Publicist: Drew Petriello

Jul

Mil Grus

What I liked:
I don’t… but it… why did… what…?
What I didn’t like:
Uh.
My overall impression:
This show destroyed my ability to form coherent sentences for half an hour afterward.

sweet

Jun

Life Plan, or How to Live your Best Life in a Collapsing World!

While absurd, the worldbuilding of the near future sci fi world still manages to feel like an extrapolation of current issues, even if it is taken ad absurdum.

Every one of our four actors - sorry, "Presenters" - does a magnificent job, each conveying so much character and revealing so much about their hypothetical future world.

The multimedia aspect was solidly done - sometimes with theatre it can feel distracting or like an afterthought, but a lot of effort was put into making it look like a bona fide Tony Robbins adjacent presentation.

And it made me think a lot. It's interesting - the themes of this piece certainly scrutinize a lot of the popular self-help advice going around, but it still got me thinking a lot about those cliches. Seizing the moment and all that. As a man who perpetually doesn't know what the hell he wants, it was one more layer to the already rich existential dread cake I was having forcefed down my gullet.

This show was very funny. Also, I hardly laughed because I was seized by existential dread for about half of the runtime. Highly recommended!

sweet

Jun

Flights of Fancy

The premise of this show is a lot of fun and the running motifs carry potent meaning throughout. There are a few digs regarding certain kinds of artists that I found delightful. The ensemble has a great sense of character and comedic timing, leading to even the subplots feeling full of depth, insight, and humor - there is a budding romance which is so hilariously dysfunctional it made my sides hurt. I love the way it was staged, especially when it muddled around in the fantastical and surreal.

My one quibble is that Tommy was SUCH a huge jerk at the beginning. It felt somewhat incongruous with the way he behaved throughout the rest of the piece.

This show is a wild hour. Plenty of complications and absurdity to be had, yet it all comes wrapped around a tight emotional core, having a lot to say about art and the ways we deal with pain.

sweet

Jun

No Child Left Behind

Welcome to class, ladies! Your teacher is brimming with energy, and is very charming and witty!

Also, the apartheid referendum is coming up soon because it's 1992 in South Africa.

At thirty minutes long and free, you have no reason not to see No Child Left Behind this Fringe.

So much to love here - Makha plays a charming South African girls' school teacher and does so excellently. She is so much fun to watch. But this "fun teacher" has a surprising amount of depth to her, which is discovered over the course of this brief, yet punchy, play.

This show is very funny.

And also super duper uncomfortable. In a good way, though. I mean, it'd better make you uncomfortable - it's only about a classroom on the eve of the apartheid referendum for crying out loud.

There were a couple of lines towards the end of the show that had me make weird, squeaky, throat noises from how uncomfortable I was. Hit me like a racist cannonball to the gut.

The simple premise and brevity of the show belie how carefully structured it is. Every element is thought out for a very precise effect on the audience. The most banal of activities is laden with symbolism and irony, from the playing of the national anthem to the taking of roll.

sweet

Jun

Made for Each Other

I was one of three people in the audience when I saw this and that is a goddamn crime because this show is stellar.

John Fico is an incredibly compelling performer and the specificity he brings to each character is spellbinding. Every one feels fully realized and the whole show could have consisted of any one of them and I still would have had a blast. The softness and vulnerability in these characters, paired with wit and charm... you'll fall in love with them the way they fall in love with each other.

This show made me feel emotions. Quite a lot of them. When Alzheimer's is a central part of the story, it'll do that to you.

The writing was done by a deft hand, jumping from sharp sass to revealing character moments to song and dance numbers to poetic observations. Looking back on it, this piece traverses a lot of ground, but it feels so cohesive and effortless - even though it's also evident that all involved put a lot of care into all aspects of the storytelling.

I wish there was more of it!

