With Deference to Shylock

I can’t understand what the Hell you are saying. Are you trying to kill me or just imprison me? I get that you have an agenda, but there is just one action you want, with no plan for what comes next. There is fire in your eyes, aggression in your voice, and your hands move like they want to strangle everyone who disagrees with you.

What makes you special?

Yes, you are different. Yes, people hate you. People hate me too.

Oh, sorry, every word from my mouth spews an inconvenience. I am not sorry that offends you. I don’t pray to the gods you demand, so I am not permitted to exist other than as a servant. I should just obey. Take my punishment for crimes I didn’t commit. Existence to you is a crime.

My kind is the cause of every woe you care to assign to us. We caused the past. We threaten your present and your future. We are human beings just like you.

CincyFringe Review: Rodney Rumple’s Random Reality


The Performance Gallery is the standard for the Cincinnati Fringe Festival. They have been here every year and they make the standard for Fringe because every year they do a completely unique show.  This year's Rodney Rumple's Random Reality takes the group in vastly new direction.

If you take a hunk of Where the Wild Things Are, add in plenty of Alice in Wonderland, and top it off with a hilarioius Men Without Hat's video homage, and you get an idea of the fantasy created.

It feels like a children's story written for adults.  Adults who watched MTV in the middle 19880's will cackle with glee at the Safety Dance video.

Seriously, if you haven't seen the video before, watch this before going to see the show:

I throughly enjoyed this light narrative.  The acting is, as usual with Performance Gallery, excellent. Derek Snow steals the show as the Bully.  The writing is interesting.  The direction, by Regina Pugh, I believe makes this show.  It is a surreal spectecal.  It is out in weeds, but it never falls off the edge.  It teeters, mind you, but never goes over the cliff of sense.  Go see it.

Not Smelling the Rotten Meat

Pariah #1: Last night I had this dream where I left a gallon jug of waffle batter on the kitchen counter and then just put it away in the morning.  It was so real.  I even remember sniffing the batter to see if it smelled bad.  I don’t even know if it can go bad, let alone if it can go bad in one night.

Pariah #2: Huh, yeah, interesting.

Pariah #1: I love the dreams that you can smell.  They are so crisp.  Actually smelling dinner or flowers or the crotch of the women you’re having sex with…that's vivid…that's inspiration.

Pariah #2: Have you ever noticed that people really don’t like us?

Pariah #1: Us?  No! Everyone digs us!

Mars and Other Odd Occurrences

BLOB #1: I hate going to dinner the same place every week.

BLOB #2: I hate taking you to dinner…

BLOB #1: Where did we park the car?

BLOB #2: You can drive?

BLOB #1: No, but the human you ate for dinner might still be able to drive.

BLOB #2: Good point!  Pardon the gas as I cough him up.

MAN: Ahahahahahah, what the fuck is happening????

BLOB #1: Damn it, humans are so incredibly ugly.

BLOB #2: Preaching to choir, preaching to the choir.

BLOB #1: One of these days, we are going to run out of them to consume, what are we going to do then?

BLOB #2: Who cares, by that point, we'll have died.

 

A Desire For Something

#1: So, there’s this thing I want to do.

#2: Yes, I know.

#1: Do you?

#2: Yes, I’ve known what you want to do for years now.

#1: How could you have known?  I didn’t tell anyone.

#2: There are some things you don’t have to say out loud.

#1: I’m not that transparent.

#2: Yes you are and it is both cute and ugly.  All the blood and guts showing, nothing you want to see while eating breakfast.

#1: So you do indeed know what I want to do.

#2: I wasn’t lying.

#1: Which is a first.

#2: Careful, if you want to have breakfast with me, you better be nice.

#1: I’ll worry about breakfast later..you know…in the morning.

TheConveyor 2011 Awards of Excellence

It is time again for TheConveyor.com to put forth our opinions and bestow the Awards of Excellence for the Cincinnati Fringe Festival.  2011 was another top notch year with the quality of productions up again.  This year's difference was that no single show was way ahead of the pack.  Our top shows all were very close in ranking, making it very difficult to pick just one show at the top. We made a choice, but I think this year a case could be made for three or four shows to be the overall best. We had to chose only one.

Best Overall Fringe Production
You Only Live Forever Once from the Four Humors Theater

The Top Tier by Genre – In addition to the best overall production, we recognize the top tier of productions. The shows listed below in each grouping represent the best of the festival, FringeNext and the workshops were not included. Each genre, as defined by our reviewers, breaks the festival out into comparable categories. In each genre we have listed, in alphabetical order, the shows that stand out as exceptional.

Best Narrative
Denali
Melancholy Play
Miss Magnolia Beaumont Goes to Provincetown
Peyote Business Lunch
The Lydia Etudes – About Loving Anton Chekhov

Best Non-Narrative
101 Rules For Dating (of which you will hear 20 or so…)
Darker
The Body Speaks: Scripted
To and Fro and Up and Down
Vindlevoss Family Circus Spectacular

Best Story Telling/One Person Show
Curriculum Vitae
Headscarf and the Angry Bitch
I Love You (We're Fucked)
Missing: the fantastical and true story of my father's disappearance and what I found when I looked for him

Best Dance/Movement/Interdisciplinary

Rip in the Atmosphere
The Body Speaks: Movement
White Girl

Another way we honor the participants of the Cincinnati Fringe Festival is by identifying many elements of each production that deserve recognition. The awards listed below single out individuals and elements of shows that were exceptional. They are ranked in order.

