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2018 Audience Reviews

Member Reviews

The following reviews were submitted by Fringe Member: Adam Boutz

Company: The Young Company
Show: How to Fix It
Venue: Rarig Center Arena

Apologetic critiques of apologies

Little vignettes that were conceptually linked but all over the place stylistically and with their messages. I loved the unscripted questions asked of the cast members but for much of the piece I felt disconnected from the presentation, though I could understand how each fit thematically.

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

What's that about starring into the Abyss?

There is a lot of human and cultural commentary to unpack in this short but incredibly rich play. From ripping apart social media to scathing criticism of Scientology, this touches on EVERYTHING that defines how simple ideas can spiral out of control. How even the puppet master ends of on the strings of his own puppet. It's energetic, insane, ridiculous, but yet somehow way way too real.

Company: Some Lady's Production
Show: The Phone Sex Play
Venue: Rarig Center Xperimental

Nothing changes

If the goal of this play was to be full of funny bits, make the audience squirm, and be full of (literal) callbacks, it succeeded wildly. If it was to tell a tell a story or develop a character, it was less successful. The little we do learn about the only character is intriguing. But the only emotions we experience with her are disgust and crushing boredom. I laughed, but I could have been laughing a lot harder.

Company: The Rest of Us
Show: An Odyssey Backwards and in Heels
Venue: Minnsky Theatre

If Friends were easy, everybody would have them

A booze-filled journey of self un-discovery. A touching script that wasn't afraid to take the audience to deeply uncomfortable places. The music added a lot, and was clearly very ambitious. References to The Odyssey were very subtle. I'd think that taking that out of the title would be a rewarding treat for those able to make the connection on their own.

Company: Dilettante
Show: Brogonauts
Venue: Rarig Center Thrust

Nothing was terrible, but generally underwhelming

The cast needed to be louder or the theater needed to be smaller. I feel like there was some social commentary in there, but I'll be a space monkey's uncle if I can figure out what it was. The play leaned heavily on just a couple of jokes that were used repeatedly. They never became any funnier.

Company: Custer & Schmidt
Show: Our Best Life
Venue: Rarig Center Thrust

Life is funny when you laugh at it

A two-woman show becomes a one-woman show becomes a two-woman show again. Hilarious sketch comedy that, we can only assume, will form the core of Shanan Custer's autobiography.

Company: Schmidtshow Productions
Show: LAKES 4
Venue: Theatre in the Round

Planning for disaster

An Ocean's 11 parody so packed with local references, that anyone who lives further away than Edina is going to feel left out on a lot of jokes. It was funny, but with only one character fully developed everyone else in the play felt hollow.

Company: Sheep Theater
Show: Kaboom
Venue: Rarig Center Thrust

Dr. Strangelove if everyone were idiots

A funny slapstick comedy about a dysfunctional White House that, astonishingly, wasn't about the current dysfunctional White House. It was a lot of fun, though in its efforts to more and more zany by the moment bordered on being over-the-top and loosing connection to reality.

Company: Gabriel Mata/Movements
Venue: Southern Theater

Nightmares were a spectacle

A wonderfully precise and physical one-man dance piece. When he was dancing. Dialog provided context that made the movement all the more meaningful and accessable, but at times it went on too long. I would have thought that not coming back for a bow would bother me, but it did a little.

Company: Play-Dot
Show: Midwestworld
Venue: Southern Theater

The best part was the intro

This is not the 'Westworld' parody you are looking for. Despite being packed from start to finish with pop-culture robot jokes, this fell flat. Could not keep tack of what the plot was. Not sure if that's just because it was too complex for me to understand or if the whole thing was just a nonsensical joke at the audience's expense and there never was a plot from the start. Either way, not a good thing.