It was great that the show ended where it did, but it could well have gone on another fifteen minutes or so and probably would have left me a sobbing blubbering wreck for the rest of the day.

sweet

Jun

Public Domain: The Musical

This is some goofy ass shit, best viewed with a drink or two bubbling away inside your body. It's fun, it's short, the songs are clever, and you'll be catching your breath from laughter.

This is a thirty-minute show which wastes no time packing in the jokes. The Statler and Waldorf adjacent puppets are the first things I saw and already I knew I was in for a good time.

Each character is given their time and a song, and then they're whisked away, never to be seen again. None of them outstay their welcome and are all excellently portrayed.

I want to say my highlights, but saying who any of the characters are is a little bit of a spoiler. I'll just say the "hero song" is goddamn hysterical and the one about wishes is so, so clever it makes me mad that I didn't think of it.

Also, Ember is a phenomenal performer and needs her own TV show. I'm not joking about this, she is astounding as a singer, actor, and comedian.

If you don't enjoy this you probably are the sort of person who explains the intricacies of the tax code to five-year-olds.

sweet

Jun

Tell Me About Your Daddy

An interesting look into some of the causes of LGBTQ infighting, painted with some entertaining characters that are instantly recognizable

The depth each character had was welcome, showing each one's trouble with coping both in society at large and in the society of the LGBTQ community. Much of the wording was quite witty as well. The dry seriousness with which Ty played the doctor was a lot of fun in stark contrast to some of the kinda bonkers shit he was saying.

There were a few points as to where I was confused as to what was going on - for instance, there was a part towards the end where I was unsure if the twink was talking to someone else or if he was jumping through differing lines of thought. Just a little more specificity in the especially chaotic scenes would have been helpful for me.

sweet-sour

Jun

Lear/Loman

The acting and knowledge of the source material was very solid, but I would be hesitant to recommend this show to anyone that isn't a hardcore lover of these plays.

The whole cast was stellar, but of course, the titular Lear steals the show with Loman coming a close second.

It was very clear that all involved had a deep love and knowledge of the source material and that shows. The connections Lear and Loman made with each other were really interesting and it was nice to see these characters who were never able to overcome their tragic flaws in life wrestle with doing so in death.

But it was too much in love with the source material. In many ways, this felt like watching a theatre school comparative essay that was turned into a play. The analysis of the characters was spot on, but I couldn't connect to the show much deeper than on an intellectual level for most of the show.

Lear explaining Iambic Pentameter to Willy Loman was an element that did not work for me. This show is very much for the theatre nerds, but that bit felt like it was going too far.

sweet-sour

Jun

The Last Croissant

This show is just delightful and wholesome.

I had a big dumb smile on my face the whole show. The jokes are funny and the characters are zany.

It was just a nice time. There was conflict, but it was all absurd and lighthearted. It's not DEEP MEANINGFUL HIGH DRAMA, but it's not trying to be. It's just so... WHOLESOME goddammit!

Also the teabag and bear steal the show.

The set was one of the most detailed of the Fringe.

The cranes were unexplained throughout the show and I'm of two minds about it. On one hand, not everything needs an explanation, but on the other, it felt like an element without a purpose.

It doesn't matter that much though. That is such a tiny gripe. Go see this dang show and just have a nice time.

sweet

Jun

Treason

The tension building in this play was top-notch. As soon as it started, the action hooked me and I could not get free even if I wanted to. The escalation was suitably ridiculous but managed to stay grounded somehow. I could hardly believe an hour had gone by when all was said and done.

The actors are all fantastic too, each one of them playing their roles with incredible commitment. Each character had such a strong, clear, and different point of view that their interactions left me laughing, furious, and frightened.

There is a lot to deconstruct in the way the characters behave - each one is a stand-in for a particular type of person and a savvy viewer will see the political arguments play out even though most of the dialogue stays away from actually being overtly political. It would have been so easy for this show to have been little more than navel-gazing social commentary. I'm so glad that it had much more meat than that.

