Sunday, July 29, 2012

KC Fringe "Prairie Village Home Companion" review by FauxFreak

Hilarious Sardonic Wit
Rating: 5

Prairie Village Home Companion
KC Fringe Festival

Having come from Los Angeles for the sole purpose of performing in KC Fringe, you'd think a show with very location-specific satire wouldn't have much appeal to a person like me. Not so in the case of A Prairie Village Home Companion. I grew up with a transplanted Midwestern Lutheran family in California, and as such I have been listening to Garrison Keillor my whole life. My good friend from Shawnee needed only to whisper a quick few words about Prairie Village into my ear as the show was beginning and I was in on the joke.

Anyone who appreciates A Prairie Home Companion would enjoy this reverential tongue-in-cheek parody of its format. Like the classic court jester, one easily gets the impression that, although the humor is cutting, dry, and direct, it comes from a place of intimate knowledge (though I wouldn't go so far as to say affection). And fortunately the show's humor was broad enough that an out-of-towner like myself could easily feel like part of the gag.

The sketches and pseudo-ads (elitist truffle oil anyone?) were well-written and well-timed by Jim Sturgill (clad in red shoes of course) and Suzanne Welch. The supporting cast of "radio sound artists" and musicians rounded it out nicely, including a rather surprisingly hilarious and subtle performance by the main sound-effects woman whose dry use of dog barking and muffled phone gibberish created a memorable role out of an otherwise tiny bit part (it's not easy to make the simple use of an "applause" sign funny, yet she did it).

The only critique I would have is that there were perhaps one too many songs and one two few sketches. The musicians were amazing, the music well chosen, but to keep the energy of the piece moving along a little more smoothly, the audience could've used another skit. However, all in all this was a brilliant production, deserving of far more attention than the very location-specific humor might initially allow.  for.

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