Years attending Fringe: 5-9 years
25-34 years old
Lives in... Minneapolis
Favorite genre: Drama
Joe Allen's reviews
Color me a Traitorous Patriot
Grappling with a difficult topic that is heavy, immediate, and real, Patriot/Traitor is a marvelous indictment of complicit citizenship.
The dialogue is natural and witty, dealing with the nuance of ethical/moral conundrums and pop-culture references in the same breath.
So many good themes in duality: (Relationship vs Self, City vs Country, Ethical vs Legal, Safety vs Risk, Logical vs Emotional).
The actors do a wonderful job with the text, and are provided some wonderful moments by the script which are brought to life without a skipped beat. Special shout-out to the sisters, not only for the fun of their dialogue and intelligent characterization, but for being so absolutely present through the run of the show.
Ask the hard questions.
A Mermaid Abroad & A Fish Out of Water
Genuine, sexy, real adults having real feels, traveling to run away from human frailty, learning to value their homes.
Two one-person shows fall into the each others' orbit for a Fringe slot absolutely worth seeing for the humanity, humor, and grace.
If you find yourself recovering from any sort of relationship woes, if your heartmind is woggly, if you've ever struggled with a lover who doesn't communicate, come see this show.
Side-note: If you're going to bring your children to something that clearly states "Sexual content, Adult language" I guess it's your call when to leave, but you probably will.
Dick White: Ghost Detective
Pre-show Drink Up
This show is clearly divisive.
If you've grown up with crass, adult humor, if you still watch Adult Swim, if you've never met a pun you didn't want to keep in your pocket forever. See this show.
Just because the jokes aren't simple and easy doesn't mean they're not artfully employed. This is a clever, absurd romp, that in NO way is trying to be high-brow. I have a hard time imagining older audiences will enjoy this, the poor bastards and their calcifying neuro-plasticity.
Special shout-out to the narrator. Captivating and hilarious.
I've a part missing.
This show is simply stunning, and even after a night's sleep I'm failing to words. I'm still haunted by the two stunning actors displaying a tremendous range of passion, joy, and pain. The setting is a nondescript Scandinavian, agrarian, dreamscape - wherein the relationship with death, loss, fish, and water is commonplace, immediate, and earth-shattering. This play demands to be seen. I'm humbled having witnessed it. I think I will forever be haunted by the soundscape of this play. Their voices, howls, murmurs, and sighs. Fuhhhhckkk.
I'm heartbroken about the last-minute changes to Strike's layout, because it really does the blocking of this play a disservice. Try to sit in the front row. Or bring stilts.
Mayor Lear of Townsville
Fill your eye holes!
This is an exuberant, adventurous, cutting-edge mashup of classics, pop culture, technology, projection, fight choreography, and gender studies. Keep your eyes peeled for Play-Dot in the future, because if Daniel and Shalee take as large a step forward as they did from Kamehamehamlet into Mayor Lear, you'll be scraping for tickets like all the other rabble lacking $3.75
If you only know PG, you'll learn about Lear. If you only know Lear, you'll learn about PG. If you know neither, you may feel a little lost. If you know both, don't blink.
Shout-outs to Wass, Erickson, and Duea, and heck, the whole company.
The Zoo Story (New Version)
An American Parable
The character limit will prevent me from really diving into what is deserving of a dissertation.
This is essentially a free master class, and if you're looking to grow as a performer during this festival, you simply must, must, must see this show. Zoo Story is one of the best plays written in the past century, and it is -masterfully- performed.
If you catch me on the street during Fringe and need to be sold on this play, or need to lean against a wall gasping while you still put it together in your own core, don't hesitate to reach out.
It's going to be unique, dumb experience
Title: MN Daily, Nick Saxton.
I'm not sure what's up with the resurgence of David Zucker/Leslie Nielsen/Sheep Theatre style of humor that inspires this group of brilliant of young actors, but the jokes fly so fast it doesn't matter if you don't laugh at half of them, because within seconds you're laughing at the next - or still laughing from a cerebral, subtle, under-the-radar absurdity that slow worms its way into your head while the actors press on.
This show is relentless and clever. It's stupid and childish. It's full of joy, and only slightly full of itself.
Shout-out to Emily Wrolson for being a smoldering genius, and the near-certain bruises on an actors' chest.
Bonus points for my favorite subtle subplot of the night 11/22/1963
Swords & Sorcery: The Improvised Fantasy Campaign
Rolls an 18
A character, mid-slow-motion-attack-animation, is ruled to have rolled a 19 by the booming GM. His fists, before unresolved, upon roll strike daggers to the heart and abdomen of my nerd-core, and vivisects some dungeon tiny-bird-scum to a well-called sound effect from the booth. Visceral, I'm sold.
These guys are having a ridiculous amount of fun, and it doesn't take a lifetime of experience with tabletop-oriented worldbuilding to appreciate the sheer genius of pulling apart some of the richest fantasy canon in a brilliant structured/non-structured romp.
Minor criticisms to a few missed "yes-ands" and volume/facing issues (in the round), but this show succeeds at a Heroic level (difficulty 6+)
Miffed that I'll miss subsequent shows.
