Photo by Dan Norman, courtesy Minnesota Fringe
You can do anything with a Fringe show, but the guys of Fat Bottom Jones expressed regret over their titular promise to do to every show in the Fringe. “What a horrible idea,” they lamented, only half joking. The premise is simple enough, but daunting: Using a bingo cage they draw a numbered ping-pong ball and then perform their own version of a corresponding show from this year’s Fringe Festival, based only on its accompanying picture from the Fringe Guide and its maximum 210 character description. They announced a disclaimer that to see them attempt any production that came from the perspective of people other than middle class white men would be really awkward—“so let’s hope we don’t have to do that!”
As it happened, on opening night their “worst fears came to pass.” The audience volunteer drew The Clever Artifice of Harriet and Margaret, also playing at New Century Theatre downtown and described perfectly in the guide as “Opera by women, about women, featuring nothing but women!” Onstage were five men (including Edgar Allan star Nick Ryan) rounding out the cast, plus two special male guests, a keyboard player and another actor who portrayed the director of Harriet and Margaret, who helpfully explained why his all-women opera was to have an all-men cast and feature minimal singing.
With their apologizes to the real floor manager of Harriet and Margaret, who happened to be in attendance, the boys rose to the challenge and staged a hilarious and bizarre story about two women who grapple with jealousies, their own inner monologues, and rogue bears. The crowd was responsive if not enormous, and I was surprised to look at the time afterwards and see the show had come over fifteen minutes shy of the hour mark. The final product was actually a smart feminist commentary on the kinds of concerns we expect women to have in narratives…or was it?
Since they draw a new ping-pong ball every night (and don't put the used balls back into the cage), each performance of We Do Every Show in the Fringe should be completely unique.