City of Sideshows

Amid all the carnival barking of the fringe, we tell you which tent shows deserve your ten bucks


The Burning House Group

The four-year-olds in the audience loved it. But that isn't the damning statement it sounds like. Of course they loved it: The Burning House Group has conjured up that old-fashioned, broad physical comedy that uses every muscle in the face and nearly every one in the body. The jokes are the kinds of puns that literal-minded kids love and not everyone grows out of. While Ooops! You're President inhabits roughly the same universe as the Marx Brothers' Duck Soup, don't come looking for political satire with much bite. (That said, it's hard not to recognize the current administration in the "Operation Supertruth" jokes.) Fri 2:30 p.m., Sat 7:00 p.m. Hey City Theater Downstairs. --Tricia Cornell


Normally Closed Theatre

In a twist that would no doubt titillate Alan Greenspan, this elaboration on Lewis Carroll's Alice stories replaces Carroll's love for logic puzzles with a peculiar focus on economics. The game Alice must play here is a version of Monopoly, and she skips around the stage purchasing properties from characters such as the Boardwocky). Coauthors Ryan W. Scott and Kristin Elizabeth Brabec have fun with this, as they do with their roles as an avuncular but vaguely menacing Carroll and a naive but eager Alice. The best fun, however, comes from a witty poetic retelling of the life of Carroll, told from three perspectives--one insisting that he was thoroughly perverted. Sat 8:30 p.m., Sun 5:30 p.m. Woman's Club of Minneapolis. --Max Sparber


Abacus Theater Company

The tacky roadside attraction that gives Corn Palace its title could serve as a warning: No gimmick can produce a respectable work of art. Miraculously, however, this show, constructed from a playwriting exercise, maintains a goofy vitality while confidently skewering theme restaurants, diet fads, and rural Midwestern tourism to boot. The actors' fanatical commitment to their characters (and the playwright's swift resolutions) prevent the four sketches from exhausting their paper-thin premises. Body language, in the form of Chris Wehrman's lusty swoon, David Denninger's disdainful grimace, or Rachel Flynn's nervous blush, breathes marvelous, loony life into each of the inane personalities. Fri 8:30 p.m., Sun 7:00 p.m. Loring Playhouse. --Wendy Weisman


Ferrari McSpeedy Theatrical Productions

Twin Cities comedy team Joe Ferrari and Michael McSpeedy play a startling number of characters in this riotous story of the breakup of an Omaha punk band. They have a particular gift for switching character mid-scene as the effects of the band's collapse ripple out to an ever-widening circle of the Omaha population. The show comes to an early, bizarre climax in a seedy bar, where McSpeedy, playing an aging groupie, complains, "My vagina has gotten all wibbly-wobbly." McSpeedy then switches characters, leaping into a nearby seat and into the persona of a depressed human-resources manager, who takes this news with an utterly aghast facial expression. Wed 8:30 p.m., Thu 5:30 p.m., Fri 2:30 p.m., Sat 4:00 p.m. Loring Playhouse. --Max Sparber


Kristina de Sacramento and Anda Flamenco

You'll be wishing Doris Day never uttered the title phrase by the end of this show, because the performers repeat it constantly. But this "flamenco dance comedy" does offer many funny moments between its energetic tangos and alegrias, performed by a competent, if still developing, cast. Musicians Greg Wolfe, Dave Elrod, and Trevor May ably keep the beat while singer Maria Elena "La Cordobesa" inspires the dancers' passions. Most memorable is de Sacramento's perfectly timed duet with a flamenco skirt that seems to have a mind of its own. "You can be replaced!" she warns the recalcitrant costume. Thu 10:00 p.m. Old Arizona. --Caroline Palmer


Ministry of Cultural Warfare

"There isn't an innocent among us," four strangers decide when they find themselves together on the back porch during a housewarming. Of course, the sins of the four--a Marx-quoting pot dealer, a hypersexual homo, a straightlaced Christian with something to hide, and an uptight, effete gay man--aren't extraordinary either. Within ten minutes it's confidences time, as the conversation turns into one of those pot-fueled philosofests that are equal parts Marx, Aquinas, and sex. The script has some good zingers ("Heroin is like snakehandling, whereas pot is like Presbyterianism") and four-fifths of the cast give admirable performances. Thu 7:00 p.m., Fri 10:00 p.m., Sat 10:00 p.m. Minneapolis Theatre Garage. --Tricia Cornell


Square One Theater Company

Although they make gratuitous references to law school, Harvard, and cum laude, the twentysomethings in Still Smells sound like they've been biding their time in Dawson's Creek instead of the Ivy League. This high-school-reunion comedy deliciously captures its characters' pithy conversations and petty fixations with status. Unfortunately, the audience is rarely able to grasp the human relationships beneath the barrage of one-liners. By the end, the characters seem to have learned, after ten years, that they must grow up and let go of the past. The audience arrived at the same conclusion after witnessing the first five minutes. Wed 5:30 p.m., Fri 8:30 p.m., Sat 2:30 p.m. MCTC Whitney Studio. --Wendy Weisman

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