Halfway through Hero, a Minnesota Fringe Festival show presented in the Rarig Xperimental (what will happen if we drop the “e”? let’s xperiment!) black-box, I leaned over to my friend and said, “I kind of want to have kids so these guys can all baby-sit them.”
“These guys” are Tyler, Jordan, Alex, and Søren Olsen. “Yes, they’re brothers,” explained my friend, who knows the Olsens, “and they create theater together.” But not just theater: theater about four brothers at war, with—wait for it—barbershop quartet performances of original songs about brothers at war. There’s a lot of brotherly bantering and bonhomie; seriously, you have never seen a war-is-hell show that is so damn cute.
The cuteness, as evidenced by what I saw in the Xperimental box on Saturday (I’d call it “the X,” but the Xcel Energy Center has already called dibs on that), is what these guys have going for them. It’s working up to war-is-hell gravity where Hero falls short. When the show ended, I was surprised. Really? That’s how this happy-go-lucky show ends? It’s possible to combine comedy and tragedy in a show about war—notably, the film Good Morning Vietnam (shut up, Robin Williams haters) does it well—but it’s very difficult, especially at the duration and in the context of a Fringe show.
If you see Hero, you probably won’t be running around telling all your friends to grab their tickets before it’s gone—but it’s impossible not to like the Olsen brothers, and it’s hard not to enjoy yourself while they’re up there playing brothers in arms.