Company: Blinking Eye Theatre
Show: Swipe Right
Venue: Augsburg Mainstage

It's funny because it's true

A fun play that, with any luck, is only a product of this moment in time. I hope future generations look back on this script and are baffled by it but this is all too relateable right now. It leans heavily on a few comedic bits which, while hilarious, distract just a little from the message underpinning the whole.

Company: All's Swole That Ends Swole
Show: Swimming Against Fate, or How it Feels to Chew Five Gum
Venue: Rarig Center Xperimental

Just ok

Painful pacing issues distract make the confusing script harder to follow. The cast made an effort to see it through, but ultimately din't do much for me.

Company: Oncoming Productions
Show: Geminae
Venue: Southern Theater

Needs refocusing

Stunning staging and tragically bleak. This play felt like two separate stories; one a beautiful and horrifying story of a doomed woman, her sister, and the machinations that put them there, and the other a scary but unremarkable ghost story. I wanted to see far more of that first play and less of the second.

Company: Imagined Theatre
Show: A Part of Me
Venue: Southern Theater

Every character exactly as they appear to be

Touching story that did it's best to be a tear-jerker. And it was good in that regard. But the writing felt a little ham-fisted and the characters didn't seem to be fully-realized people.

Company: Goof Goof
Show: (a) Normal Theatre Play
Venue: Strike Theater


Some things are hard to describe. Some things are hard to describe that should be easy to describe for some reason. This is one of those things.

Company: Fearless Comedy Productions
Show: Deep in The 100 Acre Woods: A "Pooh"-dunnit?
Venue: Minnsky Theatre

Pooh: evil genius of evil idiot?

A gritty and grim interpretation of the children's books. I felt slimy just sitting in the audience. The parodies of the characters, dark humor, and rigid structure didn't leave much space for drama, but the show and cast were flawlessly committed to their premise. Some of the dialog became a little hard to hear at times, Minsky eats sound. I need to go take a shower after seeing that.

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

A little too informal

A monologue told from a fascinating and unique perspective. However, I felt I was just hearing someone's travel story. Heavy reliance on the words "and" as well as "so then" created a pattern that quickly became distracting.

Company: Fearnot Dance
Show: Stark Dance: Politics Religion Sex
Venue: Ritz Theater Mainstage

Sharp like a knife

That might be the most high-energy and accessible pure movement piece I've seen for a long time. The energy and precision of the cast was absolutely undeniable. It was intense and evocative and always just the right amount of unsettling.

Company: Concrete Drops
Show: Inescapable
Venue: Augsburg Mainstage

Strap in

A high-speed play with high-speed circular banter. At first it seemed like an Abbot and Costello ripoff if they were drunk and high. But just as the shtick was starting to get old the main plot device slowly comes into focus. It's a lot of fun, but a the high intensity delivery and (intentionally) repetitive dialog were exhausting.

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

A challenging work

This is a beautifully-staged production. The transitions and movement were all flawless and sharp as a knife. The acting was superb and the music added so much. The script itself was too surrealistic to nail down what was satire, what was parody, and what was earnest. I wasn't sure if/how the three acts were even related. It all gave me the sensation of a bad dream (the goal, I'll sure) but it made about as much sense as one.

Company: Theatre Corrobora
Show: Rejection
Venue: Augsburg Mainstage

Solid dramatic fare, and funny too

An insightful exploration of people falling out of love. It was a quality story completely executed. No real 'wow' factor to speak of, but definitely worth your time.

Show: Bits & Bobs: An Evening of Short Plays
Venue: Theatre in the Round

A mixed bag

An mix of short plays in several styles that is just ok when taken as a whole. A couple were delightful and memorable but the rest were largely forgettable. The cast was completely invested in selling every last one, but dedication to a bit that is either not funny or totally confusing can't carry a show on its own.

Company: Weggel-Reed Productions
Show: Couple Fight: The Musical!
Venue: Rarig Center Thrust

Uneven delivery

The addition of music to this time-tested format was not as good as the idea sounded on paper. Timing problems with the music really impacted my enjoyment of the comedy. While there were a few pieces that shined, such as the final one about cooking and the drunk college roommates, I felt like the rest didn't really live up to the standard that those set.

