Show reviews by Don Shuler

Mortem Capiendum

Four Humors Stretches Its' Wings
by Don Shuler
Rating: 5 kitties
Having seen a number of Four Humors works over the years one begins to expect "the funny". In fact, they set the bar pretty high for themselves. That's okay though, because Mr. Ballweber, Mr. Miller, and Mr. Spring thrive under stress. But with Mortem Capiendum we see something new from this company. We begin to see these actors finding new ways to broaden the "types" they often find themselves in. Mr. Spring has shown before that he can handle the spoken word, but in this show his verbal capacity is stretched to a point of no return. His Prof. St. Miracle begins to hemorrhage words as his desperate situation becomes apparent. And Mr. Ballweber's Lloyd is shocking even to those who have seen him perform. We have seen Mr. Ballweber play angry before, but in this show we see something much darker and much more menacing. And Mr. Miller's outstanding showmanship holds this furiously paced comedy together.
It is exciting to see these young comedic performers finding newer, deeper, more complex areas to explore. And we can only hope that they continue to follow this impulse to follow comedy into all of its deep, dark, corners.

SHIFT

Ryan & Goslow Ask: Where Are 'We' Going?
by Don Shuler
Rating: 5 kitties
I liked this show quite a bit. I think it was masterfully performed. And it includes one of the most memorable scenes in this years fringe - a disgruntled school teacher who has just been fired attempting to explain to his class the idiocy of a voting population which simultaneously votes against smaller class size and for including creationist explanations for biological diversity. This scene is Nick Ryan at his best. He knows how to write these shows. The show is a complex piece which is seamlessly handled by Jonas Goslow. Mr. Goslow takes several distinct characters and develops each one until slowly the pieces begin to fit together - mostly - although I never quite understood how the Alice storyline linked up with the other stories (maybe it didn't).
Either way, the stories and their emotional cores resonate strongly with eachother. Overall, we can say Nick Ryan has once again challenged us all to think in a different way about the society that we are making and re-making everyday.

Sideways Stories from Wayside School

Four Humours Strikes Again
by Don Shuler
Rating: 5 kitties
This cast shows how successful a small ensemble can be when you have lots of good actors building strong characters. You can feel the love that many of these actors have for the books. And the show has Four Humours' typically relentless pacing which tickles your funny bone until you start laughing and doesn't let you stop until well after you're already home. Standout performances include Matt Spring, Katie Jorgenson, and Tim Hellendrung. The show can maintain its pacing because of the mountains of skill behind the performances.
See this show - it's wonderful.

Jurassic Dork

A Whole Lot of Energy
by Don Shuler
Rating: 5 kitties
John Skelly has a passion for Jurassic Park the movie. And he has a talent for impersonations. And both of these traits shine bright in his one man show about this classic movie. He's strangely able to capture much of the intrigue, adventure, characterizations, and classic moments all within the one-hour span with a series of brilliantly employed toys. This shows sells out each time it shows - with good reason. See it - if you can.

The Traveling Musicians

Amazing!
by Don Shuler
Rating: 5 kitties
This show is so much fun. The Nomad's comfy bar setting makes this show one of the most enjoyable venues to see a fringe show this year. And the show itself is a lot of fun. It ranges from being cute to being very raunchy. And all the while there is a lot of fun, well-written music. So see this show - again and again and again...

Comedy of Errors

Bedlam's Bard
by Don Shuler
Rating: 5 kitties
An hour feels about right for this, one of Shakespeare's silliest comedies. Ballwebber's direction creates a circus atmosphere while maintaining a definite sense of focus and magic. And the performances in this show are delightfully large and fit nicely in the outdoor setting. Standout performances include Carly Wicks, Melissa Birch, Samantha Johns, Elise Langer, Maren Ward, and Jon Cole.

Sun Tzu's, The Art of War

Three ninjas and an emcee
by Don Shuler
Rating: 4 kitties
Sun Tzu's Art of War comes to life as three ninjas explain the ins and outs of what a wise general will do in different scenarios. The lively action, the interwoven humor, and the fluid storytelling makes this a truly enjoyable evening.
PS. I loved the "You're Welcome" at the end of the show! So kind!

Watthen, Wherenow - A Pinkerton Tribute

Three in a row?
by Don Shuler
Rating: 4 kitties
This show revolves around characters whose lives are all headed in very different directions. Yet somehow they all find themselves in a bar called Wherenow in a small town called Watthen. And as they drink the night away, they find they all share a common language - Pinkerton music. The music helps the characters' stories unfold as they become more and more intimate with each other. The show highlights some memorable performances by Aida Leguisamon, Matt Alto, Mark Rahoney, nice singing, and excellent guitar work. PS- Nice Beanbag tossing (three in a row is amazing!)

You're No Fun

Such Fun
by Don Shuler
Rating: 4 kitties
This show captures a reality which may - or may not - be understood beyond the theater world. That theater artists live life under different assumptions than a lot of other people. Particularly, theater artists assume that other people care what they have to say. And, honestly, is that such an awful assumption? But not everybody lives under that assumption. And this show - You're No Fun - captures that conflict onstage. And boy is it fun to watch play out. Some reviewers have said this show only reaches those that do go, have gone, and always will go to see theater a lot. And short of doing a study on who is buying tickets I can't agree or disagree. But this play definitely has something to say to non-theater "regulars" if any of them decide to show up. And besides seeing a well done show. They might actually see what might be the clearest depiction of a non-theater type I've seen on stage - the romantic lead. He's great and is playful without sacrificing any of what seems like a "get-out-of-my-face" attitude.
A strong, articulate show by Ms. Reich.