Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Minnesota Fringe Festival 2022: "Finger Lickin' Good"

Day: 5

Show: 17


By: Special When Lit

Written by: Heather Meyer & Nissa Nordland Morgan

Location: Rarig Center Thrust

Summary: A sort of true biography of Colonel Harland David Sanders, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, that turns into a wild tale of sex, greed, and chicken.

Highlights: I don't know what kind of genius and/or warped minds think of an idea like this, but it's cluckin' brilliant (I can't resist the chicken puns any more than this team can). And it's also completely ridiculous, in the best way. Sam Landman is the perfect Colonel, with the swagger, the accent, the iconic white suit (when he's wearing anything at all), and the magnetism of the man who started the world's second largest restaurant chain. We traverse more or less chronologically through Harland's life, from his unhappy childhood, to his marriage and many affairs, to starting the KFC franchise, and eventually selling it (which, in this retelling, he regretted). The ensemble (the playwrights along with Rita Boersma, Jonathan Feld, and Duck Washington, all playing multiple roles, and chickens) are hilariously over the top as they tell this story, using lots of clever chicken props. All of the above would make for a great show, but the cherry on top is Shanan Custer as the frazzled fact checker, standing just outside the story, providing sound effects and checking in her big book of facts. Watching her watch the show, and react to the shenanigans, makes it even funnier. The show also includes a couple of original songs (by Nicholas Nelson) with some funky chicken choreography (by Laura Mahler). There aren't really any horror elements in this piece, except for one delicious final moment that maybe isn't necessary, but makes my vegetarian heart glad. Audiences may come for the salacious show image (the best one in the fest this year), but they'll be rewarded by a wholly original and wildly creative story about an iconic figure whom we thought we knew, but it turns out we didn't know him at all.