'Ghosts of the Living, Ghosts of the Dead'

It is so warmly rewarding to walk into a theater with meager expectations and walk out genuinely moved by a young artist brave and articulate enough to share her painful story. Ashley Kress comes from hard places, yet she retains a soft place for people in her life who raised her, inspired her and in one important case rejected her. She writes with insight and spare honesty, avoiding sentimentality even when the details of her story beg for our sympathy. This is a beautiful example of how personal storytelling becomes theater of the smallest and most effective kind. (4 p.m. Fri., 2:30 p.m. Sat.; Huge Theater, 3037 Lyndale Av. S.)

Graydon Royce

'Spicy Masala Chai': A romping Bollywood romance

The infectious spunk of the dancers and actors that make up this Bollywood-inspired rom-com could charm the most cynical Fringe patron. Threaded around the story of three Indian American bachelors in search of love, the dance numbers — fusing traditional Indian dance moves with hip hop, ballet, jazz and little bit of country dancing — are delightful enough that you forgive the choppy acting. Artistic director Divya Maiya manages to interweave sociopolitical issues seamlessly into this delightful romp that features more than 50 dancers of all ages and abilities, bustin' their moves with aplomb. (5:30 p.m. Thu., 8:30 p.m. Fri., 1 p.m. Sat.; Rarig Center Proscenium, 330 21st Av. S.)

Sheila Regan

'105 Proof': A buzzy take on Prohibition

The troupe Transatlantic Love Affair has been a Fringe darling for several years. Director Diogo Lopes puts eight actors and two musicians into a story about a country bumpkin who rises to become a mysterious bootlegger during Prohibition. The troupe's signature is a highly physical style that uses actors as swinging doors, rocking chairs and pickup trucks. Stage images are not always crystal clear but the inventiveness and strong characterizations carry this work. The narrative has a few dramaturgical snags that raise questions but push through those rough spots and enjoy one of the most polished works in the festival. (5:30 p.m. Tue., 7 p.m. Fri., 1 p.m. Sat., Ritz Proscenium, 345 13th Av. NE.)

Graydon Royce

'The Consolation': Provocative Holocaust drama

Playwright Ari Hoptman invokes the concept of the banality of evil in this piece about the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichmann, who toiled in Hitler's madhouse. Eichmann is played by actor David Mann as a loyal functionary for whom love of Hitler and the deportation of the Jews was not a matter of passion, it was simply a job. Mann is excellent, parrying what he considers glib and irritating questions from a woman (Jennifer Blagen) let in to visit him. A parallel scene of an interrogation clinical test never quite feels part of the same play, but Hoptman's grasp of Eichmann's state of mind is sharp in this provocative drama. (8:30 p.m. Wed., 7 p.m. Fri., 10 p.m. Sat.; Rarig Arena, 330 21st St. S.)

Graydon Royce

'Falling Man': Dazzling improv dance

Leonard Cruz's powerful body finds moments of weightlessness while his pristine technique grounds this improvisational work, a sampler platter of different styles of movement, from Butoh to a Pina Bausch-inspired piece. Employing a raw storytelling style that vacillates from highly intellectual to deeply personal, Cruz is a fascinating performer to watch in all of the pieces, but his more personal stories are the most effective. He creates a transformative performance in a section where he embodies the Southeast Asian traditional dances he learned as a boy. (7 p.m. Tue., 8:30 p.m. Wed., 10 p.m. Thu.; Nimbus, 1517 Central Av. NE., Mpls.)

Sheila Regan

'Getting to Ellen': A woman's transgender journey

David Ahlvers' inspired stage adaptation of transgender author/activist Ellen Krug's autobiography illuminates her identity struggle with glistening clarity. A seamless acting trio — Amy Schweickhardt, Joe Wiener, Catherine Hansen — fluidly chronicles Krug's psychological journey from a childhood of fascination with girls' underwear to becoming a dutiful father who saw his wife as a soulmate, to a painfully baffling period of getting past misunderstandings that society creates by lumping identity, gayness and crossdressing into the same category. This luminous piece masterfully sidesteps preachy politicking and self-pity. (4 p.m. Fri., 8:30 p.m Sat., Mixed Blood Theatre, 1501 S. 4th St.)

