Sunday, July 31, 2011

KC Fringe "Bottom of Everything" review by alanskoalas


Not the bottom for the ratings!
Rating: 4

The Bottom of Everything
KC Fringe Festival

The play is about Derrick, a guy that has just been released from jail after three years and he stays with old high school friends. They all drink and use marijuana.  Derrick is trying to get his life together and his closest friend in the group, Curtis, is the most responsible. However, one of the characters, Wes, is a deadbeat is a heroin addict.  Wes overdoses twice and Curtis is a major enabler, for which Wes does not even appreciate the fact that Curtis saved his life. When he overdoses the second time, Derrick does nothing, letting him die, rather than call for help. He was more concerned about not being blamed for anything when the cops found the heroin in the their apartment. Derrick is also tricked into have a one night stand with the Curtis' girlfriend, which ultimately nearly destroyed their friendship. The performers were all good, but not great.

KC Fringe "I Love You, (We're F*#ked)" review by alanskoalas


Great stand up comedy
Rating: 4

I Love You, (We're F*#ked)
KC Fringe Festival

A one man show that included a song, story telling, and comedy by yet another gay performer that incorporates his gayness into the show. Excellent performer, but not as cute as that picture in his ad!! He had the audience laughing often. The story telling was not about a single topic, like most of the story tellers, but very good anyway.  And bravo to this performer for using a mic!!! I could hear everything except for a few lines when he did not hold the mic close enough.

KC Fringe "Jason Has Mommy Issues" review by alanskoalas


Pleasantly surprised
Rating: 4

Jason Has Mommy Issues
KC Fringe Festival

This is a story about Jason, who has a roommate that is his gay partner, and about his relationship to a few of his friends too. It deals with cheating on your partners, including both gay and straight. But most of all, it is about his relationship to his mom. His mom is very controlling and has spent all the years undermining Jason's self esteem and he seems unable or unwilling to take control of his life. The problem is that Jason's mom loves him, but has never accepted him being gay. How do you accept the person if you don't accept what he is? That is one of the issues dealt with in this play. Some of the performers, including "Jason", were very good, but some could use some polish. The biggest problem with this play is the noise!!  The a/c system in the MET is noisy and none of the performers used mics. It was hard to hear and I missed some of the lines. Do yourselves a favor and go buy some wireless mics!!!  If I was rating this show only, I would consider a 5, but when!
 comparing it to some of the others, 4 is the best I can do.

KC Fringe "Hexing Hitler" review by JLin

 Stick to Comedies
Rating: 1

Hexing Hitler
KC Fringe Festival

In 1941, five people gathered in a remote Maryland cabin to kill Adolf Hitler using witchcraft.  That about sums it up.  There's more to it than that, but nothing I find worth mentioning.  Despite the best efforts of the actors (the closest to success were Melody Butler and Doogan Brown), this script just couldn't keep my attention.  I had no emotional connection to the characters and, because the playwrights chose to write about something historical, I already knew that it wasn't going to work so I wasn't invested in the plot either.  As rude as it may seem, I almost dozed off once.

With the way that lines were being delivered, the actors seemed to be reading a bedtime story rather than taking on characters.  Most guilty of this were Kipp Simmons (William Seabrook) and Sarah Mae Lamar (Constance Kuhr), though their characters do a lot of actual storytelling so I suppose I should be a little more forgiving.  All of the lines seemed forced and recited – just something that needed to be said so the next actor could get out their line.

I was very disappointed with this production and I wish that these talented locals would have been in a show that would have allowed them to shine.  Hexing Hitler was a big letdown after writers Colley and Varney's last Fringe show, Khaaaaan! The Musical (a smash hit).  A valiant effort, but I would stick to comedies in the future.  1 out of 5.

KC Fringe "Jason Has Mommy Issues" review by JLin


This Isn't Love, It's Reality
Rating: 5

Jason Has Mommy Issues
KC Fringe Festival

ID8 Productions' Jason Has Mommy Issues

"At age 30, Jason is plunging headlong into his very first midlife crisis. Thankfully, his mother is always around to offer unwanted advice."  That's how Jason Has Mommy Issues by Michael Ruth was billed.  I was completely unprepared for what was actually in store.

First off, Jason's mother is never actually there, she is just in his head.  That being said, Amy Eisele was a wonderful imaginary mom (though I was not a fan of her obviously fake hair piece).  Secondly, his midlife crisis had a lot to do with a bump in the road with his boyfriend Thomas, the bump being an affair with Donnie who was introduced as a straight man.

Once I knew what was going on, I really got into this performance.  It was a wonderfully written play and incredibly well cast.  Jeremy Gassen (Jason) and Gregory Roberts (Thomas) had terrific chemistry; I wouldn't doubt it if they were a couple in real life.  Lanie, played by Cassandra Whitney, was their loud mouthed best friend and she fit the role perfectly, though I often found myself comparing her to Kathy Griffin as she has very similar speech patterns and inflections.  Stephanie Charlton as Kate was natural and, at times, terrifying (she often spoke of very violent things as if they were nothing at all).  I was most surprised by Donnie, portrayed by Matt Leonard.  Wait, didn't I just see him doing pagan rituals and impregnating women in Jet Propulsion?  Not an hour later he is passionately kissing another man, and quite convincingly I might add.  When asked about being a straight actor having to kiss a man on stage he said that it was a role, just like any other.  I w!
 ish all performers had his mentality.

Ruth's script was hilarious and smart and sad and touching and thought provoking and wonderful.  Every scene had its purpose and no line was overdone.  My absolute favorite line was, "This isn't love, it's reality.  There's very little overlap."  Congratulations to all involved in this production; I couldn't have enjoyed it more.  5 out of 5.

