AISLE SAY Twin Cities


Reviewed by Ellen Dworsky and Roxanne Sadovsky

The 2-Jew (latke) Review of
The 2003 Minnesota Fringe Festival

In order to provide timely feedback for this year's Fringe Festival, we here at 2-Jew Review have decided to utilize the "latke" evaluation system. Similar to the "star" system, we will be rating plays with 1-5 latkes. In order to best benefit from The 2-Jew Fringe Review, we suggest you read some of our former reviews on this site--including last year's Fringe Festival. Most people love us, but certain Minnesotans consider us California gals way too brazen for this Lutheran Land. But chances are, if you are going to see Fringe, you won't have this issue. We hope you splotz with joy. Mazel Tov to all the Fringe-Folk!

0 Latkes: You must make your mother very unhappy.

1 Latke: Oy vey! For this I paid hard earned money?

1.5-2 Latkes: It's good that you tried something new but it should have been something else.

2.5-3 Latkes: You may show some promise but you'll probably have to marry a Doctor is you don't want to starve in your old age.

3.5 Latkes: Fine, fine. You got a good thing going there. But if you had gone to college, you'd have a profession to fall back on in your old age.

4.5 Latkes: Don't ever say we didn't help make you famous. Your mother must be bursting with pride--but you couldn't have been a doctor?

5 Latkes: You're a genius--but you'd get more respect if you were a doctor.

August 1, 2003

Climax - The Final Four Plays.
Gremlin Theatre
Written by: Randall J. Funk, Steven Dietz, Ann Frances Gregg & Dana Yeaton
Cast: Carl Schoenborn, Casey Radmann, Ann Frances Gregg, Ryan Parker Knox, Tina Fredrickson, Debra Dean, Peter Hansen, & Nicole MQ Johnson
Venue: Loring Playhouse

Cleanliness of Venue: What? Am I a bat that can see in the dark?
Comfort of Venue: Who can resist a theater on the second floor?

Elle: Rox, as far as I'm concerned, I have little to say about the first two plays, (2 latkes) but the last two are worth 5 latkes!

Rox: I agree. Extra sour cream and apple sauce for that adorable Midwest Martha doing arts and crafts with the prison inmates.

Chutzpah of show: Definitely ballsy.
Point of the show: Life is strange and surprising.
Originality (Or already been done?): Original!
Gestalt (The whole picture): A nice compilation of brevity, charm, intrigue, and surprise endings.

Level of "Fringe": Last 2 are very "fringe."
First 2 were sort of Woody Allen meets Henry Jaglom--not in a good way.
Level of Schmaltz: None.

Most Attractive among Cast:
Rox says:
You know in the second play where Ryan Parker Knox was shaving that woman's legs? I wouldn't mind if that guy shaved my legs.
Stand-out Cast members: Peter Hansen & Nicole MQ Johnson

Kosher for all ages: 18 and up unless you grew up in a house where there were no rules.
Kosher for all religions: Ya betcha
Kosher for all cultures: Maybe not for "prison culture."
Kosher for all emotionally challenged: Let the fatally attracted, the oppositional defiants, and obsessive compulsives be warned.
Kosher for all attention spans: YES!

Did we love it? Yes
Would we go again? Yes
Should you go? Yes

Comments/Excuses/Guilt: A great way to start Fringing. Makes you think, which is worth its weight in latkes these days.

Latkes:3 Latkes

August 2, 2003

Written and performed by: Lisa Sandino
Venue: Brave New Workshop

Cleanliness of Venue: Clean
Comfort of Venue: Sort of cozy in there in the back. Sort of in the spotlight up there in front. We loved the old red vinyl chairs.

Chutzpah of show: Anyone who works sexual abuse into a comedy act has chutzpah.
Point of the show: Have fun with your ADD
Originality (Or already been done?): Yes, often.
Gestalt (The whole picture): Entertaining, but nothing new.

Level of "Fringe": Not a lot.
Level of Schmaltz: None
Level of Guilt: Tons! (Especially if you come from LA, have ADD, and have issues with mom.)

Attractiveness of Cast: Sexy gal.
Cast goals/mission: Minnesota girl goes to LA to search for self.

Kosher for all ages: Adult
Kosher for all emotionally challenged: Those who have some personal insight will do best here.
Kosher for all attention spans: Definitely!

