Tuesday, June 20, 2017

2017 Fringe Shows Part Three (review)

Spoilers ahoy!

Third series of reviews to shows seen at this year's Fringe Festival.  At least one or maybe two more to follow.  Click on the title to see the review posted on the Fringe Website, which in turn can tell you details of further performances:

My Janis is a one woman show, and very ground breaking in a tiny way.  Even the title gives a clue.  Most of these try to give you an overview of a real person's entire life, be it Harry Truman or Oscar Wilde or Martha Graham, etc.  This feels a thousand times more personal.  Most powerfully, the writer/performer here captures not Janis Joplin trying to explain herself to posterity or some such, but captures a particular moment in her life, a nexus, a decision which easily could have gone either way--and it feels that way.  I was awestruck.

Nick and Brooke's Comedy Dance Party may be the most aptly titled show I've ever seen.  It absolutely delivers what was promised--comedy, dance, music, singing, skits, etc. as part of a party we the audience have had the grand luck of attending!  So much fun!  A simple, delicious idea carried off with wit and style!  The audience joins in--singing with the stars and some of us ended up on stage dancing!  The grin on my face arrived soon and stayed for a long time after I left the theatre!

An Evening With John Wilkes Booth offered what to someone like me--theatrefolk and history buff--seems like a slice of heaven.  Imagine something from history coming alive, seeming human rather than any kind of grand event sans nuance or real context.  What I got was well-acted, well-researched, done with an almost sublime competence and skill.  Yet I felt nothing, save a growing distaste for this violent man-child full of himself who as much as admitted he committed murder to get good reviews.  So if that is what we were to see, that indeed appeared on stage.  But I wanted more.  I wanted to sympathize with Booth, to weep for the man he might have been.  Or to become fascinated by a human being driven to such an act by his own personal demons.  I got neither of those, and I'm human enough to have been very disappointed (despite--it bears repeating--the fine efforts and genuine talents on display).

Bitch Brow shocked me more than once.  And when it comes to watching plays, I'm not that easily shocked.  Blending humor and pathos with a unique blend of human detail, this play details the meeting of two women in an all night laundrymat in Long Island.  They share life details, comments about men and life, that sort of thing.  Sounds like you know what this might be like?  You. Are. Wrong.  This gets a lot more raw, more naked about what people really do and feel.  I am not easily shocked.  That bears repeating.  I was this time, although it all made perfect sense.  Highly recommended!

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