Fringe 2009: Fringe-For-All reviews (Last 10 of 30)


by Matthew A. Everett | 7/17/09 • “He says that, despite my awesome rack, I just don’t do it for him anymore.”

Crankador Productions

Sarah, Your Ovaries Are Drying Up – The Musical

Old flames! Overbearing friends! Sarcastic reproductive organs! Follow Sarah as her clock ticks down to an inevitable uterine abyss.

single white fringe geek is the blog of matthew a. everett. in addition to being one of six bloggers covering the minnesota fringe festival for the daily planet, he blogs throughout the year about theater and culture.

Well, I now know that “beating your breasts” isn’t just a turn of phrase.

One of the actresses literally beat on her breasts (albeit for purposes of physical comedy) to the point where a large part of the audience was wincing in sympathy. Points for committing to your acting choice, though. Ouch.

Robin Gillette later said, “I saw the people in the hockey jerseys out in the lobby and I tried to guess which show they were with. This was not the show I would have guessed the hockey people were in.”

But when you have a song with the inexplicable refrain “Pull The Goalie,” a chorus of people in hockey jerseys are bound to appear at some point.

Again, like the tap-dancing crackwhores earlier, big points for enthusiasm and going for broke. They certainly weren’t shy about belting out their big musical number about…

…I still don’t know what the hell it was about. I’m dense. Every time I tried to think what the heck “pull the goalie” meant in this context, I got nothing but unpleasant visuals that had nothing to do with Sarah trying to… get pregnant, I guess?

There was choreography, there was cheerleading, there was a hell of a lot of energy. And they got it all done by the time the 2-1/2 minute warning yellow light came on.

Plus, you know, the phrase “inevitable uterine abyss.”

(The underlying implied themes of “a single woman is a tragic thing” and “a woman who doesn’t give birth is a tragic thing,” even in the service of a comic conceit, kind of bug me. But maybe that’s being taken out of context in the preview and in the whole show, it’s actually saying something more balanced, or even positive about someone who chooses a solitary life of non-reproduction. Hard to tell.)

I have no idea whether I want to see this show. But they sure are enthusiastic about it.

My favorite part of their website is the “About” section, which simply says, “Crankador productions was created in 2008 by a group of friends to produce a Fringe show. That is all.”

And I do like the thought of some guy having the role of “Singing Ovary” on his acting resume going forward. There’s a conversation starter for you.

Their website –

Their show page

And of course, there’s a trailer of a song about ovaries…

“That’s some pretty tasty sh*t.”

The Bakery Theatre Company

Thin Mint

From the creators of Audish comes an all new comedy…

Secrets, Sexuality, and the Pinewood Derby. Deep within the darkness of the Chessapeake Hills, a troop’s misadventure to scatter the ashes of a fellow scout takes a dangerous turn for the worst when they become entangled with “Thin Mint dealers”.

I wasn’t among the many followers this group had last year with their first Fringe show, Audish, but with this one, they’ve hooked me. I was looking forward to this one ever since I read their blurb (above) at the Fringe Lottery. The high camp factor (no pun intended – OK, pun intended) implied in the synopsis was born out in most amusing fashion in the preview. A scout with his face slathered in chocolate from a forbidden Thin Mint Cookie binge. A scout straight out of the Hitler youth movement having a Freudian slip and intoning, “The unrighteous get what they deserve!” A troop leader who uses “toughening them up” as excuse to beat young men down. And a fellow scout wandering around in pajamas in a manner so effeminate he was practically prancing. It’s probably good they had to stop at the red light, three minute mark (don’t want to give everything away before the show), but I would happily have sat through more silliness of that variety.

I know I probably shouldn’t be enjoying this one as much as I am, but I can’t help myself. It’s low brow and it’s naughty but what the hell? (I didn’t realize the opposite of pansies is “mansies,” but you learn something new every day, right?) This is one of a handful of Fringe shows this year that just get my “guilty pleasure” vote.

Pretty tasty sh*t, indeed.

Their blog –

Their show page

And of course, there’s a video trailer…

“You have no business being in treatment!”

2 Fran’s

Not Scenes From A Marriage

A madcap comedy with a buncha snappy sketches where this gal and fella are up to their crazy antics: flirtin, fightin, and lotsa tomfoolery!

Well, they’re right, it’s no Bergman film.

I’m kind of ambivalent about this one. I think their publicity image is actually pretty cool, and funny.

