I took Wednesday evening off from the Fringe, though not from the theater. Instead, I went over to Open Eye Figure Theatre to see Kevin Kling's rather Fringe-like Hammer, Anvil, and Stirrup. A review of that will be on the blog tomorrow, but in a nutshell: Go see it.
Meanwhile, the festival is in the homestretch as it heads into the second weekend. Here are a couple of shows I caught earlier this week that are certainly worth a look.
Mike Fotis has always mined his own life for his storytelling and comedy. His latest Fringe piece takes us deep into his psyche for a funny and searing journey centered on a family trip to the Grand Canyon.
This wasn't a series of childhood memories. The trip occurred last year with Fotis's aging parents and his older brother. Along with experiencing the usual discomforts of travel, the storyteller came to the realization that there was something deeply wrong with his life at this junction.
As the story unfolds, Fotis deals honestly -- and humorously -- with his problems. The jokes (there are plenty) keep this from being a navel-gazing Fringe exercise, while the instant connection Fotis can make with the audience brought the whole crowd along on the journey. A second star Monday evening was the ASL translator, who managed to translate some of the more... unusual turns of phrase with aplomb.
Noah Haidle's play examines self-love, sexual identity, and the possibility of cloning in one massive stew of a one-act play. While it isn't always clear where it is going -- and there are some storytelling cul de sacs along the way -- Kitty Kitty Kitty works for the most part.
Helping out is the strong acting by the Loudmouth Collective company, led by Sam Landman as the original Kitty. Kitty is a sad, suicidal house cat who finds hope when his scientist owner decides to clone him. Kitty and his clone, Kitty Kitty, immediately hit it off in ways that are more than friendly.
A tight sexual bond instantly occurs, much to the horror of their master. Eventually, Kitty Kitty gets sold off and the journey the two cats take -- along with a third set of clones -- fuels most of the plot. The ride is a bit uneven, as the show's humorous and serious tones don't always meld perfectly. Still, cat owners and observers of "human" behavior and character should have a good time with the piece.
The 2014 Minnesota Fringe Festival continues through Sunday.