First Looks – PortFringe 2018!

The following first-look review snapshots of PF-18 performances are generated by an independent team of community journalists deployed by PortFringe to see as many shows as possible during the festival. Check back for more updates as the snapshots keep rolling in!

Note: Snapshots are listed in reverse chronological order by review date – the most recent reviews are at the top of the list.

Show: Pretty Face: An American Dream
Snapshot Performance Date: Wednesday, June 20, 2018
The PF Buzz: Would recommend to my enemy. Vive la resistance!
More Details: Amanda Huotari is an exceptional physical performer. Pretty Face: An American Dream is certainly an experience. Embodying a genetically modified chicken, with artificially augmented breasts, thighs, and donning a flag bikini, tiara, and fake blonde hair extensions, Amanda plays out the deeply uncomfortable story of an American family both reviled and adored. Layers upon layers of metaphor are mixed in with explicit quotes and explicitly imitated lascivious acts. I think her byline sums up her show perfectly, “Pretty Face chews up the unbearable American newsfeed and spits out a story that you’ll love to hate and hate to love.” I feel she achieved her goal masterfully- which was to make everyone in the audience sit in and ponder their own discomfort. While hard to watch, her performance is masterful.
-Anonymous

Show: Turkey Club IV: This Time With Mayo
Snapshot Performance Date: Wednesday, June 20, 2018
The PF Buzz: LOL! Definitely not for the PBS crowd!
More Details: Turkey Club presents a fun, upbeat performance that relies heavily on audience participation. (If you’re new to live improv shows, think “who’s line is it anyway.”) The performers were energetic, yet maintained a respect for the comfort level of audience members, which is not always true in an improv show. People were literally roaring with laughter. This is a fun show!
-Mackenzie Mae

Show: Man on a Treadmill
Snapshot Performance Date: Wednesday, June 20, 2018
The PF Buzz: Would recommend to my friends. Would recommend to my mom. For the PBS crowd. Bring your tissues. Defied expectations! Defied gravity!
More Details: It’s hard to find a way to adequately describe this show because it’s so enormous. “Man On A Treadmill” covers existential monotony through perfectly executed monologue, movement, and music. The power of “the man” overwhelms the space and an audience member can easily feel the emotion in the house. It is a feat of acting! The words are brilliantly written and performed, and the timing of every player is exact. I challenge you to not take something powerful away from this show. The complexities of this are not for me to describe, so I can only advise you to go and see it. I will be in the audience at the least for a second time.
-Mackenzie Mae

Show: God Bless Cambodia
Snapshot Performance Date: Wednesday, June 20, 2018
The PF Buzz: Definitely not for the PBS crowd.
More Details: God Bless Cambodia sets itself up as a man’s midlife crisis – around the world journey of sexual adventure but it’s really a tale of his inability to have a meaningful relationship with any woman. I expected the story to be more about the experiences he had traveling. The travels abroad make up only part of the story. It’s mostly about his idiosyncrasies and how his therapist tries to help him come to terms with his issues with women. Ross is a pleasant storyteller but ultimately the character is not a very sympathetic person.
-Anonymous

Show: #BODYTALK
Snapshot Performance Date: Wednesday, June 20, 2018
The PF Buzz: Would recommend to my friends. Would recommend to my mom. Vive la resistance! Defied expectations!
More Details: #BODYTALK was a brutally honest, challenging and real look into how people of all genders and backgrounds deal with living in a body (which can be challenging in different ways). Though it covered difficult topics, it was ultimately uplifting and inspiring. I loved being in the audience at this show! I loved that the show was in monologue format but was performed by multiple people, as it represented stories gathered from a group of many individuals. The playwright did a wonderful job of incorporating the vast perspectives and experiences into one piece – not an easy task.
-Mackenzie Mae

Show: The Idaho Jackson Action Playset
Snapshot Performance Date: Tuesday, June 19, 2018
The PF Buzz: Family-Friendly. LOL! Would recommend to my friends. Would recommend to my mom. For the PBS crowd. Date Night! Defied expectations! 
More Details: The one-man show is a staple of the fringe circuit. I don’t know what the statistics are, so I’ll make some up: more than 87% of international fringe productions are one-man (and I mean “man”) productions. These are alarming numbers, particularly since I just made them up. But it is our responsibility as audience members to wade through the churning waters of self-consciousness – even when the fringe floor drops away and we flail about, gasping, as the one-man waves close over our heads, and we drown in a welter of stools and homemade masks. THE IDAHO JACKSON ACTION PLAYSET IS THE LIFE RING THAT WILL SAVE YOU. BRAD LAWRENCE WILL REACH OUT A HAND AND SAVE YOU. Dive into his smartly, sincerely shared stories of a child’s dawning awareness of the horror of the world around him, as he navigates the mysteries of the elementary school food chain, insidious Disney nature shows, the vomit-puddled asphalt of a summertime St. Louis Zoo (where the air quality is that of “a boiling aquarium”) and weaponized lunchboxes. It’s hilarious. It’s heartbreaking. It’s presented with absolutely no bells and whistles, no rolling rack of costumes to hide behind, no bewildering props to weigh him down as he carries you to safety with self-deprecating wit, and charm, and a feeling that sure, he’s sharing his story, but he’d be just as happy to hear yours. It is so refreshing to feel that, as an audience member, your attendance is valued – as opposed to feeling just a vehicle for the artist to work through something that’s so obscurely or stridently presented that nothing personal is ultimately revealed. GO SEE THIS SHOW. This is storytelling at its finest. Dive in. The water is FINE.
-Anonymous

