Saturday, August 7, 2021

Minnesota Fringe Festival 2021: "Channel"

Day: 2

Show: 4

Performance Type: In Person

Location: Crane Theater (indoors, masks required)

Length: 45 minutes

Title: Channel

By: Dogwatch

Summary: A lighting designer is alone in a theater late at night, working her first show in a year and a half, dealing with family and work issues, and ghosts.

Highlights: This is why I love the Fringe. Experimental work created by local artists combining their varied talents, that you probably wouldn't see elsewhere. The show is part very real and grounded character study, and part ghost story achieved by lighting and sound effects. The program notes that the show was "conceptualized by [director] Larissa Netterlund and created collaboratively with the cast and crew." It's almost a solo show, with Elizabeth Efteland playing the lighting designer, and creating such a real and fully formed character as she goes about her work, often in silence. But not entirely solo, because stage manager Kate Bender makes a brief appearance and is very busy behind the scenes, and the sound and lighting effects play a huge role in the show (technical direction and design by Shannon Elliot). This is essentially a site-specific piece; it takes place in a theater very like the Crane (to which, BTW, it's so wonderful to return after nearly two years). So the lighting designer is really in the space, running up and down stairs, going through doors and coming back in others; it almost feels like we're just eavesdropping on what's really happening. Through a series of voice mails and video chats, we learn that the character lives with her mother, who seems to be suffering from some kind of dementia-related illness, which limits her time at work. Particularly telling are when she records a message that gets a little too vulnerable, deletes it, and records a milder version. Things get weird when the voice mails begin to play over the sound system in a creepy loopy/echo-y kind of way, asking: Why are you here? What do you need? Are you alone? You can watch the show virtually via a live-stream, but if you're comfortable seeing it in person, put on a mask and head to the Crane Theater for the full 360-degree chilling experience.

Read all of my Fringe mini-reviews here.