KC Fringe "No Gender Left Behind" review by Rabid_Reviewer


A real eye-opener
Rating: 5

No Gender Left Behind
KC Fringe Festival

This is a highly entertaining and thought-provoking lecture juxtaposing excerpts of various laws, videos, and personal stories about gender bias.

Frankly, I was as guilty as most people regarding the battle of the sexes.  Mainly that the battle only had two sides, only two points of view.

What I find most disturbing is how this male-female point of view creates prejudice throughout life where such prejudice really shouldn't exist.  Rather than teaching children to deal with and understand things that make us feel uncomfortable, we teach them to discard that which makes us uncomfortable.

This isn't really the point of the lecture, but it is an important point that I derived from the stories told.  Rebecca's presentation is not confrontational.  It simply puts the facts before us and asks us to think about the consequences of NOT thinking of the ramifications of our own behavior.

People should see this show for both the entertainment value and the chance to open our minds to a viewpoint that most of us never really consider.

If you get the chance, please reach out and hear what she has to say.  You won't regret it.  Even if you don't make new insights, you will be entertained by the delivery.

KC Fringe "Motherbanking Bankholes" review by philliplow


Ballsy, if meandering
Rating: 3

Motherbanking Bankholes
KC Fringe Festival

Okay, so let's get out of the way immediately the fact that he's a skilled performer, with a relaxed and conversational style. I want to get it out of the way, because the fact that he's really entertaining is in many respects the least interesting part of the show.

Speaking as both an armchair economics geek and a political comedy writer, I have a great interest in the problem of writing jokes about economics. The problem, I find, is that so much of comedy revolves around shared knowledge and shared experience, and the vast bulk of audience doesn't give a shit about macroeconomics. You can find yourself in the strange position of having to give almost a mini-lecture to an audience to educate them on a subject to a sufficient level of being able to grasp a given joke. The alternative is doing the glib and superficial thing (e.g. making a joke about how paying taxes sucks, versus trying to build some riff on the whole underlying system and the invisible gun and the audience's eyes are glazing over…)

So there's a strange tension, in a show of this nature, between conveying information and telling jokes. What was the major event for our species in the cradle of civilization ten thousand years ago, he asks? The agricultural revolution, I think, and everything that came with it – construction of stable cities, specializing of individual professions, et cetera. Beer, is the answer he gives, and proceeds to riff on it for about five minutes. And, wait – I'm prepared to consider your premise, but I need more information than this. I mean, the brewing of beer occurs in relatively isolated tribal societies as well, yes? So there's a part of my brain running off and wanting him to cite sources. And, of course, that would be the absolute death of a comedy show.

Likewise, later on, he jokes about our crazy Uncle Sam, who doesn't let us swear or look at naked women, but buys us guns. And while the rest of the audience is laughing and having a great time, I'm thinking, wait – who is Uncle Sam in this scenario? The government? That doesn't make sense. The government's never given me guns, or tried to stop me from swearing or looking at naked women. Unless he means some sort of collective cultural force that does those things, but Lord knows I don't live and work in a community like that. I can't laugh at the joke, because the metaphor doesn't make sense to me.

And on it goes. A red flag goes up for me when he claims that trickle-down economics has been "thoroughly debunked", because it's always a red flag when people claim there's no debate to be had in hotly-debated issues. And he's off on another metaphor, ridiculing a trickle-down paradise of capitalist deer and corporate rabbits, and I'm still five minutes back.

(Saying in my head, no, the very reason that both sides can argue economics indefinitely is because economics is a complex system, and while trends within complex systems can be mapped over time, it's extraordinarily difficult to accurately correlate cause and effect, despite how confidently both Republicans and Democrats claim to be able to do so, and once again even pausing to *consider* these very problems would kill the show dead. But the problem I find myself having is that by *not* engaging with these complexities, the jokes often come off as manipulative – at their worst, becoming the very thing that they're ridiculing – and I'm intensely resistant to that in comedy.)

So I've once again composed a review picking apart my frustrations, and I've probably made it look like I hated it, which isn't at all true. In fact, I think that the very reason that all of these issues leap out at me is because of how admirably ambitious the whole thing is. He proposes a history of freakin' money at the top of the show – so, yeah, it comes off as meandering and disjointed. It's easy to be focused when you're doing a storytelling show deconstructing your own sex life. So, did I find it wholly satisfying? No – but, man, I've just got admire the damn testicular fortitude of the thing.

KC Fringe "Shakespeare in Love & War" review by Rabid_Reviewer


Old-fashioned Shakespeare
Rating: 3

Shakespeare in Love & War
KC Fringe Festival

Alan Tilson is a talented performer.  He has memorized over 50 Shakespeare monologues and sonnets to improve his diction and his memorization skills.

Alan is personable, friendly and fun to watch.  Stylistically, the show presents the monologues to display the meter and scansion of the verse.  If you love to listen to the words of Shakespeare, this show is for you.

If, on the other hand, you want to feel the passion and emotional content within the performance that is currently the theatrical trend, this show will leave you feeling a little flat.

While there are physical dynamics layered onto the performance, the emotional inner truth is lacking.

In modern plays, I would consider this a source of criticism.  In this case, I have to defer it to a matter of style, which may or may not suit the individual's taste.  The language, rhythm and meter is very well spoken.  As poetry, English teachers would be proud.

So, if you like to listen to the language of Shakespeare, this show is definitely for you.  If you want to be moved by the characterizations, look elsewhere.

KC Fringe "Scientist Turned Comedian" review by philliplow

 Geektastic
Rating: 4

A Scientist Turned Comedian
KC Fringe Festival

I'm not a scientist myself, but my father is, and I grew up with a lot of awareness of and exposure to that community – not to mention the fact that I've spent most of my adult life dating one on and off. The end result of this is not that I became a scientist, but rather, a citizen on the side of science. Add to that the fact that I'm an entertainer with a great love of stand-up comedy, and I fall smack in the middle of the Venn diagram for this show.