Company: Loom Lab
Show: The Middle Keeps Moving
Venue: Southern Theater

If there was a point I missed it entirely

I... what? I don't know what I just saw onstage. I don't consider myself a qualified critic of dance (so take my opinion with a grain of salt), but I know when I'm not enjoying something. Other than a palpable miasma of frustration that hung over the whole piece I really couldn't follow the message, emotion, or allusion of the motion/dialogue.

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

More than the sum of its parts

Martin again delivers his signature high-intensity and masterfully-crafted monologues. I found these to be even better than at the MN Fringe in years past, as he expressed a greater range of depth than I was experiencing going in. There's more than just insight and humor in this; there's soul.

Company: Sidecar Theatre
Show: Summers in Prague
Venue: Rarig Center Arena

Touching and believable

This was not a mind-blowing story. This was not crazy. This was not edgy. It was simply a perfectly balanced mix of the right actors for the right parts for the right script of the right length and the right pacing in the right space. When everything is right, there is not much left to find wrong.

Company: The Band Group
Show: TITUS: Sweet Water, Silent Walks
Venue: Rarig Center Thrust

Beautiful, but hard to follow

This was a beautifully-staged magnum opus of movement and acting and art and message. It also fell flat for me. Having never seen a production of Titus before, I spent most of my mental energy translating the Shakespearean dialogue and story told through stage pictures into a narrative so that I couldn't pause to appreciate the presentation. Highly recommended, but do yourself a favor and skim the plot synopsis of Titus on Wikipedia before sitting down to this production.

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

Educational. Just Educational.

Hard-Core CORN - A whimsical tale of what it's like living with extensive food allergies. Not the most exciting of premise, but she manages to carry it well enough through sheer enthusiasm. The show felt like a pile of facts; there might be a dramatic arc in there, but it was lost in the clutter. A good show for the loved ones of people with food allergies.

Company: Hit the Lights! Theater Co.
Venue: Ritz Theater Mainstage

Whale Facts!

An educational romp through the history of whaling in America through the lens of Moby Dick. Over-the-top fun and energetic interspersed with the spectacular shadow puppetry fusion they made a name here last year with. The format of the show was constantly changing at a frenetic pace.

Company: Life-sized Meme Productions
Show: The Moirologist
Venue: Ritz Theater Mainstage

Subverted expectations

I really enjoyed the twist at the end. Because let's be honest: not even the most existential of crises will always change a person. I felt the acting was uneven; the main character is supposed to struggle with expressing true emotion, but the others characters seem to mirror that back (sometimes). Not sure if that was an artistic choice or not.

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

Creep Factor 11

The Screaming Skull - A good horror story, but the star of the show was the soundscape. From the clink of glass to ambient rustling that you don't notice until it's gone, this was crafted to be heard. My complaint was with the fireplace effect; reflections off the glass backwards into the audience were annoying and distracting. They really broke the illusion for me. A piece of wood behind the lights would have been fantastic.

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

Good music, choose different stories

I enjoyed the blues guitar and the folksy manner the stories were delivered in, but the stories themselves didn't really move me. For instance, talking about screwing with a guy at liquor store just because he needs to see an ID? Not endearing, relatable, funny, or intriguing. It's just came off as stubborn and a little mean.

Company: Navel Gaze Productions
Show: Fringe Orphans 4: Back in the Habit
Venue: Theatre in the Round

Fringe with ADD

This show is a mishmash of short bits that didn't need to be developed into full shows. They are not thematically linked, so it is really hard to say much about it as a whole. But it was fun and light. The perfect respite from headier shows you might otherwise bury yourself in during this festival.

