Fringe Report: August 2, 2008

fringe2008.pngAs the festival progresses, reviews become more and more important. As your precious time runs out, you want to make sure you’re catching the good stuff. I’m following along at the TC Daily Planet, Pioneer Press, City Pages and checking the reviews rolling in at so I can see if the stuff I thought looked good has actually turned out to be good (keeping in mind that a lot of those are going to come from family/friends).

On to the reviews.

Secrets of the Little Yellow Diary by Patty Nieman
Patty Nieman is a 13-year-old girl in 1977. She reads aloud from her diary and it’s hilarious because you just know how a 13-year-old girl writes and the kinds of things a 13-year-old girl finds dramatic (like boys). That premise in and of itself may be off-putting to some, but this show is really well put together. There are a lot of original songs which are totally appropriate to the dramatic nature of a show about a 13-year-old girl who is into theater. Patty Nieman herself was fantastic, enjoyable, and clearly an experienced performer. The whole show tickled me and gave me a warm fuzzy. Recommended!

Conundrum Rehabbed by Joseph Bingham
I think I mentioned before I usually stay far away from dance. I just don’t get modern dance. But I saw the Fringe-For-All preview of this show and it totally hooked me. This is a whole company performing a whole variety of dances. All of them have a clear theme to them. Some are funny, like a duck hunting scene. Some are traditional dance styles (tango, charleston, swing, ballet, tap). Some are traditional dance numbers (Chicago, Swan Lake). Thriller (not exactly thousands of Filipino inmates, but pretty good). Haddaway. The program explains to you exactly what you’re seeing, in case you think you vaguely remember that as being Swan Lake but you’re not quite sure. There’s a strobe light, so be forewarned. Also be forewarned that it involves music that sounds suspiciously like Yanni or John Tesh. And, you know, dancers have awesome bodies so I spent a little time admiring that and wondering what guys wear under those tight pants. Recommended!

“The Bronze Bitch Flies At Noon” and “Dog Tag” by Magicword Theater
This show was written by Matthew A. Everett, Fringe reviewer extraordinaire. I loved this show and it left me terribly wanting. It’s two one-act plays. It’s short. 35 minutes total for both (most Fringe shows run 50-60 minutes). Both plays are gay-themed. There is shirtlessness and boy-kissing in a totally appropriate and not gratuitous way. The thing is both plays were so well written and so well acted I wanted them to keep going. “The Bronze Bitch Flies at Noon” especially. It’s so dialogue-driven, the acting was strong and subtle, and it played really well in the Rarig Center’s Arena which is smaller and more intimate (and round). The dog stole the show in “Dog Tag.” I won’t give away any more on that. The two main characters portrayed the far side of what used to be a relationship, and I totally wanted to know how they got to that point! So great, and it could be so much more. Recommended!

I keep pointing out the cases in which the description actually describes the show instead of being vague and hyperbolic in the most attention-grabbing an unhelpful manner because, surprisingly, it doesn’t happen all that often. Sketch comedy is the worst about trying to describe a show if it doesn’t have a clear theme through out the show. When you have a giant crap shoot like the Fringe, it does help to actually have a clue as to what you’re getting into.

It always seems like a whole day free to do nothing but Fringe is a wonderful thing, but having attended 7 shows in two weeknight evenings, I can tell you it’s easy to burn out quick if you don’t take care of yourself. There are 7 time slots on weekend days. That’s 7 hours sitting in the dark while it’s really nice outside. That’s 7 hours sitting. That’s 10 hours out of the day in which access to food is difficult unless you packed well or unless you’re seeing all your shows at the Rarig Center and don’t mind Jimmy John’s twice in a day.

Fortunately, we had other commitments during the day and forced ourselves to take a break. Headed over to Northeast this time, for a few different shows at the Ritz Theater. Also popped into the Modern Cafe (right next to the Ritz) and the nicest, coolest guy ever was behind the bar. We only made time for a coffee to go, but I’d certainly grab a snack or skip a show and sit down to eat if you’re making a Fringe day of it in Northeast.

2 Comments so far

  1. pfhyper on August 3rd, 2008 @ 10:07 pm

    Acadia is right at Cedar Riv intersection. Good sandwiches, soups, etc. Good beer too but you probably don’t want to drink with several shows still ahead.

  2. Erica M (ericam) on August 3rd, 2008 @ 10:09 pm

    Funny you mention the Acadia because we just ate there today.

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