The schtick is fairly straightforward, alternating between traditional stand-up routines and humorous commentary on a PowerPoint presentation. Most of the jokes begin by introducing a chart or scientific concept, briefly encapsulating it, then applying it to something absurd in human relationships or popular culture. (In fact – and this may be something of a bizarre parallel – his routines reminded me of Lewis Carroll's early logic textbooks, in which he would humorously demonstrate logic concepts by incorrectly applying them in illogical ways.)

One thing that struck me about this is that, in many respects, this show is a triumph of *branding* — it's hard for me to visualize a comedian (although he has presumably done this) standing in a comedy club and opening with an explanation of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. But by labeling himself as a scientist-turned-comedian, not only are we prepared for it, it's eagerly anticipated – the title's ensured our complicity with the jokes.

Oh, and the show was really good.

KC Fringe "Complete History of Western Civilization" review by Rabid_Reviewer


Oppression?  We don't need no steenkin' oppression!
Rating: 5

Complete History of Western Civilization
KC Fringe Festival

A word of warning.  A legal disclaimer, if you will.  This review is not intended to be read by small children or people who are easily offended by free speech or opinions.  It utilizes language that some people find objectionable. It voices opinions that some people might find offensive.  It's a shitty review.

This show is exactly as advertised, except it isn't.  It is about oppression in Western Civilization, which is also the history of Western Civilization.

Furthermore, this show is shitty.  That's right.  They freely admit it is a shitty show.  And they're right.  The puppets are a collection of random dolls and children's puppets that look like they were collected from various garage sales or thrift store trash bins.  The set is cobbled together with crappy lettering.  The effects are obvious and cheap.

I loved every minute of it.

They skewer oppression throughout history, getting the basic facts right while getting everything else wrong.  They mock established religion, they defend communism, even though in the performance I say, they reversed the basic tenets of communism.  It is smart, clever, and intended for people willing to think for themselves.

That's right, it's the South Park of puppetry.  Cheap, cheesy, and clever, putting conventional thought and wisdom on its ear.

This show will offend certain elements of society.  But if you can get over being offended, you will have a grand time that isn't the least bit shitty at all.

KC Fringe "Jet Propulsion" review by JLin


Enjoyable, but not perfect
Rating: 3

Jet Propulsion
KC Fringe Festival

Kansas City Peep Shows' Jet Propulsion

I walked into Jet Propulsion not really knowing what to expect, but what I got was an entertaining and educational night of theatre.  Playwright Pete Bakely informed us on the mostly forgotten life and achievements of Jack Parsons, while still appealing to our desire for a show.

Jack Parsons was played by the dynamic Matt Leonard who threw himself into the character with reckless abandonment.  He not only had to deliver several long, passionate monologues, but also had to perform a pagan ritual to the goat god Pan.  I was impressed to his dedication to the part; even the slightest sign of timidity would have made the dancing and chanting look silly, but he owned it.  I was on my feet for him at the end of the performance.

The famous author, L. Ron Hubbard was played by a very charismatic Ryan Neal.  He had double duty, playing character and narrator of sorts, and handled it well.  He had some fantastic facial expressions that really fit the part.  I felt a little sorry for Neal at times because he was blocked to carry around a guitar that he only strummed once or twice.  He would sing when he was filling the audience in on plot points, but he never played along with it.  He just held it.  I often lost what he was saying because I was so wrapped in the thought of, "Why bother with a guitar at all?"

Jeremy Lillig (Aleister Crowly) and Virginia Hubbard (various characters) did well in their parts but didn't stand out in anyway either.  I applaud them, however, for having to deal with an incredibly silly hand puppet (that resembled Dumbledore) and keeping a straight face.  I don't have any idea why Bakely felt the need to write in a puppet as a character, rather than just using another actor.  It did not fit with the rest of the show at all and I found myself just waiting for it to get off stage.  I couldn't even tell you who the "character" was or how he was related to the plot.

Jet Propulsion was enjoyable and I learned a lot from it, but it wasn't perfect.  I think if the playwright works out a few kinks and ditches the guitar and puppet it will really help the show.  At this point in time though, Leonard and Neil are what make this show worth seeing.  3 out of 5 stars.

KC Fringe "The Flock!" review by Rabid_Reviewer


Flying the coop
Rating: 3

The Flock!
KC Fringe Festival

The Flock is a collection of clowning skits that is loosely tied together with a bit of plot.  It's a great idea, but it just doesn't quite work.

There are a collection of personalities constantly clashing with each other for attention.  While much of the clashing is intentional for the story, there needs to be more of an ensemble feel overall.  Certain characters stood out more than others.

I really enjoyed Nathan Swashbuck's introduction, although I saw the joke coming from a mile away.  It just took a tad too long to get to the punchline.  That was a problem throughout the show.

Comedy is hard.  It requires precise timing, which means either a fast pace to the funny, or a deliberate methodical pace.

My favorite character in the piece is without doubt, Swooney Rose.  She delivered consistently on her bits.  And she had the best delivery of a punchline in the whole show.  "Wheeee!"

The rest of the performers grasped the basic concept of their characters, but they really didn't seem to have the character's details and nuances nailed down.

It's not a bad show.  You will doubtless enjoy it, but it lacks a certain cohesiveness.


KC Fringe "Inspiration" review by alanskoalas

 'Inspiration' was a real inspiration to see
Rating: 4

Inspiration
KC Fringe Festival

"Inspiration" is a play that deals very effectively with both sides of the gun control debate in this country. It presents both sides in a dramatic play, rather than just "debating" the issue. The government has banned all guns and ammunition following a period of extreme violence. All ammunition is confiscated by the government, but society has returned to primitive violence, using swords.  Eventually, it turns full cycle, when it is discovered there were a few guns that were hidden by the government. The question is what would be done with those guns after the secret was out.  Most of the performers were great, although a couple could use more experience and training. The screenplay gets a 5+ from me, but the acting gets a 3+ or 4, leaving a net rating of 4.

