by Phillip Andrew Bennett Low • August 5, 2008 • So I’m trying to do my first car-less Fringe, which means that I spent Monday asking anyone I happened to run into if they’d give me a ride to whatever they’re seeing next. I ended up at the Ritz, and got a humbling lesson in just how far out of the loop I am — because I hadn’t heard a damn thing about this show, and the house was packed.
It’s extraordinarily well-done — the performer is one of the old guard of musical theatre in the Twin Cities — but I can’t say I cared much for the content, which seemed to consist of adapting a bunch of diary entries by a thirteen-year-old girl into song-and-dance numbers. I spent the first fifteen minutes wondering when the play was going to start, then looked at everyone laughing around me and realized that this *was* the play.
This kind of entertainment really hinges on nostalgia, and it rarely works for me — my childhood didn’t resemble this. Being a pre-teen isn’t something I recall fondly, and it’s not something I really have any desire to go back to. So watching someone relive these fond memories is, I imagine, like watching someone have either a religious revelation or a mind-shattering orgasm — they’re only interesting unless you’re actually having one, and if you’re not, the experience is just kind of frustrating. In fact, watching this show, I felt the way that I often do reading Jane Austen or watching Beavis and Butt-Head — I recognize that the characters I’m seeing are intended to be held up to ridicule. But that doesn’t mean that I really enjoy spending time in their company.
Plus, watching a grown woman gallivanting about in a pair of pink pajamas — I found myself wondering whether this kind of romanticization of childhood is really healthy. But that’s a broader issue, I suppose.
So, I wrote a bunch of stuff that makes it sound like I hated it, and that’s not really true. I didn’t really laugh, although the packed house was guffawing throughout. And I’m troubled by some of the undercurrents of this kind of theatre. But she’s a phenomenally talented singer/dancer, and musical theatre groupies will have a real goldmine of material to enjoy. I’m just, y’know, not really one of them.
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.