Monday, August 14, 2023

Minnesota Fringe Festival 2023: "A Girl Scout’s Guide to Exorcism"


Show: 41


By: Melancholics Anonymous

Created by: Rachel Ropella and Timothy Kelly

Location: Rarig Arena

Summary: It's the summer of 2008, and five Girl Scouts accidentally conjure up the spirit of a famous, and a little angry, environmentalist.

Highlights: This was one of the most frequently sold out shows of the Fringe, winning the venue award for most tickets sold at the Arena. I did not intentionally save it for the very last time slot of the festival, but it was a great end to a wonderful run of theater. It's so funny, and sweet, and real, and weird, and a little bit scary, and overall just so much fun. Five Jonas brothers obsessed tweens (charmingly portrayed by Claire Chenoweth, Anneliese Garner, Meredith Enersen, Samantha Miller, and Aerin O'Malley, giving each a distinct personality) gather for their annual sleepaway summer camp, with a friendly new counselor (Bee Davis), but things are changing. They're growing up, like it or not, causing new tension in the group. Using a ouija board, they accidentally cause one of them to become possessed with an environmentalist who advocates for the hawk, and she gets mad, wreaking havoc on the girls, until they can figure out a way to band together to save their friend, and each other. One of the girls occasionally steps out of the story and narrates it as the chain-smoking present version of the character, which is surprising and funny. This would all be wonderful enough, but as an added bonus Jeffrey Nolan plays the hawk who does the environmentalist's bidding, swooping a puppet on a stick around the theater, facial expressions so telling of the attitude of this creature. I first discovered Melancholics Anonymous during the virtual 2020 Minnesota Fringe Festival, and in a few short years they've become a reliable source of theater that is inventive and delightful and a little bit dark. They perform outside of the Fringe too, so keep your eye out for them.