Friday, November 19, 2010

Fringe so far

First, To Moscow You Betcha! got reviewed by the Gambit's blog! Neato.

Second, I've decided to write mini-reviews of the Fringe shows I see this year. I am by no means a professional critic, nor an expert of any kind, but I love seeing and thinking about theater. I have somewhat unique taste, so keep that in mind. Mostly I just like to identify what works for me and what doesn't, to help me learn and grow in my own work.

Fringe started on Wednesday, but we had two shows so I didn't see any of the other Fringe shows.

Thursday (yesterday), I saw three shows:

The Women of Tu-Na House
I picked this show because I love solo shows (I've done a couple of them and hope to do more in the future) and because it was about a topic that annoys me. You see, as a Massage Therapist, I hate that my profession is often associated with prostitution. I've often wished the Massage Board had more power, or the cops weren't corrupt or something, and the "Massage Parlors" (of which there are many, here in NOLA) would get shut down once and for all. This show portrayed women who work in this type of establishment, in New York. So I was intrigued.

Nancy Eng was a wonderful actress, and the women's stories were quite engrossing. One thing that I thought was kind of strange, though, was that there was a note from Nancy in the program that said something along the lines of women freely choosing this type of work, however most of the stories seemed to describe such desperate situations that it didn't seem they had much of a choice.

My only issue (and it's a small one) was with the design of the show. It looked really sloppy, and if that was on purpose, I guess I didn't understand why. There were clothes and props and shoes strewn around the stage with no apparent thought. Overall, a very good show, though.

Before the next show, I stopped by the Fringe tent and listened to some energetic and talented young musicians.

The Liar Show
The premise is that four people tell anecdotes from their lives, and one of them is lying. The performers were funny, but my feelings about this show overall were kinda meh. (Hey, I told you I'm not a professional critic). I guess it just didn't feel very Fringe-y to me. It wasn't edgy or challenging or even that thought provoking for me, just kind of funny and cute. Maybe I would have liked it more if I'd won a t-shirt ;)

Snow and Flames
I almost went home after The Liar Show, because it was cold and I was tired. I'm so glad I stayed for this show! It was outside, and the performers had brought a fire pit. There was a smallish audience, and we all huddled around the fire pit in the cold to watch the show. It was lovely, actually. The performers were a mother and daughter who are both puppeteers. They used just about every form of puppet there is: rod puppets, marionettes, shadow puppets...even non-puppet objects that came to life through their skill. The show is hard to describe, but I found it beautiful, powerful, and immensely creative.

Tonight (Friday), I went back for more! I have to say, it was not as positive overall as Thursday. I ran into several drunk obnoxious people, who were being rude to fellow audience members, and even one who heckled a performer (thankfully, he was escorted out, but I was distracted for a good bit of the show by wishing I could sock him in the nose). Anyway...

I'm a big Southern Rep fan, so I had to check this out. It was a comic noir-type story, done as a radio play. The actors spoke into microphones and they had live sound effects. The script was very clever and wonderfully acted. I think it worked quite well as a radio play, in fact I had a hard time picturing it staged traditionally. My only complaint was that it ran longer (90 minutes) than most Fringe shows, so a friend and I had to rush to make it to the next show.

Home Made
I'd seen work by the dance company tEEth before, at the Sidearm Gallery a couple of years ago, and I must have signed up for a mailing list or something, because they send me emails. Anyway, I think their work overall is weird and wonderful. This show was very brave, with the two dancers naked throughout a lot of it (and dancing non-stop for an impressive amount of time). It was amazingly creative. The dancers filmed themselves for part of the show, with the live images projected on a screen behind them. It was passionate, often funny, weird, sexy, and very well executed. Bravo!

52 Man Pickup
I was a bit worried that this show would consist entirely of bragging about sexual conquests, but actually it was heartfelt, quite poetic at times, and courageously honest. Oh, it was also hilarious! Two feminist thumbs up!

Off to bed now...more Fringe tomorrow!

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