Fringe Friday: An alien, a cop, and a baby walk into a whale…


by Kate Hoff | 8/1/09 • Hey, did you know that there are four Fringe shows with a banjo this year? Four.

But this isn’t one of them. Friday started with Little Green Man and Strong presented by the New Theatre Group at Minneapolis Theatre Garage. I put this show on my top ten list. I so love being right. These two pieces, written by local playwright Dominic Orlando, are fantastic. Little Green Man involves the interrogation of an alien who has been kept in custody for sixty years. I love the premise of this, and the fact that I found it entirely…possible. Ironically, the piece that didn’t involve an alien seemed much less plausible for real life. Like CSI only better, Strong presents the interwoven stories of three characters, and as the action unfolds, we find out just how connected they are. With a full Equity cast, these plays are top-notch.

full frontal fringe is the blog of kate hoff, one of seven bloggers covering the minnesota fringe festival for the daily planet.

I stayed on at the Theatre Garage for Oops! performed by Jasmine Rush and Colin Waitt (and written by Colin Waitt). A gay man accidentally knocks up his best friend during a whiskey Coke-fueled indiscretion (could happen). This is Waitt’s playwriting debut, and it’s a nice showing…even if it wasn’t my favorite. Through clever use of props, Rush and Waitt present a few characters, with each taking turns playing the irritating, screechy baby/fetus. I had moments of wanting to further explore the wire coat hanger that was repeatedly presented as a possible solution to the “problem.” Definitely not a train wreck, this show might be better appreciated by someone who has liked movies starring any former SNL cast members.

I would like to suggest, in the future, that the Fringe publish a suggested reading/viewing list prior to the festival so that we can bone up prior to seeing the corresponding shows. This year, we’d be looking at Jurassic Park, the Harry Potter series, Pulp Fiction, King Lear and Moby Dick, for starters. Even just this would have better prepared me for Winnemucca: Three Days in the Belly, a Shelby Company Production showing at the Minneapolis Theatre Garage.

Hailing from New York and California, stars Will Brill, Grayson DeJesus (check out the beautiful smile on this boy; hey, how you doin’?) and Jenni Putney are childhood friends from Palo Alto, California.

At the end of the show, my blog buddies Matthew Everett and Phillip Low were all smug and knowing, while Matthew Everett’s mom and I were like ”WTF??” (though Matthew’s mom not a WTF kind of person).

Ignorance is bliss; I happily went into the production unaware that knowledge of the source texts would be useful, or even that source texts might exist. Or what source texts are. (As fellow blogger Phillip Low left the building, I asked if he’d understood the show and his reply was “Yes, but I’m quite familiar with the source texts.”)

All I can report on is what I was thinking about during the show, sans source texts. And what I continue to think about today. The story is bizarre, but engaging, and you sense that the dramatic arc is moving toward some sort of reasonable resolution. My WTF moment frankly didn’t come until the very end of the show, when the assumed tidy conclusion that would explain everything didn’t happen. There’s a scene where character Suede Lucy goes into a sort of trance, which I identified as some sort of supernatural channeling (my mental source text: Maryann on True Blood, the HBO vampire show). I assumed prophet Jonah was supposed to go out and lead a cult. I thought that was all very cool and interesting, and was thankful that I didn’t wait to see this show with my sister, who gets completely freaked out by anything other-worldly and/or cultish.

Later I come to find out (thank you, Wikipedia!) that this is a bona fide bible story. I wonder if those who have religion (and that’s not me) would recognize it as such, or would think it something darker, as I did. What is good? What is evil? And how will you know? For some reason I keep coming back to Howard Lieberman’s statement that “Religion is just organized superstition.” I’m with Howard. And I’m not superstitious.

In the end, in spite of my confusion, I loved Winnemucca: Three Days in the Belly. This is a bible story I can get behind.

Kate Hoff is a fundraiser, printmaker, and alternative-theater denizen. Her prints were included in the Visible Fringe show in 2004—also the year she began blogging about the festival. A few years, countless blog entries, and a hundred-some Fringe shows later, Kate joined the Fringe board in early 2008. The views expressed here are hers alone and do not represent the official position of the Fringe (unless noted).

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