be better in what I do.
Of course he has a show at the Fringe this year and of course I’m going to see it. You should too.
Day seven of the Fringe Festival ended after I was thwarted in my attempts to watch To Mars with Tesla or The Interplanetary Machinations of Evil Thomas Edison. I found myself at Ping’s eating chicken skewers with Chris Bowlsby, Sharon Stiteler, Levi Weinhagen and Courtney McClean. Later, Levi and I arm wrestled. So it was a weird day.
The transient nature of the Fringe can be frustrating at times. With 30 minutes between shows. You are rushing from one side of Minneapolis to the other in a mad attempt to reach the next theatre. At times your concern is not a sellout but simply missing opening curtain. Either way, you may find yourself taking an unexpected dinner break because you were too late.
I dislike that stressful process of getting from here to there. The best laid plans can be thrown by bad luck with traffic lights or pedestrians.
It is all part of the Fringe experience, though. It is a mad rush of theatre and it isn’t for the weak of heart.
Josh Carson’s weakness is he is too good at writing jokes.
I know, it isn’t a weakness. It just means that his shows are just packed with punchlines and you are going to miss a few. I would argue that it ensures rewatchability.
My frustration with the show came not from Josh’s dense writing but rather from actors who weren’t enunciating ther lines well. I know they had to speak them in a hurry to squeeze the entire show into an hour but a little bit of diction would have gone a long way.
That’s not a big thing. I certainly understood enough of the jokes to enjoy the hell out of the show. I just wanted to understand more of them.
I am really in love with the staging of this show.
The story, which was about a politician who loses his Nose, was absurd from the start and the staging complemented the absurdity perfectly.
The actors moved in a way that wasn’t dancing but the inspiration was clear. They were choreographed meticulously. Every move had purpose.
Well yeah. Every move in theatre is supposed to have purpose. However, the moves were sychronized and the three actors worked together to create a piece that was as much about movement as it was about story.
I thought it was terrific.
I didn’t want the show to end.
A fascinating series of stories about the sex trade in Nevada, I felt like I was taking a masters class in prostitution.
Katherine Glover shared stories of why brothels are legal in Nevada and tells us about a few women who work there as a way to, I think, demystify the institution.
Is prostitution OK? That isn’t really the point here. The point is that she wants us to understand the industry and the people who are involved in it because those people are interesting. Their stories are interesting too.
It isn’t that there aren’t judgements to make. It is that we don’t really know what we’re judging. This show gives us a glimpse into an industry few of us really understand.
And I walked away wishing I could glimpse a little more.