Fringe Fest 2014: Mini reviews

Updated 8/4/2014

From a touching drama with James A. Williams to a yoga-influenced dance journey.

"The Sex (Ed) Show!"
Renee Jones Schneider

The Sex (Ed) Show

This is a slick, tight production of clever songs and substantive stories about sex and naughtiness in general. Courtney McLean drives the Dirty Curls with a plunking banjo. Samantha Veldhouse narrates a letter to her 13-year-old self about just how much her dreams will turn into real life. Anna Weggel spells out C-O-N-D-O-M by the letters — D is for “disembodied dirty dancer.” McLean tells a disarming, vulnerable story about an encounter with a woman in Los Angeles. STDs, AIDS — it’s all grist for the mill. Is any of it true? You would have to ask the Dirty Curls. Regardless, it’s good, entertaining theater, just fun with friends. That’s what sex is, right? (8:30 p.m. Tue., 10 p.m. Fri.; Rarig Xperimental, 330 21st Av. S.) Graydon Royce


Tough Love

At the end of “Tough Love,” Catherine Wright thanks the Fringe Festival for supporting experimentation. It’s an apt salute, since this solo show lets Wright test out different ways to convey her embrace of the Bodhichitta journey to “soft heart.” The result is a performance ritual, one that weds Wright’s fluid yoga-influenced movement style with her newfound love of playing the ukulele. Wright may still be working out her purpose, but the realization of her thought process is intriguing. (7 p.m. Mon., 7 p.m. Thu., 1 p.m. Sun.; Intermedia Arts, 2822 Lyndale Av. S.) Caroline Palmer



James A. Williams brings an emotional openness and elegant gravitas to his role as the immigrant father in Sharif Abu-Hamdeh’s meditation on dreams, theft and home. Williams plays a single father raising a boy he picked up from an olive grove during an attack on the family in Palestine. His son, Habibi (Ryan Colbert), is drifting, and he wants to help the young man focus. He does something unexpected and surprising. The drama also is populated by the matter-of-fact ghost of Habibi’s mother (Nastacia Nicole Foster). Jamil Jude directs this often tender, well-acted work that ends abruptly. It will likely be controversial, given recent fighting in Israel and Gaza, and is well worth seeing. (7 p.m. Wed., 4 p.m. Sat.; Intermedia Arts, 2822 Lyndale Av. S.) Rohan Preston


Four Humors Do Every Show in the Fringe

All 168 shows in the Fringe are numbered in a hopper. One is selected, and the guys are off. Jill Bernard, the improv legend from Comedy Sportz, was guest host Thursday night and helped keep things bubbling along. Brant Miller brought the most to this wobbly conceit. He played a dog/man who makes things happen in a love story. The first 20 minutes, this works and it feels fresh. The guys (Miller, Nick Ryan and Matt Spring) start to run out of gas by the 40-minute pole. Fans of the Four Humors, though, will have a great time. (8:30 p.m. Mon., 5:30 p.m. Thu., 8:30 p.m. Sat.; New Century Theatre, 615 Hennepin Av. S.) Graydon Royce


Sketchbook Dances

Classical Mechanics, led by Margaret Marinoff, opens its Fringe program with her “Eternal Return,” inspired by Nietzsche’s writings. This is a deliberate and ponderous piece that unwinds too methodically. “Othering” showcases a freer approach, from choreographer Emily Blacik Joos. It focuses on the inner strength and perseverance of the dancers. Marinoff’s “SketchBook Dances” is also uplifting, and while the dancing is uneven, the work fits comfortably within the framework of the Bach score. (8:30 p.m. Tue., 1 p.m. Sat.; Rarig Proscenium, 330 21st Av. S.) Caroline Palmer


Failure: A Love Story