Show: The Cardboard Countess
Snapshot Performance Date: Tuesday, June 19, 2018
The PF Buzz: Family-Friendly. LOL! Would recommend to my friends. Would recommend to my mom. Would recommend to my enemy. For the PBS crowd. Date Night! Bring your tissues. Defied expectations!
More Details: This show is an absolute win. Featuring an intriguing storyline, sophisticated use of the stage, costuming, and props, and a cast full of genuine emotion, The Cardboard Countess is an hour well spent. Finding myself succumb to tears on more than one occasion, I was intrigued and connected to this show. Causing me to dig deep and examine my inner thoughts of homelessness, depression, and suicide, this fantastical story displays a very clear message about confronting personal walls. Applicable to all audiences, this is a must see. I promise you won’t regret it.
-Christina W. Richardson

Show: The Sibyl of Mars
Snapshot Performance Date: Tuesday, June 19, 2018
The PF Buzz: Would recommend to my friends. Would recommend to my enemy. Date Night! Needs more salt.  Defied expectations! Defied gravity!
More Details: Sybil of Mars featured solid exposition storytelling in well imagined future-scape. Nicole Cable’s eyes flickered up each time she stepped into and out of channeling form (10 might have been enough times to see that bit) and brought through 8 tarot inspired takes on what’s to come, while honoring Greek/Earther antiquity. The randomly selected third of the total story means there’s a lot to sink teeth into, and repeat viewings are required if you care to taste the total available content. Psychological insight yielded nuggets of autobiographical truth blended with sweet space travel. A con of the alley staging is that you may encounter some subpar sight lines and find yourself 10 minutes into a deep unknown yogic twist. A pro is that the other half of the bifurcated audience can be anything you want: Earthers, Martians, a panopticon-esque Other. This show was appealing to space nerd fans but I couldn’t help but wonder how the story might have been enhanced with multiple actors to create the lo-fi sci-fi drama. Love me some spontaneously created, tarot inspired story telling though.
-LeSalDos

Show: SpinS
Snapshot Performance Date: Saturday, June 19, 2018
The PF Buzz: Family-Friendly. LOL! Would recommend to my friends. Would recommend to my mom. Defied gravity!
More Details: SpinS is a silly escapism, and I mean that as a great compliment. Janoah spends an hour basically playing with fancy toys, and we feel like we’re playing with him. He rides a unicycle, juggles various items and even does a little magic. And he seems to be having fun doing it all. When variety artists make fringe shows, they often polish their routines so shiny that they lose the playfulness. But this artist makes a choice to play before each bit. Like a child on a fancy playground, but mixed with the adult’s years of training. Like most variety shows, there is no plot. But the artist provides an arc by stringing a few of his bits out in pieces throughout the hour (I won’t ruin them for you here). If you’ve had a tough week and need to smile for an hour, this show would be a good choice.
-Anonymous

Show: Are you living your truth?
Snapshot Performance Date: Tuesday, June 19, 2018
The PF Buzz: LOL! Would recommend to my friends. Would recommend to your mom. Date Night! Vive la resistance!
More Details: In Are You Living Your Truth, Kate Ghiloni serves her audience some crystal-coated pizza with a side of baggage. Her super dry wit and sharp insights about existing in today’s world as a woman are a cathartic salve to our liberal ways. This personal stand-up routine covers a breadth of topics that are as relatable as they are cringe-worthy. She offers some frankly useful strategies to navigate the dating world, avoid street harassment and how to find your own true path (hint, it involves pepperoni.) Do yourself a favor and catch her show before it’s all over!
-Kristen Peters

Show: Act 2 of “Jesus Christ Superstar” On a Miniature Stage!
Snapshot Performance Date: Tuesday, June 19, 2018
The PF Buzz: Family-Friendly. LOL! Would recommend to my friends. Would recommend to your mom. Date Night! Defied expectations.
More Details: Having worn the vinyl of my JCS album to a smooth disc, there was no way I’d miss this production. My assumption was that the presentation would be ironic, silly, played for humor – tiny dolls marching around the stage, shrieking their way through the material. Settling into my seat in front of the tiny, delicately wrought mini-stage, I began to have my doubts. There was a hush in the space that felt due to something more than the small audience (which slowly grew as the performance progressed.) And when the tiny lights went up . . . It WAS JCS, played without cheek, or winking, or commenting on itself. The artist’s voice was just gorgeous. Listening alone would have been a pleasure. But watching him move the small figures, often infinitesimally, through the scenes, was mesmerizing. There was a moment when, watching him manipulate the characters, singing full-voiced, that I felt an abrupt, powerful longing for those days of childhood where I shifted my dolls and toy animals through interpretations of movies and plays, and my heart lurched at the memory, and I wanted to feel the freedom the artist was, I sincerely hope, experiencing. It was a sudden and strange reaction. Visceral. I thank this show for evoking that feeling. There’s no question that seeing a tiny Jesus receive 39 lashes from a tiny cat o’ nine tails is certainly surreal. But even as you shake your head at the realization “yup, he’s actually doing this” you stay with him right through to the story’s truly moving conclusion – small in scale, but in no way small in its reverence for the source material, both the original production, and the age-old story itself. It’s absolutely worth seeing. Grab a seat front and center. There’s something lovely about a production’s very structure compelling one to let go of hunching anonymously in a back row, and sit right up front, watching the story unfold. On a scale of 1 to 10 loaves and fishes, 1 being “meh” and 10 being “holy shit, I loved this show!”, I’d give it an overflowing basket of sourdough and carp. This show will feed you.
-Anonymous

