I Fought The Fringe And The Fringe Won!


UPDATE: 10 August 2014 – Guess I’m going to have to change my name to Clair Voyant! I managed to catch NINE of the 14 shows that got picked for the Fringe Audience Encore!

If you’ve been following my Twitter and Facebook, then you know that I’ve been spending the past few days reviewing The Minnesota Fringe Festival for l’étoile. Of course there is no way in hell that I can get to all of this year’s line up of 169 shows, but I did pretty well considering. Of course, having been on a hiatus for a few years from the world of “thuh theah-tuh,” diving back head in has been a trippy experience to say the least.

Here now, are my reviews of what I was able to catch…



Are You There, George?
written and performed by Maria Vorhis
@ Minneapolis Theatre Garage
Remaining Performances: 8/8 at 10 pm, 8/9 at 8:30 pm

Maria Vorhis’ new one woman show focuses on Natalie, a 12 year old girl trying to find God and grow boobs while in the face of her parents’ unraveling marriage. Though charming and well performed as Vorhis embodies all the great contradictions of being a 12 year old girl (while using the conventions of toy theatre), the only complaint I had was in the staging. As she and director Kaitlyn Busbee said in the post-show credits, the show was conceived to be performed in living rooms as the play takes place under Natalie’s bunk bed. The problem was that the set was angled to one side and was not re-conceived to take advantage of the Theatre Garage and to play to the other sides of the space. – TO’

The Boy Boy Friend: A Gay Romp
presented by Swearingen & Orf Productions
@ Theatre In The Round
Remaining Performances: 8/6 at 7 pm, 8/10 at 5:30 pm

Let me be very clear about something – from the minute I heard about it, I was rooting for this gay spin on Sandy Wilson’s iconic pastiche of the musicals of the 1920s. The problem is that for musicals of that time period to work in a modern context, you have to play it (pardon the expression) straight; everything must be played sincerely and without winking to the audience as to not shatter the fragile world of the work. As clever as Joel Swearingen and Kyle Orf’s adaptation is (and it is, especially if you’re familiar with the source material), the addition of too many jokey pop-culture (and musical theatre culture) references leached out the sincerity at the heart of the story. It wasn’t helped by the cast having trouble vocally with the acoustics of Theatre In The Round. Don’t get me wrong; it’s a great concept that was given a decent staging (and some lovely performances by Kyle Orf, Benjamin Andreae, John Rynders, and Nathan Tylutki) but it still needs work to be something to sing (or in this case, Charleston) about. – TO’


Buckets and Tap Shoes
presented by 10 Foot 5 Productions
@ Music Box Theatre
Remaining Performances: 8/6 at 8:30 pm, 8/8 at 7 pm, 8/10 at 1 pm

Rick and Andy Ausland’s perennial hit celebrating rhythm in all forms returns to the Fringe. While this could also fall under my complaint about yet another revival at this year’s festival, this is one of the few times that I will suppress that urge. From their virtuosic drumming to their breath-taking tap dancing (which earned them a Best Performance nomination at the Sage Awards), the Auslands’ are supreme showmen who have created a show that is a sure-fire audience favorite. – TO’

Captain Do-Good Saves The Future From Wal-Mart
presented by Comedy Comics
@ Mixed Blood Theatre
Remaining Performances: 8/6 at 7 pm, 8/9 at 1 pm, 8/10 at 7 pm

One the one hand, this is campy fun about corporate malfeasance is ably handled by a game cast (a la an old episode of the Batman TV show). On the other hand Greg Abbott’s script violently vacillates between campy humor and noir-ish monologues on string theory and societal woes. This disjointedness thwarts the production and not even the game cast can salvage the problems of the script. – TO’


Crime And Punishment
presented by Live Action Set
@ The Soap Factory
Remaning Performances: 8/7 at 8:30 pm, 8/8 and 8/9 at 8:30 pm and 10 pm