The sketch they did, where a guy is addicted to treatment programs, but isn’t actually addicted to anything else like drugs or alcohol, was okay. It was sort of a one joke premise (two jokes if you count his scolding counselor’s pronounced lisp), and they played it out well enough. They even got done inside the green light zone of the first 2-1/2 minutes.

To be honest, the thing that put me off was the text on their show postcard. Part of their postcard makes comparisons between the 2 Fran’s and Martini & Olive. It doesn’t look like it’s a quote from past reviews of their work (I could be wrong – I’ve already been wrong in these recaps and people have called me on it). To me, it looked like the artists themselves were making the comparison, as a way of drawing in audience by linking their act with Martini & Olive‘s.

To paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen for a moment – I’ve seen Martini & Olive. I know Martini & Olive. Martini & Olive are friends of mine. All due respect, you’re no Martini & Olive.

Setting aside the fact that Martini & Olive base their schtick around the performance of songs from the disco era, the non-singing part of that comedy act is based on a comedy of pain and humiliation. It’s sometimes unsettling to watch, and you feel bad for laughing at it, in a good way. It’s a finely honed routine that those two performers have developed over time.

This Fringe preview seems to promise a much more standard issue style of sketch comedy. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But it’s not on the same level.

When the Fringe YouTube page has all the Fringe-For-All video clips up (they’re in process as I type this), you can look for yourself and decide if it’s your kind of sketch comedy.

Their show page

“Nature finds a way.”

John Skelley

Jurassic Dork

One man. One movie. One show. One one-man parody of a movie show. Hold on to your butts.

A one-man version of the epic film Jurassic Park created and performed by John Skelley.

Action, Adventure, Dinosaurs, and Jeff Goldblum combine to create an unmissable Fringe Show.

This was friggin’ brilliant.

John Skelley apologized to Robin Gillette afterward for spitting on her microphone, but that’ll happen when a guy is doing his own dinosaur sound effects.

The guy presented us with an auditory movie trailer, where he played all the roles (including a hilarious imitation of Jeff Goldblum).

And by the time he got to the part where he said, “starring talented but little seen Twin Cities actor John Skelley,” I felt like cheering.

Because, honestly, I’m a big John Skelley fan. Have been since I saw him in the new plays they used for the graduating BFA class of the U of M/Guthrie acting program. So I’m very happy to see him get a showcase like this to really take the stage and own it. I was a bit quizzical about the choice of material at first, but he’s having a ball with it, and it shows. This is one of those instances where I don’t think we’re just getting all the good material in the trailer and movie turns out to be crap. This actor’s been languishing in minor roles at the Guthrie for way too long – Servant Guy in the endless two-part run of Jane Eyre, Random Dock Worker in A View From The Bridge, Third Fairie In A Harness On The Left in Midsummer Night’s Dream, friggin’ Christmas Carol. (OK, I know, boo hoo, it’s a steady paycheck and he’s paying his dues, but damn, the guy’s a good actor, give him a friggin’ break already.) [He at least got a decent sized supporting role with actual scenes and lines (and a smoking jacket) in Two Gentlemen of Verona, but, well, it was Two Gentlemen of Verona, not one of those other box office juggernauts with tons of people in the audience, where if you blinked, you missed him.]

If he’s the smart actor I think he is, John Skelley is gonna slay this dinosaur.

I can’t wait.

(In fact, right after seeing that preview, I bumped Jurassic Park to the top of my Netflix queue, just for a bit of fun, to refresh my memory. I’m watching it now.)

Once the Fringe YouTube page has the clip up and running, you’ll see what I mean.

His show page

“You shall have the dragon of rose petals and tender kisses.”

Empty S Productions

Parry Hotter and the Half-Drunk Twins

One man. Seven books. No Rules. An irreverent solo re-enactment of the eccentric tale of Harry Potter, mixing in pop culture and song, this parody will delight most HP fans, but not uptight fun-haters or Centaurs.

I’ve already touted Tom Reed as a returning favorite in a previous post, so I’ll just tag that here to save on repeating myself.

I love watching Tom Reed perform, mostly because he’s such a big adorable goofball. His satire of the Potter books comes from a place of love (and knowledge that my Potter fan of a mother will doubtless appreciate on a whole other level). Playing all the characters in the seven book series doesn’t phase him a bit. And he got it all done just at the yellow warning light went on.

This excerpt poked fun at one of the wizard tournaments they’re always having at Hogwarts, in which Harry is invariably given a task that is considered to be certain death.

During the swimming part of the competition, a character appeared who seemed vaguely stoned and my first thought was, “Michael Phelps reference?”