KC Fringe "Worth" review by Rabid_Reviewer


Worth a look
Rating: 5

Worth
KC Fringe Festival

This play has a great cast.  Fine performances in a gritty play that makes your teeth hurt.

So, what's it about?  A collection of characters, some related to each other, where events are orchestrated to put a price on each person's life.

Too highbrow an explanation?  One man manipulates and controls the lives of the people around him, attempting to get them to live up to his personal expectations, resulting in murder, suicide, and general misery.

The performance was extremely well done and authentic.  As the story unfolds, you are held on the edge of your seat trying to figure out just what is going on.  Who is the old man, and what is he talking about?  What's the deal with the oranges?  What is in the box?  Who is this hooker and why do we care?

These questions and more are raised, then answered, in this production.

It is traditional theatre done well.  It's not as different and edgy as other shows you might find at the Fringe, but it is definitely worth seeing.  If you find yourself disappointed by the quality of theatre in this town, this show demonstrates that all is not lost.

KC Fringe "Caldwell's Bomb" review by alanskoalas

 Caldwell's Bomb was no bomb!!
Rating: 5

Caldwell's Bomb
KC Fringe Festival

This is my third year seeing Fringe plays and this play was by far the best!!!  The play takes place in a right wing conservative town in south central Missouri.  It is a play that deals with the topic of bigotry and hatred and how that plays into the "anti-government" activities of many of the towns' people.  Great equity theatre with performers that have indeed performed professionally and with the level of emotion that makes the play "real".  Who are the terrorists now?  They are in your back yard, not overseas!!

KC Fringe "Rocky & Bullwinkle" review by jimntip


Let's do the tune warp, again!
Rating: 4

The Rocky & Bullwinkle Horror Picture Show Parody
KC Fringe Festival

Clever mix up of the Rocky Horror Picture Show and Rocky & Bullwinkle. I think it particularly appealed to those that grew up with both stories. Ahem, those of us between say 45 and 55 :)It was a great venue for this production. Our only complaint is that at some points, it was hard to understand the lyrics being squawked in kid voices. Steven Eubank was particularly fun to watch!

KC Fringe "How the West Was Warped" review by alanskoalas

 Saturday Night Live style show
Rating: 3

How the West Was Warped
KC Fringe Festival

This show was a series of comedy skits reflective of various social issues and past events. Very much in the same style as Saturday Night Live.  There were some acts which I would rate 4, but some acts would only get a one or two. Some were just plain silly and stupid.  Overall, I think it averaged a 3.0.

KC Fringe "Rhythm and Boobs" review by jimntip


Rhythm, Boobs, and the Front Porch Band!
Rating: 5

Rhythm and Boobs: Burlesque from the Bayou
KC Fringe Festival

Sexy and sultry! Patricia aka Stella Blue put together a great cast of burlesque performers, singers, and band. This show proved that burlesque talent comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors. KC, don't forget the name Champagne Bubbles! This was our first time to the MET, and we were a little disappointed that there was no a/c. However, as hot as these ladies were, it probably couldn't have kept up!

KC Fringe "I'm Just Not That Gay!" review by alanskoalas

 How gay is the performer?
Rating: 3

I'm Just Not That Gay!
KC Fringe Festival

This performance is about the performer's life and relationship with his partner since coming out. It includes comedy, story telling, and singing.  Chris has a good voice and the songs were nicely done. There were some good comedy moments.  However, as a story teller, not at all compelling and not sure that many people really want to know the details of the performer's relationship with his current partner. The story telling gets a 1+, the comedy gets a 3, and the singing gets a 4.  Overall, it gets a 3.

KC Fringe "I Love You, (We're F*#ked) review by timlovestheatre

We don't "Love You" but let's be facebook friends.
Rating: 2

I Love You, (We're F*#ked)
KC Fringe Festival

The risk of having a festival of performing arts that runs eleven days is the mid-week audience.   That means lack-luster audiences of only twenty odd people on those Thursday nights.  And yes, these weekday audiences may not be your usual "crowd".  Does this mean a performer should give those audiences only a half-hearted effort?  No they should not.  Most professional entertainers will tell you it doesn't matter if you have 20 or 200.  But a less than 100% effort performance is what some Fringe attendees received this week.
I don't read other peoples reviews until I've written mine but based upon the headlines and ratings I saw on KC Stage for "I Love You (we're F*#ked)"  I expected a great one man show.   Kevin J. Thornton is an engaging performer with wit and a good sense of humor.  His music was well executed and I thought well-written.  Some of the stories he shared were interesting and entertaining.  However, I think what the audience received was about 45% of his usual show.   He seemed put off his game by the small crowd who needed to warm up to his style.  (Or perhaps we needed to cool down?  Apparently the huge warehouse space that is home of the MET is best used in cooler months!) By the end of the show we had seen small glimpses of his potential but the Thursday night crowd left having been cheated out of what could have been great.

One last chance to see "I Love You (we're F*#ked)" on July 30th at 6:00 PM and make up your own mind.

KC Fringe "Jesus, Shakespeare, and Lincoln" review by alanskoalas

 Poorly performed
Rating: 1

Jesus, Shakespeare, and Lincoln Walk into a Bar
KC Fringe Festival

There was little humor. Most of the lines were just dumb and did not make me laugh, even though this was supposed to be a hilarious show. The performers all need to take acting lessons. There was not a cohesive thread to tie all the lines together. What a waste of time!!