Take your mask, have a drink, enjoy some pre-show music, and then descend into the Dostoevsky version of hell. Though it evokes that other popular immersive show (that would be Sleep No More in New York), Live Action Set’s artistic director Noah Bremer uses his intimate knowledge of The Soap Factory and his experience from working on its annual Haunted Basement to create an inventive, intimate retelling of the Russian classic. Playing as a “Choose Your Own Adventure” by following different characters (or as I did, let the room take you where it takes you), it becomes less of a play and more of a happening; thwarting your expectations for a singularly complete narrative echoing the way Dostoyevsky’s characters are thwarted by the government, by society, by each other, and by themselves. And thanks to a gorgeous production rendered by a fearlessly committed cast, this becomes a production you can’t miss. – TO’

The Death of Brian: A Zombie Odyssey
presented by theater simple
@ Mixed Blood Theater
Remaining Performances: 8/8 at 5:30 pm, 8/10 at 2:30 pm

From Seattle’s theater simple comes Ricky Coates’ grizzly one-man tour de force! As the typical Brian who finds his world unravelling due to his new “medical condition,” Coastes prowls the stage like a cross between a Balanchine dancer and a feral animal; turning this gory story into a surprising tale of self-actualization, due to Coates’ thoughtful and thought-provoking script and his winning on-stage presence. Never has an audience cheered on an impending apocalypse more! – TO’


Edgar Allan
presented by The Coldhearts
@ Minneapolis Theatre Garage
Remaining Performances: 8/9 at 5:30pm, 8/10 at 2:30pm

If Edward Gorey were to write a children’s ukulele musical, it would look like this. Hilarious and horrifying in equal measure, Katie Hartman and Nick Ryan’s lovely play about the boyhood of the iconic writer and his new best frenemy at school is a jewel box of a play. Thanks to Hartman and Ryan’s charismatic performances, this sly meditation on boyhood is a charmingly creepy show that could be the sleeper hit of the festival! – TO’

Fotis Canyon
written and performed by Mike Fotis
@ U of M Rarig Center – Thrust Stage
Remaining Performances: 8/9 at 8:30pm, 8/10 at 1pm

Upon entering the U of M Thrust Stage, and seeing that the set for this show was nothing more than a table, chair, and bottle of water, I admit I had to suppress an urge to cry out “Spaulding!” Thankfully the house lights dimmed, Mike Fotis came on stage, and proceeded to rock the audiences’ world! Like Mr. Gray before him, Mr. Fotis sits at the table and chair and weaves an intricate tale that had the audience in the palm of his hand. Using his family’s revealing trip to the Grand Canyon as the launchpad to for relating his own anxiety issues, Fotis’ story and delivery go for the emotional jugular but is balanced out by the simple fact that he is one of the funniest performers in the entire festival. Heartbreaking and hilarious (often within the span of seconds), this is one of the best shows of the festival! – TO’

Four Humors Does Every Show In The Fringe
presented by Four Humors Theater
@ New Century Theatre
Remaining Performances: 8/7 at 5:30pm, 8/9 at 8:30pm

As much as I love Four Humors, there is some credence to the fact that their shows often reek of the “We’re the cool kids of the Fringe!”. So it was with trepidation that I approached their latest show: they draw a number and using the official show description and promotional image, they act out one of the 168 Fringe shows. Well, I’m about to eat my words and say that rather than being mean-spirited, it was a fantastically playful romp. What helps is the influence of a guest performer who serves as director/creator and changes things for the cast (on the night I saw it, it was comedian Mike Fotis who was on fire – gleefully putting the cast through its paces). It also helps that the Four Humors guys are among the funniest performers in the Twin Cities and make the show a hilarious and genuine experience. – TO’

From Here To Maternity
written and performed by Shannan Custer & Joshua English Scrimshaw
@ Illusion Theater
Remaining Performances: 8/8 at 8:30pm, 8/9 at 2:30pm

