One Is Not the Loneliest Number

Ten actors take on the world in the Bryant-Lake Bowl's Festival of One-Person Shows

November's crept up on us, and for the good people at the Bryant-Lake Bowl, that means it's time for that third annual orgy of solipsism, the Festival of One-Person Shows. This year 10 foolhardy folk (down from 17 last year) will take the stage and wax monomaniacal about whatever they so choose.

As always, the festival will showcase an unusually high incidence of multiple personality disorder, as actors portray numerous characters with no concern for their age, nationality, or state of matter. Performer Edgar Davis tops the list, playing roughly 17 distinct characters (one more than Sybil!). Laura Respess and Brent Roske, remarkably, will play one character each through their shows. Please, people: You call that acting? At the very least, these shows promise to intrigue in one way or another. Nearly all are comical; even those actors who promise to delve into tragedy and spiritual self-renewal are quick to claim that we'll laugh.

Of course, the problem with these festivals is that the shows start to blur together after a while. So as a service to our readers, we have presented this Clip 'n' Save guide to the festival. Go prepared--and be brave. (All shows play at the Bryant-Lake Bowl; 825-8949.)

Zach Anderson in Animals
Zach Anderson in Animals

Infinite Jest

The show: Zach Anderson in Animals

Cliff's Notes: The Comedy Sportz "actlete" goes solo with this series of monologues about a group of characters all joined by their pathological fascination with the inane. An Eagan mayor finds his "vision thing" when he begins a crusade to stop the closing of his favorite hamburger shop. An octogenarian suspects his neighbor of stealing his toilet paper. As the actor explains it, "All of them are a few yards short of the goal line."

Dramatis Personae: Six nutcases, including, rather incredibly, The Universe.

No, Mom, you wouldn't like it: Anderson will remove a piece of his costume with each character.

Astronomy 101: Anderson says, "Every time I play The Universe, I expand."

Astrology 101: The Universe makes an appearance, says Anderson, to assure the audience that "A show is going to take place. Nothing is going to go awry. The Universe is still in control. Without the Universe in control, there would be anarchy. And we wouldn't want that."

Theosophy 101: The Universe, in turn, says, "I hope you enjoy the ride, you little spinning monkeys."

Being there: Animals plays Wed. Nov. 4 and 11 at 7 p.m.; Tues. Nov. 24 at 9:30 p.m.

Turning Japanese

The show: Edgar Davis in Island of Mirrors

Cliff's Notes: Davis tells of the year he spent teaching English at an all-female school in Japan. The effect is rather like that of sitting down with a friend and asking him how his year abroad was. In this case: Strange. It took awhile for the sailor-suited girls to get used to the broad-shouldered African-American man who didn't speak a lick of Japanese. This is the third time the utterly endearing Davis has performed this show at BLB.

Dramatis Personae: Seventeen characters, including a gaggle of giggling Japanese girls.

Going for the Gap endorsement: Davis will wear "a pale pink dress shirt, floral tie, green slacks, and shiny black shoes."

Going for the travel agent endorsement: Davis says, "I want the show to make people long for places that they've never been before. I want to kindle in them a curiosity about Japan and an urge to travel."

Back in the Land of 10,000 Lakes: As the show ends, Davis looks at the moon and wonders, "Is there really such a place where little brown-skinned girls romp at Nazi picnics and Christmas songs play all year round? Where magic rain wins soccer games and tall athletic girls in red can predict the weather?"

Being There: Island of Mirrors plays Sat. Nov. 7 and 14 at 7 p.m.; Mon. Nov. 16 at 9:30; and Sun. Nov. 22 at 3 p.m..

What He Really, Really Wants

The show: Dane Stauffer in Spice Boy!

Cliff's Notes: With the help of a six-piece band, the Festival's headliner reprises last year's show about a boy who wants to sing in a girl group. The Dane Stauffer Experience shows us, as he says, a life "filtered through the pop experience," a "celebration of three-chord fabulousness" with an extra-bonus country-Western nightmare, and a short film, "Spy Girl."

Dramatis Personae: Three characters, including Erykah Badu.

Call La Leche League: Stauffer claims that his mother's filling received an Arkansas radio signal allowing pop music to seep into her breast milk.

Has the Pentagon been informed?: Stauffer promises some unusual props, including a fingernail-polish grenade and an exploding shoe.

Wannabe?: "It doesn't have a thing to do with the Spice Girls," Stauffer says. "I was just trying to latch on to their popularity to sell my show."

Your favorite line: As Badu ("Well, kind of Dane Badu"), Stauffer will sing, "I did not want to be a girl/No confusion to confess/But still somehow my inner diva/Longed to be expressed."

Being there: Thurs. Nov. 19 at 7 p.m.; Fri. and Sat. Nov. 20, 21, 27, and 28 at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m; Wed. Nov. 25 at 7 p.m.

Digging in the Dirt

The show: Laura Respess in Out of the Dust

Cliff's Notes: Mary Worth Theater Company casts shiny girl-next-door Respess as Billie Jo, the 14-year-old narrator of Karen Hesse's Newbery Award-winning book. Young Billie Jo lives deep in the depression-era dust bowl, and while she endures all kinds of crap, she still can manage a little zest, writing her diary in free-verse poetry.

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