Years attending Fringe: 2-4 years
25-34 years old
Lives in... Minneapolis
Favorite genre: Drama
Adam Boutz's reviews
There Ain't No More!
Much To Hear, Much To Miss
An elderly folk singer facing his eminent death and reflecting on his life and values. Questions of what gives a life meaning conflated, in this man's life, with carrying forward the past. All the stages of grief are present as he tries to make the audience understand that they are what will carry him. The dread of what comes next and the spectre of death hangs over all his words.
Energy swings from ponderous to frenetic and the tone gyrates around between mournful and reflective. Often in the blink of an eye.
Jefferson Township Sparkling Junior Talent Pageant: A New Musical
The Mellinnial Falcon
Original musicals are usually either well-written, technically challenging, or well-preformed. Jefferson Township breaks the mold and checks off all three in a gleeful embrace of the nihilistic horrors of failing to achieve in life. The impressive singing demonstrated here far exceeds what is usually encountered in similar shows which could be described as 'perfectly adequate'. The characters and their motivations are painfully relateable. This show is sharp, topical, and sexy and deserves to be applauded.
Mayor Lear of Townsville
Absolute PowerPuff Corrupts Absolutely
Infectious energy, slick staging, and fantastic acting are all layers of icing on the cake that is this incredibly intricate adaptation of Shakespeare's 'King Lear'. It never gets bogged down in the morose temperament of that play, but still brings to the the table more than just a few plot points. The fight coreography alone could have made this a must-see.
Nightmares Begin Where The Light Ends
More than just a shadow puppetry show, DUNGEON is a work of fantasy that is both creepy and intriguing. Dialog is used in the the most sparing way, relying far physicality, tone, and music to tell the story. The plot itself was a bit thin, but that gave time for the long foreboding silences that did such a great job of conveying the isolation of being lost underground. Even the dark felt oppressive and claustrophobic, lightened frequently with expertly-timed humor.
MANIFESTO: An American Play
Humanity For The Dehumanized
The basic narrative structure was just a touch confusing at first, but I was able to pick it up eventually. I was stunned to see a play about mass shootings handle the matter with taste and impact. The causes were not laid at the feet of the usual scapegoats of gun control, pharma, or the availability of mental health treatment, but on each and every one of us. Where it belongs.
Knife To Meet You
An A for awesome. The 80's self-defense guru forced to admit he's a fraud is a wonderful and funny premise. The moral lecture about the evils of stand-your-ground legislation was more than a bit ponderous, and I a bit concerned that the story was somehow trying to present the legal case as justice being denied. Still rocked my face off.
A lot like watching a comedy live youtube sketch comedy. BOOMBOX was filled with moments of brilliant comedy, insight into the human condition, and callbacks. I'm a sucker for callback humor. Certain vignettes did drag at times, and I was left craving a more cohesive (or at least more obvious) theme connecting it all. Overall, it was a joy to behold.
The Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society
The Joy Of Listening
Two audio plays from the golden age of radio. The Soundscape and melodramatic voice acting of this work was a delight to behold. The actors apply practical sound effects is ways that are so unrealistic, but yet so true to the art form being reproduced. The stories themselves won't exactly send chills down your spine, but they are from a simpler time.
Waiting for Gygax
The Waiting Is The Hardest Part
What do D&D monsters do while waiting around for us? A cute minimalist play that turns the DM screen around and reminds us 'Aren't we all just trying to get by'?
RomCom-Con: A Meet-Cute Musical
You'll Fall In Love With This Show
A musical about people who love RomComs, mostly serving as an excuse to make movie title puns. Good thing I *adore* puns. This was charming and fun, but the singing left something to be desired to put it mildly.
Might A Gimmick, But It's A Good One
As a strictly dance piece, this left something to be desired and I found the meaning to be rather inaccessible. But it wasn't just any dance piece. This made use of BLB's unique space in ways I've never dreamed of, fusing the indoor without the outdoor by throwing open windows shutters that I didn't even know could be opened. The casual passerbys became a part of the work, the emergency exit and windowsill became set pieces, and cars parked on the street became the backdrop. This simply could not be staged anywhere else.
So Goshdarn Warm and Fuzzy!
Uplifting, Almost To A Fault
A dance piece fused with a self-motivation sermon that was dripping with positivity. You know you're at The Fringe when kazoos, a paper shredder, and interpretive dance can occupy the same headspace simultaneously.