One of the things that has surprised me about this year’s Fringe are the sheer number of remounts and revivals in this year’s festival. Then again, if that means that we get to see Shannan Custer and Joshua English Scrimshaw’s paean to the ups and downs of conception, then I approve! Given that she happens to be one of the Twin Cities’ best stage comedians and he happens to be one of our best physical comedians (his one-man ballet to “Cat’s In The Cradle” is a sight to behold), you are guaranteed to laugh. What’s surprising is just how much heart the piece has. In it’s rather frank look at a not-so-young couple’s march to baby-dom, Custer and English Scrimshaw expertly find the heart in the story within all the hilarity. – TO’


Green T’s 2001: A Space Odyssey
presented by Green T Productions
@ Illusion Theater
Remaining Performances: 8/6 at 7pm, 8/8 at 5:30pm, 8/10 at 7pm

Science fiction is hard to do on stage. The trick to making it work, like any piece of theatre, is to make the audience believe in it. Green T Productions solves the problem in their adaptation of Stanley Kubrick’s iconic film by employing kabuki and physical theatre techniques to leap from the various vignettes with grace; with director Kathy Welch and an incredible ensemble (including Natalie Rae Waas, July Vang, David P. Schneider, Heidi Berg, and more) managing to nail the tone of the original. The only complaint I had (aside from the narration, which took us out of the action) was that it could have used more time to allow the beats more room to breathe, and removing the thing that makes the film so eerie: the silence. – TO’

Into The Unreal City
presented by Catalog Models
@ U of M Rarig Center – Outside
Remaining Performances: Nightly 8/6 – 8/10 at 7pm

A walking tour that turns the West Bank of the U of M into a romanticly kaleidoscopic look at the ups and downs of a relationship (as played by 3 pairs of actors playing the same couple), this is a sweet little gem of a play. Focussing on the mundane moments that make a relationship, Gemma Irish and Mark Sweeney’s admittedly precious play with with music (inspired by T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland”) turns the everyday into the extraordinary. On the night I saw it, there was a slight drizzle, which inspired the genuinely fantastic cast and added a layer of swooning romanticism to the mix. Highly recommended! – TO’


Jumpin’ Jack Kerouac
presented by Eclectic Otter Productions
@ U of M Rarig Center – Proscenium Stage
Remaining Performances: 8/6 at 10pm, 8/8 at 8:30pm

Want to see your favorite local writers perform in choreographed dance numbers, twirling and sashaying before your very eyes? Then this is the show for you! Local playwright John Heimbuch brings much-needed actual dance training to a show full of “Aw, that’s so cute, writers trying to dance!” Windy Bowlsby is an able MC to the series of dance pieces she choreographed. It seems that the point of the show is that writers aren’t dancers at all and dancing makes Ban San Del feel even more awkward than usual. Isn’t that interesting? Cole Sarar explores how dancing forces her to come to terms with her body issues and femininity. Sometimes people being bad at something can be as entertaining as phillip andrew bennet low in Star Wars cosplay. Or if you don’t know who the writers are it might feel like you aren’t in on the joke.-SW

Kafka Nuts
presented by Comedy Suitcase
@ Illusion Theater
Remaining Performances: 8/7 at 7pm, 8/9 at 4pm

What if The Marx Brothers, at the height of their 1930s popularity, wrote Franz Kafka’s The Trial? If that thought makes you giggle, then get to the Illusion Theater for Comedy Suitcase’s latest laugh riot! As Zeppo K (Joe Bozic) is arrested for an unnamed crime, it’s up to Flywheel and Wooser (Joshua English Scrimshaw and Levi Weinhagen, in characters inspired both Groucho and Chico Marx, as well as the ground-breaking comedy team Wheeler and Woolsey) to save Zeppo from his alleged crime, his girlfriend Leni (Rachel Austin) and a host of bad guys (all played by Kelvin Hatle). Combining slapstick, puns, physical comedy, musical comedy, and more all centered around a genuinely spectacular cast, this is one of the shows you can’t miss! (And as a bonus, if you know the source material, you will be rewarded with an accurate parody courtesy of English Scrimshaw and Weinhagen’s zingy script.) – TO’