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

No one tell Tarintino

Every year there is at least one Fringe show that does a mashup of two well-loved pieces of fiction. This is a mashup of Pulp Fiction and politically-correct culture, where everything down to the guns themselves are labeled as "problematic" except for the actual violence, which is given a pass. A fantastic deconstruction of a society where we fear words and hurting feelings more than we care about the consequences of our actions. A great show unless you're the kind of person who is easily offended about how easily offended you are.

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

Egos the size of a cow

I found the characters in this play uniformly uninteresting, pretentious, and unlikable. Witty dialog about the nature of art kept me interested enough that I was able to appreciate the change in their attitudes near the end. Taken as a whole it was pretty good, but just rubbed me the wrong way in the moment.

Company: Foxlin
Show: Next: The Musical (A Sidekick Story)
Venue: Augsburg Studio

Authenticity and feelings

I usually have reservations about a show full of highschoolers. Not so here. This cast can take on any troupe in this festival with their talent and thanks to one hell of a great script and perfect music. I feel like shows about middle school are either over-dramatized by the perspective of kids for whom it is life-and-death, or over-wrought by adults trying to put drama and story into the hum-drum reality of everyday life. Not here. This story is relatable and authentic and, while the stakes are never that high, steeped in feeling. A must-see.

Company: Tom Reed
Show: Gunplay!
Venue: Mixed Blood Theatre


Normally, I'd say such one-sided satire would feel hollow and mean-spirited. But it's hard to satirize something when it's cartoonishly evil in real life, so I'm giving Gunplay a pass for mercilessly crucifying the gun lobby. The message never upstages what is a really fun and heartwarming show.

Company: Monster Science Productions
Show: What To Do In Case Of Dinosaur Attack
Venue: Mixed Blood Theatre

An academic lecture on the absurd

Meticulous and ridiculous research is his game and he plays it well. The professorial dryness with which he delivers his presentation gives an academic feel to something so absurd and imaginary that you can't help but nod your head in agreement with his insights.

Company: HFS
Show: Wonder and Awe: A Play About Magic
Venue: Mixed Blood Theatre

A weak script held together with pure energy

Everything in this play was maniac and insane. One cannot fault the cast for a lack of energy, but I found the lack of range exhausting. The intro was one of the best and most surprising musical openers I've ever seen. Pitty the rest of the show could not live up to its promise. The character of Paul stole what remain of the show, as I could not really bring myself to care about the motivations of any of the other people in the story.

Company: Michael Rogers
Show: Now We See It
Venue: Ritz Theater Mainstage

Darker than I expected

Questions of time travel and causality collide with the seductive nature of grief and guilt. Excellent story, dialog, acting, staging, and improvised set pieces. An extraordinary well-rounded show that really put me in the place being portrayed while remaining incredibly minimalist. Even when those places were abstract concepts.

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

The Seductive Nature of Resentment

Motz excels at creating plays that are less about events and character growth, and more about relatable people who have their layers stripped away or broken down one by one until they find something true about themselves. SOFT is a bit different. It is a horror story because as he is broken down there are external forces reshaping him. The frustration and resentment was always there from the beginning, but it's the app that is telling him that he deserves things. The play is an indictment of online dating, and how it takes advantage of otherwise reasonable men and amplifies the worst that lives in all of us.

Company: Grand Island Theatre
Show: Hamlet, but Hamlet's a Chicken
Venue: Minnsky Theatre

Surrealist Chicanery

Yes, a real, live chicken. But also so much more. Each scene has an absurd premise that made every moment feel unique and jaw-droppingly weird. Every moment a unique treasure. Each scene had me on the edge of my seat wondering what weird surrealist chicanery they were going to pull next. This is Fringe. This is everything Fringe should be. I doesn't get much Fringier than this.

