2018 Audience Reviews
The following reviews were submitted by Fringe Member: Logan Rodgers
Company: The Winding Sheet Outfit
Show: Blood Nocturne
Venue: Southern Theater
Less is More, especially for historical rewrites
There are so many wonderful elements to this show that I am not remiss in keeping off of the Fringe review page because they should be experienced in the show itself. What is wonderful about this production is how with so little the show achieves so much. In short, this is small ensemble executed minimalist piece with the confidence and energy necessary to make their choices for simplicity work. For example, staging musical numbers with only one light - or using a curtain as multiple props. It takes capable actors to have that much flexibility in manipulating so much out of so little for an entire hour of theater. What is all the more wonderful is how in the midst of all the staged chaos they don't miss communicating clearly what each bit or situation is supposed to question or make one feel. The Southern provides a wonderful atmospheric background to their production.With a Fringe show you never know when you are going to walk into a piece that may hold the most basic and understandable of creative set-backs: actors barely memorized, unrealized tech, or a script still in need of work shopping. Thankfully, "Blood Nocturne" carries itself with grace. The show questions myths and the role that history plays in manipulating our understanding of power and values in our interpersonal lives. Alongside this the show frequently employs humor to showcase the power of exaggeration, poke at gender roles, and as its primary vessel in carrying the story. The show wonderfully finds a place of substance while being incredibly entertaining and hysterical. The ending invoked a deep emotional response for me shout outs to Emily Dussault and Boo Segersin for that. Add this one to your list.
Company: The Band Group
Show: TITUS: Sweet Water, Silent Walks
Venue: Rarig Center Thrust
The cause behind the show is the most important
The tangible social action this show achieves is incredible. To be blunt, Shakespeare is hard to pull off for a majority of audiences unless you have actors who are up to task. Without familiarity to a specific text, and the events in them, a performance that isn't transparent in what the words are communicating is all too easy for actors to fall into as the way in which humans invoke interpersonal verbal communication is vastly different than when the words were written. And, in short, only a handful of actors in the show have been trained and execute with the presence and emotion each word is laden with. Which is something that can't be lost when performing the show. Shakespearean acting demands the full attention and energy of every performer. However, as a movement piece, which is what the show primarily is - alongside some very creative soundscape work - is where the show takes off. The choreography is beautiful, haunting, sorrowful, and full of the liveliness that would be behind the words. So, the presence and energy is not lost in the production yet appears alongside the movement more than the words. Ultimately the story of Titus Andronicus has been told many times before. Yet, this show puts what is so often avoided in approach: the victim. Which is such an emotionally terrible weight to be burdened with, and the dance portions in mix with their sound capture the anxiety and incomprehensible dread of its subject material. More than the show itself though, the company was performing the show as a vessel to bring "Cornerstone" to the forefront of the audience members attention for victims of domestic and sexual violence and trafficking. Which is the most powerful element to the production given the amount of care and perspective the ensemble brings in the art piece itself. To present challenging artwork is no small task, but to take that challenge and to intersect it with actual social action not only affirms the company's dedication to their message - it means that to support this show is to be an ally to the cause. It is a call that can't be ignored, and as such means you cannot miss this show.
Company: Paper Soul
Venue: Ritz Theater Mainstage
Questions Human Nature in the Digital Era
What is so striking about "Soft" is how with one act the show is able to build an atmosphere and tell a story that progresses without hiccup or lapse in line of inquiry on its philosophical pondering. Within the act we are taken through the weird non-linear mindset that denotes current Capital driven dating applications which are more isolating than connecting regardless of slogan, the conflict of sexuality in politically correct and misogynistic cultures first world countries curate and exploit, how popular culture influences our identity and what we seek in ourselves and each other for connection, and how far we are willing to go when we are promised that our illusive idea of "perfection" can be attained. All of this complexity fits into one act, which under a less savvy playwright would be lost. However, what Motz brings to the table both as the writer and main actor of the piece is a vulnerable sharing of an understanding that this things are so closely tied together it is hard to distinguish whether or not they are intersectional. The dialogue and journey the story takes brings us to the forefront of this complexity with a character you can't help but empathize with in the face of his troubles. Yet, this isn't a black and white character exploration of how we should understand and interact with toxicity or technological modernity as an extension of human will (manipulated or not by third parties), but a presentation of a complex question. The amount of times you will find yourself in the protagonist will test your patience with both the show and yourself. Which is so profound to experience. The labeling of genre is a myopic approach to understanding art, but "Soft" does follow the tenants of what well executed "horror" should do: give visceral emotional responses that are uncomfortable and present philosophies that require intricate levels of study. It is a show I wish I had a recorded copy of, or could see multiple times, as Motz of the two characters in the show is the only consistent actor in the run. The other, played by a woman, changes actor every night of performance. Given the shows inspections of male sexuality and presentation in our culture, the changing of each female actor per performance would provide a wholly new experience every night. The female actor playing the night I went was Lacey Zeigler, who (without giving away the plot) performed a beautiful tight-rope walk between dislocated mimic to power manipulative executioner. Metaphorically speaking. If you are a lover of science fiction and philosophy this is a show to get lost in. Desperate, so lonely it could make you scream, and anxious as having to play Russian roulette with half the revolver loaded. You will find yourself observing the work as the world in which it lives, a character drama, and a firm pressure to be careful which path you walk when it comes to letting technology serve as your means to find connection.