Five Course Love (advertisement) (advertisement)

Minnesota Fringe Festival

kitty image


arrow image
show image

An elegant garden party/hanging, a toxic grammar school & a street run by rats; Adapted from works of the late writer Donald Barthelme, these tales and more will take you to interesting and unexpected places. With John Eichenlaub, Rose Johnson, Vickijoan Keck & Lawrence Ripp; Stage Managed by Celia Trusty and Sarah Kutzke; Artwork & images by local artist and wordsmithTom Cassidy
The Tales to be told are:
Sakrete/ A City of Churches/ I Bought A Little City/ The New Owner/ Wrote a Letter/ Some Of Us Had Been Threatening Our Friend Colby/The School/Report

The cast

Lawrence (Larry) Ripp
Role: producer/director & actor
Lawrence Ripp: Larry has been a fixture in Twin Cities theater for almost 30 years. He's worked at D.K. Studios,TRP, Chimera theater, Park Square and The St. Louis Park Jewish Community Center Playhouse. Larry has also written and toured with his own plays, including a Sherlock Holmes 2 person play (The Games Afoot!), a fishing play and a comedy about UFO watching. He is now booking dates for The Holmes play for the fall.

Tom Cassidy
Role: Artist
Tom Cassidy aka Musicmaster draws pictures on pages of old books, found paper, other artists' drawings and the occasional blank sheet when there's nothing to correct or deface. He's been an active correspondence artist for over 35 years. He recently co-edited Minnesota Center for Book Art's Winter Book, Vispoeology and collaborated with visual poet John Bennett on the artbook ONDA, just released by Luna Bisonte Productions. He is currently working on Gravy Makes the Man, a collection of his writings which aren't poems, storyteller stories, theatre pieces, or (as a practical matter) graffiti. His work has appeared in over 200 galleries and museums around the world.

John Eichenlaub
Role: actor
John Eichenlaub has lived in Minnesota for the past couple of years, coming back to his home state after 7 years in Madison, Wisconsin. He has been seen on Bedlam's stage during the 10 minute play festivals, and in Lex Ham's production of State of the Union. He is thrilled to participate in the Fringe Festival, and thanks his beautiful wife Shelley for her unending love and support.

Rose Johnson
Role: actor
Rose Johnson: Rose has done many, many shows over the years in and around the Twin Cities and for a number of years worked as a historical character at the popular Murphy's Landing near Shakopee. One recent theatrical highlight for Rose was playing the part of "Dr. Watson" in a touring show Sherlock Holmes with Larry Ripp.

Vickijoan Keck
Role: actor/co producer
A flamboyant storyteller, actress and poet who has been a fringe fanatic for years. She enjoys telling personal stories as well as putting a new twist on an old tale. Her stories have been heard on Mn Public Radio (In The Loop) and seen on the Mpls Television Network (MTN). She has been involved as an actor and playwrite for several of Bedlam Theatre's 10 Minute Play Festivals. She appeared as Mehitabel the Alley Cat for the MN Assoc of Community Theater's Fastfest in the summer of 08 and restaged it in Stillwater in the fall with Larry Ripp as Archy. Her day job is playing the copy lady at Augsburg College.

Sarah Kutzke
Role: Assistant Stage Manager
Hello! I am happy to be working with Mindless Mirth Productions for the first time. My professional experiences include working for Christie Lites Florida, Production Resource Group - Orlando, The Children's Theatre Company, Guthrie Theater, and SECOA. I would like to thank Fridley High School for sparking my interest in theater, the University of Minnesota Duluth for my higher theatrical education, the companies listed above for their invaluable teachings, Larry Ripp for having me here for this production, and last but not least, I'd like to thank you for being here tonight! Thank you and enjoy the show.

Celia Trusty
Role: Stage Manager
As one of eleven, Celia seems to intrinsically understand the chaos of theatre production. After living and working in Europe, Celia returned to Minnesota to continue her education in dietetics and is now stepping out of the hospital setting to take in some of the fun of theatre.

Bookmark and Share

Mindless Mirth Productions

The Twisted Grin-Assorted Tales to Amuse and Alarm

Thu., Jul. 30 @ 10:00 p.m.
Sat., Aug. 1 @ 5:30 p.m.
Thu., Aug. 6 @ 8:30 p.m.
Fri., Aug. 7 @ 8:30 p.m.
[S] Sat., Aug. 8 @ 4:00 p.m.

[S]=ASL interpreted
[A]=Audio described

Warning! Adult language

Venue Augsburg Studio
For ages 12+
Created by Lawrence Ripp
genres Satire, Sci-fi/mystery
subjects Political, Seniors
features Original script/choreography, First-time Minnesota Fringe Festival producer

Overall rating

User reviews

by Laurie Swenson Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
Interesting performances and good costuming, but a little slow at times.

Good, But Missing Something
by Ben San Del Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
Good show, but every time a story ended, I found myself asking what was the purpose of that story. Something seemed missing. "I Bought a Little City" was great, as is Tom Cassidy's artwork. Overall, good, but could have been more focused.

No grins.
by re gurgitate Follow this reviewer
Rating 2 kitties
I'm not familiar with the stories of Donald Barthelme, but found nothing amusing or entertaining in this production. If the material was poorly adapted, shame on them, and if properly adapted, shame on me for not knowing what I was getting into.

