How does one recommend shows one hasn't yet seen?

Very carefully.

Thankfully, the folks at the Fringe Fest have made things a little easier for us ignorant preview-writers by moving the fest from spring to fall, which means a handful of shows appearing at the Seattle fest have racked up a wealth of good press touring the summer fringe circuit. Beyond that, I've relied on the old standbys: impressive pedigree, former good works, and striking press releases. (For a list of instant fringe turn-offs, see the Filthy Five, page 30.)

FYI: A majority of this year's shows offer two-for-one deals on weekday performances. For specifics and details, as well as general ticket-buying info, check out

Now on to the 12....

No Demerits for Dancing
This one positively drips with potential. Performed by the highly skilled comedic actress Debra Pralle, co-written by Pralle and celebrated Cherry, Cherry, Lemon scribe Keri Healey, No Demerits for Dancing tracks Pralle's real-life journey through a conservative Bible-belt upbringing and eventual enrollment in Jerry Falwell's ultra-conservative Liberty University. This actor/writer/subject matter combo is so promising that I'll ignore the show's flagrant flouting of the Filthy Five's Rule #1. (Fri Sept 20, 6 pm; Sun Sept 22, 9:30 pm; Tues Sept 24, 6 pm; Sat Sept 28, 12:30 pm. At NW Actors Studio, 1100 E Pike, 70 min, $12/$10.)

Sabotage III
Written and performed by Shenoah Allen and Mark Chavez, Sabotage III lands in Seattle with a trunk full of good press. Canadian critics praised the show as a "razor-sharp anarchic comedy triumph" and compared its creators to "the Marx Brothers on speed," while the guys' hometown Albuquerque paper the Weekly Alibi deemed Sabotage III "a comedic masterpiece." So packed with praise is the show's press release that there's absolutely no mention of the show's subject matter. But who gives a hoot if the work's this allegedly sharp and funny? (Fri Sept 20, 8 pm; Sun Sept 22, 4:30 pm; Mon Sept 23, 9:15 pm; Fri Sept 27, 11 pm; Sun Sept 29, 7:45 pm. At NW Actors Studio, 1100 E Pike, 60 min, $15/$12.)

Edmundo (A Musical Dalliance)
Written and performed by Jennifer Haley and produced by Austin, TX's Refraction Arts, Edmundo (A Musical Dalliance) captured Best of the Fest at Austin's illustrious FronteraFest in 2002. Judging from the cryptic press release and impressively creepy publicity photo, Edmundo promises a darkly comic evening of music and storytelling in the Gorey/Weill vein. (Thurs Sept 19, 6 pm; Sat Sept 21, 10:45 pm; Sun Sept 22, 6 pm; Wed Sept 25, 8 pm; Fri Sept 27, 9 pm; Sun Sept 29, 12:45 pm. At NW Actors Studio, 1100 E Pike, 75 min, $10/$8.)

Laura McKenzie Feels Like Makin' Love
This one-woman, 10-character show blows in from Chicago with a buttload of kudos: The Chicago Reader called it "hip, electric, and intelligently funny," and the Windy City Times deemed the show "a thinking person's Sex and the City, only so much better." Now ready for its West Coast premiere, Laura McKenzie explores the wealth of recipes used for making L-U-V. (Thurs Sept 19, 7:30 pm; Sat Sept 21, 11:45 pm; Sun Sept 22, 4:15 pm; Mon Sept 23, 11 pm; Sat Sept 28, 8:30 pm. At Union Garage #1, 1418 10th Ave, 75 min, $10/$8, "coarse language.")

Kali & Cookies
With the tireless theater simple, Llysa Holland has made a career of performing on the international fringe circuit, and for her efforts, she was awarded the first ever Fringe Alumni Invitational Commission. Kali & Cookies is the result of that commission--a one-woman show (with a "special guest") blending life and death advice, baking tips, and chaos theory. (Thurs Sept 19, 9:15 pm; Sat Sept 21, 4:15 pm; Tues Sept 24, 9:15 pm; Sat Sept 28, 6 pm; Sun Sept 29, 6:15 pm. At Odd Duck Studio, 1214 10th Ave, 60 min, $12/$10.)

Book X: The Grace of the Witch
San Francisco's Theatre Au Naturel's offering, Book X: The Grace of the Witch, finds celebrated Naturel actors Andy Peterson and Eve Smyth wrangling with Odysseus, Circe, and pigs in what the pair describe as "another reckless attack on good common sense." (Thurs Sept 19, 7:30 pm; Sat Sept 21, 2:30 pm; Sun Sept 22, 7:15 pm; Tues Sept 24, 10:45 pm; Sat Sept 28, 11:30 am; Sun Sept 29, 2:30 pm. At Odd Duck Studio, 1214 10th Ave, 75 min, $10, "coarse language.")