Did we love it? We liked it.
Should you go? Minnesotans will vindicated in thinking that Californians are crazy. Those from CA may think Sandino relies too heavily on the LA stereotypes-shamans, therapists, colonic therapy, big-breasted women abound in this one-woman show.

Comments/Excuses/Guilt:Fun to watch. Sandino is funny, cute, and you can tell she has gone through a lot of hard times and has emerged a warrior. Good inspiration.

Latkes: 2.5.

Elle: Geez, Rox. Kind of harsh at only 2.5 latkes. I thought it deserved at least 3.5. My only gripe was how she kept throwing in how she was sexually abused as a child. Wasn't this supposed to be comedy? I mean, she did win the Twin Cities Funniest Person Contest--whatever that is--after all. Or, if she felt she needed to keep mentioning it, shouldn't she have said who abused her? I mean, if it wasn't one of her parents, I think she'd want to let the audience know that.

Rox: Maybe it was one of her parents.

Elle: Oh.

Written and performed by: Mary Hirsch
Venue: Brave New Workshop

Chutzpah of show: None
Point of the show: Sitcom humor
Originality (Or already been done?): Way done
Gestalt (The whole picture): Like watching a rerun of a rerun

Level of "Fringe": Dated fringe
Level of Schmaltz: Dripping
Level of Guilt: Male bashing in the form of "public service announcements"

Voice quality of Cast: Strong. Loud and proud. Even when she was singing off-key.
Cast goals/mission: Bitching without solving

Kosher for all ages: Yes. Younger ones will like it because they will "get it," not because it's funny, but almost "dirty."
Kosher for all emotionally challenged: Self indulgent.
Kosher for all attention spans: No. It still drags.

Did we love it? No
Would we go again? Not a third time
Should you go? The audience loved it.

Comments/Excuses/Guilt: Same as last year


Elle: Rox, I thought you said you didn't hate it as much as last year.

Rox: Last year it was worth minus 1 latkes.

Elle: I give it at least 3 latkes. First, the male-bashing went way down this year and second, I thought her observations on men, menopause, and getting older were funny-- I don't care if she solves her problems.

Vic Volare and the Torchlight Players
Written by: Vic Volare
Venue: Red Eye

Cleanliness of Venue: Super!
Comfort of Venue: Yep
Sound in Venue: Only slightly muffled during Vic's singing at times, but otherwise great.

Chutzpah of show: Total!
Point of the show: To entertain and make you laugh.
Originality (Or already been done?): Yes, but who cares? It's high hilarity!
Gestalt (The whole picture): More! Yes! I want more.

Level of "Fringe": Ideal
Level of Schmaltz: Ideal
Level of Guilt: Jazz and Blues aren't about guilt--even in the "she done me wrong" songs.

Attractiveness of Cast: Darling. Every last one of them. And did Mike Fotus get a perm or was that a wig?
Voice quality of Cast: Fly me to the moon!
Cast connection to one another and the audience: Superb.
Stand-out Cast membersVic, Mike Fotus, Liz Ryan Murray, and the band of course.
Cast goals/mission: Life is short! Have fun!

Kosher for all ages: PG-13
Kosher for all religions: Yes
Kosher for all cultures; Yes
Kosher for all emotionally challenged: Beats Prozac!
Kosher for all attention spans: Yes. Moved along at a rapid clip going back and forth between jazz and improv.

Did we love it? Yes.
Would we go again? Yes. I brought Mom who was in town for her yearly Fringe Binge. She loved the improv but thought Vic's songs were a little bland. And I won the Vic Volare snow globe. Shhhh. Don't tell Rox. She'll want to add it to her tacky 1970's snow globe collection.
Should you go? Yes

Comments/Excuses/Guilt:Why, oh why, do theatre groups neglect to print programs. Ok, maybe because the improv players change on a nightly basis, but I'd sure like to name some names because some of the players were gut-bustingly funny.

Latkes: 4.5

August 3, 2003

Written and performed by Noel LaBine
Venue: Loring Playhouse

Rox went to Dylan and The Dead so I brought my friend Bob as a stand-in Jew to review with me.

Bob's comment: This is why I don't see more theater.