KC Fringe "Jason Has Mommy Issues" review by timlovestheatre


"Jason" Has More Than Mommy Issues
Rating: 3

Jason Has Mommy Issues
KC Fringe Festival

Pardon my rant.  I know there are lots of terribly talented people in KC.  I also know that our KC Fringe planners have searched the Fringe-o-sphere to bring us some of the best shows from other festivals.  I think it is time for these people to realize you cannot really do it all.  Let me explain.  There are plenty of great actor/director/ singers or playwright/director/actors and other combo talents on display at this year's festival.  It is my belief however than when you try to do TOO many things on a single performance you get less than 100% results.   Can you really give a 100% performance in a play that you have also given 100% as a director and 100% as a playwright?  I don't think you can.

In some cases these performers can hit in the high 90s but you lose a little something.   Some examples of this are "Hexing Hitler" presented by a director/playwright and "Rocky and Bullwinkle Horror Picture Show (a parody)" where the director also performs, choreographs, music directs, pulls curtains, takes tickets and caters the green room snack table. (I exaggerate, slightly).  Both are great shows but they lose some depth because they have either diluted their efforts or are too close to the material.  That is also the case in "Jason Has Mommy Issues."

Jeremy Gassen, Amy Eisele, Gregory Roberts, Cassandra Whitney, Matt Leonard and Stephanie Charlton all do a good job in their respective roles.   The script, from Michael Ruth is very good and walks a fine line between being about the real gay people you work with and a quiet episode of "Will and Grace".

I think Ruth stumbles in directing his own work.  Playwrights focus on the words.  Directors have to find the meanings and emotions that are both on the page and between the lines.   A good director could have pulled more out of the show and out of the actors.  (Not to say Ruth can't direct; just that I think he has blinders on.)  As a result, the nuances of the script and the performances were left behind.  I hope the show finds a new life.  I would love to see a reinterpretation.

Don't agree?  See the final performance of this show Sat 7/30 @ 9:00 pm.

KC Fringe "All of Us" review by alanskoalas

 Bullying portrayed well in this play
Rating: 4

All of Us
KC Fringe Festival

This play consisted of several performers playing the parts of multiple characters that experience bullying as other students,etc. learn of them being gay. It shows the impact that such bullying had on each character and the performers were compelling for the most part. A must see if you want to help your gay friends see that it gets better.

KC Fringe "iMime" review by rhubbard


No words necessary
Rating: 4

iMime, There's an App for That
KC Fringe Festival

This was an inventive, funny, and moving evening of theatre. I especially appreciated the range of scenes, from dancing underwear to a church goer begging for God's intervention... a magical production.

KC Fringe "Hexing Hitler" review by alanskoalas

 Too unrealistic to be entertaining
Rating: 2

Hexing Hitler
KC Fringe Festival

This play involves a group of people meeting in the forest at a campground somewhere in America, to use witchcraft to kill Hitler. First, witchcraft itself is a fairytale, but to make it even more unrealistic is that three of the performers are dressed formally, with one in a formal evening gown!!  This in the middle of a forest!! There was no attempt to make this play believable at all. The first forty minutes was just nonsense with no story line or plot. The last ten minutes was the best because that is when they actually bring all the scenes together for a story that finally asks some philosophical questions and makes the plot suddenly have some meaning to it.

KC Fringe "Mr. Gremory's Cabinet of Curiosities" review by FunkyJoe


An Okay Show
Rating: 3

Mister Gremory's Cabinet of Curiosities
KC Fringe Festival

I read on the performer's website that this show is a work in progress. That is obvious. But for the $5 price tag it was not too bad.

This show, obviously inspired by Teller's show (from Penn & Teller) "Play Dead," which just ended an off-Broadway run still needs some work. It had some trouble getting started for technical difficulties. Then the stories of the displayed objects were pretty cool.

Most disturbing was the part with the Ouji Board - but then the ending left me confused. Not just me, the rest of the audience could not tell if the show was over, either.

A good effort. There are just some kinks to work out.

Ballet Folklorico Huehuecoyotyl "Novias de Mexico" preview by Bill Blankenship

Those who wanted to see traditional Mexican dance and hear mariachi music but didn't want to endure the heat of the Topeka Fiesta Mexicana can do so Monday night in the air-conditioned comfort of the Topeka Performing Arts Center.

more at the Topeka Capital Journal

KC Fringe "Getting Lucky" review by timlovestheatre


Get "Lucky"
Rating: 5

Getting Lucky
KC Fringe Festival

I have been a fan of Lucky DeLuxe the burlesque performer.
Now I am also a fan of comedienne Susanna Lee (Lucky DeLuxe)!

You can still get "Lucky" and see this great show as it was chosen as one of the KC Fringe hangover shows!  Check the KC Fringe website for details!

KC Fringe "Rumble in the City" review by funsize

 Flirty Dirty & Fun!
Rating: 5

Rumble in the City
KC Fringe Festival

Not your typical burlesque show, but loved every minute of it.  My friends and I did not stop laughing until the end.  Clever show that will appeal to everyone.  A must see!

KC Fringe Hangover offers Fringe's most populart shows

The best attended show at each Fringe venue will be giving a bonus performance on Sunday afternoon 7/31. Tickets are on sale now for all time slots and at each venue 30 minutes prior to show time. All Hangover tickets are $10 and a Fringe Button is required.

If the top winner at a venue is not able to perform on Sunday, the runner up will be appearing. Here is our current list:




KC Fringe "This" review by alanskoalas

 Disappointing
Rating: 1

This
KC Fringe Festival

First, I went to see "Locked Up", the play that was originally scheduled in this time slot. Imagine my shock when a completely different play was staged. Turns out "Locked Up" was cancelled at the last minute and "This" was substituted without any notices being posted at the venues!! To then make it worse, the tech turned off the A/C when it was already roasting inside and forgot to turn off the chirping birds!!! Then to make it really bad, the play was awful.  It was 35 minutes in length but was so boring, it seemed like it lasted forever.  It is about two people that meet in a park somewhere. The guy wants his new female friend to marry him after just knowing each other for five minutes!!!  What a childish and stupid plot?!!

