IT ISN'T AN easy thing to select just a handful of Fringe shows out of 169 on offer, but you have to start somewhere. Some of these are by known commodities, others built buzz during Fringe previews, and some just set off the maybe-there's-something-awesome-there radar. So here's a list of intriguing options for the 2010 Fringe, to get you started on your annual theater binge.

 

Ringtone

Fallout Arts Initiative

Six characters plunge headfirst into contemporary technology and yearning for connection in this multimedia, mixed-genre hodgepodge.

7 p.m. Aug.6-10, Aug. 13-15

 

Aardvark Fandango

Southern Theater

Third Rabbit Dance Ensemble and choreographer John Munger present a series of nine short modern dances—great for those looking to dip a toe into contemporary dance.

10 p.m. Aug.6, 7 p.m. Aug. 10, 8:30 p.m. Aug. 11, 5:30 p.m. Aug. 13, 4 p.m. Aug. 14.  

 

A Sad Carousel

Rarig Arena

Pommelhorse presents Herschel Douscheburg, billed as "America's #7 insult comic"; the show details his comedic battle with hit men, talent agents, and other unscrupulous types.

10 p.m. Aug. 7, 5:30 p.m. Aug. 9, 8:30 p.m. Aug. 10, 1 p.m. Aug. 14, 5:30 p.m. Aug. 15.

 A Standing Long Jump

Theatre in the Round

The New Theatre Group likes to stage solid, provocative plays. This one is about the pitfalls of falling in love either too fast or too slow, and the consequences of making eyes at that fetching person in the coffee shop.

8:30 p.m. Aug. 6, 4 p.m. Aug. 8, 10 p.m. Aug. 11, 5:30 p.m. Aug. 12, 8:30 p.m. Aug. 14.

 

Benny the Illusion

Bryant-Lake Bowl

Benny is 12 years old, and he brings his magic tricks and improv comedy to the Fringe. Accessible to the younger set, and reportedly charming.

2:30 p.m. Aug. 7, 7 p.m. Aug. 8, 5:30 p.m. Aug. 11, 7 p.m. Aug. 12, 4 p.m. Aug. 14.

 

Bite Me Twilight

Mixed Blood Theater

The creator of last year's Parry Hotter Fringe hit returns with a solo comedy-musical retelling of the entire Twilight vampire saga.

10 p.m. Aug. 5, 2:30 p.m. Aug. 8, 10 p.m. Aug. 9, 7 p.m. Aug. 14, 5:30 p.m. Aug. 15.

 

Confessions of a Lazy Hmong Woman

Rarig Xperimental

May Lee-Yang's comedy is about what she deems a contradiction in terms: a Hmong woman who skipped out on her household duties and faced down the consequences.

7 p.m. Aug. 7, 1 p.m. Aug. 8, 10 p.m. Aug. 11, 5:30 p.m. Aug. 12, 8:30 p.m. Aug. 14.

 

The Damn Audition

Rarig Thrust

Joseph Scrimshaw pens this play about three actors in the audition room of hell, all vying for the prized role of the devil (who, it is worth pointing out, always gets the best lines).

1 p.m. Aug. 7, 7 p.m. Aug. 8, 10 p.m. Aug. 11, 2:30 p.m. Aug. 14, 4 p.m. Aug. 15.

 

Disordered (Thy Name Is Teenager)

Ritz Theater Studio

Blank Slate Theatre presents three teen actors in an original play about a wide variety of mental disorders. This one manages to bridge the categories of drama and satire.

7 p.m. Aug. 5, 10 p.m. Aug. 7, 7 p.m. Aug. 8, 8:30 p.m. Aug. 13, 2:30 p.m. Aug. 15.

 

Entwined

Rarig Arena

Fringe fave Amy Salloway returns with a monologue about chasing romance on a road trip to the World's Biggest Ball of Twine. Knots ensue.

8:30 p.m. Aug. 7, 10 p.m. Aug. 9, 11, 5:30 p.m. Aug. 12, 4 p.m. Aug. 14.

The Failed Voyage of the Failed Ororo

Ritz Theater Proscenium

Puppets and video tell the story of a zone of forgotten people, a little kid, and a cowboy. Could be one of those lightning-in-a-bottle Fringe shows.

8:30 p.m. Aug. 7, 10 p.m. Aug. 8, 7 p.m. Aug. 9 and 10, 4 p.m. Aug. 14.

 

Indifferent

Minneapolis Theatre Garage

Austin, Texas's the Lovely Boys present a hero who wakes up in a strange world with no memory; he then battles reason and madness in a search for truth and meaning (sounds like Monday).

7 p.m. Aug. 5, 4 p.m. Aug. 8, 8:30 p.m. Aug. 11, 5:30 p.m. Aug. 12, 2:30 p.m. Aug. 14.

