The 2015 Minnesota Fringe Festival has taken over Twin Cities' theater for its 11-day run. Here are three of the most intriguing shows from the first weekend.
Transatlantic Love Affair's 105 Proof is a breathtaking achievement, compressing Breaking Bad and Boardwalk Empire into a wild ride of bootlegging, crime, and violence during Prohibition. In a sleepy Illinois town, Jonathan dreams of a bigger life than his grandfather's general store. The opportunity comes from Grandpa's other occupation: making bootleg whiskey.
Though Grandpa just wants to pay off some debts, Jonathan's side dealings eventually draw the unwanted attention of Chicago mobsters, led by the mysterious Mac Klein. Faced with an offer they literally can't refuse, Jonathan and family start making liquor for the mob. The ever-eager youth moves his way up the ladder, but his ambitions eventually bring a night of violence to his once-quiet hometown.
Creator Diogo Lopes and the company lure us in with a complete and convincing world, and they don't let go until the breathless finale. 105 Proof isn't just one of the best shows of the Fringe. It's one of the best shows of the year.
7 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday. Ritz Proscenium, 345 13th Ave. NE, MinneapolisFrankenstein
Mary Shelley's classic novel has moved to contemporary times, but Victor is still haunted by the deaths of the ones he loved. It's unclear who's responsible for those deaths, or the dozens of others we hear about.
Most of the action is lit by a smattering of handheld lights. The scares come lurching out of the dark or in the form of some onstage grue, such as when Victor performs surgery — complete with bone-cracking sound effects — on one of his experiments.
8:30 p.m. Wednesday; 10 p.m. Thursday. Intermedia Arts, 2822 Lyndale Ave. S., MinneapolisEverything You've Done That Hurt Me
Everything You've Done That Hurt Me is a short and sharp, unfiltered look into a wounded soul, encapsulated in a 20-page handwritten letter that performer Jonathan Manchester found one day outside his Duluth home. What the unnamed writer lacks in grammatical skill he makes up for in raw storytelling talent.
In a nutshell: Our narrator spent several years with the woman, but often felt like an outsider when she was with her friends and family. His financial troubles and aspiring rap career always seemed to take a back seat. Now on the outside of the relationship, the man is trying to make sense of the mess.
Manchester's performance rides the line of exploitation, but the character feels real. Songwriter Brian Ring takes the very country-western situation of the breakup and contributes some spare folk-rock, offering a tiny bit of distance from Manchester's front-and-center intensity.
7 p.m. Wednesday, 10 p.m. Saturday, and 5:30 p.m. Sunday. Mixed Blood Theatre, 1501 S. Fourth St., Minneapolis