Kat’s Reviews #2:On the third day of Fringemas..and more!
This week starts my weekday Fringe-ing schedule: numbers by day, art by night. But as always, so many familiar faces and welcome new ones. Fringe is definitely back, baby!
Keep scrolling for Kat’s Reviews of: Modern Beings in Search of the Sole,To Spite One’s Face, One Last Night with Mary MacLane, Fringe Development :The Stork Files and finally, Streaming Fringe: Sweet Dreams, Pillowman.
Kat’s Review: Modern Beings in Search of the Sole
by Solasta Theatre Lab
“To heel or heal, that is the question.” The brain child of artists Daniela Nenova, E.Carr, Lyd Noll, Olivia Cremisio, and Jason Coffenberry. Based around some Jungian philosophies, this year’s offering by Solasta Theatre Lab is one of the most compelling. As usual, expect the unexpected told through beautiful stage pictures and multiple characters. While Modern Beingsis truly a cohesive ensemble piece, each artist has a chance to give us their own special moment of connection with the audience. Of those, Carr (#hitbyacarr) and Noll may bring you to tears.
This tale of finding our footing, both literally and figuratively, in a constantly changing world will make you think and give you hope.
The marriage of music, movement, and manifesto is seamless and quite breathtaking–I found myself almost disappointed when it ended. I Highly Recommend this for those who think they know what Fringe “should” be–as this is a perfect example.
REMAINING PERFORMANCES: 6/15 at 8:30pm; and 6/16 at 6:45pm in Rm 404 at Art Academy of Cincinnati.
Kat’s Review: To Spite One’s Face
by Zoë Peterson
The moment I read that Zoë Peterson was giving us a show with themes of horror, LGBTQIA+, and the 1980s, I knew I could not miss it. Add in artists Sydni Charity Solomon (also of CCM) and Samantha Joy Luhn and you have a wicked brew.
Spite spins the yarn of two sisters who are cleaning out the attic of their childhood home. What they find seems to bring them comfort and fortune…or does it? Like any good horror story from the 1980s, music really enhances the mystique. Lighting choices also add to the spooky shadow of dread.
Unlike most 1980s horror, it has some really well-written, conversational dialogue. Unfortunately, there are some tech issues and scene changes which take quite a while with very little payoff.
Since the beauty of the show is in its illusory simplicity, it might be a good idea to downsize some of those transitions and possibly cut some out entirely. (Personal note: I’d love to direct this one day because it deserves to stretch its legs and see what else it can do.) Solid performances by Peterson, Solomon, and in particular Luhn, Spiteoffers the audience a truly unique experience.
REMAINING PERFORMANCES: 6/11 at 2:30pm; and 6/15 at 8:45pm in Rm 204 at Art Academy of Cincinnati.
Kat’s Review: One Last Night with Mary MacLane
by Nora Bonner and James Cargill
A documentary of sorts about a woman born in the 19th century…who wrote her own biography at the age of 19…who has a fascinating relationship with the Devil? Sign me up!
Bonner kills it (haha) as the titular character, communicating the fable of this (for most) previously unknown figure through spoken word and original music/song. MacLane’s adventures in love and the occult are some of those things about which we tend to say “you can’t just make this up.”
It is clear MacLane was cut from an entirely different cloth than just about anyone, especially someone from her time period. I believe many audience members will share my desire to read the musings of this fantastical character (she released three books in total) as her style has been lauded as raw and self-aware. Who wouldn’t be curious to read about a female so seemingly ahead of her time?
Bonner and Cargill are consummate entertainers and their energy matches the account they relay to us quite well. Described as a historical queer rock musical, One Last Night with Mary MacLaneis intriguing and has a cool vibe.
REMAINING PERFORMANCES: 6/10 at 8:45pm; 6/13 at 8:45pm; and 6/14 at 8:45pm in Rm 204 at Art Academy of Cincinnati.
Streaming Fringe: Sweet Dreams, Pillowman
by J.E. Hibbard
The only streaming show in this year’s Fringe Festival comes from Indianapolis, IN and was filmed in front of a live audience. Featuring the talents of Audrey Stonerock, Carrie Powell, Chelsea Mullen, Maria Meschi, and Zachariah Stonerock, Pillowman mixes comedy with an occasional homage to old musical numbers and throws in a wee bit of puppetry and seriousness just for good measure.
Monique has been isolated for some time all while self-medicating with only the Chorus of Rats (no, seriously – they sing) to keep her company. While trying to cope with demons that continue to haunt her, she ends up conjuring up an imaginary friend who takes on a life of its own, aka Pillowman. It is through this “friend” along with the Chorus of Rats that Monique faces some cold, hard facts. No spoilers here, but the trauma she reveals is one to which many of the viewers can relate on some level.
Pillowman is filmed from an excellent angle and while some lighting does not translate as well on film, the viewer will not feel like they have missed out. Obviously, live theatre is fun – but as most of us found out during the height of the pandemic, streaming art can be a viable way not to miss out on things you might not otherwise be able to view. Don’t miss out like Monique has been for so long and make sure to add this to your Fringe list to be enjoyed from the comfort of wherever you may choose.
STREAMING UNTIL June 17
Fringe Development :The Stork Files
by Julie Coppens
After two open rehearsals, Julie Coppens’ Fringe debut The Stork Files played to a sold out crowd June 8, 2023 on Know’s Main Stage on. With a subtitle of “True Stories of Adoption, Abortion, and Having No Choice.” Coppens is able to tell the stories from all sides of the reproduction debate with humor and sensitivity. This is a great example of a piece ripe for Fringe development as the ideas are strong. The playwright admits herself that it is not quite finished. (In the subsequent talkback, Coppens admits she gave the actors edits as recently as just a couple of days prior to the June 8th premiere.)
One of the reasons for the script evolving is the recent changes in the political climate of reproductive rights. What strikes this reviewer is how many important issues surrounding pregnancy are addressed in such a short time. Nothing feels preachy.
Boasting an impressive cast of Sara Mackie, Victoria Hawley, Seth Coppens, and Kate Wilford, the only thing better than these actors’ portrayals and commitment to the story was that I was smart enough to wear waterproof eye makeup.
The playwright is continuing to fine-tune her script and is in the process of creating a website to house everything to do with The Stork Files and its journey. You will want to see how this baby grows.
I am a birth mother, with both adoptions taking place in the 2000s. While my own story varies from those who lived in a far more conservative era than mine, I appreciate the sensitivity Coppens displays in not simply conveying her own vision as an adoptee, but delving into the points of view of birth mothers who choose to parent, choose to terminate, or choose to place their child into the hands of a system that can indeed be flawed.
Kat’s Reviews #2 Reflection
Wow! So many good shows – and yet, so much more to be seen! Two more development pieces to catch, more special events, and still plenty of chances to catch more of the primary line-up.
Please visit https://cincyfringe.com/ for info, ticket links, a guidebook, and all sort of valuable resources. And be sure to keep reading LCT reviews for inside information if a show might be a good fit for you!