Chutzpah of show: None
Point of the show: From the program: "Noel...create[s] stories that entertain and instruct [so] more people can understand difficult and painful parts of our history. His...experiences...have especially strong teachings about the painful feelings associat[ed] with war."

Originality (Or already been done?): Been done. 1 man speaking (and singing at the end of each story), 1 stage, no props.

Level of Schmaltz: Medium

Voice quality of Cast: Thick Minnesota accent and I'm not so sure he should be singing.

Kosher for all ages: Yes
Kosher for all religions: Yes
Kosher for all cultures; Yes
Kosher for all attention spans: Although it was only 45 minutes long, I noticed Bob's head drop to his chest a couple of times though I didn't hear any outright snoring.

Did we love it? No
Would we go again? No
Should you go? Only if you like that sort of gentle yet in-your-face "teaching" and "instruction," perhaps better suited for the classroom.

Comments/Excuses/Guilt: I feel guilty for not liking this, but I didn't. LaBine needs to interject a little emotion into the traditional Minnesota flat affect--and a little drama. The stories actually were interesting but too long. As he spoke, I was mentally editing: cut that whole "paragraph," how 'bout some hand gestures here, get a little life in your voice, and so on.

Latkes: 2

August 4, 2003

Vista Productions.
Theatre department of Visitation School and Saint Thomas Academy
Director/Choreographer: Wendy Short-Hayes
Costume Design: Beth Nistler
Venue: MCTC Whitney Main Stage

Cleanliness of Venue: Very.
Comfort of Venue: Yes, could even stretch out my feet in the front row.
Sound in Venue: Muffled, but maybe because we sat in front of the speaker.

Point of the show: Point? Everything has a point? Even when the point isn't readily apparent.
Originality (Or already been done?): Yes, but this one should be done every year.
Attractiveness of Cast: These high school kids just get cuter and cuter every day.
Voice quality of Cast: Wide latke range: 2 to 5
Cast connection to one another and the audience: Sometimes a bit forced (as star destined kids are wont to be), but moved along well. We got the point.
Stand-out Cast members: Oy. This is like last year's children's theatre production: 40 people playing 3 parts each and we can't figure out who's who. But they were all great. Extra sour cream goes out to Arrow for being such a well-behaved and loyal dog. Well done!
Cast goals/mission: Give it their all, and they did.

Kosher for all ages: Yes. We love children's theatre.
Kosher for all religions: Yes
Kosher for all cultures: Yes
Kosher for all attention spans:Yes

Did we love it? Yes
Would we go again? Yes. I took Mom to see it (by accident) and it was her favorite show in Fringe.
Should you go? Yes. They're doing Fringe in Scotland if you happen to be in the neighborhood.

The only thing I didn't like was that some of it was a little schmaltzy at times. I understand the need for "good" choreography and timing, but I cringe when I see kids trying too hard to be stylized in an outdated or inauthentic way. Maybe it's because they did this sort of thing when I was a kid in shows and it felt so unnatural. But it had plenty of contemporary references which was fun.

Elle: Of course it was schmaltzy. That's the point. Or one of the many points-- including the ones on the tops of their heads. Cute costumes.

Latkes: 4

Hosted by Amy Salloway
Written by: Tom Cassidy, Lisa Perez, Mike Edlavitch, Julie Swenson, and John Schaidler Venue: Dunn Brothers Loring Park

Cleanliness of Venue: Crummy (get it?)
Comfort of Venue: Not
Sound in Venue: Not great

Chutzpah of show: Not much.
Point of the show: Open mike practice.
Originality (Or already been done?): Many times.
Gestalt (The whole picture): Sort of a let down.

Level of "Fringe": Only for "fringe" sake.
Level of Schmaltz: Too much.

Cast connection to one another and the audience: One gal threw Laffy Taffy at the audience. I think it was supposed to be some kind of reward, but she bonked a few people on the head. It was cute at first, but then got old. We couldn't get over how much she looked like one of our schoolmate's.
Stand-out Cast members: Thomas Cassidy (who also wrote and stars in "Hanging Pollyanna"--with his mother, no less.
Cast goals/mission: If we can do it, so can you.

Kosher for all ages: No. One man read a long piece about a strip club and a "miracle of nature"--a woman with 56DD breasts.
Kosher for all religions: Yes
Kosher for all attention spans: We found ourselves drifting occasionally.