And can I just say that the ending couple lines of the show are delicious?

As a tight, tense, familial drama steeped in the politics of the day, it works perfectly. I'm sitting here, trying to think of a critique or two, but nothing's coming.

This play was a masterclass in increasing tension and does a wonderful job bringing macro issues down to a micro level. It's a whirlwind of a ride that you should not miss this Fringe!

sweet

Jun

Silent Joy, a New Play

The performances are stellar - Maggie Dorfman is a fantastic anchor for the rest of the cast to revolve around. All the members of her family are very well-played and complex, never quite allowing me to completely demonize any of them, allowing me to sympathize with each of their pains.

The theatricality of this was wonderful. The way the fantastical elements are played must be seen. It is a feast of energy.

The story itself manages to masterfully weave between the two narratives of the Girl's journey to the Central Ring and the story of her family breaking apart. The way it is able to concurrently play both stories without losing any of either is truly applaud-worthy.

The message is, of course, important and the emotional arc got me seriously close to crying at the end there.

I really really liked this show, and it was SO CLOSE to being a show that I LOVED.

The symbolism is blatant, but for the most part, it works. A couple of times it got a little too on the nose for my tastes.

There was a point where the Girl got fed up with Joy and I didn't quite buy that shift.

The Central Ring was a touch anticlimactic, especially given how creative and visceral Violence just was. To me, it either needed to be more traditionally climactic or a complete anticlimax. I see a world where either option works.

A beautiful play that manages to pull off a tricky narrative structure, say something meaningful about depression and abuse, while being truly theatrical. I know it is adapted from an upcoming graphic novel and I'm sure there are several adaptational differences, but the way this story was told could only have worked in the theatre. Which is exciting to me, given how sick I am of naturalism on the stage.

sweet

Jun

The Journey of the Little Prince

This is the hardest review I've ever written for Fringe because I'm twenty-five and I think I'm the exact sort of cynical adult that the Little Prince would rightly deride. I tried hard to engage with the production, I really did, but I was not able to give in to the sense of childlike wonder that this piece encourages. And that's... sad to me.

The silhouettes were neat to watch and helped add to the sense of fantasy. The use of shadows was creative, and I really enjoyed the good morning/good night bit with the string lights around Transe's neck. Transe's performance, by the way, was very enjoyable and my favorite of the production - he has really great energy and commitment.

The Little Prince's insights are often witty and sometimes thought-provoking.

I have not read the original story, but this appears to be a very faithful adaptation.

At times, the show could get static. With such little movement, some of the encounters the Little Prince had felt too long.

Also, this show is billed as a "sensory experience," but I never felt like the production went as far as it could have with the concept. Most of the time, we were watching motionless shadows and listening to dialogue with the occasional dance transition, sound cue, or projection.

I do think the message of this show is valuable, but it's one that I've been inundated with my whole life and I'm currently in my rebellious phase with it for... reasons that don't need to be delved into here. This is very much a subjective response, I know, but I can't help the way I feel and I don't want to lie about it. I've been putting off writing this review because it gives me an existential meltdown every time I try.

I'm too cynical for a show like this. And that bums me out, really.

sweet-sour

Jun

Leaving Prince Charming

I'm often skeptical of autobiographical solo shows, so trust me on this when I say you've got to see this.

Lara is an absolutely riveting performer, casting her acting over the audience like a spell. Which is apropos, given that the conceit of the show is Lara playing a fairy godmother.

There are several moments during the show where I scrunched up real tight and squeaked over how uncomfortable things were. There are several lines that will cut to the bone and make you go - "no... no one would never actually say that to another person... would they?"

So that's good.

And oh, this show GOES THERE. It is not afraid to wallow around in discomfort for a second or two. Or fifteen.

The discomfort is balanced out by how funny Lara is. Her reenactment of... well, no spoilers, but of a PARTICULAR LIFE EVENT WE ALL EXPERIENCE is beyond hysterical.