The highlight was Dumbledore bursting into song (after mistakenly believing Harry had come to him to admit he was homosexual), belting out “It’s All Right To Be Gay (Just Keep It To Yourself).”

Once they have the clip up on the Fringe’s YouTube Page, you’ll want to check it out. It’s really funny stuff.

Their show page

“There’s a really weird girl talking to me. She’s wearing a lot of colors.”

Free Bird Productions

Stalled – An Elevator Story

Elevator, n: a metal cage; transports between two somewheres.

But what if it stalls?

Find out in this comedy as seven unlucky strangers await their rescue. Sometimes nowhere is exactly where you are meant to be.

This was actually pretty clever as a preview. Rather than try and do something that might not make sense out of context, or get cut off because they ran too long, they created a scene that introduced all the characters and the concept.

The “really weird girl wearing a lot of colors” stood by the “elevator” (or rather, the place the imaginary door to the elevator would be) and warned the various other characters away, saying the elevator was stalled. It also repeated the title of the show a great many times (never a bad idea). Characters came and went (a dippy sorority girl on her cell phone, a stressed out businesswoman, and several more). At the end, a character handed off a newspaper to the girl, and she opened it up, and revealed the title of the show yet again, scrawled on the newsprint in big letters.

So you know exactly what you’re getting into here. Actors and characters of a variety of ages and genders, quirkiness abounds, and you can start to imagine what it’d be like if all these people were trapped in an elevator together. All that, and out on the yellow warning light. Nicely done.

Their show page

They should have the clip of the preview up on the Fringe’s YouTube page soon. Meantime, you can check out their video trailer…

“What if it’s a girl?”

Paul von Stoetzel

Harold Pinter’s The Dumb Waiter

Written by 2005 Nobel Award winner Harold Pinter, two professional killers wait in a seemingly abandoned house for their next “job” until a descending dumbwaiter changes everything for the worse.

It’s Erik Hoover, and Ariel Pinkerton, directed by Paul von Stoetzel, doing Harold Pinter’s The Dumb Waiter.

That’s pretty much all I needed to know. I didn’t need the preview. I was already sold on going.

Good actors, good director, good script. Sign me up.

The two hitmen (or rather, in this production, a hitman and a hitwoman) review their plan for dispatching their target, but mysterious instructions from someone unknown above them, sent down in the dumb waiter, start to fray the killers’ nerves.

The Fringe should have a video clip of the preview up soon the Fringe’s YouTube page, and you can judge for yourself.

I just saw von Stoetzel’s directing work on display in Dawn’s Inferno over at the Bryant Lake Bowl. Earlier this year, I saw his work as part of Workhouse & Hardcover Theaters’ collaboration on Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children. I’m curious to see him tackle comedy of a much darker kind. And he couldn’t ask for a better cast here. Should be an interesting challenge for all involved. And they got done just as the yellow light was turning over to red.

Their show page

“I’m kind of a bisexual heathen that’s going to hell.”

Katherine Glover

A Cynic Tells Love Stories

Seducing porn stars. Falling for straight girls. Saying no to a bride price of cattle. So much experience, and so little to show for it… except the stories.

A comic mix of memoir, music and jaded fairy tales.

Katherine Glover is one of those storytellers that’s so laid back you sometimes get fooled into thinking she’s just making it up as she’s going along – or that you’re just hanging out with a friend who’s good at telling stories. But she’s toured the Fringe circuit before with her previous well-received solo show (and last minute addition to our own Fringe last year) No Stranger Than Home, so the woman knows what she’s doing. (She timed her story just right, barely tipping from the yellow light over into the red)

This preview was a tale of the perils of a lingering crush on someone you know will never work out. In this case, a religious conservative fellow. But it’s difficult to control these things because, as many of us liberals know all too well, sometimes conservative boys are just hot. They can’t help it. You can’t help it. So, like Katherine, when you visit, you need to watch the language, and resist giggling at things you find ridiculous. And whatever you do, be careful around the topic of sex.

I’m rooting for this one for a couple of reasons – one of them being Katherine herself. Both she, and her director Rachel Teagle (the other reason, and co-writer/director of last year’s Fringe show Orange) were among the hardy volunteer writers doing an all-nighter this past February for the latest round of Theatre Unbound‘s 24 Hour Play Project gala fundraiser. I like to keep the good theater kharma flowing whenever possible.

Plus, it just seems like a pleasant way to pass an hour during the madness that is Fringe, and every now and again, you just need to kick back and relax. And romantic that I am, I’m always up for stories of love, even if a self-proclaimed cynic is telling them.