Did we love it? We liked it.
Would we go again? Maybe
Should you go? Sure. It's free.

I was physically quite uncomfortable, shphitzing from being on my I wasn't the best audience, but it could've been a lot better and certainly more passionate. I don't understand this Gen-Whatever attitude says, "Well, I don't give a fuck, but here I am..." Was that some sort of comedian thing in the 80s?

Latkes: Ranging from 2-4

Artist or Company: Sky's the Limit Productions
Written by: Steve Owens
Venue: Minneapolis Theatre Garage

Cleanliness of Venue: Very
Comfort of Venue: Roomy
Sound in Venue: Good

Chutzpah of show: Not much
Point of the show: Get off your ass and live your life.
Originality (Or already been done?): Many times
Gestalt (The whole picture): Great use of lighting and set (was that flour they use to create the "dusty look" of the old Saloon?) These things saved it.

Level of "Fringe": Nope
Level of Schmaltz: Yup, high.
Level of Guilt: Some

Attractiveness of Cast: They all became more attractive as the show went on. I guess that means they were likeable people seen as individuals.
Voice quality of Cast: The girl who played Loretta (Meredith Jacobs) has the sort of speaking voice you just want to shoot up into your blood stream and integrate its warrior tones into the veinous highway just beneath your skin. Well, I did anyway.

Note from Elle: I have no idea what Rox is talking about re Meredith Jacob's voice, having not seen the play.

Cast connection to one another and the audience: Slightly off.
Stand-out Cast members Meredith Jacobs. And Lorin Yenor (playing washed up rock star, Faylain Veilleau) did a really good Jeff Bridges?
Cast goals/mission:Waiting for Godot meets Tony...Whatshisname--that inspirational speaker guy.

Kosher for all ages: Yes
Kosher for all religions: Yes
Kosher for all cultures; Yes, especially existentialists
Kosher for all emotionally challenged: Yes.
Kosher for all attention spans: A bit long

Did we love it? No.
Would we go again? God, no.
Should you go? Only if you have never ever left the state of Minnesota.

Comments/Excuses/Guilt: It looked good, sounded good, had potential, but was boring--an old lesson trying yet another medium. Besides, by now folks should know that life is what you make it, whether in a bar or lost on the desert highway. Like Joe Frank says, "Life is about as creating as many interesting allusions as possible."

Latkes: 2

August 5, 2003

Directed by: A-yia Thoj
Staring: Trina Alvero, Kris Darling, TamaLin Fox, Richelle Mon
Venue: Acadia Café

Cleanliness of Venue: This place is so cool! It's a cute café in front but through a door is a nice little theatre.
Comfort of Venue: Very. Eat and drink encouraged! We even got to sit at a little table.
Sound in Venue: Good. Theatre is just the right size.

Chutzpah of show: For gay white culture, none. For the Hmong community, probably a lot.
Point of the show: In the Hmong community, being gay is a fate worse than death, brings shame on the family and this way of thinking needs to change.
Originality (Or already been done?): Not from the Hmong perspective.

Level of "Fringe": Not much
Level of Schmaltz: Medium
Level of Guilt: High

Voice quality of Cast: Trina Alvero (who played Nkaujnag, teenage lesbian) was shrill.
Cast connection to one another and the audience: They tried, but alas did not succeed.
Stand-out Cast members: Kris Darling (who played Suabcua, Nkaujnag's girlfriend) was the only one who could really act. She was quite good.
Cast goals/mission: Shine a spotlight on the invisible people of our society.

Kosher for all ages: No. Adult theme.
Kosher for all religions: No
Kosher for all cultures: No. If you were one of the Hmong culture who thought being gay was a sickness, you wouldn't want to see this.
Kosher for all emotionally challenged: Probably not
Kosher for all attention spans: Probably. Moved along well.

Did we love it? No
Would we go again? No
Should you go? A little preachy.

Comments/Excuses/Guilt: Pretty '80s for mainstream gay culture but probably cutting edge for Hmong culture.

Latkes: 3

Written by: Peter Bloedel
Venue: Acadia Café

Chutzpah of show: Not much, but who cares?
Point of the show: Having fun with Rhyme
Originality (Or already been done?): More Seussification!