Mental Illness In Motion
A spoken word and movement piece that took me by surprise. Vignettes about mental illness where the actors danced an interpenetration of the words they were speaking. It was an neat fusion of skill sets to observe. The journey was both painful and beautiful to watch.
Sevlin & Devlin Presents: Seven Evans in Heaven
An Uncomfortable Amount Of Smiling
Whimsy and weirdness are the trademark characteristics of a Ferrari McSpeedy production and they are here in spades. Surprisingly not morbid for a comedy about death. The thin plot was more than compensated for in puns and slapstick humor.
The Spy Who Friendzoned Me
A drama of love triangles and the codes we speak to each other. The story leaned especially hard on tropes, but the cast leaned into the roles making for an overwrought, but touching performance. A handful of unnecessary plot holes hold this show back from being more than just 'pretty good', but there is little else fundamentally wrong here.
I Speculate That You Will Enjoy This
Tales of reality extrapolated to logical conclusions that are delivered in a dry, sardonic manner which perfectly fits the dry, sardonic tone of the stories themselves. The themes explored are very human ones and mostly pertain to our insecurities about life and mortality.
Fruit Flies Like a Banana: WORLD TOUR
Few Can Do What They Do; Fewer Would Try
A musical potpourri show showcasing wonderful feats of dance, movement, and musicianship thrown together in unexpected and crazy ways. Not the first time I've seen them at the MN Fringe, but the show felt fresh anyway. These performers exude a level of talent, professionalism, and polish far beyond most of the shows to be found in this Festival.
De Hjerteløse [The Heartless]
A Tale With Heart...s
A post-modern feminist Norse folk tale. It was a movement and physical theater work which was executed superbly. The dialog and script felt truly like the telling of a traditional folk tale. This was a work of beauty and superb direction. Still, it seems like they kind of took off and left behind something rather important at the end. "Just keep 'em, Ran. We weren't using those anyway!"
A Spark Becomes An Inferno
Starts off with a slow pacing that did little to distinguish it from similar dance pieces; the movement was precise and beautiful, the interpretation of the myth was powerful, etc. The limited use of fire started to make me wonder if it was mostly just a gimmick. Then the sun went down. Then the magic happened. I feel sorry for all the people who will miss out on this because of the weather this week.
Topical Talk of the Town
Fantastic as always. I guess I was kind of hoping for something distinct from their regular show, but it's still a thing of beauty.
The Wright Stuff, or You'll Believe They Can Fly!
Jokes that are sharp, punches that are tight, and characters that I wanted to simultaneously slap and hug. This is a zany and fun... uh... interpretation of actual events. Although I think I like it more this way.
Using pop music lyrics to tell the story was riotous, but ended up kind of a distraction at times. A few missed cues are totally reasonable with dialog that rapid-fire.
Anarchy! (a handbook)
Lessons Worth Learning
A show about they joys of anarchist philosophy that was oddly well-organized. Made a compelling case by advocating for civil disobedience, then lost me by advocating for violence as a means to affect change.
Message and politics aside, it was a fun and compelling piece, unafraid to examine some of its own absurdities and contradictions. The mixed media elements felt somewhat unnecessary, but they were not intrusive and didn't detract from my enjoyment of the earnest enthusiasm of the cast.
[Enter the Narrator]
The acting and production were both spot-on, but the script was the thing that shined here. The writing was witty in a way that didn't rely on punchlines or pop-culture references to work magic, although those were also present in just the right amount. The mental gymnastics required to maintain the fiction becomes so convoluted that it implodes on itself and *becomes* the plot. I was really impressed, especially for a show that I heard comparatively little buzz about. This might be one of the hidden gems of the Fringe this year.
The Last Bombardment
A Creeping Horror
True horror, in my opinion, isn't in facing something terrible or scary. It's in realizing that the truth is far worse than anything you could have dreamt; that you previously lacked the capacity to imagine worse. That the characters onstage could fail to imagine what they would have to do. I'm worried about the author just a bit; it takes f**ked up mind to say "Let's take basic human decency and turn it into a deadly weakness!" This play is chilling, sharply executed, and leave you ever-so-slightly uneasy for hours afterward.
