Monday, August 11, 2008

REVIEWS- Minnesota Fringe Fest

I saw about 25 shows last week. I reviewed a bunch of em. Loved many of them and hated a few. Here's my reviews:

Depth of a Moment
Best I've seen yet. by Rex Winsome Rating: 5 kitties
Wonderful experiments, performed with care and immense skill. Fay and Glassman present beautiful peices that necessitate active viewing, holding us in rapt attention as huge explorations of breif ordinary moments occur almost magically, before our eyes.

Deviants
Interdisciplinary dance theatre with content. by Rex Winsome Rating: 5 kitties
This show kicks ass. Deviants has got it all, raw energy, roughness, discipline, proficiency and commitment, honesty, daring, intelligence, process, surprise, alienation, emotion, action and cruelty. The spirit of Artaud is on stage with these people. MUST SEE!

elephant shoes, & olive juice; (mis) communication in a modern world
Adorable! by Rex Winsome Rating: 4 kitties
This cute show about misunderstandings, anachronistic communication mediums, and linguistic snafus exudes a genuine playfulness and simple unpolished joy of performance. Good times.

The Cody Rivers Show Presents: Stick to Glue
Insane Skills!! by Rex Winsome Rating: 4 kitties
The most manic, energetic hour of storytelling games and fun on stage you'll ever see. Completely off the hook conceptual sketch theatre. Tons of fun, but left feeling a little flat, cuz the themes were small and buried so deep you can barely find them.

Delirium for Two
Manic and Chilling and Fun by Rex Winsome Rating: 4 kitties
Don't get to see much (well, nowadays, any) Ionesco where i'm from, so it's exciting to catch this strange surreal tale of a couple trapped in an aparment under shelling. The actors range from manic to depressed with great energy and commitment. But, the performances are not consistantly believeable. The tech really steals the show here, creating startling moments of confusion and alienation that punctuate the action on stage and really up the stakes.

Leaving Normal
Amazing by Rex Winsome Rating: 4 kitties
Incredible energetic one woman show. Great physicality and control of body and face to create radically different characters and weave them into a poignant story about all the universal truths of the human condition, but with a totally unique presentation and voice that overcomes sentamentality and eschews cliche.

Boom
great new package for known message by Rex Winsome Rating: 4 kitties
A clever future times fairytale, incredibly witty and spectacularly performed, Boom tells today's story, a story we already know. The story of corporate irresponsibility, income disparity, governmental idiocy, facile pop entertainment and individual moral responsibilities. Will this fantastic packaging finally effectively deliver the message to the masses? Or is the message itself being ignored because it's not really inspiring or complete?

Gone, Gone, Gone
Accessible Modern Dance by Rex Winsome Rating: 4 kitties
Great playful and very accessible modern dance. I'm not big into dance in general, but i've seen my share of it, and this is the only concert that had me laughing out loud with the dancers. These two look great together, they are synthesizing great talent with having fun on stage like no other group i've seen.

The Butterfly Kisses Effect or A Post-Nuptial Log Flume towards Consensus
ingenious! by Rex Winsome Rating: 4 kitties
Great juxtaposition of erudite academia with insane hijinx. The best post-kitsch performance art I've seen. That's right, i just coined a new sub-genre: post-kitch. This highly personal, confessional tale by obviously well-educated people acting downright idiotic. I loved it!

Life Sciences
Sarte meets sketch by Rex Winsome Rating: 3 kitties
Like a sketch comedy No Exit, with uneven jokes, uneven performances, and a valient attempt at inserting intelligent themes into sketch comedy. Definitely worth checking out.

