Walking on the Margins

Walking on the Margins
READY OR NOT, the Minnesota Fringe Festival returns for its third scrappy season. Hosted at six theaters within walking distance of each other on the West Bank, the majority of this year's 46 production are local. All play at various times throughout the festival; all run under 90 minutes; all cost eight bucks or less. On the positive side, democratic festivals like this provide fledgling theater companies, jugglers, part-time playwrights, storytellers, and sundry other artists with ultra low-rent venues and, theoretically at least, an audience for their work. On the downside, show quality (see below) can be uneven. So set realistic viewing goals for yourself; be brave and generous in spirit, and most of all, be optimistic. (Through June 30; call 770-6482 for schedule information.) --Michael Tortorello
Through Shite to Shannon

Kevin DiPirro

           This one-man show is an oral road trip--assumably once a true story, now embellished generously with magical realism--that relates a young man's overnight trip from Dublin in the east of Ireland to Shannon in the west. Apparently storyteller Kevin DiPirro visited the island 10 years ago and found crazy love among the country's phantoms, gravestones, and pints of Guinness. He hits his mark often enough: the cosmic serendipity inherent in the best sort of travel; the Irish storytelling reflex; the stupid things a traveler does (like running along a train platform with a backpack, bike, and a suitcase whose handle breaks off at the worst moment); the unattractively proprietary feeling an expatriate develops for his chosen home. DiPirro's fun, funny, and sometimes mystical, if a tad self-impressed. (Sullivan)

Passion Playing

Bedlam Theatre

           This performance collective grows more primitive and more fascinating with each production. For this "montage of oh-so-theatrical morsel/tidbit/appetizers-which-one-tries-to-make-a-meal," the crazy kids employ drums, guitar, a shrieking soprano sax, oversized cardboard puppet-heads, Wizard-of-Oz wicked witch stockings, the biography of Pushkin and an actor enclosed in a duffel bag like a jumping bean. Then there's the tribal body paint. What follows in sketches like "Bestiality" is a kind of prolonged hysteria with little pretense to anything other than maximum chaos. This aesthetic--however cryptic and cacophonous it may be--remains the best known antidote to a night at the Guthrie. (Tortorello)

Love Stories

Skirt Wax Productions

           A new play--really two one-acts, with a closing speech by the author--that considers the psychological torsion of eating disorders. The first piece, "Undergarments," follows a late-late-night conversation in the bedroom of Clara and James, a young couple on the verge of something big and perhaps very bad: Clara is anorexic, and the patient James has grown tired of picking up clumps of her hair. "The Power Elite" portrays a barbed exchange among three young women in a therapy group, goading each other to both 'fess up to various subterfuges, and to eat a bagel. Unfortunately, the one-act form doesn't afford time to map out the characters' psyches with much depth; one ends up knowing quite a bit about these women's eating (or starving) patterns, and too little about the workings of their brains and hearts. (Sullivan)

Blood, Masturbation and

the Vampyre's Creed:

an autobiography

Bill Snyder

           On display here are writer/performer Bill Snyder's tequila-soaked, twentysomething memories of past trysts and his late-night thoughts on life, death, love, and the soul. Yes, they all have something to do with Vampyres. But despite Snyder's frequent assertions that his thoughts are dark and disturbing, there's little here that's even remotely offensive--and even less that's particularly insightful. At best, his observations are poetic and genuinely affecting; at worst, sophomoric. For all his confusion and guilt, Mr. Snyder simply comes across as a nice white boy looking for meaning and significance in his life's events; to his credit, he manages to do so with a surprising lack of self-indulgent ranting (a refreshing change from most autobiographical performance art field trips). (Peterson)

In the Garden

Bald Alice Theatre Company

           Following the company's recent performance of Sam Shepard's apocalyptic one-act "Action," playwright/director Matt Sciple returns with his own post-doomsday drama. Set in an elaborate subterranean shelter, a man and his two grandchildren study the scriptures and await the Rapture. The arrival of a Mad Max-style scavenger (actor Jeff Tatum applying his usual blustery charm) and his promise of an outside world introduces the figurative serpent to this new Eden. Or not so figurative, as the case may be; for while the script is quite good in whole, Sciple wields his allegory a little bluntly. And the ending is sillier than it ought to be. (Tortorello)

Please Stand By... Experiencing Technical Difficulties

Grendel's Mother

           A combination of The Twilight Zone, The Phantom Tollbooth, and Dante's seven circles of hell, in which a directionless slacker whose TV addiction is putting his relationship with his girlfriend in jeopardy gets sucked into an ephemeral TV land. On his transformational journey from being a fuck-up to being a "fuck-up with perspective," Dave must pass through realms both dangerous and fantastical, ruled by various TV genres and characters: Westerns, sci-fi, sitcoms, and detectives. There's also a particularly deadly circle inhabited by TV sidekicks, and a hellishly surreal one involving cartoon characters. More proof that good comedy is really, really hard to do, but a noble effort was made--especially considering this production played to an audience of one. (Reminder: Avoid such situations by never Fringe-ing alone.) (Caniglia)

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