Full Metal Rabbit
Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting
Full Metal Rabbit - Buckle in, you're going to need that safety harness. Full Metal Rabbit is a mashup of Watership Down and every cheesy 80's action movie ever. A parody so metal and so meta that I couldn't tell where the puns stopped and the audience began. It is insane. It has frenetic energy almost beyond belief. IT MAKES NO SENSE AT ALL. In other words, it's The A-Team with bunnies. And it's glorious.
Labors of Love
A heartfelt play about interconnected lives and letting things go. The chess theme permeates the whole production in subtle ways from the actions of the characters down to the ambitious (for Fringe at least) set pieces. Thankfully knowledge of chess is not required; the game is just a framework by which we explore the characters lives.
When it came to the emotional climax, the story and the actors didn't pull any punches. If you can watch this without feeling at least *something* you might be a robot.
Whisper Into My Good Ear
Stellar Performance, Simple Piece
A tour de force of superb acting. The story is minimalist and so are the men it is about. It is a one-note tale that, in any other hands, might have dragged. Instead, the simplicity the story served as a bank canvass for the actors to fill with pure charisma and emotion. And fill it they did. The actors embraced the dichotomy of their roles; one brooding, the other boisterous. Together they occupied the positive and negative mental spaces.
A Presentation Disguised as a Drama
An exploration of the morality of leaking classified information. The script lacked subtlety and the message felt slanted, but it did vigorously present multiple sides of the argument. Both factions were portrayed as rational points of view held by compassionate people who do not view their own action/inaction as amoral.
This is a very topical and timely play; it contains questions everyone *should* be asking themselves. But it also felt like a lecture. It felt like the characters weren't trying very hard to convince each other, rather it felt like they were trying to convince the audience. It felt contrived.
Wait...didn't Patrick's Cabaret close?
Uneven Quality, But Adventurous
Wait...didn't Patrick's Cabaret close? - Caberet is weird as a rule, and as a variety show I applaud the bold and adventurous artist lineup. That said, it was clear that there was a limited amount of tech rehearsal that took place in preparation because the first performer of the show was excessively mic'ed and left my ears ringing. This somewhat hampered my ability to enjoy the other two performers, who were just wonderful.
Since it's a different show every night your experience will vary. The lineup was well-curated, which means it certainly has promise.
Fascinating, But Raw Edges Peak Through
A mind-bending expression of our concepts of the old west. There's no story here, only conceptual threads begging to be pulled. Better projection and annunciation from one of the cast members was needed though. Possibly too abstract for a casual theater goer.
35 Different Angles From Which To Hate Yourself
A dance piece most relatable.
It's always hard for me to review dance pieces. I lack the expertise to know what is good. That said, I found this one to be extremely accessible, and if it's accessible I can enjoy it on more than just a visual level. Something I was taken out of the moment several times I a went through the list of self-loathing in the program trying to identify what I was looking at. Maybe I should have just refrained from looking, but spelling it out between pieces for the less dance-oriented audience members wouldn't have taken away from anything.
Slaughterhouse Five: A Musical
Some Stories Don't Need To Be Musicals
A musical adaptation that tries to cover too much ground in too little time. This was probably the wrong book to adapt. The show couldn't decide if it wanted to be a parody or accurately represent the story. It was rushed and chaotic and carried the nihilistic tone of the book close to the chest, but without the depths available on the written page it just looks... sloppy. And don't even think of watching this if you've never read the book.
Amusing, But Not Impactful
Fun and amusing stories, but nothing that left me feeling more as a person. The delivery was fine, but in the end they were just the accurately-told bizarre life experiences of someone who has had fore bizarre life experiences than most.
Half A Play
Solid sci-fi elements paired with good acting and an intriguing scenario lay the groundwork for something enjoyable and original. Then it ends. Abruptly. Like this review.
A Tree Full Of Gags That Needs Pruning
Hot Air almost cracks the code for a hilarious and absurd noir parody. The shadow puppetry in particular gave this the feel of a sharply-executed and high production value show. The physical humor especially was something to behold. Unfortunately, there was just too much of everything else.
Too much energy.
Too many jokes.
Too many murders.
Too much frantic yelling.
Reel it back it just a tiny bit and this could be fantastic. I know this to be true, because the best bits in this show are the subtle gags that no one onstage acknowledges.
