Best of the 2014 Fringe Festival
The cast of Kitty Kitty Kitty
Justin D. Gallo Photography
The strong start to the 2014 Minnesota Fringe Festival continued through its second week, with plenty of shows that not only attracted strong audiences, but also showed why the event is so important for theater in general.
Into the Unreal City
It's hard to think of a show like Into the Unreal City happening without the festival's support. The piece takes the audience out of the confines of a building and onto the streets around the Rarig Center on the West Bank.
As the small crowd enjoys the sights and the chance for a bit of exercise, a small-scale drama plays out in front of us as we see a young couple in three phases of their relationship, as youthful exuberance slowly gets replaced by everyday adult acceptance. It's also a musical, with the audience accompanying them on kazoo by the light rail tracks.
The Coldharts' Edgar Allan began life last year at the Twin Cities Horror Festival — a like-minded event that focuses on spooky stuff. Creators Katie Hartman and Nick Ryan have deep connections to the comedy scene, especially with Four Humors. This isn't a strict adaptation of any Poe story, but certainly has the raven lover's vibe.
The action takes place at an English boarding school, where two characters, both named Edgar Allan, meet. One is a brash American (Hartman), bent on rising to the top of the social ladder. The other is shy and never speaks above a whisper. An odd bond forms between the two misfits that plays out in part through song — performed on an unlikely combination of ukulele and trumpet.
Kitty Kitty Kitty
The Loudmouth Collective and the Fringe fit perfectly together. The Collective focuses on solo and small-scale shows far off the beaten path. The Fringe offers a chance to reach a wider audience looking to experiment.
Kitty Kitty Kitty is certainly off the beaten path. It centers on a self-absorbed, suicidal cat who finally finds love in his clone. They are separated by their forbidden love, leading to further adventures through suburban New Jersey and, eventually, more clones. Noah Haidle's script pushes a lot of boundaries about sexuality and identity, but does so with actors dressed as cats. Maybe Andrew Lloyd Webber was onto something.
Peter Sinn Nichtrieb's strange one-act play would have a hard time finding life outside of a festival, but Day In, Day Out's production polishes this rough piece into a real gem.
The show describes the final days of the human race after a comet strikes the Earth. Scientist Jules reads the signs of the oncoming disaster and makes provisions to save humanity. He's terrible at planning, however, and ends up trapped with few provisions, some pet fish, and a poorly selected "mate" he found on Craigslist. Mel Day's direction and strong work by the cast make for a funny, invigorating experience.
Leave it to Fringe veteran Mike Fotis to take the most basic of shows — a guy talking about his life for an hour — and turn it into the best experience of the festival. Fotis is a gifted storyteller with impeccable comic timing.
Fotis Canyon involves a trip to the Grand Canyon with his parents and a sibling. It turns increasingly inward as Fotis shares how an epic panic attack on a canyon path led him to finally confront emotional problems that have plagued him his entire life. Such themes can make for the worst of solo-show naval gazing, but Fotis's skills as a writer and performer ultimately produce something very moving.
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