Is it Fringe or is it reality? It's not always easy to tell

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 6, 2011 - 6:45 PM

The Fringe Festival has begun, and the city of Minneapolis is absolutely saturated with theater. You go to Cub, see someone dressed up as a clown stuffing steaks in his pants, you don't know if he's shoplifting or performing. Whip out your Fringe guide and check for "Klepto the Sirloin Addict": A free-roaming exploration of transgressive criminality that pokes fun at McDonald's corporate mascot. Nope. Hint: If there are chairs around, it's theater. Usually.

I've never gone, simply out of fear I will be the entire audience. Then you can't leave. Can't sneak out at intermission, because the entire cast will be watching, and possibly have someone bar the door. "You can't go! A poignant yet absurd revelation about the author's childhood is coming up, and explains why he wore a unicorn horn in the first act!" OK, well ... can you e-mail it to me? I think my meter's run out.

By all accounts, it's fun -- and certainly the antithesis of safe, soulless Blockbuster movies. I mean, if I had a choice between enduring two hours of "The Green Lantern" and 15 minutes of some guy pretending he's the Chartreuse Flashlight, I'll take the latter. But it's an odd bag. Here are some descriptions, and some fakes. See if you can spot the real plays.

"Amway or the Highway": A warm recollection of growing up in a family where Mom thought Basic H was the cure for everything!

"Hope and Change": A clerk at Burger King learns an important life lesson: Someone who pays $2.12 on a $1.87 bill wants a quarter back in change. Location: Burger King. Shows every 10 minutes.

"Primordial Dreams": Dance symposium that professes the carnal transfixion of intertwined existence betwixt all life.

"Adjective Nouns": A collection of multisyllabic words that really warns the audience what they're in for.

"Drill Baby Drill": A nitrous-oxide addict chews sugar cubes to get cavities so he can justify dental work. Nine hours.

"Knit One, Purl the Other": Having made one decision 19 years ago, Aviva is forced to choose again."

"Klepto Makes Bail": Fun-loving meat-thief charms a bail bondsman's office.

Answer: If they're not real plays this year, they will be next time.

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858 More daily at www.startribune.com/popcrush.

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