Amusing and Alarming
by Michelle Schwantes Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Very nice show. I enjoyed all of the stories, but some more than others. Some nice work from Vicki Keck in this production. Well worth a look. Congratulations!

Well-crafted and well worth seeing
by Janet Skidmore Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
I was not familiar with the work of Donald Barthelme before seeing this show and now I want to read more of his work. The four member cast skillfully delivers Barthelme's dark, sometimes bizarre humor in a nonchalant manner as if saying nothing unusual at all, which is very effective. A particular highlight is John Eichenlaub's delivery of "Some of us had been threatening our friend Colby."

Love Barthelme, little else
by Karen Pollard Follow this reviewer
Rating 1 kitty
Love Barthelme's works, but did not feel the cast really absorbed them or became them. Too corny and over the top. Felt very amature. Crazy accents were very uneven, especially in "colby".

by Carney Gray Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
If you like storytelling, this show will delight you. Charming performances, particularly from Rose Johnson and Vicki Keck. Check it out!

Left with a smile on my face.
by Laurel Hansen Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
If you're looking for an enjoyable, yet subtly thought-provoking show, this is the one.

A miracle
by Chris Shillock Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Donald Barthelme is wrter of experimental stories for the New Yorker - not obvious material for transformation into a stage play. However this talented troupe have pulled off a miracle that will leave you holding your sides with laughter at the droll deadpan of the dialogue.

Barthelme the Scrivener
by Paula Nancarrow Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
I am amazed that there appear to have been so few adaptations of Barthelme’s short stories to the theater. Beckett was a major influence, as were Sartre and Ionesco. Many of his stories are monologues, often with narrators of questionable reliability. The folks at Mindless Mirth productions really have something here – though they might want to change their name. Because Donald Barthelme – while playful - is anything but a mindless experience. For more of this review, please go to If the link does not work, please copy and paste into your browser.

by Debra Ripp Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Even if you have read Barthelme before, the performances of these highly competent actors hit you sideways with a breathless shock at the audacious dark humor displayed. Funny,daring and well embellished with imaginative funky artwork and wookie music! recommended highly!

Great Show
by Anon Review Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
the cast is great in this piece....I would recommend seeing this piece if only for the Bag Lady story which I found especially entertaining!

For everyone's gentle little weirdo
by H J Meyer Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Absolutely loved "Some of Us Have Been Threatening Our Friend Colby" and "Sakrete." The show is fun, surprising and a great way to discover who has the darkest sense of humor in the room! Really delightful. Really.

Loved the Mr. President of the Moon
by Laurie Beth Fitz Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
My favorite twisted tale was the letters to the President of the Moon. Vicki did a lovely -- loony job discussing her issues with the Moon\'s Highest Authority.

Genuine Americana
by Thomas Cassidy Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
When Larry said he wanted to blow my art up for a Fringe show I didn't know he meant it so kindly! I didn't attend or see any rehearsals or pre-show Barthelme seances, so my comments are based on a mostly clear-headed (for me) look on opening night. My Mom and I thoroughly enjoyed the production, though, oddly my Mom didn't think the stories were as offbeat as I did. Plus she wanted to know why my pictures were cluttering the stage. Anyhow, Larry,
John, Alice and Vickijoan are excellent as the sort of messengers you really should blame for news you don't want to hear - and in this group of tales, a lot of the news is about what surrounds us without headlines or questions. Great fun. And Yma Sumac tunes! If I were really biased, I'd give this full grown cats.

I went to that school
by mario cosentino Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Barthelme stories read like Magritte in early Twlight Zone episodes about decorating the gallows. This talented cast brings some of his best stories off of the page and onto a stage where they happily darken the mood and logic. Nicely acted, staged and illustrated. The sort of nonmainstream production that defines funny and buzzworthy Fringe.

A whacked-out hoot of a performance!
by Robert Sidman Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Stange and even bizarre, but still very accessible. Reminded me of my feelings seeing the movie "Brazil." Each story in this show made me think "Where is this going?" and then at the end of each, I could say "Oh, yeah! Of course." All four actors gave very good performances. Enjoyable!

Barthelme Would Be Proud
by Joseph Bunce Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
I've been a big fan of Donald Barthelme for around twenty years and was very curious about how his stories would work on stage. In the hands of this company, they work very well indeed. Barthelme's bizarre world view and unorthodox story-telling are captured expertly by a cast who seems to totally "get" him. This is the kind of show the Fringe was made to spotlight.

strange,but in a good way
by steve legas Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
I did not know the work of Don Barthelme before seeing this show.
I may now find some of his stuff to read.Each story told was unique and
some had a slightly off kilterfringy viewpoint. The performers did a fine job and the music added to the experience.

Wish Evaporation
by Dave Romm Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
I suspect your enjoyment of this show will depend on how much you sync with Barthelme's sense of humor. I'm not really a big fan, but the actors gave the stories life, and by the end I was caught up in his askew world. The artwork and characterizations round this up to four kitties. A Shockwave Radio Theater Review.

Longer reviews with pictures at Baron Dave's LiveJournal and snarky comments on Facebook.

Sometimes Grinning, Often Alarmed
by Johanna Lewis Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
Marvelous art by Tom Cassidy and the haunting recorded vocals of Yma Sumac enhance this adaptation of eight tales by Barthelme. The material was uneven, as were the performances, although I suspect there’s something for everyone in the assortment of tales. My favorite: Larry Ripp’s performance in “I Bought a Little City." A Shockwave Radio Theater Review.

Other shows like this