Richard W. Rousseau weaves an improbably elegant and earthy meditation on the limits of existence (and the lack thereof). Beginning with the timeless question of whether poultry preceded omelets in the course of evolution, Rousseau introduces trails of existential inquiry that double back on one another to comic and poignant effect. Gregory the Pious, a newscaster, a dentist, birth-class instructors, and the dioramas at the Museum of Natural History all connect in Rousseau's temporal explorations. While the artist's delivery can veer from pleasantly folksy to a style more appropriate for reading to very young children, the plots swerve and dodge unpredictably and Rousseau handles his life-and-death theme with humor and intelligence. Wed 10:00 p.m., Fri 10:00 p.m., Sun 8:30 p.m. (K. Froebel/Sonya Geis)
Wait a Minute...What?
The Güten Jüngs
Andrew Stanley is my find of the Fringe. From the moment he stumbles onstage as the pleasant but dim technician for an imaginary performance piece, the San Francisco-based actor radiates an utterly endearing naiveté--a rare commodity in the angst-ridden world of the one-person show. Having wandered into the spotlight, Stanley regales us with tales of his father (a jungle boat captain at Disneyland), his work in the theater (as gofer), and his frustrated acting career (he delivers a Brad Pitt monologue from Twelve Monkeys as an example of his craft). It is a rare and uncynical performance in a very funny show, and deserves to be seen by as many people as can possibly squeeze into the tiny Black Box theater. Sat 7:00 p.m.; Sun 5:30 p.m. (Ritter)
1931 Nicollet Ave.
The Man Who Turned Into a Stick (Death)
Japanese playwright Kobo Abe's existential fable does indeed begin with a man turning into a stick. Shortly thereafter, said stick is discovered by "Goth Boy" and "Goth Girl" (Corey Mills and Brenda Hickman), who act eminently goth while keeping their prize from the "Man from Hell" (Doug Durnick) and his statuesque compatriot (Laura McDonnell), who in turn act eminently diabolical while discussing the coveted shaft. Got it? There is probably a provocative metaphor about men and sticks and death buried somewhere in Abe's nonsensical narrative, but be forewarned: This Stick is pretty far-fetched. Thu 7:00 p.m., Sat 4:00 p.m., Sun 4:00 p.m. (Ritter)
Born to Lose
A shifting cast of five or six monologists, drawn from a Fringe-wide pool of fifteen, hold a motorcycle-themed story hour that is good-natured if a bit too sedate to match The Wild One. Opening night, MST3K veteran Mary Jo Pehl recalled her mom's grizzly stories about the menace of the two-wheel death trap, Ken Varnold considered crotch rockets as an icon of male bonding, and Raine Hokan recounted a rebellious week spent on the road as a teen. Label these tales diverting, but not entirely highway worthy. The evening only pushed to the red line when senior hellion Wanda Brown spun a personal history of maturation and motorcycles around the jazzy keyboard riffs of partner Phyllis Goldin. Tue 8:30 p.m., Sat 8:30 p.m., Sun 1:00 p.m. (Branum)
John Troyer is certainly a trouper for going through with the opening of his one-man performance piece mere hours after being mugged and battered on Nicollet Avenue. Under the circumstances, it is more than understandable that the Praxis instigator was a bit disjointed in his delivery. Less understandable is what exactly he was intending to deliver. It may have had something to do with time-traveling secret agents or some arid rhetoric about fascism and art or the Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse. But between frequent blackouts and dreadful techno music interludes, the whole was as alienating as a kick in the teeth. We nevertheless have high hopes that Degenerate--and more important, its creator--will get better soon. Thu 10:00 p.m., Sat 1:00 p.m., Sun 8:30 p.m. (Ritter)
R. Sky Palkowitz
The star of this one-woman show is a semiautobiographical character called the Delusional Diva, who expounds on her nagging parents, her married friends, and lesbianism while she pumps iron and ponders the end of the millennium. Palkowitz includes a handful of other zany characters, including her neighbor, a southern, dope-dealing neo-hippie named Flower; and her grumbling, half-senile father Dave, who clings to the Kabala and digresses into neurotic rants about the downfall of society. While Synapse Hysteria! is disjointed as a whole--the show is true to its billing--Palkowitz provides several hilarious moments and plays the motley cast of characters with wit. Wed 8:30 p.m., Fri 8:30 p.m., Saturday 10:00 p.m. (Jeremy Swanson)
Bald Alice Theatre Co.
Israel Horovitz's brief but blustery melodrama clearly takes its lessons from the Edward Albee school of play writing: Plop a man and woman with a long, unhappy history into a situation and let them speak daggers to one another until they get tired and go away. In this case a fellow (William Franke) accosts a woman (Heather Stone) in a Massachusetts park. We recognize from their first barbed exchange that these apparent strangers have bad blood between them, but Horovitz tries to keep our attention by withholding the nature of their relationship until long after we've given up guessing at it. Only the balanced performances of Stone and Franke keep the whole affair from coming across as the stale dramatic exercise that it in fact is. Wed 7:00 p.m., Fri 10:00 p.m. (Ritter)