The piece is very #relatable in the best ways. You will see yourself reflected in the young girl Lara once was, because whether you have ever been a girl or not, we have all been fed some very strange concepts about love. You will nod in recognition, you will laugh, you will cringe, maybe even cry.

You never think abuse will happen to you.

The way Lara decided to end the show is impressive, but also not to my preferences. Which is a hundred percent fine - it's purely a matter of taste.

I doubt most people will mind.

Lara is an incredibly skilled performer and seeing her physical acting chops is worth the price of entry alone. Fortunately, she has a compelling and painful story to go along with it.

sweet

Jun

Yes. No. Maybe.

An intriguing little dramady that explores boundaries in more ways than one. The show has a lot to say, and it says so very wittily and with superb acting - and without battering the audience over the head with the message stick.

All four performers are excellently cast. They all have fully realized inner lives and solid senses of comedic timing.

For the most part, the play is naturalistic, but there occasional breaks into something a little more abstract that I really enjoy, like in the way sex scenes are handled. Each character also gives a monologue to the audience that sums up a unique part of their character.

So much about the situation these characters find themselves in is fraught. It begs questions about the ethical conduct of those in power, but also about those who consentingly(?) choose to sleep to the top. There are a lot of questions raised and no real answers given. It's all left up for the audience to come to their own conclusions without firm judgment cast down on any one character. Everyone behaves in a flawed manner... but also behaves generously. The gray areas will leave you scratching your head for days.

And did I mention it's really funny? The dialogue is full of witticisms and one-liners that you'll wish you thought of.

There is a survey given before they show. I'm curious to see what will be done with it.

I know the dialogue is quick and quippy, but occasionally a line was spoken so quickly that I didn't know what was said.

The introduction of the main couple, while funny, didn't quite work for me. Maybe it's because I hate the game of rhetorical impossible questions. Actually, it's probably more that they both initially come off as unlikeable and I grew to like them as the story went on. I wanted to be in at least one of their courts at the outset.

These are minor quibbles. The show succeeded in what it set out to do and is enjoyable and provocative the whole way through.

sweet

Jun

How To Be A Rock Star

This show is unlike anything you will ever experience. All I have to say is that you should go check it out and just sit along for the odd, perplexing, and heartfelt ride.

Right, so this show should be experienced as blindly as possible, so I'm going to speak in the most annoyingly vague way known to mankind.

Know that there is audience participation. Also know that you're in good hands with Sam.

I think this is what art is?

Various things happen in the background while Sam performs - whether it's equipment being moved around, an audience member doing something on stage, or some sort of special effect. It's all very postmodern with Sam being willing to call attention to the artificial nature of the performance and remarking on his own abilities when he doesn't land a chord just right.

Fourth wall? What fourth wall? The fourth wall is for sissies.

The songs are solid too - gentle, warm, folksy, often with the theme of loneliness.

I don't think you'll see anything else quite like this. The ending alone is worth the price of entry.

It's hard to say what needs to be improved when a production has this clarity of intent. It's very much its own thing and either you're going to be sucked in or you're going to bounce right off.

And that's just the chance you're going to have to take, my friend.

sweet

Jun

Pit of Goblins

The jokes in this are incredibly well set-up. The running gag of the talent show had me rolling. Also, the show does a great job of constantly juxtaposing the way our psychopathic main character is with the way he perceives himself. The dissonance generates a lot of laughter.

In fact, all the characters Mitchell plays are well-realized and distinct, each having a clear purpose and arc to them. There is a one-scene wonder Alex Jonesalike who is goddamn hysterical.

Speaking of arcs - my god, I loved the emotional arc of this piece. It's very dark comedy for most of the show, but then... well, not to spoil, but by the end, things get very bleak in a way that I found delictable. Some people might not be able to balance the horrible fucked-upedness with the slightly absurd tone of the rest of the show, but it was entirely my jam.