First Blood: Tears edition
This is a difficult show to review.
It starts out pretentious and masturbatory (par for PBL's course) and you will very likely squirm. Then you realize you're supposed to squirm. Then you realize your squirming is complicity as you bear witness to some absolutely true humanity. Both spoken word pieces transition so effectively and intelligently from the supporting text that the playwright's earlier indulgences and unshakable male gaze are almost forgiven. This is Life and Death. Check your privilege at the door.
The sound cues are too loud, and unnecessarily jarring.
Death in Yosemite: A comedic adaptation of the Non-Fiction Book
Don't bring a date.
This show is a blast. If you're a sucker for morbid humor, horror tropes, unnecessarily indispensable props, and metatheatrical silliness - you're walking into the right show.
Edwin Strout has a marvelous presence, voice, and timing. The character work of the gang of park-goers are a delight.
I don't know how to describe the style of humor other than (from my notes), "obtusely obvious, pedantic, expository jokes." Words are fun. Don't choke on a mouthful.
Meanwhile, six years later.
I loved the growing absurdist horror of this show as it steadily grows to borderline, prop-heavy, snuff.
This is educational theatre at its finest, where talented young heartminds are scratching at some really heavy shit that they're only just now beginning to understand, but live through and are shaped by all the same - yet in the safe, raw, expansive, and nurturing space of the theatre.
As a survivor, and as someone who worked multiple years on a similar show in theme/content/intent through college, I will always defend, underscore, and promote this type of work.
As a critique of the script, for a show that's been lauded for its timeliness and prescience, and performed by prestigious theatre colleges: I fear for the young survivors who don't fit into the popular kid box or cis-normativity. I wouldn't have expected erasure here.
MANIFESTO: An American Play
This show is an important and difficult examination of the ways in which the crueler, callous aspects of society alienate our most vulnerable.
The actors are doing some stunning work, with painful vulnerability coming through in closely controlled timbre of voice.
Vignette driven with a few overarching narratives, I still feel like this show struggled with some inchoate choices. The scene/sob transitions are shrill, and not necessary to sell the gravity of the subject material. At times they're reveling in the darkness, but at least they're not moralizing.
Trigger Warning: Rape, Violence
We must bear witness, and hold kindness in our hearts - but this play draws a line a hair too close to romanticizing disaffected violence.
There are a lot of lovely elements at work in this production:
A (metal)saber fight, with vicious attention to how you should hamstring your opponent.
Captivating stage presence from Kelly Nelson.
3-piece live music, and a powerful, raw, shanty singer.
The script is over-expository - these scenes belong alongside other aspects of the world. I wanted to see the terror Blackbeard reigned over his crew juxtaposed with his ability to mesh with colonial governments and upper crusts.
Dialogue/volume is always an issue in this space. Not fair to detract, in my opinion, but is definitely a concern.
I don't expect a full production concept from a Fringe show, but I'm left wondering why this play, why now?
Waiting for Gygax
Damn the Bards!
In concept and in the majority of execution this play hits a true mark.
Mis-matched buddy comedy, where one buddy is the awkward, sweet nerd in your party, and the other is the awkward, sweet theatre-nerd in your party. You may very well have both these things inside of you.
There are some fun physical-comedy japes, but some of them feel forced.
Most of the jokes are fun cerebral riffs on the tropes of gaming and fantasy lore. If this isn't your alley I'm not sure nearly half of them will land.
The Masque of Power
Are artists chasing self-relief instead of affecting change? Is it enough to simply fret ABOUT an issue without saying anything concrete about it. Are we able to transcend our own limitations and ego long enough to actually say something important?
There are so many ingredients in this show. It's self-aware and self-effacing. It's purposefully self-indulgent. You can see the intensity of love, passion, confusion, and pain on the faces of the Vakys.
You'll likely not see anything else like this at Fringe this year. Worth a visit.
"Searching but not finding answers anywhere, lost in a masquerade."
Don't give into despair, fam.
Draft of Concept?
There are very clearly some intelligent minds and interesting concepts being mulled over by the creative team, unfortunately they do not seem to make it to the stage with clarity. This production left me with the impression of every high-concept production that lost its way transitioning between table-work, movement improv, and blocking. I got the sense that the characters knew what they were doing. I also felt that consideration was not given to whether the audience had the tools they would need to unpack it.
Side note, please consider the light-sensitivity of your audience when using flashlights at eye-level in the round.
Couple Fight 3: Weddings!
My main problem here is that this is about as safe and tame as a Fringe show can be. They've got a formula. They've got the talent. They've got the names. They've got the venue. It's a waste to spend it all pushing no boundaries. But hey that's mass-appeal for ya!
There is a strong undercurrent of toxic monogamy and blurred lines of domestic abuse/neglect that are played for laughs, and yeah, I take umbrage.
Yeah you'll laugh. It's almost worth rushing your butt to the Rarig to hop in the sold-out line solely for the monologue about marriage, galaxies, and the human need to expand. I'd love to see the creative team contemplate pushing in that direction because they're scratching at some genuine, worthwhile stuff.
Joe Allen's Queue
by Mosaic Productions
by Mortimer Productions