on the fringe

Amy Danielson

 

Another year, another Fringe Festival (nine years running now!), and how are we to choose which of the 135 shows offered this year might be worth the $8 student ticket price? (For those who plan on attending a variety of shows, by the way, there are better deals: The Festival offers a punch pass that will let you into five shows for $40, and for fanatics a $90 Ultra Pass will get you into as many shows as you can handle; call UptownTix for details at (612) 604-6446 for details.)

Here, for the discriminating Fringegoer, we offer a list of 10 shows that look the most promising, either based on the talent involved (we suggest two shows by University of Minnesota alumni and popular local sketch comedians the Scrimshaw Brothers) or based on content (we can’t resist a good puppet show). For more details on these shows, or to look to add to our list, check out the Fringe web page at www.FringeFestival.org, or pick up the tabloid-sized Fringe Festival program, available at coffee shops and bookstores throughout the city. There is too much theater to safely choose from here, so we recommend being arbitrary ñ sometimes the best shows are the most unexpected. Also recommended: Chat with fellow Fringegoers. They will be only to happy to share their favorites from this year.

 

Bring Me the Head of Dominic Papatola

Pigs Eye Theatre

[Cedar-Riverside People’s Center]

Playwright and actor Randall J. Funk introduces his new comedy about a sad-sack of a director hired by an insane actress to retrieve the Pioneer Press theater critic’s head. This is one of two plays this year detailing insecure, ego-driven actors enraged with critics. Is the theater community trying to tell critics something?

cirque d’ete

Jay Gilligan

[Bryant-Lake Bowl]

 

The Twin Cities’ most innovative juggler and performance artist shows off his novel routines in a show translated as “summer circus.” Gilligan has spent much of his adult life traveling around Europe, performing for various festivals and circus troupes. From those experiences, he has gained a unique style-combining music, dance, performance art and juggling into one spectacle.

The Comical Misadventures of Mr. Punch

Galumph Interactive Theater

[Grace Trinity Church]

 

The rarely produced Punch and Judy show is back, and the Galumph troupe offers a modern variation on these anarchic puppet characters. Galumph is known for their interactive and always amusing theater, so this is certain to be a delightful show as we watch Mr. Punch battles the world’s evils, represented by cops, clowns and the devil.

The 5 Step Guide to Happiness

Nimbus

[Brave New Workshop]

 

This is the third production to date from Josh Cragun’s creation ñ a theater company that promises to save its audiences from boredom by stimulating their minds. And their Fringe offering promises even more: to teach us to find happiness in less than 12 steps! Local playwright (and “beast of burden,” according to Nimbus) Cockroach, who wrote the biblical farce Third and Long for last year’s Fringe, created this dark comedy about sexy 20-something cynics searching for contentment in their mournful lives.

The Lion’s Pride

Green T Productions

[Hennepin Center for the Arts]

We’ve always been intrigued by kabuki theater, which Green T productions specializes in. What other style of theater allows you to be so rowdy as to throw your seat cushions at bad performers? Thanks to their Fringe production, we can satisfy our curiosity.

The Memory Tree

The Puppet Project

[Minneapolis Theatre Garage]

 

Puppet sex! What more do you need to know? If this show doesn’t push the limits of puppetry, we don’t know what show possibly can. Forget any misconceptions that puppets are only for children’s television and Christians. As you may have seen on Crank Yankers, puppets can be used for any bawdy act that many audiences would writhe at. And these eccentric Canadians are ready to deliver a hyper-caffeinated, filthy mouthed show about a city languishing as their memories fade.

Or Was it the Read King’s Dream?

Normally Closed Theatre

[Woman’s Club of Minneapolis]

 

At last year’s Fringe Festival, Normally Closed Theatre presented a show called 2 Scientists, which involved a sex triangle. This experimental play questioned the implications behind searching for the meaning of life using a disjointed plot fueled mainly by a single character’s introspections. This year’s show approaches its subject ñ Alice in Wonderland creator Lewis Carroll ñ with a similarly spirited manner. Just read this elusive poem, the company’s only description of their show:

 

Adventure follows Alice

To Wonderland anew!

Creatures kind and callous!

(Authors’ demons, too)

Petrifying perils

From Economics class!

Exploring Lewis Carroll’s

“Through the Looking Glass”

Shut Your Joke Hole

English Scrimshaw Productions

[Intermedia Arts]

The first of two Scrimshaw Brothers shows that we recommend. They’re just so damn funny, we can’t possibly resist. This one is by Joshua Scrimshaw and his wife Adrienne English. The show promises hookers, spray cheese and dry humping ñ nothing unusual for a Scrimshaw show. But it also promises silence. While Josh Scrimshaw often talks of his fondness for silent film, we mostly see him shouting obscenities and lewd jokes in the Look Ma, No Pants sketches he performs with his brother Joseph. But, once in a while, Josh performs a silent routine that is as foul and mean-spirited as anything the brothers perform vocally, as he has put together a series of such performances here.

Trainspotting

Theatre Pro Rata

[Bryant-Lake Bowl]

 

Darker than the film? And more fragmented? According to Theatre Pro Rata, playwright Harry Gibson’s adaptation of the Irvine Welch’s bleak novel is more haunting than the film adaptation. In fact, the company boasts that this adaptation meticulously reflects the essence of novel. The play first opened in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1995 ñ the very city in which the play’s characters lead their disturbing, loathsome lives as heroin addicts. Likely to be a gripping, puissant production, the show promises to depict both the intense euphoria and inevitable misery as the characters surrender to their addiction.

 

 

The Worst Show at the Fringe

Joseph Scrimshaw and Sarah Gioia

[Brave New Workshop]

A Fringe show within a Fringe show: a one-act, My Emails with Shakespeare, is performed by an arrogant actor and trashed by a haughty critic. The too-sensitive actor rejects the criticism and kidnaps the critic. Will this show analyze the precarious relationship between artist and critic and the delicate egos which need consistent stroking? With or without such contemplation, Joseph Scrimshaw will undoubtedly bring his usual caustic humor to the story, which features Guthrie actor David Mann.