By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
In Timothy Mooney's one-man sci-fi nightmare, the United States of the future fragments into states delineated by the first digit of their citizens' Social Security numbers. Daft, yes, but Mooney sells it with taut writing and a sharp performance. His narrator, we learn, has been raised from boyhood to explode a dirty bomb on the West Coast, and Mooney builds to that possible catastrophe in a multi-character diner scene. It's surprisingly funny and oddly insightful: My SSN apparently paves the way to an okay future, and I can't explain why that pleases me so. Wed 7:00 p.m., Sat 5:30 p.m. Intermedia Arts.
Dance Hall Days
Christopher Street Dance
Director Christopher Yaeger has created a nostalgia tour for dance lovers that begins with early 20th-century crazes (who knew there was a dance called the Grizzly Bear where folks growled at one another?) and rolls through the seductive Tango, the high-kicking Charleston, and the effervescent Lindy Hop. By the early '60s, we're watching a cool line dance set to "The Madison Time." Yaeger's dancers clearly enjoy sharing the history (Bill and Shannon Butler earn kudos for their fleet feet while doing the Shag) and archival films provide hilarious context. Wed 8:30 p.m., Fri 4:00 p.m., Sun 2:30 p.m. Red Eye.
Dancing Rats & Vampire Moms
Great storytellers make you lean forward in your chair, make you laugh until you cry, and remind you that everyone has bizarre yet lovable family members. Nancy Donoval, wearing jeans and standing on a bare stage, achieves all this and more as she energetically presents three tales. She covers a lot of ground: mother-daughter relationships (including one that involves a lot of garlic, hence the title), end-of-life decision making, second wives, jealousy, and flying rodents in Paris. Some of Donoval's stories are true, others are adapted from folk tales. All are thoroughly entertaining. Fri 10:00 p.m., Sat 1:00 p.m., Sun 7:00 p.m. Playwrights' Center.
The Depth of the Ocean
Perpetual Motion Theatre Company
Derek Miller's splashy afterlife drama would represent a full-immersion Fringe baptism even if it weren't staged on an inflatable raft in the downtown YWCA's pool. The five-person troupe's compelling ensemble work is all the more impressive for the production's close quarters and sopping period costumes. Granted, Depth docks before resolving all its choppy questions. But even if you look at The Ocean as a 60-minute sketch for a 90-minute play, it's still a frigate in a week full of dinghies. Wed 7:30 p.m., Thu 7:30 p.m., Fri. 7:30 p.m., Sat 7:30 p.m., Sun 7:30 p.m. YWCA.
Four Humours Theatre
Biblical revisionists tend to become preachy, a trend that playwright Nick Ryan bucks here by axing the sermons in favor of dick jokes and a killer premise. The end is nigh—or would be, if Lucifer could just overcome (nudge nudge) his 2,000-year bout of erectile dysfunction and conceive the Antichrist. Lee Richards as Jesus gets the best lines, while lead actor Danny Salmen does an admiral job of wading through Ryan's dense dialogue. A few ostentatious monologues bog down the action, but the play makes up for it with a hilarious supporting cast and hit monosyllabic catch phrase (delivered by the Prince of Darkness to his own ineffectual member): "Fuck!" Sat 10:00 p.m., Sunday 4:00 p.m. U of M Rarig Center Thrust.
Die, Clowns, Die!
Joseph Scrimshaw's latest is a "comedy about comedy," and while he manages to name check Hegel and Freud, due attention goes to such lower matters as the appeal of watching someone slip on a banana peel and fall on his ass. Scrimshaw is in pretty good form here, and his recitation of the horrors that make comedy necessary is pretty much evergreen. Still some bits fall flat—a court jester in the noose, a lame comedian trying to get laughs from a cancer patient—leaving the sense that this show won't be included on Scrimshaw's best-of DVD set. Thu 8:30 p.m., Sat 8:30 p.m., Sun 1:00 p.m. U of M Rarig Center Arena.
Dental floss, strawberries, clever fashion statements (literally), and actual hair shirts all figure into this brief but intriguing ode to the dark side of human nature. Choreographer Chris Schlichting gives his fearless dancers plenty of well-crafted movement moments, including two hypnotic duets. But what resonates is the rage seething beneath the surface as they undermine one another and turn against a tortured (and yes, very dirty) soul who seemingly offends their rigid value system. The piece ends too abruptly; here's hoping this performance is a preview of a longer work to come. Fri 10:00 p.m., Sat 4:00 p.m., Sun 2:30 p.m. Southern Theater.
Fresh Meat NYC
The New York-based sketch comedy trio of Michael Feldman, Julie Katz, and Adam Laupus is fearless, tackling topics that would appear fiercely resistant to a punch line. Their take on Middle East politics, for instance, delivers devastatingly subversive humor. In another bit, a Microsoft Word paperclip icon tries to help draft a suicide note. On video, a man in an ape suit snaps photos of people at their most vulnerable. Not everything works, but when it does Feldman, Katz and Laupus convincingly prove that almost anything has comic potential in the right hands. Wed 10:00 p.m., Thu 5:30 p.m., Sun 4:00 p.m. Red Eye.