Minnesota Fringe Festival Day 9: Whoosh! The Civil War Mythology of Michael Hickey and His Perilous Precipitation Over St. Anthony Falls! (Winner of the Stages of MN Fringe of the Day Award), The Hysterical Woman, Sunshine, and ShMILF Life.

Don’t forget to vote for your picks for the Golden Lanyard Awards at https://bit.ly/3zVDdMI the polls close at 11:59 PM Saturday 8/13/22.

Whoosh!… is… well first off, it’s The Stages of MN Fringe of the Day Award Winner. Secondly, wow! What a performance by Andrew Erskine Wheeler. Portraying multiple characters throughout, each is a brilliant characterization, distinct and fully realized. It’s a story that incorporates so many different elements. The Civil War, post war, Artist Douglas Volk, it’s part ghost story, part comedic tale of an Irish immigrant and his survival going over the St. Anthony Falls. It’s so many different things yet it tells a cohesive and well structured tale. Allison Vincent does an amazing job directing the show. The timing and staging of how and when to move, pull props out, refer to visual aids, subtle changes in costume, all done brilliantly. Which brings us again to Wheeler’s performance, It is absolutely the best piece of acting I’ve see at Fringe, a true tour de force and a master class in stage acting. Saturday he has performances back to back, if you haven’t gotten to it, make sure you do. Frankly, I’m staggered by the thought of him performing twice with but 40 minutes between them, it is such a physical and intense performance it hardly seems possible.


The Hysterical Woman is a series of scenes on a theme which is that of the systematic mistreatment and mischaracterization of women throughout history as hysterical i.e unreliable, over sensitive, to be humored and other ridiculous ideas. Pulling from sources as varied as Greek mythology and Emily Dickenson to Anita Hill’s testimony about Clarence Thomas and Britney Spears Conservatory saga. The show uses humor to make the medicine more palatable, but there is a message to be heard here. Filled with examples from the grievously obvious to the subtler types that happen everyday. Showing us the examples that remind us what an historical and pervasive issue this is, but also the ways in which we can all do better.


Sunshine is a one woman show written by Adam Szudrich and featuring Lisa Marie Fulton in a strong performance as Ellen, a single woman who is at a point in her life when she is feeling a bit lost. Focusing on her insecurities and self doubts, her relationship with her father and deceased mother, the ex-boyfriend she can’t forget, and as the show opens, the prospect of a first date. A teacher by day, alcohol abuser by night, we learn as much about her character through her relationships as we do from what she tells us directly. I think a lot of women in the audience are going to find a connection with Ellen and her feelings about her looks, her weight, and her interpersonal relationships. It’s a good script that put me in mind of an American Bridget Jones. I’d like to see an extended version of this fully staged with actors playing the roles of the other characters instead of voice overs as this Fringe production utilizes.


ShMILF Life is a one woman show written and performed by Penny Sterling. Sterling’s show explores, among other things, what it’s like to be trying to date as a transgender woman who transitioned just in time to enter menopause. It’s a self deprecating and revealing show by a very good writer and a natural performer. Sterling worked in the 80’s as a stand up comedian for a time which makes sense as it’s clear that she knows how to write and time a joke. Most readers will know by now that my youngest son is a transgender man and that I gravitate to shows like this that help expand our knowledge and understanding of the transgender experience. Sterling does a fantastic job of sharing her story and putting things in a perspective that helps people empathize with a person whose journey is different than our own. I really enjoyed ShMILF Life, in made me laugh and think, and it gave us a lot to discuss on the car ride home.


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