Fringe reviews 8/6: Think globally, sing locally

  • Updated: August 7, 2011 - 2:49 PM

Hipsters in the 'hood feel threatened by corporate expansion in Fringe's smart, catchy "Uptown: The Musical."

"Uptown: The Musical"

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Uptown: The Musical

Quirky bike-riding, tattoo-sporting Uptown Minneapolitans meet daily at the Dirty Hipster coffee shop to chit-chat (and sing!) about health care, Obama, "Star Wars" -- you name it. But when "Trader Jack's" threatens to move in across from their local organic co-op -- what's next? Wal-Mart? Gasp! -- the misfits form a hipster-y plan. Despite its setting, this hilarious musical does not depend on cheesy hometown jokes for its success. Smart writing, catchy music and committed actors deliver the real deal. That being said, isn't it just so much fun to laugh at ourselves? More show information.

  • JESSICA BAKEMAN

How Do You See It?

Three selections from the Christopher Watson Dance Company's repertory showcase the choreographer's attraction to movement that flows along easily enough but feels too measured in its personal interactions. Some drama is needed to disrupt the surface beauty. The program also features Jeffrey Peterson Dance's "Stand Up," driven by Aretha Franklin's empowerment songs and recordings of female comedians tackling everything from body image to abortion politics. Peterson offers up potential for provocative scenarios, but fierce punch lines from the likes of Margaret Cho compete -- often too successfully -- for the audience's attention. More show information.

  • CAROLINE PALMER

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Dr. Jekyll

Four actors work hard to make a three-joke play work, but the piece doesn't know what it wants to be. Is it the story of a man who's not interesting enough to have a dark side? That premise is good for a snicker, but it wears thin as the morality serum gets confused with the decongestant, and the meek assistant becomes a control freak with appetites. Dawn Krosnowski is wonderful as a streetwalker with marketing know-how, and Amy Schweickhardt shows some range, but they are bright spots in a dreary hour. More show information.

  • ERIC RINGHAM

Reykjavik 

Writer/performer Christopher Kehoe probes the anguish of Brandon, a young American who flees to Iceland not for political reasons, but because he is devastated by the loss of his job and the breakup with the woman he loves. Worse yet, his hospitalized father leaves him hateful, ranting voice mails that suggest seriously unresolved issues from the past. Unfortunately, Kehoe's vulnerability and vibrant sequences where Brandon acts out comic-book superhero fantasies are self-sabotaged by too many other irrelevant scenes. We lose what should have been a powerful ending. More show information.

  • JOHN TOWNSEND

Lot O' Shakespeare

 Timothy Mooney can perform a monologue from every William Shakespeare play and six Shakespeare sonnets. Within Fringe's one-hour time limit, over 20 different monologues are chosen at random, Bingo-style, and performed with comedic and dramatic range. Moreover, much of the material is from such lesser-known gems as "Coriolanus" and "Cymbeline." Mooney's pace is snappy but never rushed. His delivery sparkles but he's heavy when necessary. And audiences can participate in an incantation to ward off evil spirits that legendarily enter a theater when the name Macbeth is uttered. More show information.

  • JOHN TOWNSEND

A Fool's Errand

In this disjointed, structure-less, partly improvised play, three actors take turns sharing anecdotes tinged with religious angst and splitting open fortune cookies for guidance. Not necessarily redeeming, but certainly notable, is the performance of Felix Hampton-Brown, whose compelling monologue delivery feels like political slam poetry; he eloquently rants about U.S. race relations while smoking a joint rolled in an Ecclesiastes page. The other two actors -- Howard Lieberman and Loren Niemi, playing a disgruntled Jew and an ex-almost-priest, respectively -- present a cross between sermon and cheap comedy. More show information.

  • JESSICA BAKEMAN
SCOTUS

A 27-year-old legal neophyte heads the Supreme Court, having turned heads for her work on the Farmville merger. Yes, she got this job because she understands the internet. On the court, she tangles with a brittle old traditionalist, a narcissist who'd rather be an actor and another who'd rather be an athlete. That's where this undercooked satire runs out of flavor. This script is bad when it's trying too hard to be funny, and worse when it's trying to be serious. Condolences to actors Heather Stone and Peter Ooley, who are actually pretty good. More show information.

  • GRAYDON ROYCE
  • MINNESOTA FRINGE FESTIVAL

    What: 18th-annual performing-arts festival, with 865 performances of 168 plays.

    When: Aug. 4-14.

    Where: 18 venues.

    Tickets: Options range from single tickets ($12 adults, $10 students/seniors, $5 ages 5 to 12) to the Ultra Pass for an unlimited number of shows ($225), www.fringefestival.org or from OvationTix at 1-866-811-4111.

    Web: See www.vita.mn/fringe for complete schedule, updates and short reviews; also www.fringefestival.org.

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