Level of "Fringe": Medium
Level of Schmaltz: Medium
Level of Guilt: "Romeo and Juliet" with a happy ending

Attractiveness of Cast: Adorable
Voice quality of Cast: Great
Cast connection to one another and the audience: Excellent
Stand-out Cast members: All of them. Benjamin Latz and Megan J. Flatau made a fine Romeo and Juliet. Randy Schmelling was hilarious in his dual role as Monk Larry and Juliet's Nurse.
Cast goals/mission: Fun!

Kosher for all ages: Absolutely. Lots of kids in the audience.
Kosher for all religions: Yes
Kosher for all cultures: Yes
Kosher for all emotionally challenged: Yes
Kosher for all attention spans: Yes. Rhyme has a tendency to hold one's attention.

Did we love it? Yes
Would we go again? Yes
Should you go? Yes

Comments/Excuses/Guilt: We spoke in Rhyme after the play.

Latkes: 4

August 6, 2003

Kurt Hunter Marionettes
Written by: Kurt Hunter
Venue: Old Arizona Studios

Cleanliness of Venue: It'll do
Comfort of Venue: Not so much
Sound in Venue: Good

Chutzpah of show: Total
Point of the show: Creativity, fun, and compassion make the world go 'round.
Originality (Or already been done?): Yes, but not like this.
Gestalt (The whole picture): A little too much of a good thing. We know the guy's good, he doesn't need to showcase the entire shmeer in one show.

Level of "Fringe": High
Level of Schmaltz: Appropriate
Level of Guilt: Only self-induced appropriate guilt that says if you are not having fun yet, you might as well try something less serious, but ultimately all the more meaningful.

Attractiveness of Cast: Beautiful
Voice quality of Cast: Idea.
Cast connection to one another and the audience: Could have used a bit more in Act One.
Stand-out Cast members Fred the Box
Cast goals/mission: Remember the simple things, laugh, play, and move your fine self in whatever way you can.

Kosher for all ages: Yes
Kosher for all religions: Yes
Kosher for all cultures: Yes
Kosher for all emotionally challenged: Definitely better than Prozac
Kosher for all attention spans: Yes

Did we love it? Yes
Would we go again? We did.
Should you go? If you don't, it's at your own risk.

Comments/Excuses/Guilt: Any guy and gal team of puppeteers (Hunter's wife Kathy offers "tremendous assistance" by helping with the production and kindly walking the puppets on and off stage as though they were her own children) who can make me root for the love story between a dancing box and his closet mate, Clara, has got something pretty great. Go see anything they do and remember what life is all about.

Latkes: 5

Bad Comedy/Atavistic Production
Written by: Taavo Smith
Venue: Brave New Workshop

Chutzpah of show: Extreme
Point of the show: Shock comedy.
Originality (Or already been done?): Yes, but I haven't been desperate enough to go to those movies.
Gestalt (The whole picture): Funny, shockingly so and verging on truly good satire, but lacks the necessary counter point and substance to pull it off. (We see some of it, but it is not nearly as bold as the profanity.)

Level of "Fringe": Yup
Level of Schmaltz: None. These guys are way too in control for that.
Level of Guilt: If seen by the right (or "wrong") type of sicko.

Attractiveness of Cast: Good looking gaggle of young bloods
Voice quality of Cast: Fine
Cast connection to one another and the audience: Great! Timing was perfect.
Stand-out Cast members: Taavo Smith and Abbey Borkin
Cast goals/mission: Hard to tell if it is just pee-your-pants guffaws they are after of if they want to make a bigger point.

Kosher for all ages: No
Kosher for all religions: No
Kosher for all cultures: No
Kosher for all emotionally challenged: Yes
Kosher for all attention spans: Ideal

Did we love it? We liked it.
Would we go again? No, but maybe in a few years when they focus their goals and diffuse the potty-centric humor.
Should you go? If you like that kind of thing, which you probably do.

Comments/Excuses/Guilt: I think they will really have something when they get out of their twenties. A lot of talent here gets exploited on vulgarity.