Show: The Surreal Vetting of Martin Mann
Snapshot Performance Date: Tuesday, June 19, 2018
The PF Buzz: LOL! Would recommend to my friends. For the PBS crowd. Date Night! Defied gravity!
More Details: The Surreal Vetting of Martin Mann is a grab-bag of absurdity with a dash of fascism, and not quite enough cake. Finyette Productions always delivers high quality productions, and this show was no exception. Ashley Kotzur and Mark Magee are a formidable comedic pair, and this original skit is dripping with keen writing and hilarious physical comedy. Trapped in an interrogation cell, Martin Mann is being “vetted” by the State (God Bless the State) to see if his subconscious is leading him astray (it is.) This potentially deadly interrogation takes quite a few unexpected turns, and has 200% more musical numbers than I was expecting. I laughed so hard through the show, that it gave me an asthma attack. Really, there is no higher praise I can give.
-Kristen Peters

Show: Breakneck Julius Caesar
Snapshot Performance Date: Tuesday, June 19, 2018
The PF Buzz: Family-Friendly. LOL! Would recommend to my friends. For the PBS crowd.
More Details: Look. I don’t need to sell you on Shakespeare, and unless you’re a petulant teenager, you don’t need to be sold. So there’s no point in stating that *Julius Caesar* is a monument of a play: we know this. No, what matters in any contemporary performance of Shakespeare is the originality of the interpretation and the mastery displayed in its performance. And in this one-man production of five acts and twenty characters—executed within a single hour without sacrificing any of the poetry, the intrigue, or the complex richness of the original—a unique mastery is most certainly on display. In a Fringe season defined by one-man shows, this is undoubtedly the classical centerpiece.
-Douglas W. Milliken

Show: #girltalk
Snapshot Performance Date: Tuesday, June 19, 2018
The PF Buzz: Family-Friendly. Would recommend to my friends. Would recommend to my mom. For the PBS crowd. 
More Details: #girltalk is an empowering piece written by four high school young women. In a series of intersecting inner monologues, they showed immense bravery speaking about their own struggles and insecurities on stage. The show has great pace as they take us through a typical day. There are so many ways to be rejected and bullied today, and what used to be straightforward in-person interactions have been muddied by the advent of so many digital platforms. This candid short show will leave you thinking long after you’ve left the theater. Bravo to all four of the company members.
-Kristen Peters

Show: 2201: A Porn Odyssey
Snapshot Performance Date: Tuesday, June 19, 2018
The PF Buzz: LOL! Would recommend to my friends. 
More Details: There’s this videogame I used to play when I was a teenager, something on the swiftly-obsolete Sega CD platform. This was sometime in the mid-90s. I think the game was called *Scanners* or *Snatchers* or something like that. You play a detective in a future Japanese city, trying to solve a series of disappearances, some of which strike pretty close to home. You traverse the city searching for clues and eating illicit buffalo meat in seedy dance clubs, eventually discovering that sentient robots are killing and replacing everyone. Honestly, it felt like reading an excellent sci-fi mystery novel, and I absolutely loved it. But what the game desperately lacked was a multitude of heat-seeking erections and an immortal Ron Jeremy. It is in this way that *2201: A Porn Odyssey* is superior to my favorite videogame whose name I can’t remember.
-Douglas W. Milliken

Show: Body | Mass
Snapshot Performance Date: Tuesday, June 19, 2018
The PF Buzz: Family-Friendly. Would recommend to my friends. Would recommend to my mom. Would recommend to my enemy. Definitely NOT for the PBS crowd. Date Night! Defied gravity!
More Details: With clear instructions into the language of touch, Jessica leads her audience on 30 minutes of sensory perception, without saying a word. Although there were many technical issues throughout the performance, the returning calm sound of Jessica’s voice over the audio track always reverted me back to focus. Leaving the show, many audience goers asked for more, as we found ourselves instantly relaxed and in tune with ourselves and others. It was clear that a sacred space for touch knowledge was being conveyed by this half naked, golden goddess in front of us, and each of us felt this message very hard. Even now, I’m relaxed as I reminisce about the show and write this review. Suddenly cognizant of each finger tapping the keys, I would highly recommend this work and look forward to seeing how it’s going to grow.
-Christina W. Richardson

Show: The Cursed
Snapshot Performance Date: Tuesday, June 19, 2018
The PF Buzz: Would recommend to my friends. Would recommend to my mom.  Would recommend to my enemy. For the PBS crowd.  Date Night! Vive la resistance!
More Details: As a person who already appreciates Shakespeare, I enjoyed this work. Featuring a cast of talented, in-tuned, knowledgeable actors, the scenes they presented were delivered in a way that could be translatable for any audience. A hard and often sought after Shakespeare understanding, that’s special. Although I often found myself distracted by one actor’s scuffing shoes across the floor, true to Shakespeare fashion, I became more alert when I realized this Company used non-binary casting. Some may find that choice confusing in the structure of the play, but I believe it’s brilliant and true to Shakes form. Using extravagant hand gestures, a broad use of the stage, clear, precise scene transitions, and excellent costuming choices, The Cursèd is definitely a piece I would recommend.
-Christina W. Richardson

Show: 2201: A Porn Odyssey
Snapshot Performance Date: Tuesday, June 19, 2018
The PF Buzz: Would recommend to my friends. For the PBS crowd. Definitely Not for the PBS crowd. It’s a … “work in progress”. Date Night!
More Details: The play explores the future, virtual territory we’ve come to recognize from programs like BLACK MIRROR. A man with a fetish for old-school porn stumbles through a bewildering series of events that make him question which world he’s inhabiting: real? Virtual? Neither? Both? In his first performance of the piece, Will Glenn navigated the occasional stumbles with self-effacing charm, while staying firmly on track with his breakneck-paced story. It’s a fun little foray into the future. I particularly appreciated the Ron Jeremy puppet, accompanied by his own personal porno soundtrack – and I especially liked how the murderous, powerful AI villain possessed the voice of someone who sucked too much virtual helium. It took the horror of the killer bot’s coffee-can-sized penis down a notch.
-Anonymous

