Fringe Festival Reviews

For this anti-death-penalty activist, the pairing of puppetry and controversial tool of criminal punishment was too weird to ignore. Kudos to Chameleon for getting the facts right, but their delivery confounds. To be sure, there are many memorable moments here, including G.J. Clayburn's inspired turn as Good Cop/Bad Cop and a gut-busting number about Governor Pawlenty. But when the real stories of Minnesota's executed (the state abolished the death penalty in 1911) are set to "Cell Block Tango" from Chicago, it's not funny. In trying to present both sides, the troupe ultimately mixes its message, which only serves to further muddy the debate. Thu 10:00 p.m., Sat 1:00 p.m., Sun 5:30 p.m. Loring Playhouse. --Caroline Palmer

 

Doña Quixote
Kristina de Sacramento & Anda Flamenco

In Doña Quixote, Flamenco dancer Kristina de Sacramento plays an inhibited Minnesota meteorologist who keeps her red shoes in the closet and gets blown away (by a blizzard) to sunny Spain. There she encounters windmills, a lounge lizard Dulcenéo, and a couple of steamy Flamenco dancers who become her sisters-under-the-skin. The plot is pretty much a hook on which to hang some spirited dancing: Vicki Garcia melds sinuous arm gestures with fiery staccato heelwork, while de Sacramento, ably accompanied by flamenco guitarists and soulful singer Maria Elena, stomps her way through a mid-life crisis with the comic flare of Lily Tomlin on jalapeños. Wed, 5:30 p.m., Fri 2:30 p.m., Sat 7:00 p.m. Minneapolis Theatre Garage. --Linda Shapiro

 

Dressing Room
Scarlett Stage Productions

Performed in Via's Vintage Wear, this collection of shopping mall vignettes offers the kind of situations that turn most people a shade of the venue's Pepto pink walls. A whipped man holds his girlfriend's purse. A mother and daughter argue over whether a prom dress was made with whoring in mind. Salespeople are kissing ass one minute, then laughing when the same ass doesn't fit into a pair of jeans. Attitude is magnified tenfold in what might be the bitchiest mall in America. The dialogue is frighteningly familiar but much funnier when you're not the one stripping behind the see-through curtain. Visit www.fringefestival.orgfor showtimes. Via's Vintage Wear. --Lindsey Thomas

 

Falling Out of the Family Tree
Cathy Gasiorowicz

"My life is an extreme sport", says Cathy Gasiorowicz in her witty monologue Falling Out of the Family Tree. Taking us through a litany of mishaps--from teeter-totter whiplash to an accidental encounter with hash-laced cookies--she establishes her revered place in "a long [family] line of incident-prone people." Along the way, she

cunningly links physical and psychic scarring--a distorted bulimic body image leads to some nasty wounds--and eventually decides that her penchant for disaster is actually a gene for resiliency. A funny, savvy, and ultimately moving performance. Wed 7:00 p.m., Sat 2:30 p.m., Sun 4:00 p.m. Interact Center for Visual and Performing Arts. --Linda Shapiro

 

Famous Amos
Illusion Theater

Some overwrought writing mars Sha Cage's Famous Amos, an otherwise sharp and insightful exploration of homophobia in the deep South. Famous is a transvestite in Natchez, Mississippi, a town not exactly known for its understanding ways, where he's both reviled and revered as something of a legend. The performances, from three actors deftly playing multiple roles, are striking and emotional. Interesting formal and philosophical ideas abound, from the circularity of the plot to discussions about time and memory, but some of the florid pontification could stand a bit of pruning. Thu 10 p.m.; Fri 2:30 p.m.; Sat 7:00 p.m. Illusion Theater.--Jon Hunt

 

Feeling Faust
CalibanCo Theatre

Theater doesn't need more than two chairs, a table, and a devil, as CalibanCo proves in their take on the soul-selling legend. With stark, gripping theatricality, writer-director Christi Cottrell conceives an interrogation of a narcissistic physician (played with terrific, brooding force by Jeremy Cottrell) conducted by Lucifer and a trusty sidekick. This Faust finds himself at the center of a pharmaceutical controversy, which leads Cottrell to shovel criticism of that industry without leveling fresh arguments. What the message lacks in originality, however, it makes up for with passion, and the performances (Alisa Pritchett and Erik Wallin are the fiendish interrogators) are compelling throughout. Thu 10:00 p.m., Fri 10:00 p.m., Sun 1:00 p.m. CalibanCo Theatre. --Matt Di Cintio

 

From the Diary of Virginia Woolf
Nautilus Music Theater

Jill Anna Ponasik gives a virtuoso performance in this adaptation of Dominick Argento's Pulitzer-winning song cycle. Aided only by a piano and the text from Woolf's actual diary entries, Ponasik journeys through the mind of the English writer, borrowing the grandness of the operatic form to express Woolf's plight. Both painfully bewildered and highly amused by the "human animal," Woolf cries out in high notes belted from center stage. With the haunting sound of water that bookends the play, director Ben Krywosz supports his actress flawlessly, creating a rich, minimalist world for a mesmerizing theatrical event. Wed 4:00 p.m., Fri 5:30 p.m., Sat 1:00 p.m. Hennepin Stages, upstairs. --Matt Di Cintio

 

The Great Masturbators
Only Child Productions

The wankers in question--Salvador Dalí, Luis Buñuel, and Federico García Lorca--come together in a drawing room, providing the audience with a look at the effects these surrealists had on each other. The opening, as befits a surrealist homage, is tough to chew through: An angry García Lorca drags in his two friends with a rope while saying something frothy (wha?). The action eventually engages, thanks primarily to Buckethead, a jokester who occasionally stumbles in between scenes to give us the timeline and context. Now we're primed for Buñuel's witty invective toward Dalí's girlfriend and his failure to credit Dalí in his early films--not to mention the double-bad that neither the director nor the painter were around to save García Lorca from a fascist firing squad. Wed 5:30 p.m.; Fri 4:00 p.m. Jungle Theater. --Christina Schmitt

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