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Bedlam Theatre

Superlatives of Excellence: A Jamboree of Breviloquent Masterworks by Josef Evans

Location + schedule

Mixed Blood Theatre
1501 S 4th St.

DateTimeMy FringeAccess
Friday 8/68:30 p.m.  
Saturday 8/710:00 p.m.  
Wednesday 8/115:30 p.m. AD
Friday 8/138:30 p.m.  
Saturday 8/141:00 p.m.  
About the show

Contains Adult language
For ages 12+
Comedy, Historical

Written by Josef Evans

Overall rating

A self-proclaimed genius performs odd plays in his grandparents' garage. Interlopers disrupt his plans; rampant peculiarities ensue. From the folks who brought you '06 Encore hit "Love in a Time of Rinderpest."

Bedlam returns to the Minnesota Fringe Festival this year, once again collaborating with playwright Josef Evans. The last Fringe pairing of these two very fringe artistic visions gave Festival audiences one of the year's most popular productions, resulting in an appearance in the Fringe Encore at the Guthrie.


For Superlatives of Excellence: A festival of breviloquent masterworks by Josef Evans, local playwright Josef Evans presents himself in alter ego form, as "Josef Evans," a self-proclaimed genius who lives in his grandparents' garage and performs festivals of his (mercifully) brief oddball comedies for anyone unfortunate enough to pass through its massive 2-car door. Having spent his meager budget on an irritated and incompetent wedding band, he is forced to employ garage detritus as actors in a desperate attempt to bring his vision to life. A parade of interlopers further disrupts the show and finds itself drawn into Josef's singularly ridiculous universe.

This show brings back many of the most popular short plays Evans has presented at Bedlam over the years. Highlights include What God Said on Tuesday, which recasts God as a demented old apartment-dweller tormenting his downstairs neighbor Satan with endless renditions of off-key banjo numbers, and Modern Library Situations, an epic battle to save the Marcy-Holmes community library from ninja astronaut feminists in search of Catholic romance novels. The style is in keeping with the bizarre hilarity that has been a Bedlam/Evans trademark, from 2006's Fringe Encore hit Love in a Time of Rinderpest to The Turducken, an adaptation of Chekhov's The Seagull as a Christmas musical spectacular.

What the press have said about past Bedlam/Josef Evans work:

On Turducken:
"Josef Evans' script was packed with so many hilarious turns of phrase I shrieked and whinnied my way through the entire first act."
--Christy DeSmith,

On Love in a Time of Rinderpest:
"An absurdist, deconstructionist, meta-theatrical tale of love... must see."
--Dominic Papatola, Pioneer Press

"Extraordinarily funny."
--Quinton Skinner, City Pages

"Cream of the crop -- one of the top shows at the Fringe."
--Star Tribune

On Million Dollar Museum:
"(Rinderpest and Turducken) were rampantly absurdist comedies, full of twitchy wordplay and populated with characters in various states of alarmed delusion. Both were fine matches for Bedlam's experimental, go-for-broke company aesthetic."
--Quinton Skinner, City Pages

"The show feels like a roadside attraction itself, an eccentric piece of outsider art created by people with very deep, very strange convictions... very clever."
--Jay Gabler, Twin Cities Daily Planet

Maren Ward
Role: Josef Evans / Presider / Riverston (and the director)
maren ward is p. artistic director at bedlam theatre where she has had the deep pleasure of performing/producing/directing numerous josef evans/bedlam theatre productions. she's delighted to be at the fringe and at Mixed Blood, bedlam's neighbor and partner. in addition to her numerous hats at bedlam, maren works with the zamya theater project, a program of st. stephen's human services, creating original theater with people experiencing homelessness. recently, she has appeared in a few productions with Molly Van Avery, exploring theater as a forum for dialogue about personal change and the fate of our planet. Maren is still surviving thanks in part to a 2007 Mcknight Theater Artist Fellowship and the support of her Bedlam colleagues.
thanks for reading this far. shazbang! blamblom! thipa dip

ps: while maren commissioned the work and wrangled the talent - johann hauser ulrich really directed this work. he is superlative.

