A Guide to the 2008 Fringe Festival

Underpants, Shakespeare, and Giant Squirrels

True Enough Theater

Chances are if you're going to the Fringe you've got a little geek in you already. But don't fret—as Curt Lund, the sly and quieter half of this storytelling duo reminds us, "Nerds are so hot right now." He and the bombastic, effervescent Laura Bidgood have been telling bits and pieces of this show around town for some time; now they've compiled the bits into an hour of nonstop, hilariously self-aware riffs on the tribulations of growing up nerd, from childhood fears of being turned into a robot by a grade school bully to the adult entanglements of dating as part of the brainier set. The material is fantastic, the delivery polished—it's a must-see. Fri 4:00 p.m., Sun 7:00 p.m. U of M Rarig Center Arena Stage. —Ward Rubrecht

The Cody Rivers Show Presents: Stick to Glue

The Cody Rivers Show

The ladies of Lili's Burlesque
Nick Vlcek
The ladies of Lili's Burlesque

Everyone I talked to who saw The Cody Rivers Show at last year's Fringe gleefully told me how much fun I had cheated myself out of by missing it. And they were right. Mike Mathieu and Andrew Connor provide a frenetic two-man comedy rush, which is entertaining and inventive in direct proportion to how difficult it is to describe. Think high-concept dance comedy that at moments verges on optical illusion. The pair tackles academic double-speak to describe our collective bleak future, the unreal confessions that emerge from a spat over a stack of old newspapers, and the application of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle to the sale of stray electrons. And that's amid offering up the first interpretive geography dance that I've ever seen. Thu 10:00 p.m., Sun 2:30 p.m. U of M Rarig Center Thrust. —Quinton Skinner

Dance of the Whisky Faerie

Sara Stevenson Scrimshaw

Faeries are obnoxious and deceitful creatures—witness the choreographer as the Whisky Faerie, a pesky sprite who denies the unwillingly sober storyteller (Joseph Scrimshaw) his favorite poison. This mixture of lively dance and well-embroidered Scottish and Irish tales offers up pleasingly silly moments, including yarns about a changeling who rocks the flute like Jethro Tull and a New Yorker's quest for an enchanted rice cooker. As Scrimshaw becomes unhinged the tales grow more fanciful—and the Whisky Faerie shows her endgame. "You're trying to take away my self-respect," he finally wails. "And I don't have much to give!" Sat 8:30 p.m. Southern Theater. —Caroline Palmer


Live Action Set

Someone wandering by the Soap Factory during the evening and peeking into the slightly ajar door would be greeted with this image: a young woman, dressed as a housewife, threatening a tied-up banana with a hand axe. Under the direction of former Jeune Luner Robert Rosen, the Live Action Set presents an intense, funny and quite disturbing look into the mind. Using every inch of the Soap Factory to good effect, the four craft an ever-changing world in which milkmen dress as giant rabbits, a woman announces that the hair she is wearing was her mother's, and two men slap each other for a woman's attention. The show is probably 15 minutes too long (and does run beyond the typical hour) but will still haunt the audience after it's done. Wed 7:00 p.m., Thu 7:00 p.m., Fri 8:30 p.m., Sat 5:30 p.m., Sat 8:30 p.m., Sun 7:00 p.m. The Soap Factory. —Ed Huyck

Fool for a Client

Mark Whitney

When Mark Whitney takes the stage and starts talking about his love of high-school civics and how he was the class smart-ass who married the valedictorian, for a moment you might experience a sensation akin to sitting down next to the wrong guy at a bar. Then you realize something about the guy: He's exuding the weird, almost unfamiliar fumes of a guy absolutely high on old-school American freedom. With a stand-up comic's wit, Whitney tells the story of his life: his rapacious tactics as a vacuum cleaner salesman, his forays into early Ben and Jerry's franchises, then his conviction for bank fraud and subsequent odyssey as a self-taught legal expert and federal prisoner. By the end, he pulls his themes into our present moment, complete with babies being scanned in airport X-ray machines in the name of safety. Raucous, hilarious, damn near revolutionary. Wed 6:00 p.m., Sat 6:00 p.m. Bryant-Lake Bowl. —Quinton Skinner

Great American Horror Movie Musical

LSD Productions

Here's what I wonder after seeing this play: Has creator Jonathan Howle ever seen a horror movie? What's with the 1980s music nostalgia, and why does the music have so little connection with what's happening onstage? Shouldn't a show with the word "horror" in the title be, you know, scary? Great American Horror Movie Musical is largely about wasted opportunities, as a highly talented cast of actors and singers try desperately to bring a D.O.A. script to life. Instead of a send-up of '80s-style horror or even the Blair Witch bit promised by the premise (a group of filmmakers in the woods making a horror musical), we have underdeveloped characters, easy targets for spoofs, and a score that manages to use Night Ranger's "Sister Christian" with a straight face. Fri 7:00 p.m., Sat 10:00 p.m. Lab Theatre. —Ed Huyck

The Gypsy and the General

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