KC Fringe "Bottoms Up Sketch Comedy" review by timlovestheatre


Thumbs up to Bottoms Up!
Rating: 4

Bottoms Up Sketch Comedy Show
KC Fringe Festival

Many will question the inclusion of improvisational comedy in the Fringe Festival.  For goodness sake don't they have their own festival?  (They do- look for it in mid-September.)

But this year's offering from Bottoms Up is a great addition to the Fringe schedule.  The bits they presented were not new and improvised but a collection of their best work from the past year.  It's hard to explain much about the pieces without risk of giving away a few of the punchlines.  I will however say I will never think of pizza restaurants, Starbucks or mimes in quite the same way.  Also, a fresh take on an old comedy routine is inspired and well executed!

Well done funny people!

KC Fringe "Rocky & Bullwinkle" review by rdeberle

 2 of my Favorite Things!
Rating: 5

The Rocky & Bullwinkle Horror Picture Show Parody
KC Fringe Festival

When you combine 2 of my favorite things, childhood Saturday morning cartoons and the Rocky Horror Picture Show you are bound to come up with something funny, and that is exactly what happened with this show !

>From the house music before the show I knew it would be funny. The entire cast delivers near perfect performances in each of their multiple characters. The set, props and costumes pieces are right on. I especially loved the graphics created for the screen at the center back of the stage.

It's hard to single out just one performance as outstanding, as the entire cast delivers, but for me stand out performances go to Steven Eubank as Bad-n-uffski, Doogin Brown as Cawpatty, Aurelie Roque as Dementai and Katie Kalahurka as Sherman. Bill Pellietier's turn as the Narrator is nothing short of brilliant and where can you buy that tie ?

There was a little trouble with the sound and a couple of blips with the props, but the cast was unflappable and the show moved right along. In the beginning there was a little trouble understanding some of the words, but one you got used to the accents this cleared up.

This show is so much more than Fringe and I really hope that Egads decides to bring it back for a longer run.

The only disappointment is they did not sell Bright in the lobby after the show !

KC Fringe "All of Us" review by timlovestheatre




Getting Bullied is Hard.  Watching This Show is Not.

Rating: 5

All of Us
KC Fringe Festival

"All of Us" is a touching, inspiring, and educational show dealing with tough issues of sexuality.  Dealing with being gay, bi, lesbian or transgendered is still, unfortunately, difficult in today's society and as the show reveals it's even harder when you are a teen. There was great comparison among the stories as we heard from teens in New York and rural Iowa.  In addition it is very timely in light of all of the anti-bullying that is in the news.

Presented in a strong stylized delivery method the show gives the audience plenty to think about and plenty of subtext for the actors to dive into.  The performers were quite good.  They were all members of the Coterie School for Theatre Exploration.  Direction comes ably from Meghann Henry and Artistic Director Jeff Church.

This production definitely deserves its place in the Best of Fringe 2011 and you will get one more chance to see it on Sunday at the KC Fringe Hangover.  Check for details on their website www.kcfringe.com

KC Fringe "Evolution" review by alanskoalas

 No protesting this evolution!
Rating: 4

Evolution
KC Fringe Festival

To start with, this play is not about the "evolution" that your minister might scream about. It is story telling of the character's transition, through a road trip, from female to male. A nice transgender play. This was a true life story of the performer himself. I can't possibly imagine that this guy was ever a girl!!  The only serious problem with the play was the lack of a microphone.  Heard the majority of the lines, but did miss a lot too. It was also like a sauna. A/C was on, but barely worked. They had three small fans to help a little. This was a problem at several venues. I would suggest all performers learn to use a wireless mic so we can hear everything.

KC Fringe "What the Storm Brought Home" review by alanskoalas

 Sad depressing story about the performer
Rating: 4

What the Storm Brought Home
KC Fringe Festival

First, the description in the program was misleading. It implied that the play was predominately about life in New Orleans after Katrina. Everything that was said about Katrina took up about five minutes of the play. It was actually all story telling about the character, based on the real life of the performer, and was her relationship to her family. It focused mostly on her grandfather and the sexual abuse that was in the family, with her as a victim too, along with the family secrets. Some of her family lived in New Orleans and one of her visits to see an aunt there was just after Katrina. Hence, the relationship to Katrina.  I was not really prepared to listen to a story about sexual abuse for an 45 minutes, but this performer is outstanding in storytelling.  For that reason only, she gets a 3.5, but I will round up to 4.

KC Fringe "The Flock!" review by luvlivetheatre

 Flock Fan
Rating: 5

The Flock!
KC Fringe Festival

I saw the Flock's July 29, 10 p.m. show at The Living Room.  I thought it was a delightful performance and I loved seeing the distinct personalities of each clown.  I laughed the entire show and thought the combination of music and performance was just right.  Great job!!

KC Fringe "Rubble" review by alanskoalas

Rubble was disappointing
Rating: 2

Rubble
KC Fringe Festival

The description in the program seemed misleading. I had heard that it was a play about Joplin after the tornado. The person that told me that must have gotten that idea from the photo in the program. If it was about Joplin, I certainly had no clue from the show!!  However, in fairness, much of the play was mime, which I have never been good at interpreting! It's like a foreign language to me! There were a few minutes that involved speaking and a song, but the music was so loud that it drowned it all out.

KC Fringe "Hamlet vs. Zombies" review by T. Winchester

An Uneasy Pairing . . .
Rating: 2

Hamlet vs. Zombies
KC Fringe Festival

I am a great fan of both Shakespeare's plays and zombie films, so I was intrigued by the fare offered at the Fringe by The Skinny Improv/Springfield Shakespeare project. However, in the end I was disappointed—not so much by the acting, but by the play itself. Drawing upon the recent popularity of the historical/literary mash-up trend that has become fashionable in such books as "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" and "Abe Lincoln, Vampire Hunter" (none of which, I confess, have I read), this play is really too short on Shakespeare—both in plot and language—to really make the grade.

