My Top Ten Fringe Shows for 2009


One. The Flickering Wall presented by Illusion Theater, at Illusion Theater. I’m starting my list with a BYOV (Bring Your Own Venue) show. I’m a sucker for site-specific work, and I’m intrigued by the idea of a show set in an empty theater – where the action is not necessarily on stage.

Two. Jurassic Dork created and performed by John Skelley at Gremlin Theatre. This one-man re-telling of the movie classic (can it really be called a classic, circa 1993?) was easily my favorite Fringe-for-All preview. It might be lost on you if you haven’t seen the movie. I’ve been pondering the Internet Movie Database comment by “Pythonman” regarding the original film: “ If you haven’t seen it once, you haven’t seen it at all.” Wow. I predict the same will be said about Jurassic Dork.

Three. Squawk presented by Walking Shadow Theatre Company at Gremlin Theatre. Walking Shadow always presents solid work. I have to say, I was charmed by the entrance of the penguin in the Fringe-for-All preview. A military show with a penguin puppet as a main character. Fringe perfect.

Four. Strong and Little Green Man presented by the New Theatre Group at Minneapolis Theatre Garage. New Theatre Group is a collective of excellent local playwrights, and previous Fringe offerings have been stellar, including How to Cheat and American Sexy. I know nothing about these two short plays, but the right people are involved, including Emily Gunyou Halaas, fresh off a successful run of Shipwrecked! at the Jungle Theater. I predict success.

Five. An Intimate Evening With Fotis Part III presented by Mike Fotis at Mixed Blood Theatre. I know I’ve said this before. Mike is a dude’s dude, who often says very funny things about typical “guy” topics like sports…but he’s cute enough to keep the ladies mesmerized, as well. Don’t expect a dynamic performance; Mike sits at a table, reading from a binder…luckily, he’s extremely funny. Have a husband/boyfriend/son who is skeptical about enjoying the Fringe? This is the show to prove them wrong.

Six. Two Short Operas: Mr. Berman’s Bath-Size Bar and There’s a Mastodon in My Backyard presented by the Dead Composers Society at the Playwrights’ Center. Another one I’m recommending solely on their preview. Two ridiculous stories (I recognized at least one from the early days of the internet) presented as operas. Another Fringe perfect show (aka You Won’t See This at the Guthrie).

Seven. Holding Patterns presented by Monica Rodero and Daniel Schuchart at the Southern Theater. Monica and Daniel, from Milwaukee, have come to dance at the MN Fringe the past couple years. As I said before, I think I could watch Monica read a book and understand the story. Enormously expressive, they are incredible to watch and are very accessible even if you don’t have much modern dance under your belt.

Eight. The William Williams Effect presented by Balance Theatre Project at the Southern Theater. I’ve heard tiny updates on this production as it was in development and rehearsal. The concept is interesting to me: it’s the true story of the last man executed by the state of Minnesota…but of course there’s more to it than that. The circumstances around his execution lead to the abolishment of capital punishment in Minnesota. I’m excited to check it out.

Nine. Untitled Duet with Houseplant presented by Noah Bremer at the U of M Rarig Proscenium. I have a Noah Bremer fetish. This is not a secret. If you happen to swoon over tall, gangly bald guys the color of paste (and who doesn’t, really), you’re welcome to join my club. But I have to warn you: you’ll go to pieces when Noah starts to move. He’s magically physical and very funny. I have extremely high hopes.

Ten. 2 Sugars, Room for Cream presented by Shanan Wexler & Carolyn Pool Productions at U of M Rarig Xperimental. I caught Shanan in From Here to Maternity in the ’07 Fringe. Another fantastic preview…an absurdly funny rendition of a seemingly “normal” life scene.

Eleven (because what’s a top 10 list without an 11?). Storm Still presented by the Nonsense Company at City of Lakes Waldorf School at 2344 Nicollet Ave S. In 2006, the Nonsense Company’s Great Hymn of Thanksgiving/Conversation Storm made a huge impact on me…even after the second, third, and, good lord, FOURTH viewing. (Not all at the Fringe.) A technical glitch in 2007 had them doing a last-minute change of show plans, but their Prince Myshkins political satire musical duo was a big hit. This year, they’re back with this story that takes place inside an abandoned school. I’ve found the Nonsense Company very smart, sometimes political, often uncomfortable to experience. I predict a show you’ll be thinking about for weeks to come. At a Bring Your Own Venue (BYOV) site, this production only has 10:00 showtimes and runs 95 minutes. Rest up…it will be worth it.