Fringe Festival – Day 3
I opened two shows yesterday and still managed to fill my day with Fringe-y goodness! Here’s what I saw and what I thought.
Are you There God? It’s a New Musical Revue!
Blue Umbrella specializes in musical revues so if you like a bunch of good singers performing a series of songs from musicals, this show is exactly what you want. It is not “Sylvia Plath: The Musical.”
I mention that simply because I think the concept of a musical revue confuses people and they go into a show expecting a narrative. There is no narrative to the show. To the individual songs, to be sure, but not the show itself.
Instead, it is a series of songs about childhood and growing up. The singers are all very talented and your enjoyment of the show will most likely be measured by whether or not you enjoy what they are singing.
I certainly did.
A minor frustration was that I was sitting further back and at times the accompanist overpowered the singers. This was not a constant issue but it was occasionally frustrating.
The title alone is enough to attract attention. The fact this is a Four Humors show made it a must see.
Having recently watched Lolita, I probably got more enjoyment out of this show than the rest of the audience. And the rest of the audience was loving it. My wife said that it was probably one of the best shows she’d seen from Four Humors and the bar is already set pretty high.
Special praise needs to be heaped upon the Ryan Learn, who played Humbert Humbert. Brant Miller may rock the heck out of a polka dot bikini but Miller had some of the most impressive slow takes I’ve ever seen.
Best of all, the show is not just a straight adaptation of the film. Instead, it frequently follows odd tangents that makes it more than a parody.
The only critique I have for the show is that it has effectively ruined Lolita for me. Thanks a lot guys!
I wrote the show so it would be inappropriate of me to review it. I did, however, watch it and I want to say that John, my director and our actors (Cody, Mackenzie and Chris) did an admirable job staging what I wrote.
If you see the show and like it, it is their doing as much as it is my writing. Probably more.
I love a show that starts out as a comedy and turns darkly tragic. If you can execute it well.
All the pieces are in place for this show. Phillip andrew bennet low, Tim Uren and Dawn Krosnowski are three of my favorite Fringe performers. They execute the script with the skill expected of such gifted professionals.
The script is really good but…
It relied, I think, a bit too heavily on narration. Writer Steve Schroer spends more time telling the story than he does showing us the story. That may have been a challenge resultant from adapting the source material.
I still recommend this show, though. My frustrations with the script are probably more personal preference than anything and the acting is some of the best you will see in any fringe show.
Who’s on First? 50 Years of the Doctor in 60 or Less
Being squarely in my geek wheelhouse, there was no joke that went over my head in this show.
Excepting, I’m afraid, the ones I couldn’t hear because the actors were talking too quickly or too quietly. Which happened quite a lot.
There were a lot of laughs left strewn about the stage in this show but the humor was very uneven. Some jokes landed well. Others never landed but turned into running gags anyway. The rule of three is tossed out the window in favor of the rule of as many times as possible.
The attempt to create a madcap rush through the eleven doctors involved several curious choices. Tom Baker received roughly two minutes while the last ten minutes of the show were spent reviewing every Matt Smith episode.
But look, this show is exactly what I expected. The actors are not great but they are clearly enjoying what they are doing. The script is super geeky. Rough edges are what the Fringe is all about.
Alphabetical Movie – Lolita
Since Lolita is a story about pedophilia, I’m going to tell a story about pedophilia.
Doing Vilification Tennis at the Renaissance Festival is a dicey proposition. We are doing a show that is pretty vile and vulgar and the audience likes it that way. However, we are doing it at a venue that is advertised as appropriate for all ages. That means you have to walk a pretty mean balancing act between offensive humor and trying to ensure parents who are walking by don’t have to explain too much to their kids later. Because parents hate that. More on that later.
Most days I think we do an admirable job of walking that tighrope. Every now and again, though, there is a complaint. I take the complaints seriously and I do my best to keep the performers from getting out of hand. Our show is best if we flirt with the line without merrily skipping across it.
On occasion, we get an instruction from the festival management about the kind of material they would like us to avoid. Most of the time, the request is a little odd and when I ask for clarification, I find it was one joke that caused the problem.