Returning favorites—Live Action Set (Part 1)


by Matthew A. Everett • June 29, 2008 • I’ve often thought, “I’d go watch Live Action Set do pretty much anything.” The first go-round at Red Eye last summer of the show they’re remounting in the Fringe this year tested that notion. Tested it really, really strenuously.

Single White Fringe Geek (and Mom) is the blog of Matthew A. Everett, one of four bloggers covering the Minnesota Fringe Festival for the Daily Planet.

2003 – Exposure (back before they had a name)

2004 – Before Dark

2005 – Please Don’t Blow Up Mr. Boban (which I saw twice, and then the subsequent remount)

2008 – The Piano Tuner (not a Fringe show, but damn…)

Live Action Set is one of those Fringey success stories that does a fellow artist’s heart good. Starting in Fringe 2003, a group of performers with a common sensibility came together, then made it official and gave themselves a name in 2004, then kind of blew the doors off the place in 2005, putting themselves on the artistic map in this town in a big way and turning everything they did after that into “an event.” The last couple of years they’ve been mounting productions outside the umbrella of the Fringe, including one just a little while ago that made me fall back in love with them and the work they do all over again. Next spring, they’ll take the stage at the Guthrie. Right now, they’re back in the Fringe With…


Preliminary blurb…

“Meet four individuals you’d rather not know but can’t ignore. See them in an old Soap Factory. ‘This surprising melange of transgressive theater and dance is disturbingly funny.’ -Rohan Preston, Star Tribune”

I’ll admit it. I had to look up melange, of all things. Mixture, assortment. But why use an English word when a French one’ll do, right? In fact, the original title of this piece was another one I couldn’t pronounce

“Desiderare – desire the undesirable” 

People with dance and clowning backgrounds are clearly far more familiar with non-English turns of phrase than I am. This time around, they’re calling a deviant a deviant. This is how they describe the Red Eye workshop performances on their site…

“A passionate and provocative event of theatre and dance, Desiderare: desire the undesirable explores the act of wanting what we don’t have and wanting those things we wish we didn’t. Critically acclaimed experimental theatre company, Live Action Set, collaborates with Robert Rosen, co-founder of the Tony Award-winning Theatre de la Jeune Lune, to create this physical new work about desire, transgression, and what happens between realization, repression, and expression.”

The thing I remember the most vividly – Megan Odell performing a ritual sacrifice of a banana tied down to a small table. She gave voice to its screams as she repeated cut into its skin. I also recall a space wrapped in sheets of plastic – the performers emerging through and from underneath it. A chair and a bare lightbulb, like an interrogation chamber. People hanging from meat hooks. Noah Bremer and Galen Treuer following and assuming the moves of a hyper-sexualized Vanessa Voskuil, strutting around the stage. A supremely odd retelling of the story of Adam and Eve and God and the Garden of Eden.

It was… strange.

This time around, I’m told that one of the characters will be normal, at least at first, acting as an audience surrogate, helping guide them into this world of oddballs at bit more easily. Then, no doubt, like neighbors on the local news after someone hauls out a shotgun and blows some people away, we’ll be shaking our heads and thinking, “But he seemed like such a nice, quiet fellow.”

Live Action Set has always trafficked in desire. These desires just go to darker places. I’m curious to see how the piece has evolved. I just may not be taking Mom this time around.


The Soap Factory

110 – 5th Avenue SE, Minneapolis

August 1, 8:30pm

August 2, 8:30pm

August 3, 7pm

August 5, 7pm

August 6, 7pm

August 7, 7pm

August 8, 8:30pm

August 9, 5:30pm

August 10, 7pm

Entering his sixth year of blogging about the Minnesota Fringe Festival (and bringing Mom along for the ride as a guest reviewer), Matthew A. Everett is also a local playwright and three-time recipient of grant support from the Minnesota State Arts Board. Information on Matthew and his plays can be found at