*Note this blog is written by our Executive Producer Kyle B. Dekker. This Fringe season he has decided to chronicle HCM's experiences at the Minnesota Fringe Festival. Please enjoy the blog to read about the run of our show, and for reviews of shows Kyle attends during the Festival.
Fearless at the Fringe
Along with my own production company Hot Chocolate Media, I'm also a member of Fearless Comedy Productions, a non-profit theater company based in the Twin Cities. I've had several cool opportunities as a Fearless member and it's a pretty awesome organization. There are 10 "Fearless Adjacent" shows in the Minnesota Fringe this year the term we decided upon to describe shows in the Fringe that have Fearless members working on them in some capacity. Members are involved in basically every part of a theater production including directing, writing, acting, stage managing, sound design, prop building and more. Fearless members have had a great Fringe run, you can learn about all of the Fearless shows at Fringe on the Fearless website.
Fearless has helped me develop many of the skills I have been able to utilize in my production of Waiting for Gygax. Fearless gave me my first directing gig early this year, my first dinner theater role last year, and opportunities to write, perform and stage manage. I look forward to what I learn in the next year and what Fearless members will present at Fringe in 2018.
I'm not typically a fan of dramas on stage or film. However one of my favorite perks of the Fringe artist pass is the near unlimited theater I can view, which means I'm, always willing to catch a show that isn't a comedy or genre piece. I'm very happy i went to ODD MAN OUT, it's a fantastic play that is personal, well acted, and engaging.
The story follows a family in Texas getting together for the funeral of the family patriarch. We quickly learn that this family (like many others) has secrets, struggles, and complicated relationships. This family felt real and you could buy what was happening. Nothing felt forced or contrived as often happens in family dramas. This show bleeds authenticity and I bought the emotions and reactions each character felt. The big moments were earned and nothing seemed forced at all. It's so great to see such a well crafted script with natural and easy flowing dialogue.
I could not finish a review of this show with commendation to the entire cast. Phenomenal performances throughout with nuance, care, and passion. All the actors looked comfortable on stage, their movements were meaningful and their delivery on point and precise. Honestly this was the best acting I've seen from a cast all Fringe and Ive seen tons of fantastic performances this year.
My only complaint would be that I wanted more. The ending felt abrupt, these characters were so interesting and I felt connected to them, I wanted to know more of their stories. You can sign me up to see whatever show writer/director Kory LaQuess Pullam does next.
The story of Margaret Fox Kane and Catherine Fox Jencken. Purported accidental founders of the Spiritualist Movement. It follows the two women from childhood when they concocted their scam, through their lives and it's ups and downs. I'll admit I don't find this topic particularly interesting, my life growing up in a prosperity gospel church makes me intrinsically dislike any charlatan figures, even historical ones.
Starting with characters whose real life counterparts I loathe the show did a masterful job making me care about them. The script flows naturally, the pacing is fantastic, and the actors all execute their parts extremely well. A very interesting story in an engaging script.
I want to point out the highlight of the show - the staging and the sound/light design. The director's choice to use a circle of picture frames, candles, and lace veils to build the scene and word was masterful. Creative and fun, I found myself looking around for all the little physical details on stage. Director/writer Amber Bjork is on stage as the "medium" who masterfully adds live sound design in the form of music boxes, bells, tuning forks, and more. This is one of the most creative uses of sound and staging I've seen all Fringe, and an outstanding use of the arena space.
I don't have tons to say about this show. It was fun, I enjoyed myself, and there were some laugh out loud moments. Josh Carson's second Fringe show (check out his hilarious show The Wright Stuff) this year. Carson hosts a team of comedians who do celerity and fictional character impersonations from various different scripts to books.
Some real laugh out loud moments as we have Steve Buschemi and Owen Wilson reading Dr. Suess and Bjork singing Piano Man and more. If you are a fan of impersonations you'll enjoy this show. Allison Witham doing R. Lee Ermey's rfile speech from Full Metal Jacket as Melanie Griffith killed me. As a Marine Corps vet I can quote every scene from that film, and that moment hit perfectly for me.
If you are heading to Fringe tonight please check out Waiting for Gygax at the Rairg Xperimental. Through Day 9 of Fringe I've seen 19 shows and put on three of my own. 22 time slots used.