We Killed Kurt Cobain
Straight out of Brooklyn, the Zero Boys come to Seattle with their three-act homage to the Northwest's own musical Jesus. Using poor dead Kurt as "a prism through which to view the contradictions of rock stardom, the perennial conflict between art and commerce, and the fallout that results from a media tragedy," We Killed Kurt Cobain calls into question the part each of us plays in the fate of our heroes. Promising statistics: Written by three people, performed by three other people, and directed by someone in neither group. (Fri Sept 20, 9:45 pm; Sat Sept 21, 11 am; Sun Sept 22, 10:30 pm; Mon Sept 23, 9:45 pm. At Theater Schmeater, 1500 Summit Ave, 90 min, $14/$8, "not for children.")

Book of Job
"Dear God, why me?" That's the question Seattle's Defibrillator Productions, the theatrical force behind last year's Fringe Fest hit Ten by Kafka, will be wrestling with in its new multimedia adaptation of the Book of Job. With original music by fringe fave Michael McQuilken, this promises to be an inventive exploration of God's fucked-up sense of humor. (Thurs Sept 19, 6 pm; Sat Sept 21, 11:30 am; Sun Sept 22, 5:30 pm; Mon Sept 23, 8 pm; Thurs Sept 26, 10:30 pm; Sat Sept 28, 7 pm; Sun Sept 29, 5 pm; At Freehold Studio, Oddfellows Hall, 1529 10th Ave, 75 min, $12/$8, "violent imagery.")

Cannibal!: The Musical
Originally penned as a movie by South Park sicko Trey Parker, Cannibal!: The Musical explores the life of Alferd Packer, the only man in U.S. history to be convicted of cannibalism, and is brought to the stage by Seattle's Eleventy Pi Productions. God knows who they are, but Trey Parker is funny as shit, and with screen-to-stage adaptations (Hairspray, The Producers) all the rage these days, here's hoping Cannibal!: The Musical is as tasty as its potential. (Sat Sept 21, 8:15 pm; Sun Sept 22, 9:15 pm; Tues Sept 24, 10 pm; Thurs Sept 26, 6 pm; Fri Sept 27, 10:30 pm. At Freehold Studio, Oddfellows Hall, 1529 10th Ave, 120 min, $15/$10, "coarse language, mature content.")

Beneath Sita's Belly
Directed by Redwood, CA's Weird Sisters, Beneath Sita's Belly is a theatrical retelling of the Hindu epic The Ramayana. Both the epic and the Weird Sisters are unknown to me, but any show that explores lust, loss, and longing with deft physicality, a soaring vocal score, and, best of all, giant shadow images, is worth a gander, wouldn't you say? (Sat Sept 21, 8:15 pm; Sun Sept 22, 4:30 pm. At the Chamber Theatre, Oddfellows Hall, 915 E Pine, 60 min, $10/$8, "mature content.")

Speaking of potentially fascinating shit: Writer/performer Niki McCretton is coming all the way from Bridgewater, England, to share what's been described as a "laugh-out-loud fusion of physical theater and dance." In Worm-Hole, a religious novice wrangles with the theory and practice of her devotion, and enlightened hilarity ensues. When Worm-Hole appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe Fest, the Edinburgh Festival News gave the show a whopping five stars, and demanded that everyone "see it now." As for the rule-breaking $14 ticket price--consider it an import tax. (Fri Sept 20, 8 pm; Sat Sept 21, 2:30 pm; Sun Sept 22, 8:45 pm; Tues Sept 24, 10:30 pm; Fri Sept 27, 6 pm; Sat Sept 28, 12:45 pm. At Theater Schmeater, 1500 Summit Ave, 70 min, $14/$12.)

Herbert West: Re-Animator
Adapted from a story by H. P. Lovecraft, Herbert West: Re-Animator brings together a collection of first-rate local actors (including Jonah Von Spreecken, Alyssa Keene, and Roy Stanton) with a crackerjack chamber music ensemble to tell the gruesome tale of a diabolical doctor's gruesome experiments. Rumor has it this show is gonna be funny with a capital F. If not, feel free to boo. (Fri Sept 20, 10:15 pm; Sun Sept 22, 2:15 pm; Tues Sept 24, 10:15 pm; Thurs Sept 26, 6 pm; Sat Sept 28, 8:15 pm. At Union Garage #2, 1418 10th Ave, 70 min, $12, "strobe, gunshot.")

by David Schmader