Written by Jeff Jenkins and Bryant Turnage, who also appear as Horatio and Claudius in the production, the play starts off pretty true to its original when the zombie of Hamlet's father shows up. We find out that Claudius is actually a mad scientist who has created a serum that can turn people into zombies, and Hamlet's father was his first test case. This is not really a spoiler, by the way, since it is revealed very early on in the play. But soon thereafter, this revisionist production starts to break down and simply goes too far afield from the original in plot, language, and interpretation. I was left feeling that I just wanted more, or more done with what was offered.

What was enjoyable, and what could have made this play better? The production uses modernized costumes, so it is an up-to-date Hamlet that we are given, and the language is largely contemporary as well, aside from a few lines here and there taken from Shakespeare's original script. When Shakespeare's original lines are incorporated into the play, they are delivered with finesse by the actors. But I was a little disappointed in the fact that it is not really necessary at all to be familiar with the original play to comprehend this one. This might be viewed as a plus, but since I assumed that this play is supposed to be a send up of the original, I was left a little concerned that the folks in the audience who had not read or seen Shakespeare's version would get an entirely incorrect impression of his plot. And, really, it is just not that funny. The two lines that got the most laughs were "Something's rotting in the state of Denmark" and "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are unde!
 ad," which are, I admit, quite clever.

I am by no means opposed to playing around with Shakespeare, but the play begins to unravel and departs too much from the original very early on. Ophelia, who becomes a gun-toting female Rambo-like character, remains alive until the last scene. The same goes for Polonius. To my sensibilities, they could have died and returned as zombies just as easily earlier in the play, which would have been true to the original. I found the set design excellent, and it is quite apparent that the playwrights are quite familiar with zombie films, since they incorporate references to many of the great ones—classic and more recent—throughout the play. But it just didn't work for me. I wanted more Shakespeare and a little less of the gratuitous stumbling, groaning and shooting onstage.

KC Fringe "Slave Narratives" review by alanskoalas


Slave Narratives gives Color Purple some competion!!
Rating: 4

Slave Narratives and Hip-Hop American
KC Fringe Festival

This play is three segments. The first is the Slave narratives, which is a very compelling scene about what it was like being brought to America as slaves.  If you liked Color Purple, you are sure to love this play.  The second segment is a one woman play that plays the roles of several characters that talk about the influence of hip hop on society and what hip hop means to each of the characters.  The third segment is an interactive discussion with the audience.  I give the first segment a 5+ and the second and third segments a 4.0.

KC Fringe "Bottoms Up Sketch Comedy" review by JLin

 No Boobs Here
Rating: 4

Bottoms Up Sketch Comedy Show
KC Fringe Festival

Founder Emerson Rapp started the performance with an announcement, regretfully informing the audience that, despite their name, Bottoms Up is NOT a burlesque troupe.  Once we were assured that there would be no boobs, the "best of" show began.

Every sketch was clever though some went over better than others (as is usual with all things comedy).  Even when I didn't particularly care for one of the sketches, they always got me laughing with the transition music.  For example, a commercial advertising a supplement called "A-Leak" was followed by the song "Under Pressure".  I wasn't sold on the sketch itself, but after I heard the song choice I was won over.

There were so many hilarious skits that it was hard for me to pick my favorites, but I finally narrowed it down to three.  First there was a very short, reoccurring sketch that was placed at various points in the show.  Two of the actors would come out as joggers (one using a shake weight, which was enough to crack me up before anything was said) and become disgusted by something happening on stage.  The first scene was two women coughing and sneezing on each other.  "Ew, I hate public displays of infection."  This theme appeared twice more with the words "erection" and "resurrection".  Clever and simple.

Next there was a woman trying to make sure she wasn't being swindled by the covered wagon mechanic.  He insisted that the problem was the dead horse, but she wanted him to prove to her that the horse was dead before she coughed up the dough to replace it.  He then proceeded to…beat the dead horse.  Trust me, it was funnier in person.

My absolute favorite sketch was a play on the famous Abbott and Costello "Who's On First" joke.  The couple was discussing the horror movie marathon they were planning on having that night – The Thing and It being the two culprits of the confusion.  It was brilliantly written and a terrific homage to the classic scene.  The best part?  "We can't start the movie right away because Dr. Who's on first."

Bottoms Up is a great team and together they produce some quality sketch comedy.  I look forward to seeing what else they come up with.  I'm sure this show has added great numbers to their following.  Keep an eye on Bottoms Up because they are going places (but remember, no boobs here).  4 out of 5 stars.

KC Fringe "Inspiration" review by Rowz

It is Fringy
Rating: 4

Inspiration
KC Fringe Festival

Well, it is the Fringe.  I'm glad I saw this, however, I would not see it again, unlike some of the shows.  There was a lot well done, the girl who liked the F word...Mother....and the sword fights.  I liked the dancers indicating a change of scene.  Another beer would have made it really good.....

KC Fringe "iMime" review by Rowz


Mime  oh my.
Rating: 4

iMime, There's an App for That
KC Fringe Festival

The underware mime was a hoot.  She knows what she's doing. So glad I saw this one.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

KC Fringe "Song & Dance Project" review by Rowz

 Grrrrrrrrrrrreat
Rating: 4

The Song & Dance Project
KC Fringe Festival

Loved the music, and the dance. Great combo.  Loved that   the dancers showed such enthusiasm while dancing.  The improv was delightful.