Forrest Zoll
Role: Wally / Lackey
Forrest Zoll is happy to make his acting debut with Bedlam Theatre, and hopes this is the first of many Bedlam projects. Forrest was assistant lighting designer in last year’s Bare Bones Halloween Show. In school, Forrest recently performed in The Wizard of Oz and Shakespeare’s As You Like It. He hopes you liked the show, or at least plan to see it soon. Happy Fringe!

Jason Vogen
Role: Party Guy / Feminist / Trash Bag / God
why hello there. I hope you are having a wonderful time at the fringe and are getting a chance to see some great stuff. Thank you for choosing to see our show today, that is awesome! Since you have taken the time to read thus far I will tell you that I have been in a number of shows with Bedlam in various roles from such shows as "Love in a Time of Rinderpest", "Dali DADA" and I played Grandpa Christmas in the holiday special "Turducken". I am a very happy Minnesota transplant from Arizona via Los Angeles and I truly love this theatre community. I currently live in an artist loft with my brother in Saint Paul and I try to be a part of as many avenues of performance as possible. I would love to meet you and say hello and don't be afraid to ask for a hug

Tom Lloyd
Role: Party Guy / Feminist / Waiter / Religious Person / Mrs. Minglebangle
bio coming soon!

Josef Evans
Role: Party Guy on Keyboards (and the playwright)
bio coming soon!

George McConnell
Role: Grandpa / Charles & Marcy Bronson / Agent
George is about to enter his 5th year of the PhD program in Theatre Historiography at the University of Minnesota. He likes to perform in Bedlam productions whenever he gets the chance. This is his second time working with the words of Josef Evans and he is happy to have had both opportunities. This is his third time in a row performing in the Bedlam fringe show.

Elise Langer
Role: Grandma / Religious Person / Mr. Minglebangle
Elise Langer is happy to return to the Bedlam for the fringe this year! Last year she had the honor of playing Maren Ward’s twin in Comedy of Errors. Originally from Paris, France, Elise has lived and performed in San Francisco, San Diego, New York, Paris, Boise and Minneapolis.
Elise has her BA from UC San Diego and studied at the Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris. Locally, she has performed with: Theatre de la Jeune Lune; 3 Sticks; MN Orchestra; The Pants; Four Humors Theater; The Children’s Theatre; Bedlam Theatre; Jon Ferguson Theatre; History Theatre and many times at Open Eye Figure Theatre, where she most
recently co-created and performed in Milly and Tillie.

Christopher Allen
Role: Stickbunkle / Thapwit / Police / Jurgen (and props procurer)
bio coming soon!

Paige Collette
Role: Circulation / Pelopogane / Sausalina / Satan
Paige Collette is an actress, playwright, and renegade burlesque star named Maxine LaRue. Her shows include Tender Hooks, Buttercream & Scotch (with Tatiana Pavela), and Brenda McIntire, CEO (which she performed at Bedlam's 10Fest this April). Other Minneapolis credits: Savannah Reich's Fanciness Vs. The Void (dir: Sam Johns, Open Eye), Mars Project (also with Sam & Savannah, 1419), and Chantal Pavageaux's original Love Party: Love Will Give You Cholera (Red Eye). Paige lived in New York for almost 10 years and earned her BFA from NYU's Experimental Theater Wing. She's also the Social Host at Bedlam, so come on over and have a drink!

Carly Wicks
Role: Feminist / Pinto / Munka / Anna
Carly Wicks is a clown. She has been in many shows-many of them at Bedlam. She plays the tuba. She also works with youth. Hire her.

Johann Hauser-Ulrich
Role: assistant director / stage manager / sign painter + slides creator
bio coming soon!

User reviews

Hands down
by Publius McGee Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Bad absurdism is the worst theatre experience to endure. Good absurdism is the best.

This was the best.

Frantic but ...
by Bill McTeer Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
Lots of energy and craziness not signifying a whole lot. We have a crazy band and a kid sidekick and a addled grampa and gramma and various visitors and several drama/dream sequences. But is there a point?

stations of the cross 4 the lite hearted
by William Fister Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
IMO, this is an incredibly well written piece with consistent acting across many parts.