Show: Household Items
Snapshot Performance Date: Sunday, June 17, 2018
The PF Buzz: Family-Friendly. Would recommend to my friends. For the PBS crowd.
More Details: Of all the academic modes of learning–verbal, visual, kinesthetic, etc.–the one form least understood must be the piano jazz method of learning. Which is truly a shame. For despite its obscurity, it is a deliriously effective form. Before Brian Friedland and Laura Grill’s performance of *Household Items,* I had no idea that, for example, ginger lives at a New York pace yet prefers to keep score from the sidelines. Or that, when enacted properly, grooming one’s facial hair is not unlike the meditative state achieved by contemplating a Buddhist koan. Or hell, that you can taste with your imagination. Where before I dwelt in contented ignorance, I now can’t escape this melodicized pabulum.
–Douglas W. Milliken

Show: The Juicy Bits III: Time’s Up!
Snapshot Performance Date: Saturday, June 16, 2018
The PF Buzz: Would recommend to my friends. Would recommend to mom. For the PBS crowd.
More Details: Known for its humorous history at PortFringe, THE JUICY BITS generally features neutrally-attired actors serving up the sublimely ridiculous behavior of celebrities, in their own, often bewilderingly ignorant or narcissistic words. This year’s offering was a bit – more than a bit – darker, with the #metoo movement the basis of the chosen quotes. Understanding that these are the words of celebrities doesn’t make their recounting of horrific behavior any less valid, and in fact, if show business is the tip of the social iceberg, then these stories serve as a sobering reflection of just how pervasive and wide-ranging sexual harassment and assault are in our culture. The actors delivered their quotes with equal measures of gravitas, irony, and world-weariness. With four women and one man, the burden of reading the miserably bland quotes of mostly perpetrators was left to the lone male, but his quotes were not of a piece with the others in several places. Rodney Dangerfield jokes, slivers of rap, and a Fat Albert “Hey, hey, hey!” seemed out of place in the collection of actual, honest quotes. His most chilling was a sincere statement about nurturing young artists – from Kevin Spacey. More in that vein would have fit better. It’s absolutely worth taking in, though. I was struck by how much has happened, so quickly, and – sadly – how much I’d already forgotten. This piece is a well-executed, worthwhile reminder.
–Anonymous

Show: HOT LUNCH
Snapshot Performance Date: Sunday, June 17, 2018
The PF Buzz: Family-Friendly. #tbt
More Details: Complete with mandatory participation, screaming gym coaches, and copious misinformation about drugs, HOT LUNCH maybe too perfectly captures the spirit of every middle school experience. Which means it, much like middle school, is probably not for everyone. If you’re down with compulsory jumping jacks and are always eager to learn new, deranged dance steps, then you and your side-pony will definitely feel at home. And if not, well, prepare yourself for detention.
–Douglas W. Milliken

Show: Babes in Apocalypse-Land
Snapshot Performance Date: Sunday, June 17, 2018
The PF Buzz: LOL! Queer AF. Would recommend to my friends. It’s a… “work in progress”. Definitely not for the PBS crowd. Vive la resistance!
More Details: If you’re lucky, you get to enjoy a global-level-catastrophe with your sistren. This well-imagined romp through a post-apocalyptic bunker seemed to me a Tarantino reimagining on Waiting for Godot, if God was dead and the work was written by nonmales. And directed by nonmales. And the stage populated by nonmales. All white, but still! The performers are committed and desexualized – their joy is their own. Cabin (well, bunker [it’s basically a metal cabin]) fever abruptly turns the characters on each other and back to their desperate escapism in sudden throngs of tension and release. Storytelling clarity may occasionally muddle in this new work, but the enthusiasm of the actors and the bursts of hilarity make this a promising show.
–Khalil LeSaldo

Show: Babes in Apocalypse-Land
Snapshot Performance Date: Sunday, June 17, 2018
The PF Buzz: LOL! Queer AF. Would recommend to my friends. Date Night! Vive la resistance!
More Details: This show sent me straight to the web to find out when/where/how I can see more of what’s going on in Angry Women’s Art Collective brains. Babes in Apocalypse-Land was a 1 act spelunking of a world where Y-chromosomes were mostly wiped out in a zombie plague. Felt like Tarantino reimagining on Waiting for Godot, if God was dead and the work was written by a woman. We see the survivors at work trading skills and rebuilding society as they fight to stave off post electric boredom. Joyously paced, they create a humorous, character driven world with neat-o backstories and densely layered comedy. For real, this was a show that felt so fresh Outkast tried to sue for copyrights. So fresh Mentos done styled their flavor after it. So fresh fruit stores are going out of business cause they can’t keep up. Joanna, Grace, Shannon, and Jericah all shine equally bright. GO SEE THIS SHOW.
–Jason LeSaldo

Show: Mi Casa Su Casa or How to Get 175 Roommates (An Airbnb Host Finally Tells All)
Snapshot Performance Date: Sunday, June 17, 2018
The PF Buzz: For the PBS crowd
More Details: Much has been made over the distinction between a house and home. Less so has the difference been explored between a house as a structure and a house as a living entity with its own history and narrative, a lifetime of events shaping the moods of its rooms, its emotional coloration, its invitational air or stern, cool decline. As much as *Mi Casa…* is about James Carey’s nearly 200 housemates spanning the course of a decade, it is also about the house wherein he and these people have lived, how it matured into its persona, how it grew into a life of its own.
–Douglas W. Milliken

Show: Mi Casa Su Casa or How to Get 175 Roommates (An Airbnb Host Finally Tells All)
Snapshot Performance Date: Sunday, June 17, 2018
The PF Buzz: Family-Friendly. Would recommend to my friends. Would recommend to my mom. For the PBS crowd.
More Details: This is more of a friendly lecture-series type of show than a particularly theatrical-ish event, but the presenter is entertaining and charming and kept the audience interested. The anecdotes are funny and poignant, and the discussion about how to be a good host was actually useful for anyone considering doing it. Put simply, if you’re someone looking for an edgy, aggressive or immersive experience, this is not it. But on the other hand, if you are someone who likes human-interest back stories and engaging presenters, this is an enjoyable and lighthearted way to spend an hour.
–Anonymous