Kitty Kitty Kitty
presented by Loudmouth Collective
@ U of M Rarig Center – Arena Stage
Remaining Performances: 8/7 at 8:30pm, 8/9 at 10pm

Noah Haidle’s uproarious comedy is about the love that dares not speak its name… amongst cloned cats! When the suicidal Kitty (Sam Landman) is cloned by his scientist owner (Leif Jurgensen), he immediately falls in love with his clone Kitty Kitty (Matt Rein). To say more would spoil the twists and turns of this comedic skewering of the ethics of cloning (and hand jobs) while still being a hilarious and touching meditation on the lengths people (and cats!) will go to find love. Director Natalie Novacek and her amazing cast (which also includes sharp turns from Christopher Kehoe, Andrew Sass, and Katie Willer) find all the humor and heart in Haidle’s script and left the audience begging for more! Be Warned: I predict that their last two shows will sell out, so plan accordingly! – TO’

Littler Women
presented by The Buoyant Group
@ Bryant Lake Bowl
Remaining Performances: 8/6 at 10pm, 8/9 at 5:30pm, 8/10 at 7pm

Unfortunately, I missed director Scotty Gunderson’s free-wheeling adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s seminal novel when it debuted in his apartment as a site-specific work. Thankfully it has been expanded and brought to the Bryant Lake Bowl, and what a joyous treat it is! Resetting the action in flashback in the March’s attic following a recent family tragedy (yes, that one!), Gunderson’s hilariously warm puppet-driven adaptation allows for lots of humor, heart, and some truly arresting stage imagery. And the spectacular cast (Gracie Kay Anderson, Kelsey Cramer, Megan Hadley, and Nissa Nordland) nails the sisterly dynamic of Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy in the way that sisters love and terrorize each other. – TO’

Marie-Jeanne Valet, Who Defeated La Bête du Gevaudan
presented by Sandbox Theatre
@ Southern Theater
Remaining Performances: 8/9 at 8:30 pm, 8/10 at @5:30 pm

Sandbox Theatre’s thrilling new play got my first “Fuck Yeah!” of the festival. Telling the true story of a monster wolf terrorizing the French countryside in the time of Louis XV and the peasant girl who defeated it, the company-created piece is an ingenious bit of storytelling and story theatre. For once, the sparseness of a typical Fringe production is put to good use in the cavernous Southern Theater, with the end result being a heightened theatrical experience with arresting images and imaginative staging. And thanks to sharp direction by Amber Bjork and dazzling performances by an airtight ensemble (Megan Campbell Lagas, Theo Langason, Derek Lee Miller, and Heather Stone), Marie-Jeanne Valet… is a gloriously epic story rendered with theatricality and jaw-dropping simplicity. – TO’


Natural Novice
written and performed by Siobhan O’Loughlin
@ HUGE Theater
Remaining Performances: 8/7 at 7pm, 8/10 at 2:30pm

Siobhan O’Loughlin’s one-woman show about embracing her natural hairiness has been a hit at other Fringe festivals on the circuit, but I wasn’t as moved as I was expecting to be. Don’t get me wrong: O’Loughlin is a polished performer who delivers her story with self-assurance and manages to nail her transition into the various women that share their stories (both good and bad) with her with a strong physical presence to each moment. But there is a lack of clarity in certain points when she had to quickly shift gears between characters in certain moments that needed split-second timing. Moreover, there were moments that came across as glib rather than the emotional moment she was hoping for; a fact that could be blamed by her being slightly thrown by the enthusiastic audience at the show I attended. Regardless, she needs to calm down and trust the material and not let the audience’s energy throw her off from her very solid show. – TO’

Now I See
presented by Fox In A Box Productions
@ U of M Rarig Center – Arena Stage
Remaining Performances: 8/7 at 5:30pm, 8/8 at 7pm, 8/9 at 2:30pm

When I heard that this was an adaptation of an old radio play, I was hesitant. Thankfully, I was proven wrong. Adapted from a transcript of “The Story of Mr. Ginsburb” by pioneering radio writer Arch Oboler, this story of a small time boxing manager who develops a conscience thanks to his star boxer is an intimately bracing piece of theater. Co-Directors Kristin Fox and Megan Kendroski have lead their 11-person ensemble to create an exhilarating experience. – TO’

