Sousepaw: A Baseball Story
First, get on Wikipedia and read up on left-hander Rube Waddell. He pitched like a demon from about 1900 to 1910. This heartbreaking play puts Waddell in a Texas hotel, on the eve of what he believes will be a comeback. He has asked the Reptile Girl from a local circus to come visit him. These two bereft souls express an epic, if tragically doomed, hope for better things. James B. Kennedy and Ariana Venturi are outstanding, with a palpable chemistry. Jonathan Goldberg's script is a small jewel. I would see it again and again. More show information.
- GRAYDON ROYCE
Underneath the Lintel
It's the really crazy ones who believe they are perfectly lucid and make us believe it, too. Pat O'Brien gives a convincing portrayal of a librarian whose only mania, at first, is that he takes library rules too seriously. A Baedeker's Travel Guide has been returned 123 years overdue -- "And in the overnight slot, no less! Appalling!" -- and he cannot let it go. One clue leads to another, and soon the librarian has found proof of the existence of God. It's a fascinating rabbit hole, and O'Brien is brilliant as he leads us on. More show information.
- ERIC RINGHAM
Son of a -----!
Although Levi Morris' "Son of a -----!" suggests something foul-mouthed and frank, it turns out to be an earnest, tender coming-of-age story by a self-admitted mama's boy. He's a 24-year-old man with part of a 50-odd-year-old woman living inside of him, he tells us. Morris and Elizabeth Behnke, who plays his mother, dance, mime and bound across the stage as they deliver memories from a fractured childhood. The show, whose atmospheric music is played by cellist Kathleen Watson and pianist Sarah Gillund, is a little long and loose. If it wins us over in places, it's because of its humor and big heart. More show information.
- ROHAN PRESTON
You can't get more high-concept than this: a Shakespearean adaptation of the classic horror film "Aliens," written as a sequel to "The Tempest." But Tedious Briefs' production is more than an intellectual exercise. With clever verse, it tells a compelling adventure story, nicely connecting Shakespeare with the sci-fi thriller, using special effects, stylized movement and action-filled battle scenes. The large cast is somewhat variable in their abilities to communicate the verse, but Katie Willer, as Miranda, gives a bold, emotionally engaging performance. Ben Tallen provides a nice bit of comic relief. More show information.
- WILLIAM RANDALL BEARD
Something's Gone Wrong at the Dreamhouse
It's opening night of the Fringe Festival, and the nouveau-Beat cum punk musical/poetry/spoken-word group Scream Blue Murmur is in from Northern Ireland. Maybe it was jet-lag. It's impossible not to like these people -- they are earnest and sincere in their displeasure at the human suffering caused by injustice, war, racism, cruelty and economic disparity. But there is something slightly "precious" in this collection of songs and spoken-word ragings "against the machine." Even required audience participation in this multimedia hootenanny could not light their fuse or thaw a Minnesota audience's reluctance to really get loose and participatory. More show information.
- BRIAN LEEHAN
Ten Reasons Why You'd Be a Bad Porn Star
Surrounded by sex toys and aids, including lube, jelly and cucumbers, writer, comedian and activist May Lee-Yang delivers a long-form Dave Letterman-style list on why a short, plump, thoughtful Hmong woman would not make it in the porn industry. She offers some strong cultural criticisms with her cutting adult humor, including on the emasculation of Asian men in western movies, and the lack of a word for sex in Hmong. If "Porn Star" is often hilarious, it's because her humor is so insightful. More show information.
- ROHAN PRESTON
A Little Bit of Vegas
Rose wants to see her name in lights, but the life of a striptease doesn't please her newfound lover. "Chicago" without the murder, "Guys and Dolls" without Bible-thumping Sarah Brown, this mini-musical packs all the conventions of classic Broadway into an hour: Twenty actors, 17 songs, several plot lines, sequined costumes, leggy dance numbers (including a kickline), cliché lyrics galore, and even a sex scene. But naked or not, lead Elizabeth Gjertson will have your attention -- she's got the pipes. More show information.
- JESSICA BAKEMAN