These guys definitely get the medal for being the friendliest out-of-towners: they’re the only ones who approached me, rather than the other way around.
So I was relieved to find that I really enjoyed their preview. They’re a storytelling group, and at first I was sort of annoyed at how theatrical the storyteller’s performance was: then I thought, no. I’m being stupid. That’s just me getting really foolish and dogmatic about some silly concept of what storytelling is supposed to be. What I do know is that his theatricality was totally engaging, very funny and very controlled.
While, this is a piece that might have been brilliant. Or it might have been terrible. Unfortunately, I’ll never know — it was crippled by poor staging decisions that made the preview impossible for me to either see or hear; the performers were on the floor, wrapped in a sheet, and they seemed to be doing — something worth watching: but even standing up and moving around the space, I wasn’t able to follow it. Simple problems, simply fixed — but unfortunately, not leaving me much to comment on about their performance.
Comedy’s a funny thing, and I was just thinking about exactly what makes things funny for me. One thought is that a lot of it revolves around taking stupid, trivial things, and making them impossibly elaborate. Hell, Monty Python pretty much built their career on that one gag — and it’s the same thing that I love about so much of Dean Hatton‘s work.
So. Fozzie Bear fucking Miss Piggy? Mildly funny, I guess. But taking that concept, and then examining the process in minute detail — building the environment, the landscape of both bodies, the complications that evolve from both interspecies and, er, inter-puppetry intercourse? In the context of beautifully, carefully crafted poetry? *That’s* fucking funny, and it has to be seen to be believed.
So apparently I have a huge thing for the whole virginal white gown look, because watching an attractive girl, clad in a restrictive bridal gown, executing a sequence of carefully choreographed movements through space, was really breathtaking for me. I’m sure someone could come up with all kinds of analyses for this.
But maybe it is worth examining more closely — because I was into her performance until she began speaking. So. Two possibilities: one, that she really effectively crafted a world with her body and with gesture, and introducing language violated that; or, two, that the whole bridal-dance thing played into some sort of submissive fantasy that fell apart once she opened her mouth and began to speak for herself. I don’t know that the two possibilities are mutually exclusive: in fact, I think that it’s likely that they’re related.
I don’t think this is some sort of fetish that I’m imposing on the performance, I think it’s an inherent part of it: a dancer doesn’t enter the space in something as evocative as a bridal gown (particularly in a show that seems interested in dealing with gender) without that influencing audience perception of what she does.
Cute and amusing, but not much more: a couple comes out, binds their hands together with duct tape, and begins a dance that progresses into a desperate need to get away from each other. I found myself wishing for more physical engagement, from a piece that seemed to break down into a series of spins: not something I feel compelled to rush out and see, but it was amusing enough for long enough.
More body-image angst, which continues to be a tough sell for me. Punctuated with baton-twirling, although I do have to observe that the baton was dropped twice; and the content of what she was saying wasn’t…really something I’m inclined to sit through, for an hour. I’m sure that her show contains much more than this, but I’m afraid I can’t tell what that might be from the preview.
Normally I’m not a real big fan of audience interaction, but the performer had a real sweetness and a vulnerability that made me eager to play along with her: an eagerness that, I think, was shared by the two members she pulled to play with her. Part of the strength of this, too, is that she really did *play* with her participants, rather than simply using them as human props — she was attentive to them, and worked closely with what they had to offer.
Plus, she gives out treats in her show. And I get hungry at Fringe.
A solo piece by one of the Cody Rivers dudes, which is a pretty hefty recommendation in and of itself. The piece was brief — he played a pair of characters, a teacher and a student, having an absurd conversation about bombs. Entertaining but brief.
A pair of storytelling pieces that really suffered from being placed at the end of the night. Seemed to be offering the first part of their respective stories as teasers, but neither offered quite enough to pique my interest. (It’s possible that the second one may have been cut off by a tech error.) Truthfully, I was struggling to stay alert; they would most likely have fared much differently at the other end of the evening. Unfair, perhaps, but I can only report on the experience I had.
Phillip Andrew Bennett Low (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a playwright and poet, storyteller and mime, theatre 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 theatre troupe that is in a state of constantly re-defining itself.