One Arm
presented by Perestroika Theater Project
@ Southern Theater
Remaining Performances: 8/6 at 8:30pm, 8/10 at 1pm

In adapting Tennessee Williams’ unproduced screenplay (based on one of his short stories) about a one-armed former boxer and his descent into the lower depths of society, Moisés Kaufman (The Laramie Project, Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde) has turned the play into a muscular look at not only American society right before World War II, but at the demons that drive people (many of those demons being the same ones Williams himself possessed). Joseph Stodola’s elegant production magically changes settings before our eyes and his direction has gotten amazing performances from his ensemble cast led by Bryan Daniel Porter as the boxer Ollie, and featuring sharp turns from Paul Rutledge, Adam Qualls, and the great David Coral. – TO’

Our American Assassin; or You Can’t Handle The Booth!
presented by Mainly Me Productions
@ Theatre In The Round
Remaining Performances: 8/7 at 7pm, 8/9 at 4pm

Loosely inspired by the actual events in the wake of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, three actors at the Ford’s Theater (Shannan Custer, Josh Carsen, and Andy Kraft) set out to track down John Wilkes Booth. What follows is an uproarious romp through history, complete with disguises, meta-jokes, slapstick comedy, and more. Custer, Carsen, and Kraft lead this fantastic seven person ensemble in one of the most hilarious shows of this year’s festival. Also, this is one of the few productions at Theatre In The Round that uses the space to great effect. Get your tickets quickly as I predict this is going to be one the big hits of the festival! – TO’

Pretty People Suck (And Other Indisputable Facts About The Universe): A Musical
presented by Arc Stages Satellite
@ The Playwrights’ Center
Remaining Performances: 8/7 at 7pm, 8/8 at 4pm, 8/10 at 7pm

I’m going to start with the negatives first: Patrick Gallagher, Noah Aronson, and William TN Hall’s new musical about love in the age of the internet has a few structural issues that they need to address. While some of the songs need to clean up their endings, the biggest issue is that the show itself can’t decide if it wants to be a musical review or a straight musical and if it does want to be a musical then it needs to connect its A and B plots together. And now the good news: the only problems the show have are structural. With one of the best scores written for the Fringe, a killer band (including music director Desdamona Racheli and iconic Twin Cities drummer Jendeen Forberg), and a thrilling cast that delivers the songs and jokes with aplomb (including a show-stealing turn by Twin Cities newcomer Ashley Braxton as the vainglorious Rachel), Pretty People Suck is a spectacular show. – TO’

The Sex (Ed) Show
performed by Courtney McLean and The Dirty Curls
@ U of M Rarig Center – Xperimental Stage
Remaining Performances: 8/8 at 10pm

You have to hand it to performer/provocateur Courtney McClean and her Dirty Curls (Samantha Veldhouse, Anna Weggel, and Lacey Zeiler). They promised a show about sex, and did they ever deliver! But to say it’s just about sex is in some way discrediting just how clever, funny, entertaining, emotional and – yes – educational this cabaret is. As a performer, McClean is one of the most engaging on-stage presences in the festival and her storytelling is second to none. But the real treat is when she and the Dirty Curls break into song; never have naughty things sounded so radiant! By the time this review posts, there will be one show left, so do yourself a favor and meet up with Prof. McClean and company for a little Sex (Ed). – TO’

Shakespeare’s Histories: 10 Epic Plays!
created and performed by Timothy Mooney
@ Bryant Lake Bowl
Remaining Performances: 8/7 at 5:30pm, 8/8 at 10pm, 8/10 at 1pm