Be Your Selfie!
A cute story about a couple of wannabe celebrities and our selfie-stick culture. It made some interesting use of mixed media elements. Sadly, the characters, both the ones presented to the internet and the ones presented to the audience, were kind of flat. They felt like caricatures rather than the flawed and vulnerable people that were hinted at. I feel like the story got bogged down in the 'How' of their self-destructive self-obsession when it could have been exploring the 'Who' and 'Why'.
Ronald Reagan: Time Traveler
All Laughs, No Nuance
Rapid pacing and quick transitions made for a well-coordinated and slickly-produced show that I wanted to love. This is a genuinely funny piece. While I admire the writing and humor, the politics were a little too heavy-handed and mean-spirited for my tastes. Leave the one-sided smear campaigns to the idiots and demagogues. Aim higher.
Dick White: Ghost Detective
Witty Wordplay, Unambitious Script
A cheesy script filled with witty wordplay, but boxed in by campy acting. It was funny, but the jokes wore thin by the end, and all the metta humor, self-awareness, and winking at the audience in the world could not save this show from the fact that it was a 50-minute play which was 10 minutes too long. I know that metaphorical middle fingers to the audience are an intentional part of the humor here, but you have to be someone who really enjoys that.
Death in Yosemite: A comedic adaptation of the Non-Fiction Book
Human Stupidity Knows No Trails
True tales of stupidity and avoidable death in a national park. One part Darwin Awards, one part 'A Million Ways To Die In The Old West'. The fictional framework thrown up the stories was funny, but felt forced and a bit awkward. Its gleeful morbidity was infectious, but it still felt thrown together.
Mediocre Show For Mediocre Characters
As a show that relied heavily on callbacks for humor, the beginning dragged. It eventually picks up steam and delivers on its promise, but for the most part the acting, energy, and script just never come together. Also, toilet humor *can* work, but it takes more finesse than was demonstrated here.
Wonderful Concept, Mediocre Script
A fun story that turns the 'kids summon a demon' narrative on its head. I thought for sure I was going to adore this. It really did have its moments of brilliance. Sadly, it suffered from missed cues, long silences, and a lazy plot that just ends abruptly. I loved the concept and cast, but it just needs a rewrite.
A Few Odd Choices, But Overall Good
An unsolved case that points towards the supernatural is laid out by a man pursuing it for decades. The material was a little too dry, and the actor's mask prevented him from expressing much emotion. I couldn't feel his excitement and fear, and without that it was just a story.
The Fainting Room
Witty and fearless, the actor highlights the absurdity of debunked science while encouraging women to explore their own bodies. She is a multi-talented performer with a knack for comedic timing, clowning, and rapid-fire costume changes. However, the show contained audience participation. There is nothing Minnesotan theater goers fear more than audience participation. Especially if it's not called out in the show description.
The Masque of Power
A Heavy Message That Doesn't Quite Land
A Crazy romp about power dynamics and how money is the root of all evil. Played a lot on the meta script-about-the-script which can feel tired, but in the context of two harlequins worked well. I was encouraged at first that this would not turn into just another piece about Trump. It tried very hard not to by illustrating how power is taken and abused in other way, but eventually caved.
A Contrived Situtation
A raunchy comedy about stupid teenagers making stupid decisions. Acting was terrific, and by far the best part. The story was also quite funny, but I found most of the characters unlikable. Deep moral questions are handled with slapstick comedy, but the answers try to strike a middle ground between the two and don't really succeed.
The Tragedy of Obi-Wan Kenobi
The Script Tries Just A Bit Too Hard
The tragedy here was the amount of exposition and mental gymnastics required to make sense of the plot holes in the Star Wars franchise. Instead of bending over backwards to fit it all together, it would been better to create a new interpretation that delivers on the premise more fully. The droids stole the show. It would have been worth watching just for them.
Good Production, But Little Suspense
All of the elements were in place were in place for a great piece of horror theater, but it just didn't gel. I think it was all just too straight forward. Monster in well. Monster kills people. The end. Loved the makeup and accent work by the cast, but it just didn't give me chills.
Wellstone: A Minnesotan Musical
A History Lesson Hiding A Good Drama
It was either too short or too long to accomplish all it tried to do. By focusing heavily on his legacy rather than the man, the story short changed its self on emotional content in favor of a refresher lecture on the last 20 years of American politics. There were connections to the rest of the story to be drawn there, but they were not illustrated clearly.
