Cincy Fringe 2024: Christy Reviews History, Music, & Dance Shows

Christy's reviews for Songs Without Words, Eleanor's Story, Singing Into The Dark, As If You Will Remember, & Le Spectacle De Merde at Cincy Fringe 2024

I filled my weekend with Cincy Fringe 2024 shows inspired by history, filled with music, and illustrated with dance. Songs Without Words might be my favorite so far, but this whole weekend brought top-notch shows I’d see again.

By Christy Carson – Learn more about LCT Reviewers

Songs Without Words (or, The Mendelssohn Play)

Songs Without Words show poster for Cincy Fringe 2024

You’ve probably heard Mendelssohn’s work, but which Mendelssohn? If you’re like me, you took only a casual interest in music history and would have paid much more attention in class if Jennifer Vosters was your teacher and every class was a Fringe show. Vosters brings this sibling genius musician duo to life in her first solo show. Vosters tackles how genius and gender play into a time where music and art are valued as legitimate careers, but women don’t have careers and are left in the shadows. 

The contrast in themes of freedom and discipline while spoken by characters who exhibit the opposite are so interesting. Vosters writes and portrays these contradictions brilliantly. Felix embodies an erratic mad genius, but becomes known for his restraint in his composition. Fanny writes “with the freedom of a master,” but shows restraint in her lifestyle choices, living according to society and her family’s expectations. Vosters is truly an artist, building poetry into each line and crafting an arc without a stale moment. It’s no wonder this show won Critics Pick for an encore this year. While that means you’ll have one more chance to see it, you’ll still want to get your tickets for the Thursday or Saturday show now before it sells out completely!

Eleanor’s Story: An American Girl in Hitler Germany

Eleanor's Story show poster for Cincy Fringe 2024

Don’t miss Ingrid Garner’s beautiful interpretation of her 94 year old (happy belated birthday!) grandmother’s story about her time in Germany during WWII. Garner brings us a unique perspective on the war. We learn more about growing up as a young American with German heritage who is stranded in Germany with no way home. Garner employs unique characterization for each person to help tell the story, and even adjusts Eleanor’s physicality as she ages.

It’s funny but eerie to hear Eleanor’s parent’s argue about pre-war Hitler. Maybe because it reminds us of political debates we hear today. The tone quickly shifts after the war begins and their lives change forever. Garner shows us Eleanor’s world as she tries to grow up and find her place – and just survive. Get your tickets now so you can catch one of the last couple shows before they sell out! 

Singing Into The Dark, 1933

Singing Into The Dark show poster for Cincy Fringe 2024

Bremner brings another unique perspective from the WWII era: one lone artist remaining after his fellow cabaret performers and friends were all taken. He remembers each performer by finding parts of their costumes. He chooses to commemorates them by them their performances through skillful song, dance, and stand up comedy, and also explains why they were targeted. We also learn about his history with previous compromises at this cabaret – how they started with just the love of theatre but needed to make money and had to appeal to the people and the headlines.

Bremner in Singing Into The Dark, 1933 at Cincy Fringe 2024. Photo by Kevin Rife.
Bremner in Singing Into The Dark, 1933 at Cincy Fringe 2024. Photo by Kevin Rife.

Each person’s story brings a valuable perspective that he shares until it culminates with his own question about what to do next. Forget old friends and memories and get with the times? Or is there another option? He poses a powerful question: “What if I don’t want to choose from their options?” The passionate character that Bremner creates and the adept acting that shines through reminds us of the power of art and living truthfully as an act of defiance. I’m grateful I got to see that last performance of this show at Cincy Fringe 2024! 

As If You Will Remember

Cast of As If You Will Remember at Cincy Fringe 2024. Photo by Kevin Rife.

This collaboration of Cincinnati artists blends poetry, dance, and music to honor those who have passed while processing grief. They explore different types of grief and loss. They start with watching loved ones deal with dementia and then handle the the loss after they’e gone. But it doesn’t focus on loss alone, as it poses questions about how we choose to truly live and love.

We’re invited to write down the name of a loved one who is gone that we’d like to remember. The cast reads these names at the end of the show to collectively honor and remember those who have passed. They then add names of those they’re remembering as well. The artists work to create a space for grieving, processing, and healing throughout, culminating in a collective song they ask us join them in singing “Amazing Grace” at the end. 

Le Spectacle de Merde (“Welcome to our Sh*t Show”)

Switching gears, this show by Megan Flynn & Teresa VanDenend Sorge also uses dance to deal with loss, but very differently. Holly Cate begins, saying what is left is just dust and ruin before Rodney Veal welcomes us to the sh*t show. Dressed in a back sequin suit, he encourages us to embrace the chaos, in true Fringe fashion. This carnival kaleidoscope quickly falls apart into broken, non-synchronized moves as we’re left with the question “is it chaos or is it a wrinkle?”

Cast of Le Spectacle de Merde at Cincy Fringe 2024. Photo by Kevin Rife.
Cast of Le Spectacle de Merde at Cincy Fringe 2024. Photo by Kevin Rife.

We hear more from our main character the show progresses, but the cast also encourages us to see ourselves in the story. We’re active spectators, participants, even, of the sh*t show, since, as Veal says and the cast portrays, we cannot watch passively. This work isn’t literal, easy, or clear – much like life. But it is skillful, experimental, and purposeful as we work to understand each metaphor like Cate’s character struggles to know what to do with new challenges in grieving and growing. The cast creates some really beautiful moments where chaos builds and culminates before breaking into quiet, graceful movement that feels like a rainbow after a thunderstorm. Ready add more dance to your Cincy Fringe 2024 schedule? Get your tickets here!

Wrapping up Cincy Fringe 2024: One Week Left

With only one week left and many great shows already closed for this festival, save yourself from more FOMO. Get your tickets now at cincyfringe.com while you can!

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

Related Posts