If someone doesn't tell you what the motive is you will have a devil of a time. But all the parts fit. Open up the back of an old wristwatch and it might not say why it works, but it will give you the dimensions at play. This is logical mayhem, of course, one of a kind, and left me with a sense of satisfaction. Thank you.

That is to say, *the* Josef Evans
by M M Smith Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Josef Evans brings out the belly laughs in the best of his audience members. The actors are having so much fun you would be remiss not to join them. The script is everything from insane and offbeat to thoughtful and generous. Evans' humor is certainly off beat but his characters give the actors something real and challenging to work with. And the actors seem wise to this and dig in to each role. It is obvious these actors work together well, each one is allowed to shine. And how!

Excellent! Superlative! Breviloquent!
by Scott Pakudaitis Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
and Masterful!

Absurdism at its finest with solid, committed performances and a wacky delightful script that could have come only from the warped mind of Josef Evans.

A pause that refreshes
by Peter Erickson Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
And as crazy as everyone says. Don't try to analyze this--just let it roll over you and let its insanity recharge your too thoughtful brain. But if you decide to take this one home with you, keep it in the garage.

Didn't Get It
by Jack Silverman Follow this reviewer
Rating 1 kitty
Sorry guys. Didn't get this show at all. My laugh meter was on low. Script was hard to follow, some of the acting weak. My least liked show over the last two years. Appreciate your effort but those are the chances you take attending Fringe, you win some and lose some.

One must love it!
by Carole Vandal Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
A superlative of Brilliance is a wild n crazy show. While I loved the fast paced weirdness of this show in its entirety some of my fellow geeky friends did not. Because I followed the “plot” if you will, in all of its absurdity says something about me, just what I do not know. I will give you my two cents and say go ahead and see it for yourself, I’m certain you will get a laugh or many a laugh out of it as I did! A Shockwave Radio Theater Review.

Superlatives of Brilliance
by Andrew Fafoutakis Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Absurd, wacky, and hilarious. A strong cast with a tour-de-force performance by Josef Evans. Definitely not for everyone, but the humor, clever staging, and ballsiness won me over. With shades of "Rushmore", this show was a wonderful surprise and tons of fun. I can't recommend this show enough.

Crazy good time
by Jean Sramek Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Absurdist geeky-cool. Some uneven acting, but worth going if for nothing else than the final segment, English in Action. Three kitties for the show, plus one extra for being hands-down the BEST postcard design of any Fringe show this year.

Great Nonsense!
by Patrick Pfundstein Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Superlatives is a very funny show in all of its pieces; sharp, short wacked out plays executed in a garage with bad musicians (bad and hilarious!), a neighbor kid, and anyone else who wanders in. Several moments (like Satan trying to get God to knock off the banjo music or "Josef" in a prison jumper controlling actors with a bicycle bell) are going to stick with me a long time. This show was tough to grade; I'd go 4.5 for sure if I had the option, but for all of the genius, moments (mostly the ones joining the plays) sagged for me. (Disclosure: Fringe and long work hours are taking their toll, so it just may be me sagging.) Still, if you dig the absurd, don't miss Superlatives!

Well worth seeing.
by Warren Bowles Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Bedlam: a place, scene, or state of uproar and confusion; a lunatic asylum, the popular name for the Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem, London (an insane asylum). Thank you, Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, for the perfect review of what I just saw. Lots of fun.

Well worth seeing.

I laughed, that was the idea.
by Muna Anazodo Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
First thing I said when I left the theatre was how much I wanted to go backstage, bundle up the adorable little 'Michael Cera' boy (otherwise known as Wally or Forest Zoll, I believe) and take him home with me. I also remember laughing a lot, though I must say I don't remember a lot of what made me laugh and some may say that's not a particularly good sign. But weird's wonderful and to keep sane we (or just I) need to go for silly over the profound sometimes and this played the part beautifully.

Moments of Brilliance
by Sarah Holmberg Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
And lots of moments at that. There were some parts that lagged a bit for me, but overall this show is incredibly well done, and the parts that didn't work as well were more then made up for by some of the sheer peaks of wonderful, amazing insanity on that stage.

