FRINGE ’22 REVIEWS: Destiny, USA, Sally Salem, ExperiMENTAL

By Liz Eichler

Five more days of Cincinnati’s Summer Theatre Party and plenty of great shows to choose from. Explore the complete list and secure your passes at the Fringe website https://cincyfringe.com/ for both live and Digital productions. Read our LCT blogs from Kate Mock Elliot, Ariel Mary Ann or myself at http://leagueofcincytheatres.info/ to select the best shows for you, whether they are musicals, solo storytelling or experimental theatre. Here are three more reviews:

Destiny, USA – Convection Productions – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED 

Based on life events, Laura Anne Harris (writer and performer) moves from Toronto to Syracuse, New York in November 2016 (just as Trump is elected) to be with her grad school boyfriend. This writer and theatre person takes a job as a Relay Operator for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (she can type 87 WPM!) in which she has to type VERBATIM everything said.  No matter what horrible things are said (and they are). And try to not get emotionally involved (she does). She’s a “Cis white female, a polite Canadian” who comes head to head with American people–and our ridiculous to Canadian’s health care system. All in Syracuse, the place where people go to NOT be artists, she says. 

Harris uses dialogue and poetry to take us on her journey.  She powerfully expresses her grappling with life in the US and with her family in Canada. Video captioning makes it accessible, but also emphasizes and elevates this piece, making sure we connect “verbatim” to her feelings crafted into those poems.  This production was signed on the night I saw it, and every performance integrates ASL video featuring three Deaf actors (Sage Lovell, Natasha Bacchus, Tamyka Bullen). 

Highly recommended show. Get ready for a mix of emotions as you witness Laura contend with personal love and loss, and confront humanity everyday in its rawest form. Maybe I was just tired, but it moved me so much that I needed time to digest and I was glad I booked a happy/funny Fringe show afterwards.  Be prepared if Election Night 2016 is still a trigger– she takes you back there in a very effective way. 

Laura Anne Harris in Destiny, USA.

Sally Salem and the Spooktacular Birthday Extravaganza by Zoe Peterson

Superfun, in the style of the 1960’s outsider comedies (The Munsters, Addam’s Family, Bewitched, etc.) in which you can be different from your family (or neighbors) and still love and respect them. 

This drew lots of new faces to the Fringe, as it features CCM students or grads and friends and clever writing by Zoe Peterson and great delivery by all, but especially Zoe and Carter LaCava (Yorrick).

Sally (Peterson) is a witch living with her friends Selena (Imoni Derden) and Carrie (Lilly Olsen), who wants to throw a party for her niece and nephew (Ava Panagopolous and Gavin Duffy) despite the protests of her conservative sister (Cassandra Reeves). This is an interactive comedy (you get to choose your ending; it was “B” for my show which turned out to be a very tender, complete ending). Some of the highlights included the skull Yorrick, Phantasmo, and watching how these young artists took an idea, solved problems, and had so much fun.  

I hope Peterson keeps developing this idea, whether it is theatre or a YouTube series–and keeps writing! She’s a gifted performer and artist, so please consider seeing this especially as the cast was sidelined with Covid for the first two performances. You can also help them by donating any amount to first-time Cincinnati Fringe Festival producer and @ccmacting student, Zoë Peterson (Venmo @ZCP_13).

Sally Salem and the Spooktacular Birthday Extravaganza.

ALSO: 

ExperiMENTAL by Steven Nicholas  
My husband is happy to tell you all about ExperiMENTAL and has been recommending it to everyone. It  is an “interactive mind reading experience that will twist your reality in the most delightful way.” He was delighted at how the unassuming Nicholas connected with individuals in the audience with dry wit comedy and his gift with numbers. Despite overthinking and failing school math tests, Nicholas claims he has pi memorized to thousands of digits. He demonstrates skills beyond the ordinary in this unique performance event. There have been Sold Out shows, so book your tickets early.

Steven Nicholas in ExperiMENTAL.