The Fringe Festival (July 30-Aug.9) released its complete schedule today, a 20-page program encompassing 160 shows at 22 different venues. No one knows anything about this year’s crop of shows yet, but here are the ones I’d pay $12 to see—and why:
Sarah, your Ovaries are Drying Up , Crankador Productions, (Musical/Comedy)
A musical comedy that promises “sarcastic reproductive organs” as you follow Sarah as “her clock ticks down to an inevitable uterine abyss.” The big questions, of course: What is a uterine abyss? And how can a clock tick down to it?
Animal Cracker Genocide , Ben San Del
Comedian Ben San Del—creator of Mittens for Fat Kids and Strawberry Fields Temporarily —doing what he does best: creating a comedy piece with a catchy title and no explanation whatsoever as to what it’s about.
Concord, Virginia: A Southern Town in Stories , by Peter Neofotis (Solo/Drama)
New York writer/performer Peter Neofotis is a cross between Garrison Keillor and Kevin Kling. Here, he performs his prize-winning stories, published by St. Martin’s Press, about “interracial lovers, moonshining old ladies, and gay trials.” Just three reasons why I love the South.
The Underachiever’s Manifesto , Unknighted Artists, Created by Adam King and Paul Von Stoetzel (Comedy/Satire)
Type-A personalities get all the press, but the world is mostly made up of us Type-B and C folks. Here, you’ll learn why “striving for mediocrity is the key to happiness.”
Cherry, Cherry, Lemon , by Keira McDonald (Comedy/Drama)
Imported from Seattle, Keira McDonald’s brings together a “woman and a party girl” whose friendship develops “through erotic stories about love, sex, and how one doesn’t always mean the other." This one gets extra points for being accompanies by live solo guitar.
Cigarettes for Jesus , by Steve Anderson (Comedy/Satire)
Worth seeing on the strength of the title alone, this comedy, written and performed by Steve Anderson, tells the tale of “a young Christian couple that inherits a cigarette factory in China and decides to use it to spread the Gospel.”
Burning Man and the Reverand Nuge , by Tommy Nugent (Comedy/Solo)
Detroit’s Tommy Nugent tells the tale of “one man’s journey from Pentacostal preacher to atheist street magician looking for enlightenment at the annual Burning Man festival in northern Nevada.” One clarification: The rumor that this piece is based on the spiritual quest of Mpls./St.Paul writer Steve Marsh is entirely untrue.
Squawk , Walking Shadow Theatre Co., Written by John Heimbuch (Comedy/Drama)
One of our better small theater companies, Walking Shadow Theatre Co. can be counted upon to deliver the goods. This play is about two officers in an elite military intelligence unit, and a penguin. (Face it, you can’t go wrong with a penguin.)
The Curse of Yig , by Tim Uren (Drama/Sci-Fi/Mystery)
Written by Zealia Bishop and sci-fi legend H. P. Lovecraft, this play takes place in Oklahoma in 1889, where Walker and Audrey find “horror unimaginable.” Involves loud noises and gunshots—always a good sign.
My Dinner with Andrew , Right Brain Productions (Drama), written by Robert John Ford
Nothing funny about this one at all: It’s an autobiographical account of playwright Ford’s interactions with serial killer Andrew Cunanan before Cunanan went on a cross-country killing spree that started in Minneapolis and ended with the sensational shooting of fashion mogul Gianni Versace in front of his Miami home in 1997.
June of Arc , Sandbox Theatre
This one should be a favorite of under-appreciated mothers everywhere. It stars June Cleaver with a real cleaver, revealing to all “her shield of cookie-plated resentment.” Comes complete with “live-action 1950s commercials!” The perfect show for anyone who was alive in the 1950s.
Thrower of Light , Cathy Wright (Dance/Drama)
The Fringe isn’t all goofy comedies and strange stand-up acts. Cathy Wright is one of the most innovative choreographers in the Twin Cities, and anything new from her is worth watching. Unlike some dance pieces, this one tells a few stories “from the hidden corners of the human psyche.” Sounds creepy—but it’s just dance, so how creepy can it be?
Like You Mean It (Dance/Improv)
These out-of-towners come highly recommended. They’re an improvisational ensemble (three dancers and a live DJ), known for their physicality and humor, that constructs an original work for each performance.
The William Williams Effect , Balance Theatre Project, written by Brian Columbus and Nancy Rule (Drama)
If, like me, you’re a sucker for murder stories, check this one out. It’s the true story of the last man executed by the state of Minnesota, and according to the blurb, features “an illicit love affair, a violent murder, and a botched hanging.” It’s got everything, including violence and gunshots. What’s not to love?
Your Lithopedian , Opium, Fireworks, and Lead. Written by Justin Maxwell
Recently staged at New York’s Brick Theatre, local playwright Justin Maxwell’s play involves a serial killer who founds Serial Killers Anonymous. But it’s really about “boredom, community, and child murder.” And lithopedians.
Slow Jobs: Servicing America for $12 an Hour , What Happened Productions, Created by Curl Lund and Laura Bidgood (Spoken Word/Comedy)
Fringe veterans Lund and Bidgood can always be counted upon for a few hearty laughs. Their entry this year sounds particularly promising and relevant, given the state of the economy. It’s a show about “doing whatever it takes to pay the bills,” a rite of passage for every artist.
2 Sugars, Room for Cream , Shanon Wexler & Carolyn Pool Productions (Comedy/Satire)
This show basically involves two women talking over coffee, but Wexler and Pool are veteran local actors, and the piece is directed Peter Moore, who knows a thing or two about both theater and comedy. Our guess: This one is going to have more professional polish than most Fringe shows.
Tragedy of You , Joseph Scrimshaw Productions
As long as you’re not the audience member who volunteers, Fringe veteran Joseph Scrimshaw’s latest is bound to be entertaining. But be forewarned: For every show, he picks an audience member and uses their life to create a “mad-lib of murder, madness, and comedy.” Tip: Don’t raise your hand.
FUNNIEST FRINGE TITLES OF THE YEAR:
Animal Cracker Genocide
The Hearty Boys in the Case of the Limping Platypus
Untitled Duet with Houseplant
Tech Support: The Musical
I’d Kick Puppies For You
Two Short Operas: Berman’s Bath-Size Bar and There’s a Mastadon in My Backyard
Auntie Dorris’ You May Not Wanna Know but I’m Gonna Tell You Anyway A-Thon
Cigarettes for Jesus
That Chair Was My Wife
You’re Naked, You’re Crazy, and We’re All Gonna Die