Thursday, August 8, 2019

MN Fringe 2019: Day Four - Hovis, Old Radio and SCARES

Day Four was another amazing day at the Minnesota Fringe Festival. It doesn't hurt that every show we saw was at Rarig. (Now if they only had a bar....) And such a good line-up!

Edith Gets High By Devious Mechanics (Rarig Center Arena)
What can we say about Keith Hovis that we haven't already said? You know, like this: "Keith Hovis, playwright and composer, is a master of mixing the macabre and the funny with clever, melodic songs" (TCHF VI: A Morbid History of Sons and Daughters). Or perhaps "Go see this. Keith Hovis is a young genius, and this show is just as dark and delightful as his Teenage Misery. The music is fun and the lyrics are hilarious." (Fringe 2017: Jefferson Township Sparkling Junior Beauty Pageant).  "The lyrics are marvelously clever, the music is tuneful, the melodies are memorable, the arrangements are beautifully done." (Teenage Misery) We could GO ON. So go see it already!

You're still here? Fine. Debra Berger is endlessly engaging as Edith, Ryan Lear is wildly hilarious, and the entire ensemble (Lizzie Gardner, Kiko Laureano, Cameron Reeves, and Colleen Somerville Leeman) brings humor and harmonies for days. Director Allison Witham creates a video game world with minimal props and inventive movement, and her work makes the most of the challenging Rarig Arena space. So go!

Frankenstein: Two Centuries By Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society (Rarig Center Thrust)
The Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society celebrates the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein with two original radio scripts, performed with live music and sound effects. The first script, by Tim Uren, is in the style of the radio show Escape! and is a dramatic depiction of a scenario after the end of the novel. The second script, by Joshua English Scrimshaw, is sillier and lighter, incorporating other monsters from the Universal horror movies. This script is in the style of Inner Sanctum, a show that (according to MORLS--check out the podcast!) was extremely popular. The punny banter between The Host and the Lipton Tea Lady is kind of bonkers in a delightful way, and Scrimshaw and Shanan Custer make the most of it. All of the cast, including Eric Webster, Uren, and Joe Weismann are excellent, and the music and sound effects complete the picture. Even thinking about the effective breaking neck sound effect makes me cringe a day later. Also, Shanan Custer as Elsa Lanchester is genius and we'd happily watch that performance for days.

Hello Mother By Haunt Armada (Rarig Center Xperimental)
Hello Mother was created by Haunt Armada, a group that knows from scaring people. What starts as an urban legend/ghost story told during a power outage becomes frighteningly real for two stepbrothers (Phillip Zawieruszynski and Zane Perren) who don’t get along. The group finds ways to use the entire Rarig Xperimental space, so there might be a figure appearing from a hidden space, or another breathing creepily behind you. They also use light–and the lack of light–very effectively, and perform the simple scene changes with a speed that keeps the tension high. The story itself isn’t terribly original, but a ghost story doesn’t have to be if it’s as scary as this one. Not for the faint of heart, but if you enjoy a good scare, it’s a winner! Also, there's skittering. SKITTERING!