Cincy Fringe 2024: Alan’s Top Picks and Reviews

I'm Finally Going to Ask is a thoughtful play about second chances and the desire to correct past mistakes. There is nothing quite like it in the Cincy Fringe.

By Alan Jozwiak

Two final days of Cincy Fringe 2024! Here are some reflections from seeing shows. You can also review the LCT Fringe Review Grid to read more about the shows.

I’m Finally Going to Ask Elizabeth Hopkins to the Homecoming Dance and Nothing’s Going to Stop Me, Not Even the Ghost of My Dead Grandmother Who Watches Me Masturbate by Queen City Flash

Top Pick. Arguably the Fringe show with the longest title in the Cincy Fringe, I’m Finally Going to Ask gets its top pick spot by being one of the most innovative shows of the festival. Playwright Trey Tatum has created his own Choose Your Own Adventure with his script, so that there are a number of possible endings for hapless Casey (Trey Tatum) who has a crush on Elizabeth Hopkins (Jordan Trovillion).

They can get together and avoid disaster for their older selves—or not. Using a computer program called Twine, the audience gets to choose from multiple script options (when the script goes onto a different path, the new scene is conveniently projected up onto screen on either side of the stage). Without going into too many details which would spoil the show, the pair has to time travel back in time to the 1990s and work on three objectives to change their future lives.

Since the script is in so much flux, the acting and script really does not kick into high gear until the couple time travels to their prom in the 1990s and make decisions which directly impact these objectives.  What follows is an exploration of demons, masturbation, mix tapes, missed opportunities, and soulful advice given to younger selves. In short, I’m Finally Going to Ask is a thoughtful play about second chances and the desire to correct past mistakes. There is nothing quite like it in the Cincy Fringe.

Knight, Knight by Madeleine Rowe

Knight, Knight takes its inspiration from Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail and the Three Stooges. This show has LOTS of slapstick and physical comedy and this show is designed to place your brain in an upright position, fasten your seat belt, and laugh yourself silly.

Retelling the story of a Knight and his mighty steed Hermes (played with great gusto by a child’s play pony). We get to see him pull Excaliber from the stone, marry Guinevere, create the Round Table, and pledging his undying love for his horse Hermes. Wait a minute?  King Arthur had a thing for his horse? Is it Arthur? There is a bit of an ick factor at a few points in the show because of this relationship that took me out of the hilarity. Discounting this, as well as the never-ending door bit, Knight, Knight is a delightful show that plays with Arthurian legend in a fun and engaging way.  

The Last Witch in Ireland: The Story of Bridget Cleary by InBocca Performance

Bridget Cleary was an actual person who died at the hands of her husband who thought that she was a changeling (a fairy who trades places with a human being). While such barbarity sounds like it would happen in the Middle Ages, Cleary died in Ireland–in 1895!  Exploring this world is the premise of The Last Witch of Ireland: The Story of Bridget Cleary. Cleverly combining dance and story to tell Bridget Cleary’s tragic demise in a way that is engaging and thought-provoking.

The cast includes Kelsey Schwarber as Bridge Cleary, with Brandi Botkin, Katie Scarlet, Roman Harris-Richardson, Alex Rouss, and Kate Stark who deftly combine physical movement with compelling acting. The dance/movement interludes add beautifully to the unfolding drama of Cleary’s situation. In short, The Last Witch in Ireland is a show that embodies the spirit of Fringe–experimental and heart-felt. Was Bridge Cleary taken over by a changeling?  The script hints at one solution, but you need to see the show in order to decide for yourself.

Cincy Fringe 2024

Le Spectacle De Merde (“Welcome to our Sh*t Show”) by Megan Flynn & Teresa VanDenend Sorge

Le Spectacle De Merde gets its name from what dancers say to one another before a show. It is the dancing version of break a leg and forms the basis of a dance show that bills itself about growing old and coming to grips with that change. Between dance pieces, there is a performer who talks about this change at different points within the production.  While that performer is meant to be a lynch pin to the show, there is not always a clear connection between the dance numbers and the spoken word pieces.

This team brought last year’s highly acclaimed Mothering and Mourning. While some of the dance pieces this year are good and fun to watch, such as the dancing accompanying the musical number “The Stripper,” the work itself does not gel into a coherent show.  Le Spectacle De Merde is also one of the shorter Fringe productions.  While the show has good intentions, Le Spectacle De Merde does not quite form into a unified evening of dance.

Cincy Fringe 2024

Kids’ Fringe: The Emu That Ate Cincinnati and Other Curious Tales by Sean P. Mette/Autumn Kaleidoscope

The only Fringe show specifically designated for children, Sean P. Mette’s fractured fairy tale puppet show recounts what happens when G.G. Anderson (short for Grimm Goose—as in The Brother Grimm and Mother Goose) tells the audience three Cincinnati-based fairy tales, all to the consternation of his puppet leprechaun godfather Phineas Filibuster who wants Anderson to tell “proper” stories.

Mette plays into Cincinnati’s love of chili with The Tale of the Chili Spaghetti Man (a tale which runs a bit long), the Tortoise and Mr. Harry, and The Emu That Ate Cincinnati. Mette skillfully tells these tales with a variety of puppets, some of which are made of materials that are funny in and of themselves. There are plenty of silly moments for children to laugh, as well as some adult jokes that fly over the kiddo’s heads.  

In short, The Emu That Ate Cincinnati is a charming show that showcases Mette’s puppetry skills and storytelling abilities.  There were a mix of adults and children in the audience and everyone was laughing. It is a shame that this show ran so early during the Fringe.  It would have been fun if there was a late-night showing to get Mette’s work in front of a wider audience Cincy Fringe audience.

Special Event: Absurd It Through the Grapevine by Paul Strickland

Imagine Paul Strickland leaving the good ole boy world of Aunt True and Uncle False at home and telling tales exploring questions of midlife angst. This is the essence of Absurd It Through the Grapevine, which Strickland describes it as a shenanigan of spoken word, story, and song. This show is Paul Strickland Unplugged as he honestly explores what it means to reach middle age. This description sounds heavy, but the show is anything but that.  It is filled with Paul’s wit and wonderfully skewed view of the world that endears him to Cincinnati audiences.

I particularly love his take on rhetorical questions.  Paul’s pieces go from the song/story of the Arrogant and the Boring to a fairy tale in which and mother and her teenage son find a common meeting ground. In short, Absurd It Through the Grapevine is a show with heart, humor, and linguistic hijinks. With only two shows, Absurd It Through the Grapevine was a Special Event. But Paul Strickland will be part of the Cincinnati Storytelling Festival October 14-16. For more information go to

CIncy Fringe 2024: Tickets and Passes

Cincy Fringe 2024 ends Saturday with 3 Encore Performances:

Get tickets HERE before they sell out!

A new Calendar for everything onstage from LCT’s member theatres.

Related Posts