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Walking tours, 360 dance, and totalitarianism: Fringe Day 5

'Have You Seen This Girl?'

'Have You Seen This Girl?'

Fringe is now in full swing, so this will be the last of our capsule review posts. Check out the Fringe's website for the now-plentiful audience reviews, too!

Forsythian Dweller's Club
Bittersweet Arts Co., Rarig Center Xperimental

This Chicago-based company have crafted a show that sneaks up on you.

At first, Forsythian Dweller's Club seems to be an enjoyable but distinctly mild-mannered comedy about a low-circulation ("I write creative non-non-fiction," says one contributor) literary journal that shares the show's title. Its publisher Orion (Henry Weisel), editor Jenna (Victoria Perez), and high-strung resident poet Greg (Alec Silver) decide to hire a marketer who goes by the name of his personal brand, Celebjay (David Stobbe).

Celebjay's suggestions at first seem reasonable: start a blog, make videos, introduce supporter tiers with different levels of access to exclusive content. Soon, though, his plans take a turn towards the extreme, with the magazine's charismatic illustrator Jill (Alexis Allotta) ruling over a community that becomes much more than just another aspiring McSweeney's.

Fans of The Circle, the novel by McSweeney's founder Dave Eggers, will enjoy this tight and amusing show about the totalitarian tendencies of online engagement.

Have You Seen This Girl?
Mermaid Productions, Hard Times Cafe

Veteran monologist Ariel Leaf created this site-specific show that takes inspiration from her own life, including many years spent working at the Hard Times.

The premise is that Leaf is leading audience members on a search for Annie, a fictional teen who's left home and is seemingly living on the streets. Annie's known to frequent the West Bank, so the search party explores that neighborhood as Leaf shares her own reminisces. Performers along the way shed more light on Annie's story, and the group gradually zero in on a spot where the runaway might be found.

This memorable and unusual show captures the delicate dance of adults who care for troubled adolescents like Annie. Leaf and others along the way want to be supportive, but know that the slightest hint of condescension or threat could scare kids away — maybe into the arms of adults with far less benign intentions. Have You Seen This Girl? also introduces an alternate geography of the Fringe's mainstay neighborhood, making you look at it in a whole new way.

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Minneapolis Ballet Dancers, Theatre in the Round

This accomplished and diverse set of dances take ballet as a shared language and a point of departure, adding elements of modern dance, jazz dance, and even a whiff of surrealism.

It's worth seeing for a number of reasons, one of which is to experience dance in the unusual confines of Theatre in the Round. In that stage's distinctive 360-degree configuration dancers play to all sides — and the space is so intimate, you can hear the athletic performers fighting to control their breath despite their serene expressions.

The pieces range from playful (“Paquita,” with Emily Trapnell) to gothic (“Psykhe Reclaimed,” an eerie solo by Jolie Meshbesher) to longing (“Pillow Talk,” with Wesley Rocha dancing to an instrumental version of the Zayn hit). Standouts include “Hush,” by the remarkable Annie Nimmo; choreographer/dancer Katherine Hesterberg's dark “Dispatches”; and Jennifer Mack's absorbing multi-part solo “Occultation.”

The surrealism comes in “One More Day,” as Hesterberg and Katherine Kreiser dance with props including a mirror frame and a lamp. Think David Byrne, but ballet.