On the one hand, Timothy Mooney’s romp through the Hundred Years War and the British War of the Roses as told through ten of the history plays of William Shakespeare is an entertainingly energetic play. On the other hand, Mooney’s performance style is more akin to a lecture than an actual play. For me, if he went all in and staged the piece as a lecture which then devolved into a sword swinging tour de force, where Mooney’s strong performances of some of the great Shakespearean speeches were more of a surprise, then I think the play would have landed stronger. As it is, it’s a mildly entertaining romp that, to quote a writer far better than me, “struts and frets its hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more.” – TO’

Slut Club
presented by Showers in the Dark Productions
@ Bryant Lake Bowl
Remaining Performances: 8/8 at 5:30pm, 8/10 at 4pm

My reaction to Lara Avery & Sally Franson’s play about a group of “other women” (or as it was called back in the day, mistresses) finding common ground while bringing out the worst in each other was divided. Immediately after the show, I was taken aback by the frankness of the piece and the fearless performances of the five-woman company. However, as I actually thought about what I saw, it was clear that actresses’ strong performances papered over a lot of faults with the script (which often veered into mean-spiritedness and histrionics) and the staging (for example, when dialogue overlaps, we the audience need to know who we should be paying attention to). As I said, it’s to the actors’ immense credit that they managed to create vivid, intriguing characters. Now if the script could rise up to meet them. – TO’

Stairway to Kevin
written and performed by Kevin Thornton
@ New Century Theatre
Remaining Performances: 8/6 at 10pm, 8/8 at 7pm, 8/10 at 2:30pm

Singer/songwriter/storyteller Kevin Thornton has always had a strong following on the Fringe circuit, and now that I’ve seen his latest show, I can understand why. Focusing on turning 40 in the face of ab recent traumatic breakup, Thornton set off on an accidental trip of discovery trying to find purpose for both being a singer/songwriter and a gay man trying to get away from his inner judgemental 20-year old self. To say any more would spoil the plot and rob you of Thornton’s peerless storytelling (not to mention his amazing singing and guitar playing). Equally heartbreaking and hilarious, this show is a fantastic introduction to the undeniable charms and talents of Kevin Thornton! – TO’

Supernova!: A One Man Play by Rex Douglas: A Two Man Play by Turner Barrowman and Collin Klug
presented by Pico Pico Theater
@ Bryant Lake Bowl
Remaining Performances: 8/6 at 7pm, 8/9 at 1pm, 8/10 at 5:30pm

Sometimes, in the throes of creating a show for The Fringe, a creator must ask herself, “What, actually, am I trying to say with this piece and what is the most effective way to tell that story?” It seems that Turner Barrowman and Collin Klug need to ask themselves that very question. Supernova! can’t decide if it wants to be a proper play, a collection of sketches, or two conjoined stand-up acts. While the script is disjointed, Barrowman and Klug anchor the cast with charismatic leading performances, and director Rachel Newman’s staging is one of the better uses of the tricky Bryant Lake Bowl space I’ve seen in this festival. Now if they can just resolve the script… – TO’


The Tiger In The Room
presented by Unfold The Sky Productions
@ Illusion Theater
Remaining Performances: 8/8 at 4pm, 8/9 at 8:30pm

Sharon DeMark’s dramedy deals with how we process personal loss in the face of cultural loss. As her heroine Almond (a terrific Natalie Rae Wass) attends therapy for the first time to see why she is acting this way, she ends up asking if the universe is a happy or a dangerous place. While the script is a little slight in places, and director Nicole Wilder’s use of the vast Illusion space is rather odd at times, the ensemble work from the cast is genuinely fantastic with wonderful performances by Wass, William P. Studer (as Almond’s over-protective dad) and Mike Postle (in a lovely turn as her overbearing neighbor Stone). – TO’

Top Gun: The Musical
presented by Rooftop Theatre Company
@ Illusion Theater
Remaining Performances: 8/7 at 5:30pm, 8/9 at 1pm, 8/10 at 5:30pm

