The reviews are in for the Minnesota Fringe, part 2

Trying to figure out what shows to see in the remaining days of the Fringe? Check out these reviews from some seasoned pros:

Samantha and Seth

Samantha Veldhouse is the stage manager of “The Education of Murray Sanderson.” She says while “RT + MPLS: The Legend of RT Rybak” is a comedy featuring the city’s mayor, it actually made her cry.

Not because it was sad, but because it is a love story.  RT wins Minneapolis’ heart, and we see what that romance was and then that romance comes to an end in a brilliant funny way. I felt like I was part of this really great club; it’s ‘inside-jokey’ if you don’t know Minneapolis really well, but it’s part of the Minnesota Fringe so it’s totally perfect. I love creator Heather Meyer’s way of being obscure and odd, yet still funny – you can tell she works at a children’s theater company. I love it when inanimate things are being personified… and there’s lots of that in this show. Plus tons of puns! Silly funny and for citizens of Minneapolis you can really latch onto it.

Seth Lepore has traveled to the Twin Cities several times as well as around the country to perform his one man shows in fringe festivals; his latest production is “Firecracker Bye Bye,” a tribute to his Italian grandmother. Lepore notes that he’s seen a theme of aging and death emerge at this year’s Fringe, as people remember loved ones, or recount stories of near-death experiences.

I saw “Expiration Date” which was brilliant. It’s about a 35 year old who finds out she has six months to live. I’ve been wanting to see this show for a while – it’s funny and heartfelt and it’s dealing with death in a way that’s spectacular. I don’t want to give anything away, but there are a couple of scenes where you’re seeing an x-ray, and what’s going on in her body just shocks the audience. There’s an audible gasp.

Paul Strickland

Southerner Paul Strickland offers trailer park stories with a magical realist twist in his production “Ain’t True and Uncle False,” and when’s he’s not performing, he’s sought out some other one-man shows.

Last night I saw The Zebra Shirt of Lonely Children. I really liked his acting immensely; he was telling the story of his father’s death and there was an economy to the language – almost Hemingway-like. In some ways it felt like a laundry list with these surprise emotionally cathartic moments…the way in which he told the story reflected what it was like for him to discover these emotions for the first time.

Bruce Robbins

Bruce Robbins retired from his position at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church on July 1, and he’s taking advantage of his newfound free time by picking up a Fringe Ultrapass and biking to shows all over town.

It’s so nice to have the luxury to go to as much as I want. And if I bike rather than drive, I can get to pretty much anywhere from one shift to the next.

Robbins, like Seth Lepore, also enjoyed “Expiration Date;” as someone with a great deal of experience with death and dying, Robbins said he felt Candy Simmons captured the emotions really well.

I also saw “The Vindlevoss Family Circus Spectacular!;” it’s absolutely silly and wonderful, with a lot of clowning and featuring a gentle loving zombie. I loved watching the people around me going into hysterics.

These Old Shoes

Fringe Fanatic Carol Gawthrop (whose picture I forgot to take – whoops!) has been an “Ultrapasser” since 2008. She says she’s seen five shows so far, and there’s not been a bad one in the lot. She was so impressed with Transatlantic Love Affair’s “These Old Shoes” that she predicts they’ll steal one of the encore slots at the end of the Fringe this year.

I also saw “The Gravity of Ghosts,” which includes a ghost story told by a Twin Cities bike commuter. I didn’t know anything about biking but he totally drew me in as he told us about his dangerous commute, listing all of the accidents where bikers have died, and knowing that he could become one of them at anytime.  In all three segments of the show you look at the storytellers and you have an image in your head, but then you hear the story, and it flips your perspective.

Gawthorp also saw “The Accidental Nudist” by Natalie Rae Wass, which sold out its opening show – a bit of a rarity in the Fringe.

It was about her growing up with parents who went on vacation to nudist camps – nudity is truly  just incidental. It’s very sweet and touching – not cheeky or judging. She acknowledged all the different points of view on the situation and answers all the obvious questions one might have.


UltraFringer extraordinaire Scott Pakudaitis (whose photo I also forgot to take – hey, it was after midnight at this point!) claims “One Hit Thunder” has “the best fight scene ever.” He also really enjoyed Guittar Productions “Clocked.”

It’s a delightful dance piece with elements of theater thrown in; I’d say it’s a dance show for people who don’t think they like dance shows.  There’s humor, it’s accessible and the choreography is excellent. It’s modern but not so artistic that people get lost. I went because I’d seen two of the performers in other shows and expected great things, but it was event better than what I’d hoped for.

Pakudaitis notes that several of the productions in this year’s Fringe have already been staged elsewhere in the Twin Cities, which has helped him to narrow down what he wants to see. He also observes that he’s seeing a lot of people wearing Ultrapasses this year.

What have you observed at this year’s Fringe? Your comments and reviews are always welcome…