by Phillip Andrew Bennett Low • August 5, 2008 • Most of the reviews that I’ve seen have been complaining about the venue — that it’s a divey bar, tucked out of the way (Lord knows, there’s not many shows that will get me on the 21A voluntarily); that it takes place in a bar that’s still executing its business while the show is going on. I dunno about everybody else, but this was exactly the Fringe experience I was looking for. This is a BYOV used well, and all the things that are being complained about are the point of the production — the irritated befuddlement of the patrons, the servers clattering away in the background. The point of the show is public humiliation, and the reactions of everyone else in the bar, from contempt to apathy to a kind of grudging fascination, becomes a critical part of the performance.
See, I don’t know if this is Tim Mooney’s most personal show, but it certainly feels like it, as he takes on a variety of lonely, often socially awkward men competing in a Karaoke bar. The songs all begin with him covering classic tunes, but rapidly fade into what seem to be the internal musical monologues of the various characters. He’s not afraid to be surprisingly vulnerable with us, and it simply wouldn’t have the same effect in a theatre venue.
I dunno. I guess a lot of people out there are seeing Shakespeare’s Land of the Dead for the third time, and I hope they have a wonderful experience. But this kind of show is exactly the experience I’m looking for when I Fringe, and this is the first one that really brought it to the table. After all, heading off the beaten path is kind of the point…right?
Phillip Andrew Bennett Low (email@example.com) is a playwright and poet, storyteller and mime, theater critic and libertarian activist, who lurks ominously in the desert wilds of St. Louis Park, feasting upon the hygienically-prepared flesh of the once-living. His main claim to fame is probably as co-founder of the Rockstar Storytellers, and as founder/producer of Maximum Verbosity, a garage-band-like theater troupe that is in a state of constantly re-defining itself.