Several shows that have become popular of late have had their starts at Fringe Festivals, and I have a sneaking feeling Top Gun: The Musical will soon be added to that list. Tim Wick and Chad Dutton’s musical adaptation of the iconic 1984 film is a witty, campy, uproariously crowd pleasing (even if it the tone sometimes veers into the overblown – which I’m going to chalk up to opening night jitters in the face of a few technical glitches). With inventive staging from director John Newsome and choreographer Windy Bowlsby, and a charismatic cast led by Samuel Poppen (Maverick), Jacob Effinger (Goose), and Dawn Krosnowski (in a scene-stealing turn as Charlie), this trip into The Danger Zone will Take Your Breath Away! – TO’

The Tourist Trap
presented by Ghoulish Delights
@ Theatre In The Round
Remaining Performances: 8/8 at 10pm, 8/9 at 7pm

Taking his inspiration from the many legends of his boyhood in South Dakota, writer/director Tim Uren has created a grizzly, muscular play about four people and a tour guide at the home of a homicidal messianic leader. To say more than that spoils all of the genuine twists and turns in Uren’s taut little psychological thriller, brought to bloody life by a thrilling cast (Clarence Werthen, Charles Hubbell, Ariel Leaf, Amy Schweickhardt, and Uren himself). At the end of the day it’s the best kind of horror story; one that haunts you for days afterwards. – TO’

Twelfth Night
presented by Rough Magic Performance Company
@ U of M Rarig Center – Thrust Stage
Remaining Performances: 8/6 @ 5:30pm, 8/8 at 5:30pm, 8/9 at 1pm, 8/10 at 7pm

What You Will
presented by Renegade Play Reading Company
@ U of M Rarig Center – Thrust Stage
Remaining Performances: 8/7 at 7pm, 8/10 at 2:30pm

It’s always an experiment when putting Shakespeare on any stage, let alone The Fringe. In this instance these two parallel productions (featuring the same company of actors) split Twelfth Night or What You Will into two variations of the same story; for Viola (Catherine Johnson Justice), it’s helping Duke Orsino (Terry Hempleman) woo Lady Olivia (Alayne Hopkins) while mourning for her twin brother Sebastian (Clarence Werthen), while for Malvolio (Sasha Andreev) it’s dealing with the antics Sir Toby (E.J. Subkoviak), Sir Andrew (Sam Bardwell), Maria (Katie Kaufmann), and Feste (Emily Zimmer). Ms. Johnson Justice’s admirable adaptation has split the two plot lines and made them stand on their own, but it sure helps if you know the story going into it. That way, you can sit back and fully enjoy the performances of this formidable ensemble without having to keep all of the plot points straight. It’s rare that an ensemble of this strength can be found at The Fringe, so make haste and get the to the Thrust Stage! – TO’


A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant
presented by The Catalysts
@ New Century Theatre
Remaining Performances: 8/7 at 8:30pm, 8/10 at 7pm

This local premiere of Kyle Jarrow and Alex Timbers’ Obie-winning childrens’ play about the life and work of “teacher, author, explorer, atomic physicist, nautical engineer, choreographer, horticulturist, and father of Scientology” L. (“The L stands for Leader”) Ron Hubbard is a disarmingly disturbing piece of theatre. By retelling the founding and the core beliefs of the controversial “religion” in the style of a typical church Christmas pageant (complete with homemade costumes, hokey choreography and music, a slightly out of place angel, and more) and using real children to act it out, the show highlights the creepier aspects of Hubbard’s worldview. Thanks to a terrific seven-person cast directed by Whitney Rhodes, this show pulls off what all good satire does; it makes you laugh, and then it makes you think! Xenu would approve! – TO’


The 2014 Minnesota Fringe Festival continues through Sunday, August 10. Admission to all shows is $12 plus the Fringe Festival button, which can be purchased at any of the performance venues and is required for entry. The Official Closing Night Party will be on Sunday, August 10 at The Varsity Theater, located at 1308 4th St SE, starting at 9pm. Admission to the 18+ event is free. 

For updates on the festival, please follow their Facebook page and their Twitter feed.

For more information, including the entire festival schedule and purchasing tickets and festival passes, please go to FringeFestival.org.


Originally Published on 6 August 2014 for l’étoile.


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