You're No Fun
Good try. by Rex Winsome Rating: 3 kitties
Most importantly: turn that keyboard down!!
Second: This is a show for theatre people about how theatre is growing dangerously irrelevant to non-theatre people. There were great performances and a lot of fun, but the show doesn't give what i hoped it would. It seems like a valient attempt to reach a subculture that i'd really like to see theatre reach, and it uses some wonderful Brechtian techniques to do so. Unfortunately, by the end, the message gets muddled. The characters fall into cliches and the play ends up just smashing the "modern hobo" type up against the "crazy theatre artist" type. A few scenes tap into a genuine sense of what's wrong with theatre or what's wrong with anarcho-punks, but the broadway musical resolution of these conflicts short circuits the critique. While funny and crowd pleasing, the end of the show occurs so completely within the theatre world that the play ends up more like an inward self-affirmation for crazy theatre artists, than the reaching-out to anarcho-punks I was hoping for.

All Rights Reserved: A Libertarian Rage
Spinning Wheels by Rex Winsome Rating: 3 kitties
The typical complaints from indepenent third party politicos in an often witty and occasionally funny package. Over all a pretty negatory show, espousing an ideology that seems to be defined purely by the many things it stands against.

The BoyShow
mixed feelings by Rex Winsome Rating: 2 kitties
Middle class high school boys producing a show about the issues that matter to them. It's a great thing, and some of these kids have a lot of talent. Looks like all of them had a lot of fun, too. As a play, the peice too often smacks of after school special or sex ed class mixed up with an annoying kind of untimately ineffectual politically correct liberalism.

The Gypsy and the General
Not Quite by Rex Winsome Rating: 2 kitties
Some well done loop pedal created music and really creative versatile use of a few props, resulting in a handful of unique and interesting sequences, lots of fun, but the story that tied these elements together was so utterly lacking and over acted that i found myself cringing and waiting for the next scene.

JACK
Nice Puppets by Rex Winsome Rating: 2 kitties
Lovingly told puppet version of Jack and the Beanstalk. Dreamy and langorous, visually wonderful, but the meta-theatre realization at the end leaves the peice with no where more to go.

How Does a Drug Deal Become a Decent 3rd Date?
Uninsightful by Rex Winsome Rating: 1 kitty
the male actor was funny, sometimes...

Shakespeare's Land of the Dead
Less Shakespeare. MORE ZOMBIES! by Rex Winsome Rating: 1 kitty
This peice succeeded in putting someone's excessive historical education about The Greatest Playwright of All Time (TM) to some use. It even had a good parody of Sir Francis Bacon. It's well acted and looks good too. But, it fails because it uses a zombie gimick to lure in people who don't give a rat's ass about The Bard, then dissappoints us completely. The zombie threat never seemed real or compelling. All the actual drama occuring on stage relating to the zombies had no stakes at all. The zombies were dispatched too easily to make room for more Shakespeare detrius and biographical speculation, subjects that i for one wish would just please stay dead already!

Antigone...A Riff on Sophocles
Style Clash! by Rex Winsome Rating: 1 kitty
I've heard political rallies in the 60's described as some guy on an ego trip shouting at a crowd to get free by following his every demand. This production of Antigone seems to be in that tradition. The patronizing attempt to reach a younger and more diverse demographic by inserting hip hop and modern slang creates a confused clash of styles. A genuine hiphop antigone could be good, and relevant, but this production makes ancient Greece and modern hip hop go together like plaids and stripes, with a flower power pattern of overwrought contextless symbolism scattered throughout.

The Pumpkin Pie Show
Tedious. by Rex Winsome Rating: 1 kitty
If these stories were printed on paper, they'd be mildly amusing, and you probably wouldn't make it through a collection before wanting to catch some better reading. The stories start out with an utterly uninteresting cliche, something totally ordinary and safe, then expand and deepen it until tension is introduced, and the story starts to say something. Then quickly take it a few steps further, into the ridiculous and unbeleiveable (and thus, again, safe) before wrapping it up with a silly punch line. But, I guess telling these stories with ego-maniacally bad acting somehow turns them into crowd pleasers here at the fringe.

2 comments:

Jay said...

Rex,

1 kitty for Land of the Dead? C'mon...you're kidding, right? I think your review is pretty darn accurate, but 1 kitty? Land of the Dead was one of the worst shows you saw at the MN Fringe? If that's truly the case, you were extremely lucky in the 25 choices you made.

Rex Winsome said...

i DESPISE Shakespeare.