Latkes: 3

August 7, 2003

Rhythm & Swing
Written and directed by: Cindy Gardner
Venue: Heart of the Beast Theatre

Cleanliness of Venue: Tops
Comfort of Venue: Cushy and cozy
Sound in Venue: Great

Chutzpah of show: Not too much other than physical threat of clocking a partner in the eye.
Point of the show: Remember the dances from back in the day and how they influence today's dance (as demonstrated by a Lindy Hop done to rap music and a 3-person Charleston routine. Look how much fun you can have with your limbs!
Originality (Or already been done?): Lots
Gestalt (The whole picture): Fun to watch. A bit unnerving with all the tossing around of each other.

Level of "Fringe": Much more Orpheum Theatre than Fringe
Level of Schmaltz: Dripping.

Attractiveness of Cast: Sequins and costumes abound from the 20s-90s which makes all of 'em shine like Cats.
Cast connection to one another and the audience: A little forced, but timing is everything if you're going to go tossing and punting your partner all over the stage.
Stand-out Cast members All
Cast goals/mission: Entertainment

Kosher for all ages: Yup
Kosher for all religions: Yes
Kosher for all cultures: Unless you really hate American nostalgia.
Kosher for all emotionally challenged: Unless you suffer from PTSD of anything reminiscent of war time.
Kosher for all attention spans: Each dance, yes, but a bit long and redundant as a whole.

Did we love it? We enjoyed it.
Would we go again? Rather just go out dancing or watch the swingers at Tapestry or Lindy Movement.
Should you go? Why not? You'll like it if you don't know that much about it.

Comments/Excuses/Guilt: A bit forced, dated, (I know that's the point), but after a while, it gets sort of redundant. More improvisational Lindy like you see the guys at Lindy Movement do would appeal more to those who speak triple step.

Latkes: 3

Artist or Company: 3 Months to Live
Staring: Amy Coulombe, Toni Halleen, Jennifer Marks, Laurel Osterkamp, and Allison Werthmann Venue: Jungle Red Salon (formerly a café owned by my 5th cousin)

Cleanliness of Venue: Not a hair on the floor
Comfort of Venue: Mom and I got to sit in the styling chairs. Others sat on bar stools, couches, stairs, or stood. (Yes, this was a SRO show.)
Sound in Venue: Excellent. Up close and personal.

Chutzpah of show: Hey, any play performed in a hair salon has chutzpah
Point of the show: Hair dressing is a cut-throat profession
Originality (Or already been done?): This was a real original.
Level of "Fringe": High
Level of Schmaltz: Low
Level of Guilt: None

Attractiveness of Cast: Very fashionable gals
Voice quality of Cast: Good
Cast connection to one another and the audience: Excellent. Audience participation mandatory--Jennifer Marks (Shelly "the Teaser" Caesar) teased my hair.
Stand-out Cast members: All of them

Kosher for all ages: No! I was thankful that Mom and I had 2 styling chairs between us so when the cast screamed, "fuck" for the 55th time, I didn't have to watch my mother cringe. I did, however, see many older folks looking pained. And when the "C" word (four letters) was shouted, there was actually an audible gasp from the audience.

Kosher for all religions: Not for "good" Christians

Kosher for all attention spans: Yes

Did we love it? We liked it.
Would we go again? Probably not
Should you go? If you don't mind a lot of swearing

Comments/Excuses/Guilt: Very clever. Sold out every night.

Latkes: 3.5

August 8, 2003

Directed by: John Schaidler
Based on: George Saunder's book
Venue: MCTC Whitney Main Stage

Chutzpah of show: None. It was a "kid's play."
Point of the show: Observe The Golden Rule
Originality (Or already been done?): Done
Level of "Fringe": Medium
Level of Schmaltz: High
Level of Guilt: None, sadly. Jews could have turned this into one fun guilt fest.

Attractiveness of Cast: Very cute kids
Voice quality of Cast: Great
Stand-out Cast members: They were all good--kids and adults alike.
Cast goals/mission: To show what happens to community if we don't follow The Golden Rule.

Kosher for all ages: Yes. Lots of kids in the audience.
Kosher for all religions: Yes
Kosher for all cultures: Yes
Kosher for all attention spans: Not Mom's apparently. She was nodding off.

Did we love it? We thought it was ok.
Would we go again? No.
Should you go? If you are under the age of 10.

Comments/Excuses/Guilt: Adorable set. Extra latkes for whoever designed and painted the cardboard houses and goats.