Show: Gone Fishing and Experiments in Connection (PF Double Feature)
Snapshot Performance Date: Sunday, June 17, 2018
The PF Buzz: Family-Friendly. Would recommend to my friends. Would recommend to my mom. For the PBS crowd. Bring your tissues! Would recommend to my enemy. Date Night!
More Details: ‘Gone Fishing’ was a fun story that seems to be in its beginning stages. At times, it was as though the actors were flipping between performing over the top or not energetic enough, but the show’s concept is cute. It’s definitely a family friendly story that I could see featured on Lifetime Television … ‘Experiments in Connection’ was incredibly beautiful. Without saying a word, these 4 lovely dancers moved along the stage with ease, easily conveying their message about connection and its joys and pains. The strength and energy emoted in this piece was powerful, memorable, and a definite must see for all ages.
–Christina W. Richardson

Show: The Cardboard Countess
Snapshot Performance Date: Sunday, June 17, 2018
The PF Buzz: Family-Friendly. Would recommend to my friends. Would recommend to my mom. For the PBS crowd. Vive la resistance!
More Details: “If you create art, you live. If you live, live in beauty.” The Cardboard Countess is an ethereal piece about the conflicting reality of life today. A rebellious teen runs into a homeless woman who believes herself a countess of a once-verdant Earledom that has been reduced to a tiny park covered in trash next to a mall. She has bedecked herself and her home with jewels and frippery made of discarded items, and eschews any food that wasn’t plucked fresh from a branch, despite her desperate need to eat. She sees what used to be- lakes, orchards, stretches of fields, and adoring subjects, rather than the destitution she is now surrounded by. The teen and the Countess have their breakthrough moment when they bond over a shared hatred of Starbucks. As the two navigate bullying and similar downtrodden circumstances, they both lift each other up in ways neither expects. The joyful castle made of plastic bags and trash is an effective backdrop for this drama- both beautiful and achingly sad. A stellar cast brings this touching piece to life with strong performances all around.
–Kristen Peters

Show: Gone Fishing
Snapshot Performance Date: Sunday, June 17, 2018
The PF Buzz: Family-Friendly
More Details: Gone Fishing is a scene study that pits two energetic and eccentric college students against one another over plagiarism of a short story. Their professor, played with a quiet sense of weariness and mirth, tries to get the two of them to work it out between themselves, as his heart is already at the local pond, hanging with the frogs. The students, both dressed in smart costumes with a strong sense of physicality in their characters, become increasingly more frustrated as the professor checks out. Gone Fishing is an endearing short skit played as part of a double feature.
–Anonymous

Show: Birthwright Industries’ Annual Shareholders Meeting…
Snapshot Performance Date: Sunday, June 17, 2018
The PF Buzz: LOL! For the PBS crowd. Vive la resistance!
More Details: There’s this particular form of comedy that really, really hurts. Not like belly-cramps and lock-jaw from laughing so hard. More like a psychic wound, something you inflict upon yourself each time you succumb to a hysteria brought forth by witnessing the goddamn awful. Paul Beatty’s *The Sellout* does this from start to finish. Same goes for Percival Everett’s *I Am Not Sidney Poitier.* And the same is true of *Birthwright Industries….* Because when you stare greed straight in the eyes, what else can you do but fitfully laugh or bitterly cry, either way hoping they won’t bottle and sell your tears for a profit.
–Douglas W. Milliken

Show: Sisters, Strangers, Lovers, Friends
Snapshot Performance Date: Sunday, June 17, 2018
The PF Buzz: Would recommend to my friends. Definitely not for the PBS crowd. Bring your tissues.
More Details: Sketch is an art. A way to rapidly interrogate and reflect on a theme with a rate of informational divulgence that keeps the audience in the process of learning the rules of a new world. The dish is still hot while you’re eating it. Sketch is wielded to the hilt in this standout show. Two veteran actors earn their reputations: Janice Gardner, here a lilting musical tactician with a pleasing foray into the absurd. Anna Conathan handling emotion on-stage is a violin. A violin. A f***ing violin. Minutiae modulated to form a chord. These performances will wound you in the dearest way. They hollowed me out and laid their eggs in me. There is something resonant about the playwright walking onto the stage to arrange their set between scenes. Quiet, reverent – honoring the power of storytelling: certainly it can provide, but there’s a magic in that it can provide practice in loss. Remember what it means to be alive and come feel this show.
–Khalil LeSaldo

Show: Household Items
Snapshot Performance Date: Sunday, June 17, 2018
The PF Buzz: LOL! Family-Friendly, Would recommend to my friends! Would recommend to my mom! For the PBS crowd. Date Night! Defied gravity!
More Details: Holy hell, this show is AMAZING. From the first few notes and lyrics, I lit up like a Christmas tree and laughed until my cheeks hurt. I will say up front that they only have one more performance, which is on Thursday, so bump Household Items to the top of your Thursday schedule. Composer and pianist, Brian Friedland, is a veritable virtuoso. Joined by the exceedingly talented vocalist, Laura Grill, they regale us with the marketing copy on teas, moustache trimmers, and even ridiculous lease clauses. Not only is the premise absurd and hilarious on its face, the musical jokes from the piano alone will have you in stitches. If you’ve ever wondered what pace is ginger, where you can get a professional opinion on your beard slash moustache, and whether you will run out of air if you become trapped on an elevator, this is the show for you. I would not be surprised at all to see them on their own Netflix comedy special in the near future. I was blown away.
–Kristen Peters

