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A Feel For Fringe: Loop's End, They Don't Eat Corn Here, City of Songs & More


The Fringe Fest kept rolling on Friday (11.22) night. Of course, NoDef's team of critics was on hand to check out the theatrical offerings. In this edition of Fringe reviews, we check out Loop's End, Violence of the Lambs, They Don't Eat Corn Here, A Beaver Licous Family Affair, City of Songs, and Pussy Panic.

 

Loop's End (Loops End, GA, UK)

By Phil Yiannopoulos

The internationally-based (Atlanta, GA and Edinburgh, UK) Paper Doll Militia brings Loops End to this year’s Fringe. Billed as a “dark and magical” aerial theatre production, the acrobatic performances do not fail to impress. The venue for the show, the Old Ironworks, compliments the industrial, apocalyptic faerie vibe quite well.

 

The show offers two distinct halves, split by a somewhat awkward transition.  The first portion features an absolutely mind-boggling duo performance of aerialists using metal chains instead of the traditional silks. Before aerial antics, one of the performers runs around the stage and gives the audience a series of moody looks and poses. Whether this movement was supposed to establish character, form a loose narrative, or just kill time remains unclear when the second of the pair is lifted in the metal chains. The chains at this point are covered by a visually impressive, giant fabric-scrapped jellyfish of sorts. A series of industrial club music tracks accompany the pair as they embark upon the performance.

 

Which is amazing. To avoid wasting column inches trying to describe the creative rigging or chain setup, it is suffice it to say the piece is impressive and unique. The two women on stage push the limits of the chains by spinning, flipping, and rolling around them and one another. The piece is fluid, rarely pausing for applause. There always seems to have a unthought of direction to go. The long contours and mirroring imagery created with their two suspended bodies both mesmerizes and entices.

 

After the first piece came to its natural end, the company made a few odd decisions during the transition. Initially they employ only costumed actors to move pieces. However, at one point two stage hands in their boots and jeans come on to assist. Nothing wrong there, but as the transition is long anyway, it may have been better just to use stagehands from the beginning of the change.  The company occupies the audience only briefly during the transition. They perform an enticing shadow puppet piece that unfortunately lasts only a few seconds before the actors involved get up and simply mill around.

 

The second half of the piece features several more female aerialists as well as the only male in the piece walking on stilts. The piece tries to give some kind of narrative — perhaps sylphs  in a glen lorded by the tree god; maybe a wandering sprite looking for home; some kind of faerie fight.  But none of these lines seem to stick throughout the piece  As there are so many more people on stage (and three sets of traditional silks), the intended tableaux get muddled and incomprehensible. More moody looks and some modern dance fill the time, which is peppered with some impressive silk work that unfortunately almost gets lost in the chaos.   more focused aerial performance or more focused narrative would have helped immensely.

 

Overall a great show for the Fringe, even if only for the first half. One wonders why these halves were not reversed, with the longer, not as physically impressive piece in the beginning and the duo to close. Yet, even as is, the pair’s dexterity, fluidity, and outstretched beauty of these two forms rests magically in the brain. 

 

City of Songs (Byrdie's Cafe, New Orleans)

By Phil Yiannopoulos

Bremner Duthie, a seasoned performer of Fringe Festivals around the world returns to Byrdie’s Cafe with his show A City of Songs, a perfectly charming cabaret centered around his experiences while living in Paris.

 

With a minimal set (literally a few, well-used lamps and a checkered table cloth), Duthie lets the performance do the work. Accompanied by local musicians Stephen Bohnstengel on upright bass and Patrick (last name lost in applause) on piano and guitar, the trio works through a handful of songs about Paris. The folks on stage take their time allowing for solos and shared smiles during these songs.

 

As for choice of tunes, Duthie flexes his francophile muscles. About half of the songs are performed in French — some translated while still in song. Duthie also does a fine job choosing pieces from various genres, from Piaf to Trenet to a fun cabaret dance. Two of the performers on stage recite a Rimbaud poem (in two languages) in an engaging way, bringing to light Duthie’s appreciation for the French language itself. That appreciation isn’t lost on the performer. He gives a French/singing lesson for one classic (go see!).

 

In between the songs, the crooner regales the audience with personal experiences from the City of Lights, à la fois amusing and wistful. A natural on the stage (and particularly charming in the small cabaret format), Duthie’s performance creates a wonderful picture and a nostalgic smile for anyone who has ever spent time in Paris.  

 

Violence of the Lambs (First and Last Stop Bar, Pennsylvania)

By Phil Yiannopoulos

A quirky one-man-show, Violence of the Lambs presents a comical character in his ’scientific’ presentation on the next world war: animals versus humans. New Orleans Fringe veteran Chris Davis (Drunk Lion) charms his audience throughout this short piece. The show is staged in the back of the wonderfully charming (though non-smokers beware) First and Last Stop Bar.

 

The character, a University of Phoenix educated scientist, Marcus Livengood recites instances of animal attacks on humans, both real and imaginary, in the past few years. Convinced of animal intelligence, this character comically reveals facts and photos of these ‘monsters’ and their plans. Davis does a fine job creating this character with speech patterns, slight twitches, and repetitive neuroses. As a storyteller, he has mastered performing with a cozy audience.   A live, translated dolphin conversation was a pleasure to watch.

 

The show takes an odd turn at the end when he breaks the scientist character and performs something reminiscent of (or directly from?) Apocalypse Now.  It’s worth a chuckle, but may have been more effective to end the show in character.

    

Fun stories, a great solo performer, and totally what a Fringe show is all about: wild and weird and friendly and funny.