John Townsend

'Dr. Deep — Shake Your Noggin Like a Bobblehead': Spiritual con artistry

Zaraawar Mistry's clever one-man show begins with an air of meditative reverence, complete with a tolling gong. Don't be fooled. Over the course of a lecture peddling "Ultimate Liberation Philosophy," Mistry's character admits his Indian accent is fake, his title unearned, and his belief system nothing more than a sales pitch. He lays this out with such complete charm, composure and unflappable good will that he completely wins over his audience. Rarely has such absolute drivel been delivered with such sly panache. (10 p.m. Wed., 5:30 p.m. Thu., 4 p.m. Sun.; Phoenix Theater, 2605 Hennepin Av. S.)

Lisa Brock

'A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Death Star': Shameless fun

If every show in the Fringe were as fun as this shamelessly stupid parody of the original "Star Wars" trilogy, we'd have something. It mangles show tunes and pop classics ("R2D2" sung to "Mamma Mia"), and rips through three stories with six actors and a musician who enjoy the proceedings as much as we do. Heather Stone is brilliant as C3PO, Alisa Gingerich puts sweet rolls on her ears for Princess Leia, Matt Rein beefs around as Darth Vader, and Dave Gangler steals every scene he's in. It is as dopey as a Carol Burnett sketch and as fun as the Three Stooges. 'Nuff said. (5:30 p.m. Thu., 5:30 p.m. Sat.; Rarig Thrust, 330 S. 21st St.)

Graydon Royce

'Craigslist: Not a Musical!': Riffs on real-life ads

The Yeah No Sketch Show Players riff on real, bizarre Craigslist ads ("You farted in Trader Joe's") with boundless energy and audacity, barreling right through a few weak moments with hilarious chutzpah. Like a bunch of "SNL" players run amok, the cast covers involuntary free dental care, a haunted toaster, the drummer from Def Leppard losing an arm and a guy flirting with a woman he sees at Planned Parenthood while "waiting in the lobby with my ex to see if she was preggers but it's ok cuz she's not." Director/writer Greg Hernandez also provides laugh-attracting music and sound effects. (8:30 p.m. Tue., 5:30 p.m. Fri., 2:30 p.m. next Sun.; Intermedia Arts, 2822 Lyndale Av. S.)

Kristin Tillotson

'Trial by Jury': Gilbert & Sullivan gut-buster

And now for something completely different at the Fringe: Gilbert and Sullivan! The duo's only one-act operetta, a courtroom tale of broken marital promises, gets a rollicking and effervescent staging by the Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company. The stage brims with jurymen, barristers, bridesmaids, floozies, choristers and a 12-piece orchestra. And, oh yes, a judge — an ineffectual and lecherous drunk embodied by the reliably excellent Steve Hendrickson. If you prefer your G&S in small bites, or just like gut-busting entertainment, this is your show. (8:30 p.m. Thu., 1 p.m. Aug. 9, Rarig Proscenium, 330 21st Av. S., Mpls.)

Cynthia Dickison

'High Flight': Making art from tragedy

A brass quintet, spoken exposition, poetry and dance comprise this hybrid performance piece that explores the disappearance of pilot Mike Bratlie during a routine flight in 2012. Written by Ben Tallen and choreographed and directed by Windy Bowlsby, this deeply felt and often emotionally raw work features the pilot's daughter Carin Bratlie Wethern as one of the musicians. While too careful delineations between the dances and the spoken transitions occasionally lend a static quality, that's overcome by the work's lyricism, inventive visual language and profound humanity. (10 p.m. Tue., 7 p.m. Thu., 4 p.m. Sat.; Illusion Theater, 528 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls.)