So many great shows at Fringe! Gotta catch ’em all!
Here are 5 show reviews: Made in America, RUH-Roh, Who’s Afraid of Winnie the Pooh, The Rembrandt Job, and Bloodline. All are solid works, but as always, read the reviews below to see which ones you might enjoy most.
Made in America
by Teruko Nakajima
Made in America is a powerful tale of perseverance, as Teruko Nakajima overcame a very difficult early life in Japan and as she emigrated to the US.
Clad in a red fringe dress with heart shaped glasses, Teruko relates her childhood as the only child of a very abusive and addicted family. Her sole goal is to make her mother smile, and at age 4 decides to be a super star. She knows right then she is “sexy dynamite” and is laser focused on being a superstar.
Her story is both heartbreaking and heroic. You just want to connect with her, for comfort, congratulations, and capturing some of her indefatigable joy. She’s clearly a dancer, and moves throughout the piece with precision and control.
Recommended. Powerful, polished, everyone should see–it is not just a woman’s story, or an immigrant’s story.
Trigger warning: domestic violence, child abuse and suicidal ideation.
by Queen City Flash
RUH Roh delivers on the franchise promise. This is guaranteed entertainment for the over-13 crowd.
Nolan’s (Jordan Trovillion) life is not just being a teen detective. She also needs to keep an eye on her mother, a recovering addict, her mother’s boyfriend, and her grandmother, in a town with a history. An unsavory history she helped uncover with the help of her dog Casper. Now there is a new mystery to solve.
Yes, there is audience involvement, yes, clever props, yes, a fast-paced whodunit with Nancy Drew/Scooby Doo antics, as well as a lot of cursing. You’ll never look at Reddi-Wip the same way again. Recommended. Queen City Flash is the brainchild of Director Bridget Leak and Playwright/Composer Trey Tatum. Extra kudos for establishing an idea, and carrying it through successfully for three seasons.
Who’s Afraid of Winnie the Pooh
by Clevername Theatre
One of my top shows so far is Who’s Afraid of Winnie the Pooh–a brilliant and clever mashup of the silly old bear and Piglet with Albee’s cutting and perverse game playing George and Martha.
If you like sophisticated wordplay, you might think more of Frasier than Winnie the Pooh, but in the hands of Writer/Director Alexander Gerchak you will find Winnie can be a wit. You don’t know what Pooh and Piglet will do next. Edge of your seat characterizations here.
The plot: After drinks at Owl’s, a new couple comes over to join Winnie and Piglet, and become pawns in their cruel games and bitter sarcasm, fueling the “animal” attraction of Winnie and Piglet.
The cast includes Thomas Buan as Winnie (wow, such commitment to the role!), Katrina Stelk as Piglet, Nick Hill as Christopher, and Victoria Jones as Hunny. Kudos to Props (Connor McEvoy) and costumes (Genevieve Kafka).
Suspend your imagination as a few other characters are introduced, but as a whole this is is meaty, original and entertaining. I want to see what comes next from this brilliant troupe.
The Rembrandt Job
By Clifton Theatre
The Rembrandt Job is a history lesson that is well directed, written and performed by Clifton Theatre veterans.
Truth is stranger than fiction, on how two bumbling thieves stole 2 Rembrandts from the Taft Museum in 1973, then tried to ransom them. Presented as a farce in chronological order, especially from John Warrington’s perspective. You will have plenty of laughs, and references to things older Cincinnatians would remember – such as news anchor Al Schottelkotte and the Odd Couple.
Dale Hodges (THE Dale Hodges!) is “Portrait of an Old Woman” and acts as the narrator. The cast also includes Evan Beckmeyer, Jack Kremer, Grant Zentmeyer, Michael Bath, Clint Bramkamp, and Paul Morris (pictured) as the hustler James Hough.
Recommend for anyone who knows or wants to know a bit about Cincinnati history, and have a lot of laughs.
Trigger warning: Non operational weapons used.
by Paris Crayton III
Bloodline is so well performed! It explores and celebrates three men named Paris Crayton–performed by Paris Crayton III. This is representational, not breaking the fourth wall (to talk directly to the audience) until after the curtain call. This is where he tells you the story of how his grandfather met his grandmother is true!
Acted with love, passion, and tremendously skillful transitions between characters.
Highly Recommended! Bring your Father or grandfather.
Trigger warning: Discussion of suicide.
Cincy Fringe 2023 Continues through June 17
Plenty of time to see more of the great art and artists at Cincinnati Fringe. For more information, schedule and tickets go to https://cincyfringe.com/.