Friday, August 9, 2019

Minnesota Fringe Festival 2019: "Booth's Ghost"

Day: 7

Show: 24

Title: Booth's Ghost


By: Andrew Erskine Wheeler

Created by: Andrew Erskine Wheeler

Location: Ritz Theater Mainstage

Summary: A ghostly and theatrical solo show about the Booth family - acting legend Junius Brutus and his sons, actor Edwin and presidential assassin John Wilkes.

Highlights: This is an all-engrossing performance by Andrew Erskine Wheeler, who stays in character(s) even through the moving curtain call that draws parallels between this story and the recent shootings, with a connecting thread of white supremacy, toxic masculinity, and gun violence. But first, Andrew leads us non-linearly through the life of the Booth family primarily through the ghost of Edwin's assistant, but also taking on the form of the three Booth men. He makes great use of the Ritz Theater (where John Wilkes Booth was last seen in the person of Dieter Bierbrauer in Theater Latte Da's brilliant production of the Sondheim musical Assassins), walking through the audience and up and down the aisles, engaging the audience (but not quite interacting) as the house lights go up. The show is very thoughtfully put together and smoothly transitions from lighter moments to deadly serious ones (with direction by Matt Sciple). With a ghostly white face and dressed in period clothing, adding and removing pieces as appropriate to the story, using a few well chosen props, Andrew is the embodiment of the ghosts of these men that forever changed American history. The show is enlightening about the Booth family, steeped in history and nostalgia, and also relevant to today (see above). This is a truly impressive feat by Andrew Erskine Wheeler to create and perform this show that is thoughtful, thorough, entertaining, educational, moving, funny, and more. A can't miss of the festival (two more performances this weekend).

Read all of my Fringe mini-reviews here.