Company: Elaine Orion
Show: Delightfully Rude
Venue: Ritz Theater Studio

Uncomfortable delivery

A no-gimmick standup comedy show. The jokes were well-written but the delivery was exceedingly rough. Her discomfort was palpable and picked up on by the audience. I laughed quite a bit, but shocked I was not. I'm sure there here are places where those kind of jokes might be edgy, but it all felt rather tame. Like she was holding back. Fringe is not the place for self-censorship.

Show: BurnOut County
Venue: Minnsky Theatre

A folksy parody of folks

A mix of sketch, music, and standup poking fun at the most rural of rural Wisconsin. The usual humor about alcohol, fishing, meth, and backwater life. It was very funny and well-delivered but also felt a bit mean-spirited at times.

Show: Atlanta Burning Sherman's Shadows
Venue: Theatre in the Round

A conflicted man

A unique way of presenting a man and a moment in history that, while still shaping the world around us, has largely passed from general memory. It was well-written and masterfully delivered. Sadly, I felt like Sherman's aide was not as invested in the gravity of the story, each setting a different tone for the same scene.

Company: Say It Loud Productions
Show: Revolt of the Beavers
Venue: Mixed Blood Theatre

Fun, but heavy-handed

A kids play about virtue of organized labor and the evils of capitalism. It was delivered in a fun, zany, and whimsical way, but the unabashedly Marxist rhetoric became far too heady. Without the historical context provided at the beginning the whole thing would have been very confusing.

Company: Jamie Shriner Tells Stories
Show: Wife Material
Venue: Augsburg Studio

Vulnerability and Conviction

It takes a lot of guts to get up on stage and tell your an audience your sexual history when it is something so far outside the realm of most people can relate to. It takes more to do it in song. The whole show was delivered with such conviction that I never really found it to be awkward as it easily could have been. I found the accompaniment music to be a little jarring coming in and out of the songs; background music to lead-in building up to the songs would have made them feel more organic to the story.

Company: Philip Simondet
Show: Self-Titled Debut Album
Venue: Mixed Blood Theatre

Story of a band, not of people

An unusual take on a musical comedy that was heartfelt and funny. The songs were all organic to the story. The music almost felt like a 6th cast member rather than a vehicle for the narrative. The characters are mostly outlines of people. They each get their moment in the spotlight, but most of their motivations are left unexplored, the show choosing to stay focused on its premise.

Company: Flash Grenade Productions
Show: The Flashlight Zone: 20 Science Fiction Plays in One Hour
Venue: Theatre in the Round

Rapid-fire Storytelling

An anthology show clearly inspired by the aesthetic of The Twilight Zone, each of the plays punched far above their weight in that 'disquieting' quality of the original. They prove that a well-crafted story stripped down to the bare essentials can still hit hard. My only complaint is that I found the randomization element between each story to be a distraction and a shift in tone that was jarring and unnecessary.

Company: Papafully Designed
Venue: Southern Theater

Subtle variations were too subtle

A dance piece with an overarching theme of heartbreak that I found to be accessible in broad strokes. The numerous subtle variations on the same theme eventually had me looking too hard for the specifics of the meaning and, ultimately, took me out of the moment. There also seemed to be some trouble with pacing, resulting in dances that went beyond the end of the music.

Company: Bill Santiago
Show: The Immaculate Big Bang
Venue: Strike Theater

Funny and deep, but moves too fast

A solo show that had the cadence and humor of a standup routine. Bill is one of the most expressive performers I have ever seen, if facial expressions alone could carry a show this would be spectacular. I loved the flow of logic regarding the philosophical implications of physics, but he tried to cover too much ground in a Fringe show and moved so fast from one topic to the next that I didn't really have the time to appreciate the complex humor he was working with.

Company: New Endeavors
Show: The Buttslasher
Venue: Ritz Theater Mainstage

Cheeky humor

A film noir comedy about a serial stabber of butts in Stillwater. They crammed every ass pun theoretically possible into that show, butt the whole thing just felt a little stale and mirthless. Which might just be a problem inherent in noir comedies. Or we might have just been a tough audience to crack.

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