by Bret Fetzer
It's impossible for us to review more than a handful of the 90 performances in the Seattle Fringe Theatre Festival--so, to point our readers in some promising directions, the following is sifted from the buzz on the street and the hastily printed word of the Fringe Review Rag.
The most outright rapture heard so far is for Bella and Piccolino, Philip Cuomo and Maureen Porter's clown trip through classical mythology; even people who don't normally like clowns have had enthusiastic things to say about this. (And it's only half an hour long, which at an overstuffed event like the Fringe Festival is a blessing.)
Other highly praised shows that feature clowns of one kind or another include Trained Human Club's Anthropology (a juggling extravaganza, featuring two performers the Fringe Rag compares to eager Jack Russell terriers), Harrington and Kauffman's Nharcolepsy (a Fringegoer said, "I met Harrington on the street and didn't think he'd be funny, all dour with high cheekbones--but he was"), the Baggy Pants' Have You Seen My Dog?, and Sossy Productions' Trick Boxing. Other comic delights getting good buzz include Bald Faced Lie's PileDriver! (featuring the tribulations of gay professional wrestlers), Habit Productions' L.A. Nasty (featuring the smooth chemistry of former members of sketch comedy troupe the Habit), Sauer Bauer Productions' Bankus Moroney Was Born on Donahue (terrible title, highly touted show), and Kazoo!'s The Kazoo! Bible (featuring the song "The Bible Turns Me On").
Touring tends to be easiest for one-person shows, so some of the best work to be found is solo: Niki McCretton's Heretic is dividing people as much as Wormhole did last year, but everyone seems agog by her physical skills, which are also on display in her children's show Throw Me a Bone. In Night Women and Figures of Authority, Blanca Esthela and Greg Palmer respectively perform a series of praised character sketches, while Tim Mooney's Criteria and Jonathan Katz's Sex, Violence & and the Meaning of Life bust genres to great effect, creating pieces hard to describe but easy to enjoy. Seattle Fringe perennial Maria Glanz has returned with the sweet and salty tale And the Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon and has been welcomed with open arms, as has newcomer Ami Dayan's rendition of playwright Dario Fo's A Tale of A TIGER, featuring much roaring from actor and audience.
Belovéd Productions' Approach and Throwing Bones' Anaphylaxis are plays that have actually inspired enthusiasm on the street, along with Fort Awesome's Big Fish, Small Pond and Macha Monkey's GameGirl--all of them work that's sprung from Seattle's opulent talent pool of year-round fringe artists. Meanwhile, from the wilds of Yelm, WA, comes Blacken Tan Dance's MUTT, for those who just want everyone to shut up and move.
And finally, everyone is going to see What Does It Mean To Be Joe Boling? because people owe it to this singular guy who sees more theater in a month than most see in five years. You should see it too.