Thursday, August 9, 2018

Minnesota Fringe Festival 2018: "Gunplay!"

Day: 6

Show: 23

Title: Gunplay!

Category: Comedy / Sci-Fi / Political Content

By: Tom Reed

Created by: Tom Reed

Location: Mixed Blood Theatre

Summary: The National Machine Gun Association (NMGA) sends its new youth liaison to a high school theater group to get them to perform a gun safety drill musical.

Highlights: Is it right to laugh about gun violence in schools? Nothing else has seemed to work to minimize the problem. Although this show doesn't laugh at gun violence, it laughs at the ridiculousness of the gun lobbies and politicians and the way that they speak about gun violence. It's a pretty hilarious and pointed show about one of the most sobering issues we face today. Naive Anders (Tom Reed) is sent to a small school that needs the theater funding the NMGA will provide in return for putting on their show. Teacher Laura (Adelin Phelps) reluctantly agrees so that she can put on the new musical Mortgage (based on RENT) in the spring. Her students (composer Austen Fisher, Karina Strom, Lauren Anderson, Matthew Englund, and Meredith Casey) at first go along with it, but once they realize the pro-gun content of these admittedly fun and peppy songs, they protest and decide to do their own thing (a hilarious mash-up of snippets of musical theater songs). Anders and Laura have chemistry and as Anders begins to learn about the larger world, and think about the organization he works for, he joins the students in their protest. The final moments are sobering as we hear some startling gun statistics, but the message is delivered in a clever, fun, and entertaining way. For a thoughtful exploration of the gun culture in America, go see Gunfighting: An American Story. To laugh at the ridiculousness of everything surrounding the gun culture, see Gunplay!.

Read all of my Fringe mini-reviews here.