"Don't Ever Say (EXPLETIVE DELETED) Onstage Again!"

Audiences storm the stage. Actors suffer gastrointestinal distress. Backstage confessions of theater gone terribly, terribly wrong.


Small Barbie! Small Barbie!

Heidi House Theater

Hugh D'Andrade

Here is storyteller Heidi Arneson as we are used to seeing her, body covered with sparkles from head to toe, eyes deeply circled with liner, intonation alternating between little-girl vocalizations and husky confessionals. Arneson recasts Barbie as a lush who guzzles vodka while making desperate late-night telephone calls to Ken. Sprawled out on a pink shag rug, she alternately confesses that the relationship was probably doomed from the start and then holds the receiver away from her mouth and begs of her lover pathetically: "Change your mind." Most of the show is scat-sung as a duet between Arneson and a saxophone, but the most compelling moments are Arneson's quietest, as when she notices the telephone spilled onto the ground and picks it up gingerly, asking in amazement, "Are you still there?" Thu 8:30 p.m., Sat 2:30 p.m., Sun 8:30 p.m. Loring Playhouse. (Sparber)


Smart Girls on Ice

Adrienne English and Amy Sackett

Must everything slide into a comedy sketch at the Fringe? No doubt, when these girls dance, their hypnotic movement and physical comedy will delight you. Their most intriguing number may be the two-part "Toy With Me," whose winsome yet sinister tone is reminiscent of Edward Scissorhands. In between routines, however, their emcee will bombard you with weary, run-on stories and ill humor. Understandably, the dancers need time to change, not to mention breathe. So give us music, give us silence, but please, don't make us gag on another rancid one-liner. Fri 1:00 p.m., Sat 7:00 p.m. Music Box Theatre. (Swanson)



Blue Inc.

The most-hyped play of the Fringe. Had I not seen it, I ran the risk of being run out of town on a rail by the festival's executive staff. Of course, "most hyped" and "best" are not synonyms, and Splice is happily diverting at most. Consisting of a number of short, inventive re-stagings of popular films (all done in the now-chic Jacques LeCoq style of masked and physical comedy), this is the show for anyone who wants to see the shower scene in Psycho performed with two actors, a shower curtain, and two flashlights; or the entirety of Star Wars performed as a Manhattan Transfer-type lounge act. Wed 5:30 p.m., Thu 8:30 p.m., Fri 1:00 p.m., Sat 5:30 p.m. Hennepin Center for the Arts, Studio 6A. (Sparber)


Sweatlodge Pork

Indian Wars Theatre

This company was clever to produce a play that satirizes journalists: They make critics like me actually try to write (gasp!) an objective review. Ahem: This original comedy by Mark Anthony Rolo follows reporter J. Steady Bones as she trolls through casinos, unearthing the story of seedy Indian gaming lord Seven Bellies and his relationship with Amelia Earhart. The script is sometimes difficult to follow and the jokes occasionally fall flat. But promising young actor Eli Johnson--who plays both male and female characters and does a mean Jimmy Stewart impression--will be one to watch in forthcoming Fringes. Thu 10:00 p.m., Sat 5:30 p.m. Acadia Cabaret Theater. (Maerz)


Temperamental Ladies

Carolyn Kolovitz

Kolovitz, whose GirlyWorld was well-received at last year's Fringe, returns this time out with pretty much the same thing--a stream-of-consciousness riff that's equally poetic and bathetic--in a sloppier package. In Temperamental Ladies, Kolovitz's subject seems to be the mythologies and pathologies of Catholic womanhood (i.e., Mary, virgin to bloody). But, while Kolovitz has certainly staked out fertile territory, her writing is, at this point, so unfocused that it sometimes seems she's merely spilling her overheated imagination onto the stage. After 40 minutes of slogging through the results, audience members might be forgiven for feeling a little irritable themselves. Fri 8:30 p.m., Sun 1:00 p.m. Red Eye. (Ritter)


The Trouble With Leo

Galumph Performance Troupe

Ostensibly an educational program meant to teach children about a real-life historic event--a brief, unhappy period when Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo were hired to work on opposite walls of the Palazzo Vecchio--the Galumph Performance Troupe has created an interactive play that takes astonishing pleasure from chaos. In this instance the cast members, dressed in life-size puppet costumes, drag children out of the audience and involve them in a complex plot to drive Michelangelo out of his mind. There's real entertainment for adults who believe, as I do, that children are fundamentally instruments of turmoil. And as their misbehavior toward Michelangelo becomes more egregious, the play grows increasingly hysterical. Thu 8:30 p.m., Fri 8:30 p.m., Sat 4:00 p.m., Sun 1:00 p.m. Children's Theater Company Black Box. (Sparber)



Kevin Kling

Note to self: Watch out for the new venues next year, as Fringe executive director Dean J. Seal likes to cram the big-ticket items into them, regardless of the fact that in the case of the Wesley United Methodist Church, this meant that Kevin Kling was performing his acclaimed 21A in what amounted to a Turkish steam bath. The acoustics were terrible, the sightlines nonexistent, and Kling seemed ready to topple from heat exhaustion at the end of the performance. Nonetheless, his one-man tour de force, playing almost a dozen characters on a notably unpleasant bus ride, remains a Twin Cities reference point--when people mention Kling, or one-man shows, or the bus system, this production invariably comes up, spoken of glowingly. The reputation is well deserved. Wed 10:00 p.m., Fri 1:00 p.m., Sat 7:00 p.m., Sun 1:00 p.m. Wesley United Methodist Church. (Sparber)

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