Indie 500

With roughly 100 productions and 500 performances, the Minnesota Fringe Festival turns low-budget theater into a two-week marathon

Listen

Naked Muse Productions An eco-conscious, Gen-X version of Romeo and Juliet, Listen mulls over too many tired topics of a now-bygone decade. Written and directed by local playwright Leah Cooper, this comedy/love story tracks Joe (Casey Greig), an ambitious, wannabe marketing executive caught between the temptation of corporate success and the beautiful Katie (Maggie Chestovitch), a passionate poet on the make to save the world from its polluted fate. "You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wanna hug a tree," the promotional materials boast. The only thing I wanted to embrace at the end of this show was my pollutant-emitting Ford Tempo--the better to carry me hastily away from the theater. Fri 2:30 p.m., Sun 5:30 p.m. Red Eye. (Jen Boyles)

Look Ma, No Pants!

Scrimshaw Brothers Roll over, Brad Pitt, as Mime Club replaces Fight Club in this lineup of shtick, skits, dance, and improv. The gut-wrencher of these loose-limbed routines is "Comedy in a Nutshell," in which Joseph Scrimshaw plays an aged but feisty vaudevillian who reveals his funny-man tricks before the final rim shot can yank him off life's stage. Another highlight is an interactive routine involving Star Wars vs. Winnie the Pooh origami, which goes from silly to sublime as the hard-to-please audience refuses to settle for paper versions of Yoda and Storm Troopers, demanding instead to see "The Force" folded. Thu 11:30 p.m., Fri 11:30 p.m., Sat 11:30 p.m. Phoenix Playhouse Black Box. (Eric Dregni)

Love's Lines, Angles and Rhymes

Dash Productions Finally: A coming-out tale transmogrified through a time machine. Delve into Professor Anderson's mind as his youthful leap from the closet and his sister's impending wedding find unusual parallels in the 16th Century. This means plenty of doublets and pantaloons as the actors switch from dreams of soap-opera stars to erotic fencing lessons--all enhanced by an Eric Satie soundtrack, which is timeless. Karen Wiese-Thompson keeps the comedy rolling as the seen-it-all mother/housekeeper, while the other dreamers melodramatically exchange dialogue like, "I'll go to Hell!" "I'll go with you!" Thu 10:00 p.m., Sat 10:00 p.m., Sun 8:30 p.m. Phoenix Playhouse Mainstage. (Dregni)

Martini AND Olive: Caught Between Two Love Handles

Grant Richey and Judy Heneghan "Why do Martini and Olive need security?" asked an unwitting audience member before this show. Responded security officer Stuart (Dan Rooney): "I've seen it in Sheboygan, in Pewaukee, too. Once you see these famous personalities on the stage you're gonna go crazy. You're gonna storm the stage, rip their clothes off!" Not quite, but like everything else in this locally cherished cabaret romp, the security bit is deliciously overdone. Among the "celebrities" are Seventies-stylin' Vince (Peter Staloch), an absurd trio of dancers, and, of course, Tony (Grant Richey) and Olive (Judy Heneghan), whose kitsch orgy converts nearly every audience into schlock swingers. Wed 7:00 p.m., Fri 1:00 and 8:30 p.m., Sat 7:00 p.m., Sun 5:30 p.m. Music Box Theatre. (Kaminsky)

Newsprint Nightmares/Tabloid Dreams

Mary Worth Theatre Company The Mary Worth gang has a reputation for flavoring their material with a quirky theatrical sensibility and a dash of camp. It's not surprising, then, that their latest offering finds its inspiration in the fertile, lumpen fantasies of supermarket tabloids. The show's three vignettes, ripped, as they say, from the headlines, are too delicious to give away. Let it suffice to say that the actors who report them are sensational. Laura Respess and Natalie Diem are especially good as happily oblivious trailer-trash gals. Along with habituates of those dear tabloids, these women hold faith in the weirdness and wonder lurking beneath the everyday. Fri 4:00 p.m., Sat 7:00 p.m. Minneapolis Theatre Garage. (Ritter)

One Egg Short of a Carton

Fully Reciprocal Theatre Company John Schaidler's amusing play concerns that ever-aggravating subject--the missing lunch. Here, it's an egg-salad sandwich. Over the course of five lost lunches, disparate--but always obsessive--reactions to this little tragedy come in for consideration. In one vignette a trailer-park tornado victim is more concerned with the loss of his sandwich than with his windswept family photos or even his home, because the meal "so represented where my life is right now." These various lost-sandwich scenarios are interrupted by voiceovers conveying fun egg facts, and sometimes-relevant monologues delivered by Patty Matthews on such subjects as Humpty Dumpty's first appearance in ovoid form. Thu 10:00 p.m., Sun 8:30 p.m. Acadia Cabaret. (Bridgette Reinsmoen)

Play on Birds

Council of Doom Theatre Company You don't have to be an obsessive birdwatcher to enjoy this slight but chipper collection of skits; you simply need to have some history with geeky obsessiveness (Vampire: The Masquerade fans, for example, will experience a haunting familiarity while watching this show). But what is most entertaining about the production is its willingness to deteriorate into utter foolishness, such as when performer Sharon Koval Stiteler wages war against a puppet squirrel. It's silly but sublime. Sat 5:30 p.m., 7:00 p.m., Sun 2:30 p.m. St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral. (Sparber)

Rent Boy, Strawberry Boy

Roll the Dice Productions Sounding rather like a Gertrude Stein script about male prostitutes, Michael Lewis Schurter's play folds back on itself constantly, repeating single phrases and whole reams of dialogue ("Anyone ever tell you that you got a cute face?") to make oblique points about...what? Truth? Beauty? Honesty? I am not certain what the syllabus is here, but the stylized staging by Jennifer Blackmer is moody and fascinating. And it is always a pleasure to see attractive performers strip off their clothes onstage. Wed. 7:00 p.m., Fri 2:30 p.m., Sat 8:30 p.m. Hennepin Center for the Arts Little Theatre. (Sparber)

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