Monday, August 8, 2022

Minnesota Fringe Festival 2022: "Årsgång: What You Follow Follows You"

Day: 4

Show: 15


By: The Winding Sheet Outfit

Created by: The Winding Sheet Outfit

Location: Theatre in the Round

Summary: A beautifully haunting and hauntingly beautiful tale of a young girl in Sweden and her encounters with the supernatural.

Highlights: Over the last several years, The Winding Sheet Outfit has become my number one Minnesota Fringe company, and this show is a prime example why. No matter the (usually historical) topic they choose, the show is always beautifully and thoughtfully designed, scripted, and performed, in a way that casts an absolute spell over the audience. Here we have the story of Lajla (a childlike and empathetic Kayla Dvorak Feld), who loses all of her family in a plague and has to move in with the pastor and his wife. She misses her family desperately, and is accompanied by the spirit of a deceased friend (the always delightful Boo Segersin), thereby keeping a connection with the other side. The Årsgång in the title refers to a legendary Swedish practice of seeing the future by going for a walk in the woods on the longest night of the year, which Lajla experiences as she tries to straddle both worlds. The cast (also including Matthew Kessen, Derek Lee Miller, Kristina Fjellman, and Megan Campbell Lagas) earnestly and believably brings this story to life, both as humans and animals. The story is accompanied by lovely music played live by Amber Bjork and Joshua Swantz, mostly off stage but still a vital part of the show. The only set pieces in the intimate in-the-round space (TRP has become my favorite Fringe venue) are slender bare birch trees, and animal half-masks made of birch or some other natural material (both designed by Derek Lee Miller), and cast is dressed in simple period appropriate clothing of muted colors. All elements of this piece come together with such beauty, grace, and purpose to tell a cohesive and compelling story. I would love to see them remount this show in December as it definitely evokes that still winter feeling. Leaving the spell of this show to walk out into a cold, crisp, dark winter's eve would be a thrilling experience. Until then we'll just have to imagine the snow and the cold.