Minnesota Fringe Festival: Poodle Eater, Sin Eater and the Habit

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Yesterday was a strange day.

I intentionally skipped the 5:30 slot to have dinner with my visiting sister-in-law and niece, and while heading home to regroup for the 7:00 show we were waylaid on an impromptu mission to break up a dog fight and save a poodle from the jaws of something much bigger. It was actually bizarre and scary and the cops came but in the end, we felt like we saved the day (we actually did save a certain black poodle’s day). But for that we forfeited the 7:00 show.

 Onward.  To Sin Eater at Intermedia. There’s nothing I can say that will add to the mounting accolades for this show and Tamara’s excellent work. It’s all warranted, in my opinion. What I can do is offer the perspective of my novice Fringer sister, whose initial reaction was that the show was the most self-indulgent piece of numbingly boring crap she’d ever seen, ever.  “She touched her hair for at least seven and a half minutes!!” Molly was incensed. She was definitely affected by the show, filled with irritation and utter disbelief that the rest of the packed house seemed to be eating it up. At the end of the piece, Tamara gives some context for the show, which my sister would have preferred to have up front. But then you wouldn’t have had the freedom to have your own interpretation of the story, I argued. She’s less hostile about the show today, upon further reflection, and we’ve agreed that I have a much more active imagination and willingness roll with ambiguity.

The Fringe is really an excellent place to test limits. What can you tolerate? What can you appreciate? Which is worse, to have a neutral reaction or to have a strongly negative reaction? I would argue that neutral is worse. Strong reactions hopefully spur thought, reflection, discussion. While we all might not agree in the end, we’ll hopefully appreciate new angles – of the shows and ourselves – that we might have overlooked.

Bob and went to see my dear Fringe friend Wilson Loria in The Habit at HUGE. I liked this show very much. There were some very strong elements – Wilson has a very physical and expressive stage presence. It’s a very emotional story with many layers. My criticism: I found the transitions between performing and breaking the third wall to be a bit jarring. I’m just going to spell it out, as I lack the proper vocabulary to express this: occasionally Wilson talks intimately to the audience, as if we’re sitting around his living room. Yet much of his very compelling story has elements of fantasy. I think it comes down to this: I’m very much willing to go along on a fantastical ride with Wilson, but it seems less fantastic (too pedestrian?) when he’s interacting with the audience. This is definitely a “Fringy” show and worth a look. Bob, who would have likely had the same reaction as my sister to Sin Eater, did just fine with The Habit.