Fringe Festival Reviews


8/7 Central
No Refunds Theater

The skies open and the heavens sing to hardcore '80s television fans. This show is jam-packed with reminiscences of all your favorites: Growing Pains, 21 Jump Street, Michael Jackson's Thriller, even Inspector Gadget. These two half-hour original sitcoms are part The Cosby Show, part Family Ties, with good kids learning hard lessons about drugs, sex, and driving. The laugh track sighs and coos in between commercial breaks with Michael J. Fox and clips from A-Ha's "Take On Me" music video. There's even something for those with less gentle memories of the decade: Mr. T guns down Alf and the know-it-all sister gets slimed. Wed 5:30 p.m., Fri 5:30 p.m., Sat 2:30 p.m., Sun 5:30 p.m. Red Eye. --Christy DeSmith


And He Might Die...
The Third Rabbit Dance Ensemble

John Munger may be staring down 60 but he's determined to outdance the Reaper. And, in fact, he was still standing by the end of his show, a program combining lyricism, the occasional witty text, and, yes, a plate of Alpo devoured onstage. While the choreography itself offers little risk or experimentation, it does showcase Munger's sound sense of human foibles, particularly in his solo "The Upstairs Room," the poignant "Tori's Porch," and a comic duet called "Exactly What You Mean," set to droll dialogue from Mike Nichols and Elaine May. Wed 7:00 p.m., Fri 1:00 p.m., Sat 7:00 p.m. MCTC Whitney Mainstage. --Caroline Palmer


Sky's The Limit Productions

Hands down the oddest musical ever, this Sondheim sideshow professes to explore the darker side of the American dream by reimagining the angst that led our history's presidential assassins (and would-be assassins) to their deeds. STL's production suffers from its own doing. In its Fringe-length cutting, the show is choked down to a revue of forgettable songs, flat characters, and clunky history lessons. For 10 minutes the show does its job: John Hinckley (Lorin W. Yenor) and Squeaky Fromme (Penny Dale) sing of their lost loves (Charles Manson and Jodi Foster, that is) in a duet that is as beautiful and melancholy as it is gross and chilling. Thu 10:00 p.m., Sat 10:00 p.m. Minneapolis Theatre Garage. --Matt Di Cintio


Boldly Going Nowhere
Illusion Theater

Five character sketches in 50 minutes. Some are classic Tod Petersen, like Stever, a TV addict self-imprisoned in his parents' basement. With his piercing nasal voice and tightfisted delivery, Stever is eerily reminiscent of the autobiographical narrator from Petersen's hit show A Christmas Carole Petersen. He ventures furthest from his repertoire with Sean, a pothead musician who thrill-rides to the Grand Canyon after his father's funeral. Sean is less comical than the other losers you meet--he doesn't say dude or awesome as often--but he's the most genuine. The others are sexual thrill-seekers, all good for some laughs (not recommended for your neo-conservative grandfather). Thu 5:30, Fri 4:00, Sun 4:00 Illusion Theater. --Christy DeSmith


Buckets and Tap Shoes
Andy and Rick Ausland

The brothers Ausland--local boys who've made good with their percussive troupe Ten Foot Five--look as wholesome as Hanson but tap-dance like their feet are on fire. Their act, essentially a set of loose jams, is all about transferring the innovation and spontaneity of street performance (complete with paint-bucket drums) to the stage, and the guys succeed on all counts. Joined by fleet-footed Nick Bowman, antic showman Ricci Milan, cool customer Kaleena Miller, and a tight band, the Auslands prove, once and for all, that tap is as funky as they want it to be. Thu 7:00 p.m., Sat 7:00 p.m. Brave New Workshop. --Caroline Palmer


City Pagez: The Show

If you're going to name your fringe play City Pagez: The Show, we're kind of obligated to review it, right? It turns out that other than the title, the connection between this show and the real City Pages is tenuous. Audience members praying for a smart satire of a paper begging to be satirized will remain unfulfilled: the publication turns out to be mere cannon fodder for typical rat-a-tat-tat improv games with the four-person troupe. At one point, the cast requests numbers from the crowd and then performs 15-second skits based on the corresponding page numbers. How many funny skits can you really squeeze out of an A-List? Sat 8:30 p.m. Acadia Café. --Steve Marsh


Comedy Against Racism
Protest Productions

Post-9/11 paranoia is the theme of this two-woman sketch comedy starring Sue Dorumsgaard and Farheen Hakeem. Focusing mainly on anti-Muslim xenophobia in the media and the airline industry, these skits and video segments range from autobiography to parody. In one video monologue, Hakeem tells the story of having a woman scream racist remarks in her face during an antiwar protest--a moment captured and run on the cover of the Star Tribune, which misidentified Hakeem as Afghani. In another sketch, Dorumsgaard plays Martha Stewart broadcasting from prison and unable to identify the race of her cellmate. While some skits are greater in theory than they are in execution, at its best the show is a thoughtful rail against racist assumptions made in an increasingly tense political climate. Wed, Sat 7:00 p.m., Sun 1:00 p.m. Red Eye . --Jessica Armbruster


Death Penalty Puppetry
The Chameleon Theatre Circle

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