Show: Walking While Black in Moscow
Snapshot Performance Date: Sunday, June 17, 2018
The PF Buzz: LOL! Would recommend to your friends. Would recommend to your mom. Definitely not for the PBS crowd. Would recommend to your enemy. Date Night! #tbt
More Details: Les is an incredible storyteller who I could listen to all day. With captivating words and actions, this story about a gay, Black male in Russia is one I will not easily forget. Although I wanted to make notes of the show for my review, I found that I couldn’t take my eyes off Les and the words he used to craft the story, to bring us on his journey. Using vivid imagery, raw emotion, and some really smart humor, there was no doubt the audience was engaged. It felt like I was hanging with a friend.
–Christina W. Richardson

Show: The Cursed
Snapshot Performance Date: Sunday, June 17, 2018
The PF Buzz: Would recommend to my friends. Would recommend to my mom.  Bring your tissues! Vive la resistance! Defied gravity!
More Details: This show was a wonderful and unique take on Shakespeare and womanhood. The performers took on different scenes and characters in multiple Shakespeare plays to piece together a narrative that focuses on the female perspective and the struggles that come with that in a way that I found to be very poignant and striking. It was unique in layout, props and staging, and was also truly brilliantly acted. The emotion was felt everywhere in the room. This is a gem of a show that I felt so privileged to see!
–Mackenzie Mae

Show: Turkey Club IV: This Time With Mayo
Snapshot Performance Date: Sunday, June 17, 2018
The PF Buzz: LOL!
More Details: When I was at this show, I felt like I was just hanging out with a bunch of friends. Presenting 8 improv situations and highlighting participation of the audience, Turkey Club IV was definitely a last show of the night win and a lot of fun. I particularly enjoyed the ‘instant’ creativity of the cast and the exhuberance that helped lead them through each exercise. I would definitely recommend this work.
–Christina W. Richardson

Show: Seven Deadly Sketches
Snapshot Performance Date: Sunday, June 17, 2018
The PF Buzz: LOL! Would recommend to my friends. Definitely not for the PBS crowd. Date Night! Defied expectations!
More Details: This show was so hilarious and wonderfully acted! Each person onstage was fully committed and laughs were heard throughout the venue. There were so many brilliant subtleties in the performance … I felt lucky to be there enjoying it. The recurring cast members took on different roles at times and were able to carry out each with skill and dexterity. Definitely funny, definitely well-written, definitely a performance worth checking out.
–Mackenzie Mae

Show: Breakneck Julius Caesar
Snapshot Performance Date: Sunday, June 17, 2018
The PF Buzz: Family-Friendly. Would recommend to my friends. Would recommend to my mom. For the PBS crowd. Would recommend to my enemy.
More Details: Breakneck – the name is earned. This is an hour long one-man entree of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar with the asides of that same one-man theater practitioner to assist in its digestion. The raw text is handled by an articulate performer who supplements the packed performance with data, his insights, and his comedic takes on Shakespeare’s plot-holes in a way you wouldn’t see at The Globe. This story is both timely and timeless – an undertaking of Shakespearean sophistication. If you don’t know Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, take a wild stab at the one.
–Khalil LeSaldo

Show: Experiments in Connection
Snapshot Performance Date: Sunday, June 17, 2018
The PF Buzz: Family-Friendly. Would recommend to your friends. Would recommend to your mom. For the PBS crowd. Defied gravity!
More Details: Experiments in Connection is a mesmerizing, fluid exploration of tension and connection presented through contemporary dance. As the excellent music selection begins, you find yourself entranced. The strength of the piece lies in the dancers’ complete commitment to staying and remaining deeply in the moment. Every one of them has a commanding stage presence, and it is a joy to watch. The transitions from piece to piece are fluid, silent and seamless. Though no words are spoken, you leave with a sense that you’ve just witnessed an intense conversation. Experiments in Connection is poetry in physical form, and it’s a must-watch this year for Fringe.
–Kristen Peters

Show: A Prince in a Sky-Blue Uniform
Snapshot Performance Date: Saturday, June 16, 2018
The PF Buzz: Family-Friendly. It’s a… “work in progress”. For the PBS crowd. #tbt 
More Details: I see that there was importance in the explanation, but the writer’s introduction to the history of the work definitely lost my attention before the show began. If that history was somehow featured in the script, it would have more power. The non-spoken scenes to the background sounds of aircraft and attention to costuming were excellent. These features aided in maintaining my attention throughout the remainder of the show. Chalked full of real to time descriptions, in my opinion, this script was clever but needs some work to captivate their audiences.
–Christina W. Richardson

Show: BEAR Necessities
Snapshot Performance Date: Saturday, June 16, 2018
The PF Buzz: Queer AF! Would recommend to my friends. Would recommend to my enemy. Definitely not for the PBS crowd. Date Night! Vive la resistance!
More Details: In my opinion, this well-written, inspiring, heartfelt script about the honest interactions in the life of a homosexual, was definitely a win. Featuring clear development of characters, a strong storyline, and smart, edgy, quote worthy lines, BEAR Necessities was captivating. The choice to present the show as a Staged Reading was only amplified by a talented cast who could tackle the tough topics of suicide, depression, and coming to terms with who you truly are.
–Christina W. Richardson