KC Fringe "Cowtown" review by Rowz

 Cowtown...Funnytown
Rating: 5

Cowtown
KC Fringe Festival

I love improv and this was top of the Mark... who had a birthday...and demonstrated his gay talent, while rhyming with Jill, and Nick...But not Josh.
You have to see this one.
I wish I could remember all of their names...they were all great, but, after all, it was Mark's birthday.  Or was his name Bruce...

KC Fringe "Hamlet vs. Zombies" review by Rabid_Reviewer

 The zombification of Denmark (and England)
Rating: 5

Hamlet vs. Zombies
KC Fringe Festival

You know the trend most companies take with Shakespeare, the one where they update the plays to try and make it more relevant to modern society?  This company does the most successful "update" of Hamlet I have seen to date.

The play starts as usual, with two guards on the parapet talking about the ghost of the old king Hamlet they've been seeing.  Horatio shows up to see what the fuss is all about, and sure enough, old king Hamlet makes his appearance.  Except Horatio realizes that it isn't the ghost of the king, but a zombie!

>From there the show takes a severe left turn.  Some of the characters try to stick to Shakespeare's script, while the rest of the cast attempts to survive the zombie onslaught.  The show is fresh, clever, and lots of fun.  If you are a zombie afficionado, are up to date with your zombie films and lore, this is definitely the show for you.  If you are a fan of Shakespeare, you can try to spot which lines come from which plays and which characters.

This is the story of Hamlet, reimagined, retold, and frankly, more fun than the original.

The performances are at all levels.  Claudius was by far my favorite character portrayal, followed closely by Horatio.  Rosencrantz and Guildenstern made their cameo with a nod to Tom Stoppard. Ophelia turned out to be a much tougher character than her traditional counterpart.  Hamlet and Gertrude were caught up in their own version of Oedipus Rex.  The character of Polonius was my least favorite, mainly because the actor playing him seemed to actually BE a zombie.  Laertes was over the top trying to be the comic caricature of the original character, which made his ultimate fate a moment of rejoicing.

The special effects were amazingly funny and worked well in the overall concept of the show.

Everyone in the cast is having fun, and the audience is having fun right along with them.  I personally think that the whole zombie trend has been done to un-death, but before you give up the ghost, give this show a try.

The show does tend to drag a bit, but then, so does the original Hamlet in my opinion.  It is difficult to say what I would cut from the show to make it pace better.  I entered with reluctance. I left feeling satisfied.

What can I say?  This show deserves an audience.

KC Fringe "Motherbanking Bankholes" review by kristopherowens

cerebral
Rating: 4

Motherbanking Bankholes
KC Fringe Festival

this was a thinking man's show.  not what i expected, but entertaining.  i was trying to reconcile the cognitive dissonance in my head regarding his show art and what i saw.  maybe i'm crazy, i thought it involved use of more visual elements, or multimedia.

overall, funny, and thought provoking.

KC Fringe "I Love You, (We're F*#ked)" review by kristopherowens

 funny and irreverent
Rating: 4

I Love You, (We're F*#ked)
KC Fringe Festival

the show was a fun mix of music, stories, and jokes.  the crowd was maybe not ready for some of his stories (specifically the last blood story).  he walked a fine line between poking fun at and poking fun with his audience.  i think a few people were uncomfortable, but 1) it's a fringe show.  2) he's half naked on the poster.  3) the show's title includes the word fu%ked.

he references his awkward transitions, but they were still awkward despite this acknowledgment.

funny.

KC Fringe "Hamlet vs. Zombies" review by kristopherowens

 cool at first, then just too long
Rating: 4

Hamlet vs. Zombies
KC Fringe Festival

this was a neat premise, although zombies are starting to get tired.  the acting was all fine.  i don't know why the show couldn't have been done in half the time.  the writing for me was the weakest part.  some parts were spot on, and some were "eh."  rosencrantz and guildenstern being undead.  obscure theatre humor and kind of easy.

overall, funny.  go see.


KC Fringe "Hard Way to Make and Easy Living" review by FartingHorse

 Melodramatic
Rating: 2

Hard Way to Make an Easy Living
KC Fringe Festival

So the show was built around watching the performers hurt themselves or do things that look like they should hurt a lot. Basically they are trying to make you feel very uncomfortable or make you squirm. That's cool, but I just didn't think they did a great job overall. They also throw in some humor, but most of the jokes are predictable and just not that funny.

The performers were very good, but the content was not great. I think the main guy was great at getting the audiences attention and building up suspense, but his "tricks" were almost always melodramatic. The main helpers were also entertaining and played some cool music, but none of it was really enough to make a show out of.

It was more built for kids than what I was thinking as I was able to pick out how they could perform each trick safely. I'm not saying I would do them myself, but it just wasn't that impressive at the same time.

They saved the best part for last, when the main guy let anyone that wanted to come up and staple dollar bills to him with a staple gun. Might be worth it on that alone if you are into that sort of thing, since it is so unique.

I feel bad giving them a rating of 2 because I think the performers were individually very good, but they just didn't come together for a cohesive whole show. I would have rather not wasted my time or money.

KC Fringe "Super Spectacular! To Opera With Love" review by artfun


Super Spectacular sick SEGBIL
Rating: 5

Super Spectacular! To Opera with Love
KC Fringe Festival

 S – Spontaneous
 E – Explosive
GB – Gut Busting
 I – Involuntary
 L – Laughter

This was unlike anything I have ever seen.  The performers' mad skills include clowning, characterizations, prop work, intellect, ego, interpretive dance, wearing some sort of extruded Mylar-like material, blonde and energy just to name a few.

The most interesting thing is that they are madcap but not manic.  They take their time, build their world and their characters and then merrily spiral out of control to where no living sentient being has spiraled before.

I would walk over hot flaming divas to see these performers do anything else – read a phone book, interpretive dance tax returns, not read a phone book, six more operas, eat a phone book, anything.

Encore!