Fringe Report: August 6, 2008

fringe2008.pngAfter a hare of a first weekend, I’m trying to tortoise my way to the end of the Fringe. Is there really still four days left? And two of them are weekend days?

Tonight’s Fringe Central fun: DJ. Starting at midnight. Think First Avenue, not wedding. Finish your last show, head to the Bedlam for snacks, then shake your groove thang.

On to the reviews.

The Jamal Lullabies by Emily Conbere and East River Commedia
I didn’t really know what to expect from this show. All I know is if it had the name Jamal in the title, it probably had something to do with black folks and you just don’t see that that often in Minnesota, much less in the Fringe Festival. So I was interested because it was different, but I hadn’t committed to it until I saw Bill Stiteler recommend it on Twitter, saying that this particular show is not getting the love it deserved. He was totally right! So of course, I was not expecting a show about a memorial to a drug dealer named Jamal Slims Hall to be performed by four white women. But I got over that pretty quickly. The thing that really blew me away: The singing is excellent. Tight four-part harmonies (I’m in a choir, I dig that kind of stuff). And it really is funny. And touching, too. I was totally engaged throughout the entire show, and that has only happened a handful of times so far this Fringe. Recommended! Still playing at the Southern Theater on Friday, 8/8, at 10pm and on Sunday, 8/10, at 1pm.

We picked this one because it looked “different” and you can only handle so many one-woman monologue shows. So in a complete 180, this show has no plot. The show descriptions says it’s a “fusion of sound design, original spoken narrative as word design, live piano performance and body movement.” One reviewer called it a collage of media. The thing is, with all those aforementioned elements going on at once, I found it hard to catch it all. I gave up on trying to really understand the deeper meaning and just enjoyed the background music which was some groovy deep house type stuff. There was also a pretty cool marionette scene with a guy on stilts directing another dancer. I wanted to be the guy running the sound board, who sat with his back to the audience through the entire show. It was an experience that I’m glad I’ve had but I wouldn’t voluntarily have it again. Don’t use up your precious few remaining time slots on it.

War of Worlds: The Musical – A Tribute to Old-Time Radio by Hometown Theatre
It’s War of the Worlds, with a twist. They had the old-time radio thing down pat. My girlfriend liked the crazy scientist the best. I liked the Martians the best. Having seen the Fringe-For-All preview, I knew there was going to be a Martian, but I had to wait all the way until the end for that pay off. It was fun and easy. Nice to enjoy a show without having to think too hard. I’d say go see it, but if you have other ones you’ve been waiting for, go see those first.

War of the Worlds was the third Fringe show I’ve seen this year involving aliens whose speaking sounds like “bee bee bee bee bee bee.” Was there a memo or something?

War of the Worlds also gets my award for favorite postcard art. For whatever reason the Martian in downtown Minneapolis cracks me up.

Martian in downtown Minneapolis

At this point my schedule for the rest of the week is pretty much set which makes the actual attending of the shows a little less frantic because there are no last minute decisions over where to go. And now I’ve sussed out the best ways to get between Cedar-Riverside and Uptown, or between Cedar-Riverside and downtown. Still haven’t figured out the optimal Uptown to far-side-of-downtown route. Last time we just went all the way up Hennepin then hung a left and weaved through the North Loop. Suggestions?

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