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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
Failure: A Love Story
How could a show about death be so charming? Set in Chicago in 1928, Philip Dawkins’ “Failure: A Love Story” orbits the soon-to-die Fail family, whose girls are beloved by Mortimer Mortimer (charismatic Nathan Barlow). First up is aspiring singer and entertainer Nelly (Emily Madigan), followed by swimmer Jenny June (Andrea San Miguel) and finally Gerty (Su Yoon Ko). The family also has animal lover John Fail (Sean Dillon). All the action and environments are suggested by the winning cast in one of the sweetest shows so far in the Fringe.
(5:30 p.m. Wed., 7 p.m. Fri., 2:30 p.m. Sun.; Illusion Theater, 528 Hennepin Av. S.)
Genealogy of Happenstance
In many ways, storyteller Allegra J. Lingo’s personal tale about preparing for a baby is a familiar one, filled with doctor visits, pregnancy tests, sleepless nights, anticipation and despair. And then again, it’s not. As the non-childbearing half of a gay couple, she uses this piece to craft a new language for motherhood, musing on the ramifications of being a parent without a biological connection to her child. It’s masterfully done, filled with equal parts rollicking humor, clever turns of phrase, lurking pathos and, ultimately, affirming joy.
(7 p.m. Tue., 5:30 p.m. Sat., 2:30 p.m. Sun.; Rarig Arena, 330 21st Av. S.)