FRINGE REVIEWS: The Second Half

Here’s some thoughts about some of the shows I saw in the second half of my Fringe experience:

MeSsEd Tunnel Tour: I don’t know much about comic books, but Jay Kalagyan, one of the original Know Theatre guys, has written one and as an extension of the book itself, he and his team have created a walk through exhibit in the sub-basement of Union Hall on Republic Street, which allows visitors to walk through the comic.  It’s very cool and I love the enthusiasm Jay has for life – and this new project.  Tickets are still available as this runs for yet another weekend. Click here for more information.

The Blackface Project: An intriguing but too brief look at Bert Williams, a legendary African American actor who pioneered the way for others like him to appear on Broadway and film.  It’s good story telling, but the climax comes too abruptly.  It’s an important piece of theatre history and I’d love to see how the play matures over time.

Fadeaway Girl: Rachel Petrie’s sometimes hilarious and sometimes heartbreaking look at her own struggle with Bipolar Disorder was well produced, maybe too much so. I like solo shows, especially when the performer is willing to be vulnerable.  I wonder what this would be like with more story and less production.

ExTrashVaGanza!: I think Paul Strickland is a genius and this collaboration with Erika Kate MacDonald is just another weird window into his deep but accessible soul.  Thought-provoking without being too heavy or self-important, the humor is spot on . . . even when the puns abound.  Really liked this!

Show Up: Peter Michael Marino takes us on a wild improvisational journey through his mind and our collective consciousness to create an improvisational masterpiece.  He’s hilarious and smart and I love what he does with post it notes.  I’d love to see more from him.

(As an aside, one thing I did notice this year during one-person performances was the audience’s tendency to want to converse at inappropriate times. I am not sure if it was the alcohol or what but shut up already . . . let them do the show! You’re there to watch – not steal the spotlight with your “witty” comments.)

Musical Chairs: Two years in a row, Gideon Production knocks it out of the park with their take on love, romance, and all with a specific twist.  The acting, writing, staging – all of it is out of this world professional.  Mac Rogers’ work should be on stages all over the country. I have no idea how he is not more famous.

Congrats to all the “Pick of the Fringe” winners but also to anyone brave enough to put their art out there for all to see.  There are some shows I regret missing and only one or two that I regret seeing . . . so that’s a win!  I’m already looking forward to next year.  Maybe this will be the year that I finally get to take off work and see it all?