Any experienced Fringer knows you can never be sure of the quality of any show in the Minnesota Fringe Festival, star power be damned, until after it opens. The mainstream press will be the first to weigh in with reviews, but a more thorough measure are the audience reviews/comments on the Fringe Web site. They begin piling up over the first few nights — sure, you’ll find a few inside-job raves, but they’re more than drowned out by the wave of mass opinion. And if that wave fails to wash over a particular show, that’s probably a sign to move on. By Monday, you should be able to make out your own list of must-see shows.
But until then, here’s 3-Minute Egg’s list of shows to keep an eye on, based on cast, performance history and my own experiences watching these artists during my 10+ years as an arts journalist in the twin towns. (Disclaimer: See above).
The Damn Audition (@ Rarig Thrust) — Joe Scrimshaw co-wrote it, and one of his co-stars is David Mann. Be there.
Speech! (@ Rarig Thrust) — The comedy duo Ferrari McSpeedy (Mike Fotis and Joe Bozic) have invited other performers into their show for the first time. Will it diminish what FM does best — improvising around a formed narrative? I’m willing to bet it won’t.
Wisdom (@ Rarig Thrust … I’m sensing a pattern here) — Jimmy Hogg of Toronto has never failed to wow Fringers with his one-man comic storytelling shows.
Entwined (@ Rarig Arena) — Amy Salloway is the mind of a New York Jew trapped in a Minnesota life experience. Her stories, usually bolted onto episodes of dashed hope, are always funny and revealing. She says this is the first show she ever tried to write, but not got around to completing it til now. Let’s see if it was worth the wait.
You Are Not Paris (@ Mill City Clinic) — Veteran playwright and director Jon Ferguson set this site-specific piece on the conservatory students of Stages Theater Company. Has the makings of a welcome detour from other Fringe fare.
Femme de la Swashbuckle Box (@ Ritz Proscenium) — Christine Maginnis is one of my favorite dancers in town — always energetic and fully invested — and she’s put together a small ensemble of other veteran movers. I don’t need to see it to know you won’t be bored.
Can Michael Come Out and Play (@ Playwrights Center) — I have to admit, I didn’t expect much from Mahmoud Hakima’s debut one-man show. Two Bowls of Cereal and Some Bacon turned into one of the surprise hits of the 2009 Fringe. Hakima is back with another autobiographical show — and this time with a little momentum pushing at his sails.
Bite Me Twilight (@ Mixed Blood) — Tom Reed is an ace improvisational performer who has concocted a one-person musical parody of the entire Twilight saga. I’ve never read a word of Twilight or seen the resulting film, but I’m banking on Reed to pull off something inspired and zany.
A Sad Carousel (@ Rarig Arena) — I’m only going by the three minutes of work I saw at one of the Fringe-for-Alls, but they made the most of their stage time, and I like the show’s premise: An insult comic and his bumbling nephew battle hit men and equally lethal talent agents.
And in the Fringe spirit, here’s a nearly blind rEGGommendation, based on little more than a smell test:
Do Not Kill Me, Killer Robots (@ Playwrights Center) — Local guy Ben Egerman has earned strong reviews of this one-man show at Capital Fringe in D.C.