I always find Elise Langer's work to be incredible, and Paige Collette's turn as Satan has one of my favorite moments of the Fringe so far.

this is a play that is very fun
by Benjamin Egerman Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
i don't know what this play was about but it was still funny and the one woman had the mustache and that was funny and there was a band and they were party guys and who doesn't like that no one that's who four kitties the end.

Nothing else like it in Fringe
by Rachel Teagle Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Bedlam at its Bedlamiest. Cleverly done, acted to the peak of its peakiness, and chock full of words I really wish were real. The last piece is especially lovely.
How can you truly say you've fringed without astronaut ninja feminists determined to read romance novels?

A lot of off-the-wall for your buck
by Kay Kirscht Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
And though not a bad thing; it gets tiring (Oh, more absurd! God's in this one!) Seemed to go on longer than it did, but laughed until my stomach hurt. Some did *not* dig it. This one would have gone better with a full night's sleep and a couple of beers. Love the brilliant young'n portraying Josef's assistant (I think about the kid who starred in the bizarre Sid & Marty Krofft show, "Lidsville" -how could you ever be *normal* after a production like this? Warp On! :-D

Hot Damn!
by Rosemary Fister Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
This show was amazing! I was laughing the whole time. The physical humor was so well done, but I think my favorite parts were with Forest, hilarious!

If You Like Absurdist
by David Trudeau Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
then this is for you. For me it was too disconnected and the non sequiters got tiresome. Coherent, meaningful, or serious it is not. Funny? For a while but the sameness of the variations on characters and situations and cross gendering got me yawning.

if you like to laugh at smart things...
by adam cook Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
go see this one its a good one, i mean golly.
maren ward is fantastic, and jason as god is a must see. superlative. excellent. includes inflatable electric guitars, amd they don't even make a big deal out of it.

Silly, Absurd and Lots of Fun
by Andy Flamm Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
The plot is definitely not the thing with this show. Just go for the zany antics of this talented cast. It won't change your life, but it will put a smile on your face.

by Daniel Barnes Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
Wacky, yes. Clever, to be sure. Blasphemous, bloody well yup. In other words, Fringey as all get-out! A series of short, short plays within a play, romped through by a talented ensemble, this is show is all over the map. It will be many things to many people, but it never takes itself seriously. One Fringing spouse loved it, the other was checking the time halfway through. It finishes strong. The spouse who is writing would say four kitties, the other two, hence three.

by Dan Pinkerton Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
This show makes a really strong case for Bedlam being the Ridiculous Theatre of the 21st Century. The main difference is that Charles Ludlam tried to get the props, wigs, and costumes to look divine, while all the props, costumes, wigs, and moustaches here look like they came from a dumpster, which is charming in its own special way.

As with any show, it starts with a great and wonderfully loopy script by Evans. There is not one wasted moment here. The parody targets the theatre, feminists, post-apocalyptic settings, Charles Bronson, the military, romance novels, lanuage textbooks, and a hundred other subjects. The whole hour is big, big, big, laugh-out-loud & pee-in-your-pants funny, and all the performers --- a host of Bedlam regulars plus the Edith Bunker-voiced Elise Langer and newcomer Forrest Zoll--- are fearless and fabulous. Just go, already!

by MEGAN TARDIFF Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
As usual, Josef Evans comes through with an absurd and funny show. Wide spectrum of cast and characters.

You'll love it or hate it
by Sharon Kahn Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
It was obvious from the get-go that the large audience was pumped for this show; they cheered and applauded the stage manager's canned intro for heaven's sake! The first two people on stage were getting rounds of applause before they even did anything. Clearly there is an enthusiastic audience for this kind of thing, and they know what they like. But don't assume from all the 5-kitty reviews that this is a must-see show for everybody.

If you like characters in layers of goofy clothes and huge fake mustaches delivering non-sequitors in over-the-top silly voices, this is the show for you. There is lots of expert physical clowning: strutting, leaping, rolling, prat-falls, sudden bursts of comedic violence, and lots of business with the props strewn all over the cluttered stage. The timing and delivery of the nonsensical dialogue is very professional. Clearly these folks know what they are doing.

