I absolutely love that we have a show like Longing for Qeej in the Minnesota Fringe Festival. I caught their opening in the Rarig Proscenium and was blown away by the sheer magnitude of the performance – and by that I mean the sixty-some Hmong kids in varying sizes wearing the most incredible costumes, dancing and tumbling to traditional music – with some techno thrown in. The eleven dances and narration tell the Hmong folk story of the origin of Qeej, a traditional instrument. The dancers outnumbered the audience members on their first night – I sincerely hope this turns around, as this show is a treat, and a completely unique Fringe experience. Little kids might get bored with it. Next up Tuesday at 7, Thursday at 7, Saturday at 5:30 and Sunday at 1.
I really loved Ballad of the Pale Fisherman, presented by Isabel Nelson last year. Red Resurrected, this year’s offering by Isabel and the Ensemble, is similarly strong: beautiful, lush, interesting, and getting rave reviews. I liked it very much. It’s amazing to realize that the whole story is told on an absolutely bare stage – the rich set is created entirely by the ensemble. See it at the Lab Wednesday at 5:30, Thursday at 8:30, Saturday at 10.
Next to the Playwrights Center to see Baba. This is a wonderful one-woman show about a father’s love of his daughter and the extent to which he must go to keep her. Extremely well done, actress Denmo Ibrahim, in town from San Francisco, transforms into Baba before your eyes. See it! Thursday at 8:30, Friday at 4, Saturday at 10.
There are lots of really good shows in the Fringe this year. I think of them as Honda shows. Everyone will uniformly agree that they’re good (even excellent), dependable, well built. You know you’re going to get your money’s worth. I think of Once Upon a Time in the Suburbs in this category (along with Cat, Brain Fighters, Comedy = Tragedy + Someone Else, Disney Dethroned, The Smothers Brothers Grimm and You Only Live Forever Once). The premise is a settlement of women on the brink of being incorporated as a town, and the marauding bandits that aim to take over. The show is funny, with some cute gimmicks, well acted…really great all around. Individual mileage will vary. See it at the Rarig Thrust Wednesday at 8:30 and Saturday at 2:30.