Three Reviews from Day Two of the Minnesota Fringe Festival.

Daniel Hertz

The Prostate

Daniel Hertz one man show about a prostate exam runs about 12 minutes which is about 11 minutes longer than any prostate exam I’ve ever had and about as enjoyable. It isn’t really funny nor poignant, it’s sort of just a monologue about a prostate exam and the follow up procedures. It lacks any sort of driving force other than to relay what happens. I thought it might be a fun bit, but it’s really lacking anything to say about the prostate, humorous or otherwise. I’m at a loss to understand what Hertz was trying for here and as such, I have to recommend skipping this one.

Photo by Alyssa Rae

The Graveyard

A 20 minute video created using Zoom or a similar application featuring 4 high school kids. Written by Alyssa Rae who also portrays one of the teens. The title leads you to believe there might be something spooky in store but there isn’t. It’s simply four friends walking around a graveyard looking for the gravestone of the boy who supposedly haunts the grounds. But that’s just a setting for the characters to be and lends itself to help us accept the artifice of the Zoom format. They are basically just four people surrounded by the pitch black of a graveyard at night. The four actors do a good job of performing their roles naturally, given the fact they are not in the same place. The conversation and where it leads has some thrust but we are left feeling like this is an excerpt from a larger piece. It’s worth checking out if anything for the performers, who along with Rae, are Michael Munoz, Tara Stona, and Elliot Stevens.

A Circus Show

This is a great show for the whole family as long as you don’t have impressionable and daredevil children. It lends a professional quality video recording of an acrobatic act that will have you biting your nails. There is the hint of a story given by a narrator that the two tumblers if you will, are brothers forced to perform until they are released by an audience that doesn’t applaud. They are going to be at this for a very long time. The brothers feats of fitness begin with a giant ring and some balancing acts where they use each others weight to accomplish amazing positions and movements like the one in the photo above. They are so graceful that they make it look easy, which I am sure it’s anything but. They graduate to doing handstands on a precariously balanced stacks of chairs on top of a wooden platform to a height where their feet are literally up in the stage lights and rafters. They end with some high flying on a makeshift teeter totter that will have you flinching waiting for one of them to land wrong and break a leg. Not quite as nerve racking as seeing it live, knowing it was recorded does remove to some extent the fear that they will fall. The narrator and acrobats are Csaba Szilagyi, Zachary Miller, and Alex Wiggins.

The Minnesota Fringe Festival goes virtual

Hello again fellow theater enthusiasts! It’s been quite a dry spell on the theater going front, but that can end tonight for all of us. The Minnesota Fringe Festival launches tonight and runs through August 9th. Obviously in the midst of a Covid-19 pandemic there has been a radical change to this years festival, it has gone virtual. There have been an increasing number of virtual theatre projects in the last 4 months. For the most part I have not been participating in those, I checked a few out in the early days and found them wanting, you may have done the same. Well enough time has passed and I have a feeling that a lot of artists have figured out how to tackle the virtual performance arena. I’m going to dive in and sample as many as I can between tonight and August 9th. I’ll post capsule reviews for the shows I see so that, as is always the arrangement between you and I, you will know where to invest your time wisely.

So some details, which I will correct and add to as I navigate my own way through the Festival.

Go here https://www.minnesotafringe.org/. From this site you can click on the heading along the top where it says buy a button. Buttons are $5 and will give you access to the digital hub. That is going to give you access to a lot of free shows, some live shows, some recorded shows. Some shows will require and additional payment. I will more than likely be reviewing the free shows, giving priority to shows that feature creators or performers I have enjoyed in the past or artists who have reached out directly requesting reviews. I’ll also be getting recommendations from my colleagues at the @TwinCitiesTheaterBloggers . Now there are like 70 performances to check out, I’m not going to get through anywhere near all of them. So I highly recommend going through the list of shows and descriptions for yourself and seeing which ones sound interesting to you. You can also check the @TwinCitiesTheaterBloggers facebook page to see what the other bloggers have seen and what they recommend. Now as I mentioned there is a lot of free content and I encourage you to take advantage of that, but I also urge you to make donations to The Minnesota Fringe Festival so that this institution survives and hopefully next year we can see they festival live in person. Also, if you can, donate to the artists that are creating all of this theater for us. Remember many of them were full time theater folks and many of them are struggling right now financially. Now, more than ever before I think, as we all binge TV shows and long to leave our homes to see some live performances we realize how much our lives are enriched by artists and how necessary they are to a civilization. So stop reading this, click on the link above, buy a button, and start foraging for fun fringe finds.