by Kate Hoff • August 2, 2008 • Happy first day of Fringe! Our day started with a change of plans. I had intended to launch the festival with Depth of a Moment at the Lab Theater, but once Bob met me at work and we were in the car, he voted for sanity: Instead of our plan for Lab, Rarig, Lab, Bryant-Lake Bowl, we went with Rarig, Rarig, Lab, BLB. That’s $11 in parking fees, but slightly less running around.
We started with Reincarnation: Another Chance at Failure presented by Rampleseed at U of M Rarig Thrust. I work with half of Rampleseed, Tom Reed, sort of; the organization he works for rents space from the organization I work for, and there are social events in the garden, etc. (I love nonprofits.) I had no idea what to expect here. I know Tom and Tyler have been honing their improv skills, and apparently more than holding their own in those circles. I liked their show quite a bit; it was sweet and funny, and hinted at some of life’s big questions, giving you the opportunity to reflect, or not. I chose to reflect on the fact that Generic Deity equals Santa Claus.
After a quick stroll to Jimmy John’s, we caught Snip, Snap, Snute presented by Alrighty, Then at U of M Rarig Proscenium. After a slightly rocky start, this show quickly became very engaging. It’s a musical, with live on-stage accompaniment. I was very impressed with the angelic voices of the Changelings (a concept I had to explain to Bob; along with trolls, not a common theme in Jewish folk tales, apparently) Arielle Farness and Abby Fields. Daniel Olson was the standout as Troll Ma. I don’t have any first-hand knowledge of what kids find funny….judging from the little giggles I heard, burping trolls are high on the list. Bob thought the trolls were “awesome.”
We did a quick cruise down Washington to see Great American Horror Movie Musical presented by LSD Productions at the Lab Theater. I was right about the gay part. Extremely accomplished cast, fun story, 80s music, nice use of the cavernous space at the Lab…hugely entertaining.
We closed our night with SHIFT at the Bryant-Lake Bowl, strategically placing a 75-minute show at the end of the day, where it wouldn’t disrupt the schedule. I was turned on to this show by fellow blogger Matthew Everett, who wrote a blog post so gushing that I had to see what all the fuss was about.
I can see the attraction. Solo actor Jonas Goslow is incredibly engaging, slipping between four interwoven stories. He seemed perfectly matched for the script, written with Nick Ryan of Four Humors fame. Bob FREAKED OUT about this show, claiming that it was “better than Star Chamber,” a show from a couple years ago that he called “the best thing ever performed on stage, ever” and has become the benchmark from which all other theater is judged. Harshly.
Understand that, in his spare time, my husband reads exclusively books on physics. Particle physics, more specifically. This is one of many oddities that I have learned to overlook, but it comes in handy when I need someone to explain certain Fringe shows.
I loved SHIFT, and was quite comfortable with the fact that I didn’t fully understand everything. Bob filled me in. The show has several intertwining themes and stories, one of which is the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), set to be completed this year (I received much more information about this, something to do with matter); an insurgent terrorist group bent on destruction of the LHC; a domestic relationship that Bob hasn’t figured out yet (but was most interesting to me); and a Second Grade teacher trying to reconcile his professional ethics with increasing constraints from the conservative community where he teaches. Oh, and the show opens and closes with an incredibly charming second grader.
I’m just now having an epiphany about that character. I’m slow. I’m going to have to see this show again.
Typical of the Fringe, I found myself, at the end of the show, sandwiched between two people with obvious polar opposite impressions; one (a guy I don’t know) not clapping, arms firmly crossed, look of borderline disgust on his face; the other, the only person in the theater giving a standing ovation (that’d be Bob).
Not everyone is going to like all of the theater, all of the time…
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).