Welcome to the 2011 Minnesota Fringe Festival! I sat down to compile my “top ten” list for this year and realized that I am simply unable to color within the lines. There might be ten, there might be more, might be less, I don’t know. So I’m just going to start talking about shows I’m looking forward to seeing.
Fletcher & Zenobia Save the Circus (by Edward Gorey) presented by Live Action Set at the Mill City Museum (one of three Bring Your Own Venue, or BYOV, locations this year). First, I’m a big fan of Live Action Set ever since their stellar Please Don’t Blow Up Mr. Boban in 2005. And it’s no secret that I hold a special place in my heart for the delicious lank of Noah Bremer, now back from his adventure with Cirque du Soleil. I’m predicting a charming, funny show that is appropriate for your toddler as well as your grandmother.
This Is Where Your Free-time Goes to Die, a Screaming Mutes Production at Bryant-Lake Bowl. Curt Lund is really all you need to know in this equation, and no matter the value of x, the sum total will be very funny. I’ve seen a couple previews now, and I’m highly optimistic. A show with wide appeal – especially for people who don’t think of themselves as “theater” people. I notice that the printed program deems the show appropriate for those 12 and over, while the website says 16 and over. I wonder if there have been re-writes between the time the program went to press and now…and I wonder what exactly would draw the line between a 12-year-old show and a 16-year-old show. Jokes about driving?
Ten Reasons Why I’d be a Bad Porn Star presented by May Lee-Yang at Intermedia Arts. I loved May’s Confessions of a Lazy Hmong Woman last year. This year, she promises more hysterically charming insight into Hmong culture in addition to cultural competency training. About how to competently have sex like Hmong people. Or maybe with Hmong people. I made that part up. I apologize to the Hmong whom I have offended. May is a fresh new Bush Foundation Fellowship recipient, which is a hugely exciting big deal. I’m looking forward to seeing her show, and not just because of the sex toy demonstrations and giveaways.
You Only Live Forever Once presented by Four Humors Theater at Bryant-Lake Bowl. Four Humors is a perennial favorite – and not just mine. Previews have been smart, funny, and action-packed with murder and mayhem; par for the Four Humors course. This show will end up on my husband Bob’s top five shows of 2011. If that tells you anything.
Bob accuses me of being obsessed about TLC shows about little people. This is simply not true. There are a lot of shows about little people, but I’m not obsessed with them. I’m obsessed with shows about Mormons and hoarders. And serial killers. This is why this show caught my eye. My Dinner with Andrew presented by Right Brain Productions at U of M Rarig Center Arena. This is the true-life story of the playwright’s interactions with Andrew Cunanan just prior to Cunanan’s killing spree that began in Minneapolis and ended with the murder of Gianni Versace. Which is a really odd trajectory, if you think about it. Why not start in Ames and end with Isaac Mizrahi, for instance? Guess if you’re going to do it, you might as well go big.
Red Resurrected presented by Isabel Nelson at the Lab Theatre. One of my very favorite, if not the very favorite Fringe show of 2010 was Ballad of the Pale Fisherman. It was unique, melodic, lyrical, beautiful, haunting and made me shed real live tears – not easy, as I’m cold and dead inside with limited range of emotion. I was thrilled to find out that these same people, led by Isabel Nelson, were bringing a re-imagined version of Little Red Riding Hood to the Fringe this year. What I’m going to say next is going to be confusing, so try to stay with me: I was hugely disappointed with the Red Resurrected preview I saw at the Fringe-for-All. I can’t stop thinking about how disappointed I was, and I can’t stop trying to analyze why. I still have no freaking idea. This was my issue: the style of the new show is exactly the same as last year’s show. Melodic, lyrical, beautiful, haunting, blah, blah, blah. Exactly the same. As the one I loved. Horrible, right? I can’t figure it out. Guess I have to force myself to sit through something I’m really excited about in order to draw some coherent conclusion.
Interestingly, there are two shows this year including works by Alan Ball. I love, love (love, love, love) everything he’s ever touched: American Beauty. Six Feet Under. True Blood. Don’t get me started. It is because of this that I’ll be checking out: The Problem (with) Your Mother’s Butt presented by BERXCO at HUGE Improv Theater. Bonus that I’m just realizing now: Ari Hoptman, darling of the stage and screen, is in the show (which is actually two one-act plays). And also Power Lunch presented by Urban Samurai Productions at Theatre in the Round.
That’s all for now — stay tuned for more. I have lots more to talk about, and promise to tear myself away from Shark Week to tell you about it…