Show: Wow Wee! Adventures of a Little Girl Killbot!
Snapshot Performance Date: Saturday, June 16, 2018
The PF Buzz: LOL! Would recommend to my friends. Date Night!
More Details: If a John Waters movie and Ex Machina had a baby, it might look like WOWEE! ADVENTURES OF A GIRL KILLBOT. Like so many post-apocalyptic tales, there are unnerving hints at what’s going on outside this suburban home – robot wars – but the machine gun fire and screaming that accompany characters entering and exiting the house (inexplicably, and hilariously, through both front door and window) only provoke bland annoyance from the occupants, in pure Waters fashion. These folks, IRTE, out of New York, are clearly having fun.The delivery is regularly halting, but that’s part and parcel of the technique of this all-improv ensemble, and it only serves to heighten the Midnight-Movie quality the show delivers. If you’re missing the family sitcoms of the 80’s, but don’t want to sacrifice your standard chained-up lounge singer belting out “Mr. Roboto”, or full-grown women being reabsorbed and rebirthed, this is absolutely the show for you. This reviewer snorted with laughter. On a five-snort scale, I’d definitely give it at least 4 snorts.
–Anonymous

Show: BEAR Necessities
Snapshot Performance Date: Saturday, June 16, 2018
The PF Buzz: Queer AF! Would recommend to my mom.  For the PBS crowd. Bring your tissues! 
More Details: This show had laughs and definite tears! It was very touching and emotional and perfect for pride month. The actors all did a great job and brought a lot of complex issues to the show but managed to present them in an uplifting and ultimately sweet way. Loved it!
–Mackenzie Mae

Show: A Very MTWTFSSSpooky Halloween Show
Snapshot Performance Date: Saturday, June 16, 2018
The PF Buzz: LOL! Queer AF! Would recommend to my friend. Would recommend to my mom.  For the PBS crowd. 
More Details: This show was so delightfully funny and surprising. It was extremely interactive and the actors made the audience feel comfortable participating. Giggles were everywhere. I was surprised again and again by different takes and jokes, even moments that appeared to be ad-libbed that were hilarious. I loved this show! For a goofy night out!
–Mackenzie Mae

Show: Wow Wee! Adventures of a Little Girl Killbot!
Snapshot Performance Date: Saturday, June 16, 2018
The PF Buzz: Defied expectations! #tbt
More Details: Humans have been wrestling with the nature of consciousness since the very first naval was deeply gazed into, but it’s only since the introduction of robots and AI that the question’s gained popular interest beyond the white halls of pedantry: what makes someone human? and does that criteria extend to androids? When the android in question is equal part’s Schwarzenegger’s *Terminator* and *Next Generation’s* Data, however, the question ever-so-subtly shifts: do we even want her to be human, or would we rather see her vengefully slaughter the undistinguished few of us remaining in the wasteland of our folly?
–Douglas W. Milliken

Show: Walking While Black in Moscow
Snapshot Performance Date: Saturday, June 16, 2018
The PF Buzz: LOL! Would recommend to my friends. Would recommend to my mom.  Date Night! Vive la resistance! Defied expectations!
More Details: This show was incredible. I had high hopes for this performer and they were exceeded! The descriptions of walking while black and gay in Russia were intriguing, funny, and complex. I think I speak for all of the audience when I say it felt like we were there with him. It’s also such a unique performance. This fringe veteran and great person created something that is a must see!
–Mackenzie Mae

Show: Travelogue
Snapshot Performance Date: Saturday, June 16, 2018
The PF Buzz: Family-Friendly. Would recommend to my mom.  Would recommend to my friends. For the PBS crowd. Date Night! Defied expectations! 
More Details: This show was so surprising and so so special! I went into it unsure of exactly what it was, but it was so simply beautiful with stunning dance and music and wonderfully presented spoken word. I felt calm, joyful, and moved by the subtle descriptions of travel pared with great movement. Totally recommend for a relaxing and touching show.
–Mackenzie Mae

Show: Szyjek fun Bendzin
Snapshot Performance Date: Saturday, June 16, 2018
The PF Buzz: LOL
More Details: As Russell Kaback begins to tell the story of his grandfather Szyjek’s (pronounced shee-ick) harrowing experiences in Nazi concentration camps, it’s hard to miss the pride and the deep love he has for his family. Using only his strong, pleasing voice and an electric guitar, he paints the scenery of a time heavy with terror, death and grief. The music from the guitar alternates between light, airy scenes of childhood before the war, to the pounding of a heart filled with anxiety as one waits for their own inevitable demise. The hunger and the unrelenting quest to survive hangs heavy in the room. This musical work in progress has great potential. I found myself wanting to hear more about his grandfather’s experiences, both during and after the war. An hour didn’t feel like enough time. Russell is a masterful storyteller, and he honors his grandfather’s legacy in a way that only family truly can. In uncertain times of political upheaval, it is important to remember the devastating lessons of the past. Szyjek fun Bendzin reminds us that when you deny someone else’s humanity, you ultimately forfeit your own.
–Kristen Peters

Show: Travelogue
Snapshot Performance Date: Saturday, June 16, 2018
The PF Buzz: Family-Friendly! #tbt
More Details: Travelogue is a collection of Eat Pray Love type stories, theatrically read and accompanied by dance. It’s nice to live in Maine and see exploration and connection with other cultures in the 1970s, when travel to places like Ethiopia, Chile, and Ireland wasn’t as accessible as it is now. As with anybody’s opinion, there may be points or ways of looking at the series of events that you disagree with. There was a disconnect between pork and pig that the author seemed uneasy about having erased on the shores of the Tonga that affected me strangely. People don’t wanna know how the sausage gets made, I guess. There are a couple of subjective takes on tastes and experiences that are given the objective voice which could be alienating for the audience or inviting a full buy-in to the tourist. Everything’s a lesson, and you can learn a lot from this show with your critical brain on. The dancers are going for the spirit of movement and representation, at times contrasting with the speaker’s words. The nicer moments of the show had flashes of synesthesia as movement drew the audience deeper into the adventure. A regular theater goer might be grateful to see some dance in their life. There are brief periods where the stage is bare, and the audience can reflect, which we all need to do now and again. Call me a still pond, son, because I be reflekting. I don’t think there are other shows in the festival like this one.
–The LeSalDos

