Minnesota Fringe Festival in nearly three years, but my fringing time is done, at least until next year. I've moved on from my favorite theater festival to my favorite music festival (Storyhill Fest in Deerwood). Sitting in a coffee shop in Crosby, reflecting on the eperience of the last seven days, in which I saw 23 short pieces of theater / music / storytelling / dance / spoken word / any combination thereof, the overwhelming feeling is gratitude. Gratitude that despite a global pandemic, financial issues, and cancelled performances, adventerous audiences (of which I consider myself a part) were able to gather to experience adventurous art (of which I consider myself an admirer). After two years of (mostly) virtual festivals, I didn't realize how much I missed this until I was back. To be immersed in a life in which the only goal is to see as much theater as you can, to eat, sleep, and breathe theater, is a theater blogger's dream. But the best part of Minnesota Fringe is the community feeling it engenders. Walking down the street, particularly in the Cedar-Riverside hub, and seeing so many theater-goers and theater-makers there for the same purpose, and chatting about theater with artists, friends, and strangers, is something that only happens at Fringe. Though I only saw 23 of the 100+ shows, and I know I missed some great shows (follow my friends at Lettered in Theatre and The Stages of MN, as well as the OG Fringe blogger Single White Fringe Geek, for continuing coverage), that tiny feeling of regret and FOMO is overwhelmed by feelings of satisfaction and happiness that Minnesota Fringe is back! Read on for my favorite shows of this year's fest, and visit the Fringe website (sometimes slow but very informative) for today's schedule. There's still time to get out there and #seethefringe, #bethefringe, #supportthefringe!
My Favorites (in alphabetical order, click the show title for full review and show details):
- ÅRSGÅNG: WHAT YOU FOLLOW FOLLOWS YOU - the Winding Sheet Outfit is always a sure thing on any Fringe schedule, and this show doesn't disappoint with it's graceful, lyrical, and moving story of a young Swedish girl straddling the line between this world and the next one.
- BLACK WALL STREET: DREAMLAND THEATRE - an immersive and visceral experience that doesn't tell you about the Tulsa Race Massacre, it makes you feel it in your body, mind, and soul.
- BOB AND REGGIE GO TO BED - just pure, old-fashioned funny. Masters of wildly funny physical comedy, Comedy Suitcase has contructed a wordless laugh riot for all ages.
- ENDOMETRIOSIS: THE MUSICAL - this funny and relatable musical about women's reproductive health couldn't come at a better time, and the fantastic score and terrific cast make be believe that more than anything else I saw, this musical has a future beyond this festival.
- FINGER LICKIN' GOOD - a wild and wacky bio of everyone's favorite Colonel Sanders, perfectly embodied by Sam Landman, with support from a fantastic ensemble of Fringe faves, and delightful commentary and fact-checking by everyone's favorite Shanan Custer
- THE HYSTERICAL WOMAN - in another piece that couldn't be more relevant, Fringe veteran Ariel Pinkerton has currated a collection of new and classic, fictional and true, stories about the way that women are disbelieved and discredited.
- WHO'S AFRAID OF WINNIE THE POOH - mash-ups are a staple of the Fringe, but this one is on my list simply for the sheer audacity of the idea to marry the dark and devastation of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf with the sweet and childlike world of Winnie the Pooh, and the flawless execution of that idea.
- WHOOSH! - Andrew Erskine Wheeler's impeccibly constructed and performed solo piece combines stories of Minnesotans who fought in the Civil War, the history of St. Anthony Falls, and the indigenous people of this land in a way that encourages further exploration and support of Native stories.
Honorable Mention (in alphabetical order, click the show title for full review and show details): BURR: A NEW MUSICAL, CHANGING THE NARRATIVE: CLIMATE STORIES FOR JUSTICE, A DAY WITH THE NEWHEARTS, EROTICA FOR HOUSEPLANTS, LIFE UNDERGROUND, THE MAN FROM EARTH, PIÑATA, THE REAL BLACK SWANN, SWORDS & SORCERY.