FRINGE ‘22 DAY 2:
By Liz Eichler –
Saturday was a great day to Fringe and Sunday also proved exciting. The weekend featured great performances, super creativity, and live connections with theatre makers and supporters. There is such love and respect in these audiences, y’all. Cincinnati Fringe Festival runs through June 18 and you can get more information HERE at their website.
If you are new to this concept, these are shows that clock in under an hour. Some have been in development for over 3 years (yes, during the pandemic) and a few rely on improv, heavily influenced by the audience that performance. In between you will see masters of storytelling, performance art, musical theatre, and more. Many have local roots. Theatre people love Fringe, but Fringe is for anyone who has a creative side that needs to be fed. It’s also “Kinda Weird, Like You.” In Cincinnati’s OTR, park at the Gateway Garage between Central and 12th (next to Know Theatre). All performances are either in Know Theatre or the Art Academy across the street, and easily accessible if you need accommodations. Get a Six-Show Fringe Flex Pass, and order tickets online or call the Box Office. Keep reading for recommendations:
SEXY SEXY MATTRESS TIME by Kelly Morton: Highly Recommend (because yes, the mattress is quite sexy)
You may not know what to expect from the premise “disallusioned artist takes a job at Mattress Time where she is seduced by…a mattress” but you will be impressed. First, this is a musical. Second, it stars the amazing Brooke Steele. Third, well, the mattress is kinda sexy. Kate Mock Elliot really brings the mattress to life.
Artist Annie is looking for time off the grid, and is quite frustrated with her boyfriend (Caleb Redslob), but finds new motivation from her District Manager (amazing Tone Branson). Costumes and another “character” are uncredited, but it may be Stage Manager Nicole A. Hershey. Designing and building the mattress costume was a challenge well solved. Written and directed by Kelly Morton, with music and lyrics by Dan Zimmer, this is a charming show. You will smile and laugh, and leave feeling refreshed. It comforts you, like a good night’s sleep or a hug with its gentle pace, solid ensemble and soothing music.
HEDY: The Life and Inventions of Hedy Lamarr by Heather Massie: Highly Recommend for Solo Storytelling
This is an award winning show. It is polished, informative, expansive and inspiring. It is the tale of “a simple Vienna girl” with chutzpah. It also helped that she had parents who ignited her mind in both science and cinema.
Heather Massie takes you on an historical trip, through the eyes of Hedy Keister as she developed into Hedy Lamarr. Massie has a gift with accents and movement, bringing about 20 different characters to life (especially effective is how she evokes her father). She flits from the end of her life in Florida, to her budding career, and back again and the audience is rapt. We hear some of her famous lines such as “Any girl can be glamorous, all you need to do is stand still and look stupid.” But her life is not always glamorous. One of the underlying themes is how she and her world-changing invention was dismissed since she was tied to the invention by short-sighted men. Massie brings this woman’s poise and power into the spotlight so we can appreciate that she was not just a celluloid beauty, but her ideas are present in your cell phone.
CHANGING MY MAJOR TO JOAN by Boris Dansberry: Highly Recommend for Raw Fringe-y Energy
This is an exciting, Fringe-y show. It’s got everything. First, it is a rock musical. It also is humorous, wry, soulful, raw, historical and futuristic.
Dansberry blasts on stage in a “Joan of Arc Halloween Costume from Walmart” which has been elevated with a mask that raises and lowers throughout the performance. This performer has the power to blow the roof off.
We hear the story of Joan of Arc from historical, literary and LGBTQ perspectives. It is also the transformation of Boris Dansberry, struggling with faith and self, and how a 13-year-old French peasant girl could be so self assured, when so many of Dansberry’s generation is anything but. Punctuated with a variety of (uncredited?) rock and songs from musicals, the show is highly effective. It is not perfect (some costume, prop and mic issues can still be worked out, and the film clip is too long for where it is in the show) but don’t let that stop you! Featuring live music of Jess Lamb and the Factory, with Meg Stieritz as onstage propmaster and stagehand, co-directed by Kaiya Linkugel. Fantastic animations by Davey Levson.
(Oh, and they are former Fringe Next participants! Woohoo!)
MAKE A F*ING SHOW YOU P.O.S. by Bradley Wrenn and Sarah Knittel
This is a super fun interactive Improv session. So fun that some of the audience said they came back after yesterday’s performance and others said they’ve followed them for years. You are greeted by a slide show and asked to read aloud, and it is quite clever–you are laughing even before they come on stage. When they do, their costumes scream “this is comedy” and they take it from there. They play off each other with ease. They also play off the sounds of applause and laughter coming through the vents. This is a fun dessert and a great way to finish my 9 show marathon.
EXTRA FRINGE TIP: The best water fountain to refill your water bottle at the Art Academy is on the 4th floor. You’re welcome.