 

Kill Will

Ritz Theater Proscenium

This show from Cleveland mines all of Shakespeare's most violent scenes for hearty doses of mayhem, revenge, and a rising body count.

7 p.m. Aug. 5, 10 p.m. Aug. 7, 5:30 p.m. Aug. 12, 8:30 p.m. Aug. 14, 5:30 p.m. Aug. 15.

 

MisMatched

Rarig Arena

This show for young people depicts a pair of kids at school, sports tryouts, and the science fair. Fitting in, one presumes, is such an overrated concept.

2:30 p.m. Aug. 7, 5:30 p.m. Aug. 8, 7 p.m. Aug. 11, 4 p.m. Aug. 13, 5:30 p.m. Aug. 14.

 

O(h)

Southern Theater

Casebolt and Smith, big 2009 Fringe favorites, return with their brand of modern dance that is equal parts sexy and irreverent—and free of pompous leanings.

8:30 p.m. Aug. 7, 10 p.m. Aug. 8, 10 p.m. Aug. 12, 7 p.m. Aug. 13, 1 p.m. Aug. 15.

 

See You Next Tuesday

Mixed Blood Theater

Walking Shadow Theatre Company stages a new play by Steve Moulds about a guy who is in extremely over his head with his current flame. It's the sort of romance doomed to fail, but damned interesting along the way.

4 p.m. Aug. 7, 10 p.m. Aug. 8, 7 p.m. Aug. 10, 8:30 p.m. Aug. 11, 5:30 p.m. Aug. 14.

 

The Big Four Oh: 40 Jokes, Poems and Stories by Brian Beatty

Bryant-Lake Bowl

Minneapolis comic Beatty bridges the hipster-Wobegonian divide with a show revolving around the ever-delightful subject of finding one's self getting older.

10 p.m. Aug. 5, 4 p.m. Aug. 8, 8:30 p.m. Aug. 11, 7 p.m. Aug. 13, 1 p.m. Aug. 14.

 

Theory of Mind

Minneapolis Theatre Garage

Mixed Blood travels to Uptown to stage Ken LaZebnik's story of a young man with Asperger's taking the girl of his fantasies on a date to the Hollywood Bowl.

5:30 p.m. Aug. 6, 7 p.m. Aug. 7, 10, 1 p.m. Aug. 14, 4 p.m. Aug. 15.

 

You Are Not Paris

University of Minnesota Physicians—Mill City Clinic

Stages Theatre Company and Jon Ferguson team up with a group of student actors for a visual site-specific ensemble piece that travels through the realm of psychiatric disorders.

7 p.m. Aug. 5-7, 12-14.

 

You/Provoke/Me (Again)

Rarig Proscenium

Same Planet Different World, from Chicago, presents a dance piece combining religion, sex, and film noir. And we all know what a spicy stew those three elements can cook up. 

8:30 p.m. Aug. 5-7, 5:30 p.m. Aug. 8 and 10.

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Fringe 411

The Minnesota Fringe Festival is 17 years old now and, while its content hasn't grown more conventional, it seems to get better organized every year. This year, 876 performances of 169 productions sprawl out over 19 stages in 11 days (that's a lot of sprawling). Single-show tickets remain a reasonable $12 (after purchasing that multiuse $4 Fringe button); kids' tickets are $5. All shows come in at less than 60 minutes, and all seating is general admission. The box office for each show opens at the venue a half-hour before curtain. For advance tickets call 866.811.4111 or go to fringefestival.org (the Fringe's website is also an excellent go-to source for show information, schedules, and audience reviews).

There are a total of 19 Fringe venues this year, including four site-specific performance locales. Bedlam Theatre is Fringe Central again this year, with food and drink service until 2 a.m., nightly activities, and generally the party atmosphere you're looking for. Have a good time out there, and keep looking for that unexpected gem.

2010 Minnesota Fringe Festival Venues

(in Minneapolis, unless noted)

Bryant-Lake Bowl, 810 W. Lake St.

Gremlin Theatre, 2400 University Ave. W., St. Paul

Intermedia Arts, 2822 Lyndale Ave. S.

Jungle Theater, 2951 Lyndale Ave. S.

Minneapolis Theatre Garage, 711 W. Franklin Ave.

Mixed Blood Theatre, 1501 Fourth St. S.

The Playwrights' Center, 2301 E. Franklin Ave.

Ritz Theater, 345 13th Ave. NE (two stages)

Southern Theater, 1420 Washington Ave. S.

Theatre in the Round, 245 Cedar Ave.

U of M Rarig Center, 330 21st Ave. S. (four stages)

Bring-your-own venues

Balance Fitness Studio, 3305 Lyndale Ave. S.

Fallout Arts Initiative, 2609 Stevens Ave. S.

Sacred Paths Center, 777 Raymond Ave., St. Paul

University of Minnesota Physicians—Mill City Clinic, 901 2nd St. S.

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