Latkes: 2.5 adult latkes, 3.5 kiddy latkes

Date: August 9, 2003

Jack Norton's Wizard Oil Vaudeville Company
Starring: Hard to tell without a program.
Too bad, because this was by far my favorite fringe "play."
Venue: MCTC Whitney Studio

Cleanliness of Venue: Yep.
Comfort of Venue: Very. Nice to have padded chairs.
Sound in Venue: Perfect

Chutzpah of show: Anyone who can combine marionettes, Tiny Tim, ragtime music, and vaudeville has chutzpah,
Point of the show: Fun!
Originality (Or already been done?): Original

Level of "Fringe": High
Level of Schmaltz: High, but in a good way.
Level of Guilt: Medium

Attractiveness of Cast: So cute in their suits
Voice quality of Cast: High. Jack Norton has a great voice.
Cast connection to one another and the audience: High. Lots of interaction.
Stand-out Cast members: All of them--whoever they are.

Kosher for all ages: Yes. Mom and kid approved.
Kosher for all religions: Yes
Kosher for all cultures: Yes
Kosher for all attention spans: Yes. Perfect mix of music, puppets and bad jokes.

Did we love it? Yes
Would we go again? Yes
Should you go? Yes

Comments/Excuses/Guilt: What fun! They played banjos, cellos, ukuleles, guitars, violins, and the drummer even played his metal tie on one song. Loved the old-time songs.

Latkes: 5

Charlie Bethel
Written by: "Two English Scribes" (though hard to know for sure)
Cast: Charlie Bethel
Venue: Jungle Theater

Cleanliness of Venue: The best
Comfort of Venue: Cozy, like a jungle tree house.

Chutzpah of show: For this, no chutzpah is needed; this is the kind of show that one does because one must.
Point of the show: Get out there and do good, live good--especially when no one is watching.
Originality (Or already been done?): Not like this

Level of Schmaltz: None.
Voice quality of Cast: Wonderfully expressive.
Cast connection to one another and the audience: Although he was only one, it was like watching an entire kingdom of characters. How he does this, I still do not know.

Kosher for all ages: For sure.
Kosher for all religions: Yes, especially enlightening for some of the, uh, post modern religions out there.
Kosher for all cultures; Should be lost on many of the apathetic quick-fixers, but other than that...
Kosher for all emotionally challenged: Better than Prozac.
Kosher for all attention spans: Yes.

Did we love it? Yup.
Would we go again? Yup, I will follow this man.
Should you go? If you know what's good for you.


Finally a show that reminds me why I must Fringe. A reminder that weeding through a lot of mediocrity, some serious crap on stilts, and 10 days sandwiched between all walks of audience fringe, is worth it. Had I missed this, I would have missed Fringe.

Bethel's passion, authenticity, and profound awareness of his mission as an artist is what separates the performers from the hams. Bethel reminds us of the origin of art, that quality entertainment was called upon to amuse, educate, entertain, and bring community together-not hocked in abundance like quick-fix sponsored mini-malls promising flash and no substance. Thankfully, he reminds us that there is a difference. He reminds us that we all have our personal "Beowulf" and that we ought to meet him before it's too late. Unlike many of this year's performers who truly walked the self-indulgent plank, Bethel's the kind of guy that 'back in the day' one might pay holy treasure to "play" at his hut-warming party or coming of age event.

So, Elle, as I sit here the Monday after Fringe, it occurs to me that I have 5 more shows to rate on the latke system. However, after writing what I just did about Beowulf, I don't think I can do it. Clearly, Beowulf was my favorite show, which should indicate the type of "critic" I am and what I consider meaningful and fulfilling theater. Be that as it may, I am going to "review" the gestalt of Fringe instead.

In all fairness, I will mention that I saw (in addition to Beowulf) 5 other shows this weekend: "The Worst Show in the Fringe" (at Heart of the Beast); "A la Carte in the Fool's Kitchen" (Whitney); "Whoa!? A Jam-Packed Dance Experience" (Whitney); "Six Steps" (Illusion Theater); "Shtick and its Relation to the Unconscious" (Heart of the Beast). Okay, Elle, I know what you are thinking. Here goes Rox with her rant about deep meaning and feeeeeelings and connection and all that psycho-blah blah. However, let me clarify. The moment of clarity that hit me like a sledge hammer this year at Fringe was that the shows that most moved me had a few things in common. No matter how silly or how ordinary, the shows that involved total commitment (to one's performance and character), emotional connection among performers, and creative risk (likely inspired by the artist's need to challenge himself out of his comfort zone.).