Show: Walking While Black in Moscow
Snapshot Performance Date: Saturday, June 16, 2018
The PF Buzz: LOL! Would recommend to my friends. Defied expectations!
More Details: Les has certain well-founded expectations when he travels from Hollywood to Russia. Yes, there will be racism. Yes, there will be homophobia. And yes, there most definitely will be caviar in unexpected places. But who could expect racism to be so uniformly friendly? Who could anticipate such simply codified homophobia? In Les’s navigation of Moscow’s mass transportation system and the particular labyrinth of the Cyrillic alphabet, what’s gradually revealed isn’t the detailed horrors of a much-maligned foreign nation but the obvious and overlooked fabric of life at home, what’s taken for granted as day-to-day experience on the western shoreline of America.
–Douglas W. Milliken

Show: Mythcommunication
Snapshot Performance Date: Saturday, June 16, 2018
The PF Buzz: LOL! Would recommend to my friends. Defied gravity!
More Details: The moment Chris DeFillip steps onstage, he instantly puts a smile on your face. He is an engaging, bright and wryly witty storyteller. Mythcommunication uses a truly clever premise. You, the audience, are playing a teenage Chris in a Dungeons and Dragons quest to defeat his mother’s abusive partner, Rick. Chris acts as the Dungeon Master, allowing the audience to guide how the story is told. The audience is polled to choose one of two possible actions, and at various points, roll the 20-sided die to see how well Chris is able to subvert the cloying authoritarianism of Rick. Mythcommunication does an excellent job illustrating how insidious power and control are in abusive relationships. The device of having the audience playing Chris immediately places you in an empathetic position- you are literally in Chris’ shoes. As the “boss battle” with Rick approaches at the end of the story, you almost want Chris to drop the game to hear what really happened. You care so much about him getting out safely. This show is incredibly enjoyable and fun, while also being deeply affecting. Chris has created a true gem.
–Kristen Peters

Show: Mythcommunication
Snapshot Performance Date: Saturday, June 16, 2018
The PF Buzz: Needs more salt! Vive La Resistance! #tbt
More Details: The performer leans into the persona of an awkward D&D GM (that’s Game Master, you filthy casual), complete with refreshingly candid self-assessments and a command of the story that allows for detours of plot that encourage repeat viewings. The focus is on the story, people. His jokes are drier than a bag of sand. The first half is an unfolding of the coping mechanisms our fantasies provide, which is taken away to reveal the harsh truths that we all ignore for our happiness. If Fringe is a highway, Mythcommunication is a roadside sign that says, “the void: five miles away.” Personally, I like to toe up to a cold hard unremitting stare into the gaping black maw of death, but I recognize that people may not find it accessible. This show works a person in – good for fantasy fans (FANtaseers) and latin nerds. I would imagine this dish pairs well with Breakneck Caesar …  Packed with D&D lore, adolescent growing pains, a detour into Latin homework, and a demigorgan stepdad, Mythcommunication is brimming with my old friend, The Feels. The curtain speech gives a content warning for domestic abuse and trauma, which was an unusual and original Big Bad to have lurking in the dungeon with you. Chris rolled well with new information, jumping storylines dexterously, and was a charming and honest GM, helping the audience to leave any hang ups they might have about their own character sheets at the door. Watching someone else’s survival strategies was an invitation to check in with your own, and I can imagine future audiences getting much more out of this show than they expect.
–LeSalDos

Show: Babes in Apocalypse-land
Snapshot Performance Date: Saturday, June 16, 2018
The PF Buzz: LOL! Date Night!
More Details: Can a 20-year long friendship survive the apocalypse? Babes in Apocalypse-land is a brash, unapologetically funny ride through a post-zombie-apocalypse world where all men were wiped out. Using a minimal, effective set, we watch two best friends struggling to stay alive, grow food, and stay sane on their own in this bizarre reality. When two unknown women show up asking for shelter, layers of jealousy and shifting power dynamics unfold as the now-foursome tries to feel each other out. Strong performances from all four leads add great depth to an intriguing premise. If you are looking for a show with answers, this isn’t the show for you. You will leave with more questions than you came in with. Babes in Apocalypse-land is a bumpy ride- be sure to bring your own seat belt!
–Kristen Peters

Show: The Juicy Bits: Times Up!
Snapshot Performance Date: Saturday, June 16, 2018
The PF Buzz: For the PBS crowd.
More Details: This show slid its hand down the pants of my heart quicker than I liked. I mean, you know what you’re getting into with a show wearing #metoo clothes, but the lights go up and the not-plot takes off. It’s a nonlinear series of quotes that the actors have selected to perform and color, pronouncing feminist sentiments and leaning into portrayals of what they see as the problematic material. A white actor throws up a Bill Cosby impression pretty quick. And a black preacher. For good measure, for comedic effect, realllly leans into how out of touch they are in order to lampoon a rap song. It doesn’t feel too focused, and maybe that’s the point. They’re pointing to the culture, but in a way that conflates feminism and racism, and puts the work on a feminist audience to move second wave to fourth wave.  Most of the quotes come from famous actors … Actor experiences are valid, but they’re also not necessarily experts on the path to progress. The focus is on arch-villain perpetrators who have already been arrested, disavowed, or widely acknowledged to be shitbags. It’s tough to get a handle on the sensibilities of the devisers … The expression of masculinity and the power disparity of and in the binary construct is an issue they touch on. There is a quote to this effect which you will be grateful to hear. Could have used a quote that you don’t need bestowed power to oppress or menace anybody if you are a man. My belief is a show like this would be most effective retooled to an everyday level of #metoo, or else the audience might be saying #justthem. There’s a lot to unpack from this show, but I believe that the actors are trying. I found myself fighting back views which I found to be problematic. I am one point on the scatterplot, and others may find value in this show.
–The LeSalDos

 

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