Photo by Mikki Schaffner

About halfway through the performance of SHELTER at Gabriel’s Corner yesterday, I began about really wonder what the point playwright Trey Tatum was trying to make. Was there one? Was this simply an interesting, dark story that lent itself to a dance mashup with Pones, Inc.?

And then just as the show was winding down, something happened on stage that made me cry. I don’t want to tell you what it was because that would spoil it and I want you to go and experience it for yourself.  And since I can’t talk about it, I can’t gush about all the reasons it moved me so much.  But just trust me – the buildup is worth it, even if its hot in the building, even if you don’t like contemporary dance so much, and even if you hate the Beatles.

Pones, Inc. is very popular within the Cincinnati arts community.  They’re known for tackling social issues with creative artistic expression.  Partnering with the dynamic duo behind Queen City Flash – Tatum and his wife Bridget Leak – is a unique pairing and one that I think paid off for this year’s Fringe Festival.

The show stars the dancers of Pones as well as Xavier Theatre students Mac Blais and Alex Roberts.  They are two young people who find shelter (hence the title) in a bunker during some sort of apocalyptic disaster.  They are young lovers; as young lovers do, they grown and learn about one another – only in this case in a very claustrophobic sort of way.

It’s not perfect.  At all.  Rushing all of it into a Fringe-friendly 70 minutes forces the actors to fly through their dialogue.  Some of the dance felt repetitive, overly so.  And I think some of the action of the show could have been directed differently to keep the audience more engaged.

But that moment – the one I won’t talk about – is so powerful, so raw, so engaging that I want you to go to share that experience with me.  Maybe you won’t have the same reaction I did; but for me – this sappy, emotional, people-loving “critic” – its one of the highlights of this year’s Fringe.

SHELTER plays Sun, May 31 @ 4:25PM, Mon, June 1 @ 6:30PM, and Thur, June 4 @ 9:00PM at Gabriel’s Corner as part of the 2015 Cincinnati Fringe Festival.  Click here for more information and tickets.