Fringe 2009 – Top 10 – #8 – Winnemucca (three days in the belly)


If you put a gun to my head and I could see only 10 Fringe shows, what would they be and why?


Shelby Company

Winnemucca (three days in the belly)

Jonah wakes up bruised, bloody and trapped in a seedy motel room on the outskirts of Winnemucca, Nevada. Big Chet’s extreme motivational tactics and a powerful encounter with a dancer named Suede Lucy compel Jonah to complete a task he cannot fathom. This darkly funny re-imagining asks, “How do three days in the belly make a man a prophet?”

Holy. Crap.

(no pun intended)

Remember how I’ve been talking about how Visions of Johanna is probably one of the best scripts written for the Fringe this year?

Winnemucca (three days in the belly) is another.

I’ve been talking about how Visions is understated, romantic and tender.

Winnemucca (three days in the belly) is just as good at being the exact opposite.

There is a Biblical Old Testament God of Wrath hovering over all the goings on in Winnemucca. And it’s a God invoked with a female pronoun. And, apparently, she is pretty pissed off.

There is a character named Jonah, who is running from his destiny as a prophet.

There is a character named Big Chet, who is wielding a baseball bat, determined that Jonah stop running.

There is a character named Suede Lucy, who hasn’t even appeared yet.

I had to force myself to stop reading it at the end of scene one. Literally force myself. Because I could very easily blow the whole night just reading, and re-reading this script.

This is the kind of script that actors will be raiding for monologues for the next five to ten years (if they’re smart).

This is the kind of script that I tried to read over dinner, and I quickly forgot that I was supposed to eat. My food got cold because my brain didn’t want to be bothered with anything other than reading this script.

I can understand why this company’s production of this playwright’s previous script has been nominated for over a dozen awards.

I can understand why their fundraising performance of Winnemucca was sold out, and had 200 people on their feet for a standing ovation.

And I’ve just read the first scene, of an early draft.

Due to the capricious gods of scheduling, this west coast company is going to have an uphill battle to get the word out. Hopefully this will help a little. They don’t have a run that extends to the second weekend. They’ve got opening weekend performances on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, then their last two performances happen during the early part of the week (Monday, Wednesday). So don’t delay. There is no “later in the Fringe” for these people. And you don’t want to miss this one.

This is one of those great Fringe coincidences. I was already sort of leaning toward this one anyway, just from reading their blurb, because it’s a new play, and there are spiritual overtones. An email from the producer was passed on to me by a friend of a friend, someone who thought I might take an interest because she knows I have a soft spot for out-of-towners coming to share their art with our Minneapolis crowd. “Just passing it on since I know you take folks under your wing now and then when it comes to word of mouth…”

I’m happy to bang the drum for this one.

I’m already trying to fit in a second viewing into my schedule and I haven’t seen it the first time yet.

That’s how jazzed I am about this script.

(I want to finish blogging quickly tonight so I can go back and finish reading it.)

Holy. Crap.

See this thing.

[Blogger’s update – I’m about two-thirds of way through the script now. Suede Lucy is in full effect.

Ho. ly. Cr. ap.

See. this. thing.]

Their website –

Their show page

Their facebook group – give them some love

Their facebook event listing – get the word out