The video clip of the preview should be uploaded soon to the Fringe’s YouTube page, so you can watch and see for yourself if it’s the kind of storytelling you want to add to your own schedule. I’m trying to find a way to fit it into mine.

Side note – Rachel’s new sketch comedy group Panda Sandwich didn’t get into the Fringe, but they’re performing as a “Pre-Fringe Appetizer” over at Bedlam Theatre July 22-25th. Drop by and warm yourself up for all the Fringe comedy to follow. Details here

Katherine’s website –

Her show page

“Spank me, Mrs. President!”

Caity Shea Violette

Paisley Poppies

A Whimsical Trip Into Suburban Humor…

“Enlightening”- The Young Playwrights Association of New York

Paisley Poppies is a bizarre comedy that lights up the stage of Emma Marie Avery’s life. Jam packed with pop culture references, a cast of eccentric characters including her outwardly strange best friend Barbie, a stalker with a heart of gold named Kyle and her needlessly Minnesotan mother, lead the audience through inside jokes and fanciful metaphors that come to life on stage, performed by an ensemble of highly physical actors. After a sudden turn of events, Emma is forced to contemplate her life in relation to the world around her. Rediscover the wonder and woe of blissfully distracted teenagers in Paisley Poppies.

OK, maybe it was because I’d just sat through 28 other previews before this, but watching this technicolor preview, I almost felt like I was having a psychotic episode. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. I certainly wasn’t bored. I just couldn’t fathom what the hell was going on half the time.

Is that guy with a lamp shade on his head a guy, or really a lamp? (my bet is probably stalker boy Kyle, but…)

Is that guy in drag supposed to be the doll Barbie, or just a girl named Barbie? (no bets on that one, it’s weird whatever path you go down)

Suddenly there’s a whole bevy of aerobic folks acting out an exercise video – a really naughty exercise video.

Then Emma and drag queen Barbie are bonding over a Lifetime Movie for Television.

And… scene. (Out on the yellow 2-1/2 minute warning light. Nicely done.)

The whole thing should probably have a queer content label because even though it’s about a straight girl from the suburbs, it’s extremely gay (in a good way, as FringeFamous would say)

The video clip of the preview should be uploaded soon to the Fringe’s YouTube page, so you can watch and try to suss out what’s going on for yourself.

Their website –

Their show page

“There are no small parts, only small actors”

New Breath Productions

Where Egos Dare – The Musical

In college all thought they were cool,
At this reunion who’s the fool?
Theatre alumae take the stage,
Egos act at any age.

(There are several more stanzas on their show page but that’s the gist of it)

These are apparently the small actors you were warned about.

(Oh, not the actors in the preview, their characters. They’re actors playing actors. I should be more specific. No disrespect intended to the performers, just their characters.)

This one falls into that category of “theater about theater” that isn’t a favorite of mine, so take this assessment with that in mind.

The title bugs me, but that’s just a random movie association problem of my own, so please disregard.

Another big group. Another musical. Another group of good voices, of various ages. And they got their preview in and out within the warning yellow light at 2-1/2 minutes so you can’t fault them there.

The conceit seems to be that they’re doing a fundraising event for their old school, actors returning to the place that spawned their talent, and their egos.

Where it kind of falls apart for me is when the one character is upset about being cast as the Nurse rather than as Juliet. The Nurse is not a small part, or a bad part, in “Romeo and Juliet.” “Romeo and Juliet” may be a play that drives me crazy but even I have to admit that in the hands of the right actress, the role of the Nurse can walk off with the damn play. And if you can play the Nurse, you’re set. You can’t be a young ingenue forever, but you can be a character actress forever.

(I know all of the above just points out what an enormous, far-too-literal-minded, theater geek I am. Pity me, and move on.)

Then, rather than allow the character the chance to play the Nurse, everyone inexplicably starts belting out the “Pick-A-Little, Talk-A-Little/Good Night Ladies” number from “The Music Man” over top of her dialogue. So they don’t even let her do what small bit of the supposedly crappy part she got stuck with.

What a bunch of jerks.

Jerks with nice voices. But jerks.

If you’re looking for a group of people performing Shakespeare and show tunes in the same Fringe package, this is your show.

If you’re not, well, then you’re me.

The video clip of the preview should be uploaded soon to the Fringe’s YouTube page, so you can watch and see for yourself if it’s what you’re after.

Their website –

Their show page

Matthew A. Everett is a local playwright and three-time recipient of grant support from the Minnesota State Arts Board. Information on Matthew and his plays can be found at

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