Don't Injure Your Audience
This was easily the best pure dance works I have seen in the festival this year. The music, the tone, the dancers... it all came together for a grade A+ performance. Except for the volume. It wasn't just loud, it was at levels that were borderline dangerous. I don't know who decided to set the levels, but they were torturing the entire theater. I very nearly got up and left to get away. My ears were ringing long afterward. NOT. COOL.
Fury, But Little Substance
A billionaire get his comeuppance at the hands of a very angry everyman. Intense acting and commitment to the roles by the cast was enough to make me squirm at times. The characters, however, were as one-dimensional as they come. They were archetypes through which the writer laid out their case for the basic lack of humanity by the ultra wealthy.
The billionaire conveniently checked off every possible box for a loathsome rich white guy and made it so easy to hate him. Some nuance to challenge the viewer on his humanity, background, or the purity of the everyman's motivation could have given such a strong performance real impact instead of just being a strawman for the author to beat up on. Moral outrage can only carry a script so far.
Doesn't Have A Peg Leg To Stand On
A tale of a pirate's... uh... redemption, I guess? The costuming, props, and dedication to the roles were all admirable but I couldn't really follow the plot. Or I could follow the plot and it just made no sense. Musical interludes distracted from the story further by being from the wrong century altogether. At first I suspected they had wandered in from another show and were crashing the party.
Thor: Jurassic Park
A Mashup Mashed Up
Parody mashups can be fun, but require everyone involved to have a real passion for all the source material. I just didn't feel that was the case here. The script, while absurd by its very nature, felt like it was carelessly thrown together in very short order.
The pterodactyl costumes were inspired. If as much care and creativity had gone into the rest of the show as went into those, this would have been something amazing.
Atlas Dynamo's Burnt Offerings
I'd Rather See Them In Concert At A Bar
I feel sympathy for the plight of this show, and admire the determination to put it on despite those challenges. That said, the set was disorganized and the songs themselves were kind of repetitive. Like a praise chorus with 5 words repeated 10 times, the music bored me. The singer committed the cardinal sin of thinking that Minnesotans are going to be into audience engagement. Minnesotans are *never* into audience engagement. Working the crowd at a theater festival will get you nothing but panicky glances towards the exit.
A Story Going Nowhere
Take what could have been a chilling and emotional premise, fill it with shallow characters,portray them with little emotion, and then replace half the dialog with phone-quality recordings that were hard to understand at times.
I wanted to slowly learn about the driver. I wanted to slowly learn of the magnitude and rationale of her choices. Instead, the whole story is laid bare with exposition in minutes. The rest of the time is her brooding over a failed freshman year crush that was *really* hard to get invested in. The final moments of the story made me realize that there could be a phenomenal show buried in there somewhere, but that was not what was presented.
All About Energy, But Lacking In It
This was a new-age sermon on energy and the harmonies of the universe thinly disguised as a drama. Some sections of the script felt as though they were being quoted directly out of books... the books being recommended in the playbill, uncoincidentally. Nothing really happens plot-wise.
The cast forgot their lines more times than I can write off to opening-night jitters, and those lines were frequently delivered directly to the audience, regardless of who was being addressed. While one cast member brought a sense of urgency and energy to the stage, everyone else was just... there.
Clearly a this was a production that meant a lot to everyone involved. But that, by itself, is not enough to make good theater.
Bear Eats Bear
Well, At Least I Got Some Fresh Air
I love performance art. I love all the weirdness that Fringe brings to the table in all it crazy forms. I did not love this. Did I wander away and miss something? I enjoyed my relaxing stroll through the park but I would have rather been listening to podcasts, music, or just peace and quiet. I could have done without the 40 minutes of cassette tape static punctuated by occasional non sequitur observations about pop culture and vague references to the apocalypse.
There's a decent chance that we, the audience, were the real pieces of performance art for the random other people enjoying a nice evening outdoors as we wandered around Kenwood Park like a horde of bored and confused zombies listening to our Walkmans.
Adam Boutz's Queue
by Scream Blue Murmur Productions
by Highlander Kitty
by The Theatre Cosmic
by Twin Cities Dance Court
by Willi Carlisle Productions