At the Fringes

MINNESOTA GODDESS Frontier Theatre's concept promises delicious absurdity: Demeter the earth goddess tills a Minnesota farm with daughter Persephone, until leather-clad Hades steals Persephone off to Hell/Minneapolis. But when the play begins, it features women in denim and spring-line halter tops dancing in a circle and singing about earth goddesses. Could this be serious? Soon, though, we do laugh, as a horny Hansen-haired Hades (James Lekvin) seduces Persephone (Sally Sodaro), and she runs the gamut of pink-collar jobs, serenaded by brainwashed co-workers. But, alas, just as Hades must be dumped, Persephone must turn to socialism, and the production takes itself seriously again. Just a few shades of irony short of being delightful. W 8:30 p.m., Sa 10 p.m. The Woman's Club. (Ursu)

STOLEN CIRCUITRYYoung choreographers have the advantage of a fresh kinetic palette when spinning movement ideas, but they also run the risk of re-treading territory well traveled by their mentors. This local showcase exemplifies both possibilities, with Matt Jenson and Heidi Geier expressing themselves clearly through sharp-witted, mature works. Jenson's "Go Ahead Cling to Me, Dear" is a euphoric, full-body love slam while Geier's quiet "Vows" evolves from innocent pickup to eerie domination game. Deborah Jinza Thayer's "Astroturf" made me imagine (and wish for) synchronized swimmers interpreting Blade Runner; and while Risa Cohen's "Babble" presented well-timed, antic moments, she still needs to discover her own creative voice. W 8:30 p.m., Th 10 p.m., Sa 5:30 p.m., Su 4 p.m. Loring Playhouse. (Caroline Palmer)

CHARLATAN In the history of impresarios, there was probably none greater than Sergei Diaghilev, the man who brought the Russian Ballet to Paris and sparked a golden era of dance led by icon Vaslav Nijinsky. New York actor Tony Tanner takes the stage as Diaghilev and ably conveys the reviled svengali's story. A pompous name-dropper driven by his basest lust and greed for recognition, Tanner's Diaghilev is altogether arrogant. Yet the actor's portrayal is a richly honest take on the man who proclaimed he could put "into conjunction major planets." As a fine example of nuanced character acting, Tanner's one-man show is also an engaging slice of dance history. Th 8:30 p.m., Sa 5:30 p.m., Su 4 p.m. Whitney Performance Space, Minneapolis Community College. (Palmer)

WHY she WEARS A SUIT chu young works' production is a charming bit of pop psychology. So why does "Little She" (Paige McGinley) wear a suit all the time? She likes the fashion statement but her mother, therapist, and new girlfriend--and the gay bashers on the street--can't get past the shock of a woman in a tie. Forced to decide whether to change her look, and therefore herself, our heroine ends up naked, caught in the sticky web of everyone else's values. Energetic performances by McGinley and "Big She" (Marisa S. Felt) help us root for the suit, and more importantly, the person wearing it. W 10 p.m. Red Eye. (Palmer)

A THOUSAND FIRES OF DARKNESS: A CENTENARY CELEBRATION OF FEDERICO GARCIA LORCA Flamenco dance and spoken word combine in this dramatization of Lorca's poetry. Bullfights and love serve as central themes, best communicated here through the poetry of this Spanish artist, and through the visual metaphors of ambient lighting and shredded cloth. The dance pieces, although cleverly foreshadowing many of the vignettes, could stand to be less self-conscious and a little more soulful. W 10 p.m., F 10 p.m., Sa 4 p.m. Loring Playhouse. (Schmitt)

THE POKER GAME/THE WEDDING It's silent film on stage in these two shorts by 12th House Theatre, and the result is pretty much what you'd expect: Actors dressed in black, white, and gray approximate 8mm-film movement, while they mug, pratfall, and pull suspenders. The production, however, does nothing you don't expect, and as a result we watch 45 minutes of gimmick. Any story is lost in the mess of six people flitting about. (The tiny stage and school-auditorium ambience of the Whitney Performance Space certainly don't help matters.) That said, the cast performs its gimmick well, much to the joy of the people sitting behind me snorting with glee. Th 7 p.m., Su 8:30 p.m. Whitney Performance Space. (Ursu)

VENUS DYING Alyce Finwall and Jennifer Hart have set aside their glittery Ballet of the Dolls dancing shoes to birth a frustrating chamber piece. For all the obvious effort that went into the choreography (with terrific dancing by all), the gals nonetheless let themselves down, as their love-triangle tale repeats every Guiding Light stereotype in the book, without a trace of irony. Hart, a jilted lover abandoned for the inevitable "lady in red" (Finwall), punishes herself for not embodying idealized beauty. Meanwhile, her black-clad conscience (Zhauna Franks) chastises each new display of insecurity. In the end we're left with a section called "Surrender." Human? Sure--but revenge is still sweeter. Th 7 p.m., Sa 5:30 p.m., Su 4 p.m. Ballet of the Dolls studio. (Palmer)

WRECKAGE Peter Blomquist may be the best local playwright no one has heard of. His plays put hyper-kinetic characters in explosive situations, and communicate their travails with frantic, stylized dialogue and the blackest of humors. In Wreckage, Frank (Blomquist) has been left brain-addled by a train wreck. He lives under the care of his wife Sarah (Karah Bausch) and her lover, Jimmy (Corey Patrick). Blomquist's dialogue is a steady rat-a-tat-tat that grows in urgency as the play simmers. Soon the volume rises, the characters stomp, the words fly; by the end the sound is as assaultive as the situation has been all along. Finally, when we are left alone with Frank's mind and his memories, the quiet becomes cathartic--along with Frank we are finally given peace. Th 7 p.m. Loring Playhouse. (Ursu)

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