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2018 Audience Reviews

Member Reviews

The following reviews were submitted by Fringe Member: Reid Gagle

Company: Paper Soul
Show: SOFT
Venue: Ritz Theater Mainstage

Origin Myth?

I usually stop reviewing once a show has this many reviews, but the wide variety of reactions in the reviews of this show roused me from my torpor. I thought it was a funny, clever show, with a very believable main character. It is also thought provoking -- my wife and I had a completely different interpretation of the last scene (hence my question mark in the review title).

Company: Cool Papa Cole
Show: Alex "Cool Papa" Cole - True Songs & Stories
Venue: Rarig Center Xperimental

A Gift of Laughter

The show consists of folksy original songs, each introduced or afterworded by humorous vignettes from the artist's own life. Some of the earlier songs were humorous story-songs which reminded me a bit of John Prine, if that means anything to anyone anymore. At any rate, I find Cole funny and engaging. The Scaramouche quote fits him well: "He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad." He sees the funny in the craziness of the world around him. It's a fun way to spend an hour.

Company: Wayward Theatre Company
Show: Far Away by Caryl Churchill
Venue: Rarig Center Arena

1984...With Hats!

This is a well done version of a difficult play. I saw it about 15 years ago, but with fewer people on stage and no music. This version, done by the excellent new group Wayward Theater, works better. Kudos to them. The play also may seem more timely in our brave new world, so full of doublespeak and alternative facts. The play itself is an impressionistic fever dream about a future dystopia of totalitarianism and revolution. It's a strange piece. The first act concerns a young girl who's seen something that she shouldn't have. In the second act, the girl is now grown and starting work making fancy hats. The hats and their purpose is vivid and haunting. The third act is a bit later in time, and reminds me of the anti-Fascists in the Spanish Civil War, too busy squabbling about points of ideology to bother winning the war.

Company: Ghoulish Delights, LLC
Show: The Screaming Skull
Venue: Rarig Center Thrust

Screaming Skull, Talking Head

I usually like Tim Uren's shows, and I highly esteem actor Eric Webster. So perhaps this was a case of overly high expectations. It just didn't grab me. The sound and visual effects were very cool and well done. I especially liked the sounds of the fireplace crackling and ocean waves rolling in.

Company: Martin Dockery
Show: Martin Dockery: Delirium
Venue: Rarig Center Thrust

Migration and Immigration, Life and Death

Master storyteller Martin Dockery weaves his magic again. As the story unfolds, from immigration and love to flight and death to migration and birth, the progression seems very natural. Immediately after the play, the various parts seemed to me to be more cobbled together and joined by Dockery's force of personality. But on further reflection, I really think my initial reaction was right. It really does knit together magically. See this show! P.S. The two '2.5 star' reviews were almost certainly PEBKAC mistakes -- "problem exists between keyboard and chair". The review page initializes at 2.5 and it's easy to fail to adjust it from that default.

Company: Concrete Drops
Show: Inescapable
Venue: Augsburg Mainstage

Hickory Dockery Box

Well, there is no hickory in the play, but we do have Martin Dockery and a mysterious box. This loopy little play has a lot of circular dialogue, but there is good reason for it, so give it time to build. If I had to sum it up, I'd say it was a little like 'Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead' with a bit of Memento and a small piece of Pi. Or perhaps it's better described as a play about a small closed timelike curve.

Company: Audacity Theatre Lab
Show: Robert's Eternal Goldfish
Venue: Rarig Center Xperimental

The Carp Came Back

Initially, I was put off by the performer. He was a little too loud and too "in your face" for me. But he soon toned it down, the story progressed, and I warmed up to him. He creates a vivid character, initially mired in misanthropy and with a long and funny litany of things he hates. A chance encounter with a persistently friendly lady at a coffee shop leads to a string of strange events which gradually warm his cold, cold heart. This is a show worth seeing.

Company: Nefarious Laboratory
Show: The Idaho Jackson Action Playset
Venue: Ritz Theater Studio

Lunchbox Lawrence and the Rolling Abbatoir

Brad Lawrence tells the story of his young self, the boy stuck with the hand-me-down pink lunchbox. He is an energetic performer -- almost a little exhausting, actually. What sets him apart from other childhood storytellers is his way with words: describing a schoolbus as a 'rolling abbatoir', for instance. This is one Fringe show whose script I'd enjoy reading, so as to linger over the clever turns of phrase. Highly recommended!

Company: The Adventures of Les Kurkendaal
Show: Walking While Black in Moscow
Venue: Ritz Theater Studio

Back from the USSR (uhh, the former USSR)

Perennial Fringe performer Les Kurkendaal here relates the story of his recent trip to Moscow. As always, he immediately connects with his audience and tells his story in a very personable, conversational way. When the show is over, you feel like you have spent a relaxing hour chatting with an amusing friend.

Company: Kelly Haramis
Show: Hard-Core CORN
Venue: Strike Theater


The premise sounds like the natural recipe for a Fringe show. Combine the story of your life, your mysterious illness, and a lot of factoids. Heat to boiling, then stir in a variety of characters. Voila! The trouble is, the success of this type of show depends on your ability to engage the audience. And I for one, wasn't that engaged.

Company: Snikt! Bamf! Thwip!
Show: A Family Friendly Pulp Fiction (Not Appropriate for Families)
Venue: Theatre in the Round

Badass Minnesota Fringer

This is a solid Fringe concept. Take scenes from a famously non-PC modern classic movie, and twist them to be "family friendly". At the same time, the show underlines the hypocrisy of the concept of "family friendly". Since the movie zooms around in time and between storylines, a truncated version like this is inevitably going to lose a lot of narrative sense. But unless you've been in a coma for the last 30 years, you're going to know the movie, and you won't have any trouble filling in the gaps. In fact, I'd say that the writers erred on the side of putting in too much connective tissue. Just stick with the meat of the funniest scenes. The cherry on top is that the actors do several good vocal impressions, as of Christopher Walken's Viet Nam story. All around, this is a funny show and well worth seeing.

Company: Bittersweet Arts Co.
Show: Forsythian Dweller's Club
Venue: Rarig Center Xperimental

Drink the Kool-Aid

A charismatic branding expert brainstorms with the staff of a small, artsy, literary magazine. The ideas spiral feverishly out of control. This is a high energy rollercoaster of a show, and the cast is excellent, both in line delivery and stage presence. By the end, things are probably a bit too manic, but you should definitely go along for the ride.

Company: Mosaic Productions
Show: Hidden in This Picture
Venue: Rarig Center Arena

Where's the Beef?

Aaron Sorkin, creator of 'West Wing' and the writer of the movie 'Steve Jobs', wrote this clever vignette about the final minutes of shooting the key scene in a Hollywood movie. There can be no reshoots, so when things go awry, the bullshit hits the fan. The characters are the usual suspects for a piece about Hollywood: director, producer, writer, flunky. The cast gets the job done. Worth seeing if you have a time slot to fill.

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