Fringe Fest: The good and the very bad
Wed, Jun 13, 2012 (3:57 p.m.)
The third-annual Las Vegas Fringe Fest at Las Vegas Little Theatre recently wrapped up (though two productions—Iphigenia in Orem and Roles for Women—return this weekend for encore productions). Here’s a partial review of the Fest, with an emphasis on the new and local.
Dick Johnson: Private Eye
By Maxim Lardent and Mark Valentin, produced by Poor Richard’s Players
A parody of radio mysteries with old-timey effects and fake ads that left you gasping with laughter—there was a lot to like about Dick Johnson. Director Lysander Abadia gave it some inventive, slap-sticky staging, and Arles Estes’ maniacal sound effects were a show in themselves. It became a little repetitive in its second half, and playwright Lardent (playing Dick) needed to take his character a little further out, but I’m eager for the next episode.
Roles for Women
By Erica Griffin, produced by Table 8 Productions
I’d say Dick Johnson had the best ensemble of actors ... if it weren’t for the ladies of Roles for Women, playing five women suffering through their most extreme audition ever. Griffin does an excellent job capturing small moments, pushing the characters through them and letting their actions generate the laughs. The actresses embraced this with gusto. You could feel the glee at having fully-formed characters that had nothing to do with “girlfriend” or “romantic interest.” If sometimes that enthusiasm veered a little too closely to self-parody for the sake of a laugh, that was only a slight problem.
Expanding the Relative: Pondering Einstein
Written and produced by Eugene Markoff
By Michael O’Neal, produced by Chaos Theatre
As always, there was a great divide in quality at the Fringe. Markoff’s Expanding the Relative was a free-form beat bop liberal lecture, but the scattershot epigrams and wordplay never added up to anything more than easy sentiment. And Soul wanted badly to be deep, but ended up just bad. Its heavy-handed symbolism (a villain named Judas—really?) only elicited laughter from the couple next to me. And when an “edgy” “punk” musician committed suicide after playing the opening strains of “Stairway to Heaven” (unironically) I nearly joined them.