Best Individual Performances
George Alexander in Peyote Business Lunch
Joe Hutcheson in Miss Magnolia Beaumont Goes to Provincetown
Mindy Heithaus in Darker and The Body Speaks: Scripted
Dawn Arnold in The Lydia Etudes – About Loving Anton Chekhov

Best Ensemble
Peyote Business Lunch
Darker
You Only Live Forever Once

Best Musical Moment
Music From The Proof: A Workshop
I Love You (We're Fucked)
Headscarf and the Angry Bitch
Opal Opus: Journey to Alakazoo

Funniest Show
You Only Live Forever Once
Curriculum Vitae
Peyote Business Lunch
101 Rules For Dating (of which you will hear 20 or so…)

Best Script
Chris Wesselman, Paul Lieber, and Christopher Karr for Peyote Business Lunch
Joe Hutcheson for Miss Magnolia Beaumont Goes to Provincetown
Jason Ballweber, Ryan Lear, Dan Peltzman, Rachel Petrie, Mark Rehani and Matt Spring for You Only Live Forever Once

Best Overall Moment
The inclusion of FringeNext and FringeDevelopment series, a great way to expand the festival.
The 'giant' mouse trap in You Only Live Forever Once
Michael Hall in a towel and a 10 gallon hat in The Body Speaks: Scripted
Jessica Ferris squeezing through the frame of a folding chair in Missing

Most Fringey Show
Vindlevoss Family Circus Spectacular!
Tooth and 'Nuckle
The Body Speaks: Scripted

CincyFringe Review: You Only Live Forever Once

If you've seen the movie True Lies, Bill Paxton plays a used car salesman who pretends to be a spy.  Now, this has absolutely nothing to do with the Four Humor's newest show, You Only Live Forever Once, but if you imagine the pretend spy world that Bill Paxton's character would be living in, it might be something like this show, including the puppets.

Secret Agent Dave Johnson, played by Ryan Lear, is a James Bond-esque (as might be imagined by Jim Carey) spy in a battle of wits and puns with Wealthy Industrialist Kitty Cougarton, played by Matt Spring. Sock puppet henchmen and stick figure puppets interchange with their live action counter parts in a non-stop 50 minutes of laughs.

The acting is wonderful, the opening/closing sequences were brilliant touches, and the script was crisp and focused.  The dangers of puns can, for obvious reasons, be extensive, but the writers (which include: Jason Ballweber, Ryan Lear, Dan Peltzman, Rachel Petrie, Mark Rehani and Matt Spring) never strayed from comic gold.  This is the fourth production from the Four Humors to venture down from Minnesota to the Cincinnati Fringe Festival and the first to include the team from last year's Fringe hit, The Finkles' Theater Show (by Ryan Lear and Rachel Petrie).  The influences of their brand of comedy add much of the energy to the production and blend well with the tone of the Four Humor style show that Cincinnati audiences know and love.  In other words the combination of talent works to purrrrfection….Yes, puns only work with the right set-up, and mine crashed and burned like a paper jet puppet. If you see the show, that last bit might be slightly funny.

If you are at Fringe this is one of the don't miss productions.  Get a ticket to their Friday or Saturday show now before they sell out!

CincyFringe Review: 101 Dating Rules…

When you are looking for help on how to avoid making mistakes on a topic, say dating, who else is better to turn to than someone you trust and someone who has made far more dating mistakes than you will ever make in a single lifetime? The Venzin-Althaus EXPLOSION's newest production of 101 Rules for Dating (of which you will hear 20 or so…) gives not only one lifetime of bad dating experience, but two: Megan Venzin and Emily Althaus. The comic duo is back from last year's CincyFringe hit, A Night Of Well Adjusted Ladies, with a high energy self-help seminar spoof that offers up a hilarious romp through the dos and don'ts of dating.

Mixing up multiple elements, including karaoke-like musical interludes a really well done video, and some hands on improv, the duo delivers a very funny send-up that will hit close to home unless you have been happily married for the last 50 years.  Staying close to home for a topic in this year's show pays off with added authenticity in delivery.  The stand-out element is the video portion of the show that shows the duo out in a New York City park talking to random people about relationships and getting funny results, especially from the Easter Bunny.

The improv elements were very well executed and shows their experience and comfort performing together.

One area of improvement would be to focus the number of varied elements.  I wanted maybe more improv and fewer musical interludes.  That may be me just me not relating to the music. The best suggestion I can make to all of the men out there, sit in the front and you might get a little extra attention.

CincyFringe Review: Tooth and ‘Nuckle

Expectations have been a recurring theme for me in my reviews this year.  When I read that Matt Johnson was doing a show this year, I had a set of expectations.  I've seen his work before.  In Tooth and 'Nuckle I got the Matt Johnson I was expecting.  He is on the edge at all times, pushing you, sometimes with a very pointy stick.

If you go to Fringe festivals and expect that everything is going to make sense, then I think you are missing out.  We need bizarre shows, with vagina puppets made from grocery bags.  We need raunchy sex crazed stuffed animals manipulated by Johnson as a puppet that then mock audience members for not wearing the right color clothing (pink for girls, blue for boys).

Grocery bags crudely spray painted white to look like teeth contain the props for each vignette.  Some of the vignettes are long and some are way too long.  None of them paint a coherent portrait of a focused idea, but are none-the-less interesting.

Matt Johnson is not one to shy away from controversy and this production is filled with it, including the belief that it is nearly all improvisational.  I would encourage people to go to this show, but don't expect to understand it or even like it.  In this case the experience I had met my expectations and I found it really funny.  You may hate it more than any show you have seen in your life.  Either way, go and experience it.  That is why we Fringe