I was bored out of my mind. For me, too much chaos, too little content. YMMV, obviously.

Awesomely wierd and funny
by Katherine Blauvelt Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
This was an incredibly refreshing, wierd and funny show. I want to go see it again, I bet it'll be even funnier the second time.

by Mark Long Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
The most ridiculous, absurd, weird, crazy, funny, awesome thing I have ever scene. As nonsensical as the most bizarre episode of anything on Adult Swim. I assume the script was crafted on the walls of an insane asylum with the lunch gravy.

Seriously, it takes near genius to pull off such a spectacle. The show is the silly plays of a stunted half-genius, halfwit staged in his grandparents garage. The cast does a wonderful job of making their transitions from musician to devil to Russian spy to God's housekeeper.

I really enjoyed it and laughed so hard I started crying during the "slideshow."

This is Fringe!

Absurdism for people who hate absurdism
by Justin Alexander Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
If absurdist theater was routinely as excellent as Bedlam's Superlatives of Excellence, I would watch it morning, noon, and night.

Superlative 1: The excellence of the cast, who turn in spotless performances. Perfect comedic timing wedded to a completely welcoming openness and honesty upon the stage.

Superlative 2: The excellence of finely tuned absurdism. The production seems to know exactly how they can push each bit of ridiculous excess so that it is always as funny as it can possibly be without ever wearing out its welcome.

Superlative 3: The excellence of suddenly turning on a dime and turning the comedic into something that lies halfway between heart-wrenching, heart-warming, and heart-felt.

Superlative 4: The excellence of revealing something painfully and universally true through the lens something ridiculously fictional. I understand how absurdism is supposed to work, but it so rarely does... Except here it doesn't just work. It transcends.

Superlative 5: The excellence of watching a truly satisfying show.

by Gabriel Heller Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Amazophonic! Supernumary! Delicaticious! Terriplative! Bling-blong. If you like this review so far, you will love this show. Obviously I loved this show, but then I've been itching to see "English in Action" again for 3 years. Someday maybe I'll be lucky enough to get to direct it. Josef Evans is a master of surrealist sketch comedy, hilarious non-sequiturs, and dadaism that actually makes you laugh, after making you think, and then making you stop thinking, sometimes before even, and occasionally also during. Maren Ward's command of comic timing, bad coming timing for comedic effect, exceedingly silly voices, and looking like John Cleese in the self-defense sketch is better than ever. Be careful when you laugh at this show, or you may miss something even funnier.

Nonsensical comedy
by Richard Heise Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
Vignettes tied together into a script. Silly but not as humerous as I had hoped.

Ninja astronomer feminists
by Dave Romm Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
One of the best Fringe shows I've ever seen, and I've seen a lot. True, I tend to like weird shows about weird people doing weird things. And comparing this show to almost any other is like comparing apples to submarines. But Superlatives of Excellence manages to be wondrously mounted and performed AND ultra-fringy. The theater wasn't quite packed for the first show, but I predict it will be for the rest of the run.

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

absurd & hilarious
by Florence Brammer Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
I don't know what else to say: it's absurd and it's hilarious. The cast is so committed to the lunacy and so talented that they make it all work, brilliantly. LOVED it.

Magical Mayhem
by Tim Voss Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
There's a knife's edge between magical mayhem and acting like idiots. Bedlam keeps their show just on the right side of that line. That's all I can say. If you try to rationalize this wonderful bit of absurdity, you'll get left behind and completely miss the point. Work like this is what makes Bedlam a treasure.

Just go see this!
by Chase McCants Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Hilarious, quick, odd...I can't describe this show. All I know is you need to see it. It was one of the most hilarious shows I've seen in my years at the Fringe. Show up early...because I feel like this one will be a sell out every night.

Stop reading...GO SEE IT!

by Ben Marcy Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
I couldn't stop laughing. Superlatives of Excellence is a great mismatch of Joe Evans splendor. A wonderful cast full irreverent hilarity. It was amazing, and truly Bedlam at its best.