 

They Don’t Eat Corn Here (Zeitgeist, New Orleans)

By Heather Lane

I must preface my review of Reese Johanson’s show They Don’t Eat Corn Here with a disclaimer. Admittedlty, I am not a fan of modern dance theater and descriptive headings such as “interdisciplinary” are generally cues for me to move on in the program. However, to sum up my reflections on her show, I can say it was perfectly delightful.

 

I had my doubts when the show opened on a stage naked save a 6 foot painter’s ladder draped with a white sheet. A cellist serenaded the audience as a looped track played international boarding calls. After a good many minutes of staring at the ladder, my ADD brain had already wandered, attempting to estimate the impressive ceiling height of the Zeitgeist based on the 6’ ladder.  Three ladders, stacked, would probably be short. Four would be too high.  Maybe twenty feet….?

 

At last Reese bustled onto the stage pushing two rolling suitcases and the show kicked off in earnest.  

 

A captivating and graceful performer, Reese took the audience on a whirlwind travel experience. Her character, Beatrice, danced her way through crowded train platforms and streets swirling with traffic. A projector cast images of the world, larger than life, behind her. The rolling suitcases integrated seamlessly into the scene, propelling her movement on their little casters and whirling through the air as she spun dizzy with the frenetic travel.

 

When Beatrice finally landed at her destination, she settled in to a pensione only to be quickly disillusioned by the façade of culture that the village has created for the tourists. Although still charmed by the place she has landed, Beatrice laments that the stories that perpetuated the culture are now all but forgotten. She relates the narrative in charming staccato prose, sharing her experiences in a way that makes the audience feel privy to each event and emotionally tied to each realization.  

 

After some audience participation based on clever “customs declaration forms,” Beatrice takes her viewers through her romance with the pensione owner’s brother. The couple navigate the tricky path of sharing and respecting their disparate cultures, experience great joy over the birth of their daughter, and eventual move to a dilapidated mansion. Beatrice sets to restoring the grand house, allegorically conflicted about overwriting the past and forging a new future. The arc of the story takes the audience through the bittersweet realities of tourism and expatriotism and their impact on local cultures. Yet, the show still manages to end on the hopeful note carried by Reese’s daughter. Perhaps the stories of old are not over after all.

 

They Don’t Eat Corn Here is a beautiful piece that takes the audience on a much appreciated ride. Reese’s performance is captivating, the minimal set with its whirlwind of project backdrops is successful, and the talented accompanying cellist is stellar.  

 

A Beaver Licious Family Affair (Hi Ho Lounge, New Orleans)

By Ashley Rouen

Part of Cirque d’Licious, which brings a revolving cast of performers to the Hi Ho Lounge, A Beaver Licious Family Affair introduced audiences to the Beaver Family, who makes their living off the sale of Snake Oil. According to Mr. Beaver, a travelling salesman, the elusive alcoholic substance  is made of Gin, Cocaine and his own Kom…bucha. Their fresh performance features aerial acrobatics from an overgrown baby, a Daddy Daughter swing jig, burlesque numbers from Mrs. Beaver who can take a staple to her rear and for the grand finale…a stripping granny!

 

Overall this show is clever, sexy and ridiculously funny. Starring Ginger Licious, Darling Darla James and Clay Mazing their rip roaring performance flows with ease, even through mishaps, like in Clay Mazing’s Indiana Jones-esque whip tease when he lost the tip of his whip in the stage’s archway. Thankfully he had a backup whip, which he used to knock roses from between his legs and mouth. It’s Fringe actors like Clay Mazing, who can roll with the punches and don’t let silly errors ruin an otherwise great performance. And that is exactly what makes the edgy festival on the fringes a humble treat for attendees. After all it’s just a show.

 

Dandy Darkly’s Pussy Panic! (Mardi Gras Zone, Brooklyn)

By Ashley Rouen

Mr. Dandy Darkly goes way out on a limb and confronts a topic most gay men aren’t talking about, at least not in show business. The cabaret master creates a lyrical paradise with scintillating metaphors wrapped madly in the dark chauvinism of our day. Yes, Darkly may be afraid of the vagina, but he says to his homosexual brethren, “We owe patient women,” the beloved fag-hags, “a big fucking ‘I’m sorry’.” Pussy Panic challenges the status queer in his absurdist stories personified in the satirical imagination of Darkly’s metaphorical vagina fearing mind. 

 

The “pussy pariah” performs four numbers, all with an enthusiasm and vigorous energy that would have most people curled up with side cramps on the floor. Decked out in a white feather boa, glittering face paint, a yellow ruffled shirt and high heels to top it off Mr. Darkly puts slut shaming to shame in the form of a song about a girl's giant privates making her the ultimate kleptomaniac as she stuffs everything from thrift store items to an entire old boys club into her furry taco.

 

While some of the numbers go on for too long, Darkly demonstrates a wildly creative use of words delivered at an unblievably quick pace. The sweetest story came in a tale about a Sapphic retiree romance between two lesbian women in a retirement home.

 

Ultimately, Darkly unfolds a mystical witchery weaving through our world revealing an important anti misogynistic message enveloped in the ironic realm of his comedic feminist cabaret. 




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Contributors

Renard Boissiere, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Naimonu James, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Nina Luckman, Dead Huey Long, Alexis Manrodt, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via, Austin Yde

Photographers


Art Director

Michael Weber, B.A.

Editor


Listings Editor

Linzi Falk

Editor Emeritus

Alexis Manrodt


B. E. Mintz


Stephen Babcock

Published Daily