Unfortunately, Elle, only a few shows had all of those things. Instead, I guess they were more self-indulgent. Now, if a show is so funny that it can afford to be so self-indulgent, then so be it. However, that was not the case here (though it was almost the case with "A la Carte in the Fool's Kitchen", as well as with "Six Steps". Yet, both of these tended to give into shtick- (I am NOT EVEN going to talk about "SHTICK" by the way because it was so so so so so not good. Why? For starters, for a "musical," it only had a song and a half. Second, while the acting was great, the caricatures of cast left us nothing or no one to root for or care about. Plus, there was so much going on, so many things beginning and ending, that it was like opening my mother's junk drawer in the bathroom and trying to decide where to begin sorting)--that it ultimately sabotaged the quality of the show.). The one exception was "The Worst Show in the Fringe", which was both funny and substantial, causing us to think about the experience of theater going, as well as its relationship to the critics. It both excused and berated me as a "critic," though confirmed that what we do, Elle, is more like commentary. Is that the right word? In any case, the point for us at 2 Jew is to generate discussion, contemplation, and offer voice from the common man--hopefully this will inspire us to examine the role of "critique" and show that anyone has their right to exercise their right to free speech (no matter how much kvetching they do, right Elle?).

I will add that I adore Fringe. As always, I had a great time bantering with strangers in line about what's good. I discovered this serves as a short cut to either bypass or bee-line it to the shows I was "iffy" about. There's nothing better than conversing with a flake to concretize certain choice decisions. For example, one girl said she loved "Pull Yourself Up by Your Bra Straps, Again'" which indicated to me that she is likely an easy laugh. Coupled with her way-too-centered-optimistic-self, short hair cut, and genie pants, I decided to forgo her suggestion to go see "A Comment from the Peanut Gallery". A gamble, yes (especially since I ended up wasting an hour of my life at The Minneapolis Garage Theater at "In Search of Things Lost". Yet none of this makes the whole week a waste of time. It's truly wonderful to play tourist in one's own city and spend the week in parts of town we don't usually hang out. It's a great way to get to know the city and make us glad to live here, no matter how repressed some of the theatres and their audiences can be. It's also great to see all the local venues and some of the creative people out there in their independent theater troupes. What a darling little theater that Acadia Cafe is! Were I do to a show at Fringe, that would be the place for sure!

Most importantly though, it gives everyone a chance to do theater if they choose to. I think this is great because it offers an opportunity for "starving artists" to get off their asses and do what they love without blaming anyone for their choice not to, and it gives the public an amazing opportunity to see things they have likely never seen or contemplated seeing before, and discovering that there is indeed talent tucked inside some of those "out there fringy artist types" beyond the big tops.

Welp, that does it for me, Elle. Did your mom have a good time? What did she like best? Did she love Vic as much as we did? (Did I tell you I had a dream about him? I think he is like some kind of gentle-man archetype for me). Hope the two of you saw some good stuff. As per your recommendation, I did avoid "Gwen Hairy Gwen Gloss", though I would like to see it at some time just to see the connection to Mammet. Did you end up seeing "Whoa"? Whoa, I hope not. Maybe I don't understand interpretive dance, but I get awfully sleepy watching gaggles of people run around stage with flags. Remember "Blast"? It was sort of like that, except they dropped things a few times, which I sort of enjoyed. Not in any mean spirited way, but in that we usually are so afraid that someone on stage is going to drop something, so I was pleased to see it happen and that the world didn't end. Anyway, don't know about you, but I am exhausted. Going to see a movie later I think. Something nice and passive. By the way, "6 Steps" was awesome. It was based on 6 super heroes in group therapy. Very funny! Smart, too. See you next year at Fringe!

Elle: What the hell are you talking about "next year?" We're reviewing "Nickled and Dimed" in 3 days. At any rate, I think you've said enough for both of us, so I'll just say, 5 latkes for the Fringe Fest. If you've never gone, you're really missing out

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