Sunday, August 4, 2013

Fringe Festival: "Hello Stranger"

Day: 2

Show: 4

Written by: Tyler Mills

Location: U of M Rarig Center Thrust

Summary: Hmmm... how can I describe this one? It's a one-woman show with lovely original live music, shadow puppets, and audience get-to-know-each-other exercises, all of which ruminates on the idea of how strangers become friends.

Highlights: Debra Berger is charming and disarming as the leader of this experience, for experience it is. A voice-over narration dictates her actions as much as describes them, as she processes the complicated issues surrounding relationships. She asks the audience questions and invites them to participate in exercises to get to know each other. Half of the fun is watching the audience (and since I was sitting behind a couple of the guys from Comedy vs. Calories, I got a double show!). Debra sings three songs, offered as golden apples in the courtship between her and the audience. She is accompanied by one of my favorite local musicians (who also recently co-wrote a new original musical* at Yellow Tree Theatre), Blake Thomas (download his 2008 recording Flatlands for an example of a nearly perfect album). Playing various instruments, he provides a soundtrack throughout the show, sings harmony with Debra, and even entertains the audience with a silly song of his own while she's off stage. The songs are typically whimsical with a little touch of melancholy and that folky sound I love so much. This is a one-of-a-kind show, and I found it to be quite delightful. But be forewarned: be careful who you sit down next to, they might become a lifelong friend (or a Facebook friend that you unfriend in a week).

Read more of my fringe fest reflections…

*If you missed Stay Tuned at Yellow Tree earlier this year, don't worry, you can see an excerpt from the show at this year's Ivey Awards.