Rocky start at the Minnesota Fringe Festival

caveat: Somewhere along the line I said I would not use this space to review shows, and while I feel I’ve been successful with this rule there may be some upcoming posts that border on breaking it. A review would include an overview of the show, my opinion of its effectiveness, and commentary on the quality of all the elements. Reviews sometimes also include “should’ve” kind of remarks. My comments will not be that thorough. They’ll be my experience. I may not even name names.

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Last night the 2010 Minnesota Fringe Festival began its eleven day run. I found myself torn by the options of my first show, finally settling on the one that I figured I’d have a harder time getting in to later in the festival. (Fringe veterans always keep these minor details in mind.)

That turned out to be a smart move, because I think Rachel Teagle’s show aply titled Rachel Teagle Believes in Ghosts almost had a full house. It’s the tiny house, but it was very full. She’s a charming story teller, but it was a bit flat and had the feeling of opening night jitters. The piece, I think, is new and needs some shaping. I suspect she’s up to that challenge.

The audience was ready to be entertained, and so there was no restlessness when it felt flat, like there might be later in the festival. We were eager for a Fringe show and excited. In fact, that was the key thing I felt in whole building. (That building being the concrete behemoth known as the Rarig Center, which constantly makes me grateful that I didn’t attend the U of M for my own training.) I digress….the audiences were excited and ready for shows, and people were buzzing about what they planned on seeing, what opens when, etc. etc.

While my veteran knowledge helped me pick the right first show, I followed it up with a mistake no veteran should make—I paused before buying my next ticket. Consequently, An Adult Evening with Shel Silverstein sold out before I got a ticket. Aargh!

The Fringe is a place where you run into old friends and other theatre folk you haven’t seen in a while. I bumped in to a couple of charming peeps with whom I’d done a show earlier this year, and decided to join them instead to a different show in that time slot.

Again – that’s what the Fringe is good for: If you can’t get in to one thing there’s likely another show a few feet away you can still catch.

This one…well, this one gets an A for effort. Perhaps a B for effort. It’s just that…I’d prefer to not see something written by, directed and starring a person who clearly has his script hidden as a prop, while a dozen other actors come in and out around him. Really? You wrote and directed this thing and you couldn’t bother to memorize your own part? Maybe you shouldn’t have taken on so much? Maybe, just maybe, you could’ve had a separate director who could perhaps take care of things like pace and timing and shape…and maybe editing. And maybe help you with your own performance.

Cheap crap abounds sometimes at the Fringe. Then again, at least it was only an hour of my time and ten bucks.

I haven’t decided yet what I’m taking a chance on tonight.

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