The video aspect was hit or miss. There were a couple of video segments that contained gags, information, or moved the plot forward, but there were a few that seemed to be there to fill space, likely so Mitchell could have a break from constant talking/change outfits. It was apparent based off audience reactions that one of them was an in-joke that I didn't get. Most of the time the video worked, but a couple of times it put a halt to things just when the action was picking up.

The frame of the main character speaking with the doctor in the woods didn't quite work for me. I like the idea of him talking with someone so that he's not just spouting off to the audience, but it raised a lot more questions to me along the lines of, how are the goblins preventing the doctor from going straight to the cops?

This show was right up my dark, twisted alley. If you like your humor pitch black or are a fan of well-produced, well-performed solo shows, here is a piece for you.

sweet

Jun

BLACKBOXING

The in-character programs are genius. Revel in its glory.

Right, the show itself, right:

This show hits the nail right on the head in so many ways. The jokes are like precision nuclear strikes of satire, leaving swaths of trope devastation in the aftermath.

Last minute Fringe nightmares? Check. Overly optimistic ambitions for what can be accomplished on the technical side? Check. Overinflated ego? Check. Therapy onstage? Check. A tear-down of every bad solo-show habit in existence? Check.

Which is to say nothing of the lovely rapport between Matt and Jim. Their timing is impeccable, from every one of Jim’s beleaguered groans to Matt’s interpretive dance shimmies. There are also several brilliant gags that make use of the space in really creative ways. I’m just going to say Indiana Jones and leave it at that.

And of course it has to go and be poignant too, going a little deeper into the neuroses that drive people to create shows like this – hell, that drive people to create in general. One of the big themes of this show that really resonated with me was about how sometimes, directly communicating with people is very hard. Sometimes, an expensive, over-the-top piece of “art” is somehow easier.

This show will work best on those who have produced at Fringe before. That’s not to say you won’t enjoy it if you haven’t, but the more familiar you are with the subject material, the more mileage you’ll get out of it. Some jokes that will seem purely silly to one person will be bitingly satirical to another.

There was a transition from being in tech rehearsal to being in performance that was a little jarring. I was unsure that the transition had even happened until a couple minutes in. Not a huge issue, but the ambiguity took me out a tad.

Your mileage may also vary depending on your tolerance for novelty songs. For my personal tastes, “Smellay Lahk A Turkey” began to wear thin after the first chorus, mostly because I wanted to go back to the beyond hysterical banter between Matt and Jim.

Oh, what a tasty skewering of Fringe and solo shows we have here. Blackboxing is absurd but at the same time so painfully true that anyone familiar with the subject matter will be delighted.

sweet

Jun

Olivia Wilde Does Not Survive The Apocalypse

A very fun take on the post-apocalypse wherein modern pop culture is transformed into sacrosanct mythology. It's absurd in all the right ways, delicious one-liners are peppered throughout, and keen satiric barbs will make you wince at the truth of it all.

The idea that in 300 years that celebrities have been deified and their exploits in people magazine are recounted as mythology just tickles me in so many ways. It bears some resemblance to Mister Burns, A Post-Electric Play in that regard. Which, as far as comparisons go, is pretty high praise.

The jokes are perfectly timed and there are so many of them that if one doesn't quite land, that's okay, there are five more coming up. The pop culture references are plentiful, given the nature of the show, but they are not overbearing. The references are there to serve the tospy-turvy world of the apocalypse, the witty dialogue, and the delightfully weirdass characters. It would have been so easy for this play to have been a nonstop string of "references" in place of actual jokes, but it isn't. Because Matthew Robinson is an excellent writer.

The actors are all perfectly suited to their roles. I was about to make a brief list of standouts here, but then I realized that I was just typing out each of the cast members individually.

The barely-there romance subplot was a little bit mangled in the middle part of the show.

And uh... that's about it for nitpicks. I had a really great time y'all.

sweet

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