162 Fringe Reviews (In order from best to worst) for the 2006 Fringe


First, you can find out about me, and my extended thoughts about reviewing at the bottom of this page.  I think that the most useful aspect for my readers is the rankings.  I base the rankings on my enjoyment of the show, so they may not reflect the quality of the script and/or acting.  I prefer plays to comedy acts, but work in a little of the latter for diversity.   I have discovered that I have a penchant for true stories.  Because of my jet lag, the August 5th reviews may be skewed against some of the comedy.  August 16th was magical, with all of my random picks being either four or five stars!  The comments are short because I have little time between shows, and, after all, I am here for the shows.  If you wish to contact me, send e-mail to Sean Davis



End of the Rainbow (*****)

Judy Garland’s piano accompanist and fiancé try to help her with her six-week comeback at London’s Talk of the Town nightclub in 1968, months before she died of an overdose.  Every aspect of this show is perfect.  Not only can Caroline O’Connor perform Garland’s songs beautifully, but she nails the scenes in the hotel room when we see the pill-popping, hard drinking personality side of Garland as she tries to once again give her all to her audiences.  While I expected the lead to be excellent, the talented acting and piano playing of her devoted gay accompanist matched her.  (Aug 15)


Knots (*****)

Three men and three women dancers explore the vagaries of romance and early marriage.  I found the movements innovative, appropriate to their theme, and had just the right amount of repetition.  It was kick to see the many uses they found for six Plexiglas closets from initial individual turmoil to final marital fights.  (Aug 19) 


Dusty Limits is Heartless (*****)

Much the same as last year, when I found Holly Penfield’s cabaret act wonderful, this year I found Dusty captivating.  His non-stop patter about his fab gay life and his renditions of great songs with added lyrics were perfect for me.  He ended the act with back to back show stopping renditions of an updated Cole Porter’s “Bee’s Do It”, and Doctor Doolittle’s “Talk to the Republicans”.  (Aug 7)


One-Man Star Wars Trilogy (*****)

Just as the title indicates an actor recreates the complete Star Wars Trilogy.  With no props, he provides all of the snippets of verbatim dialogue, music, sound effects, and visual effects to tell the stories completely.  As Star Wars fans, the audience and I were rapt as he recreates one memorable scene after another.  Some are only 5 seconds long, while others last more than a minute.  It is fun to see how he portrays the strange creatures of Lucas’ universe.  His version of Jabba the Hut, complete with huge slurping tongue, is inspired.  This is a reverent homage, so he keeps his sly asides to a minimum.   I would only recommend this to people who know the films fairly well.  (Aug 24)


Girl Blog from Iraq: Baghdad Burning (*****)

Four women and a man read from, and provide context for the real blogs of a 24-year old Iraqi woman.  She started her blogging when the Coalition invaded in 2003, and the play has a blog from August 6th of this year.  The presentation is straightforward, but this may help to not obscure the power of her words. (Aug 10)


Dialogues 2006 (*****) ends Aug 12th!

Six diverse pieces of dance and/or music all done at the top level.  There were so many highlights that I feel bad that I will only mention a couple.  The first piece, “Group Therapy” had four duets choreographed to a variety of recorded pop tunes.  The most fun of the duets had a narcoleptic woman who constantly went limp on her partner.   The second piece, “Epitaph”, had the dancers perform to a string trio while the writer/composer read a witty set of epitaphs.  The rest of show had an original violin solo, a dance to Shostakovich, a John Cage piano solo, and finally dances to a set of Joe Cocker tunes.  (Aug 11) 


Holly Penfield – Both Sides Now (*****)

The singer, with a trio of musicians, has created a show that explores the two sides of her career: nice songwriter and “wicked” cabaret singer.  Most of the songs she wrote are tender ballads ala Joni Mitchell, while her voice reminds me of Judy Garland.  Holly is the consummate showman; during the show she maneuvers through the pews so that she can interact with almost every member of the audience.  (Aug 22)


Seven Points for ‘Love’ (*****)

With the help of his intended’s teenage sister, a young man tries to use scrabble to propose marriage.  While this is quite light fare, the charming performances of all make this quite winning.  Yeah it is fluff, but it is well done fluff.  (Aug 14) 


Tom Crean- Antarctic Explorer  (*****)

Based on the real life of a regular crewman on three expeditions of to the Antarctic, this one-man show provides an engrossing description of the travails of this man.  Besides his adventures on the ice, I found his extended description of his clothing particularly fascinating.  (Aug 5)


A Boat’s Yer Whole World  (*****)

This one-woman show portrays the life of a woman who spent her whole life on the towboats of the canals of England during the first half of the twentieth century.   The narrative poignantly describes her marriage, her work as first mate steering the boat while her husband led the horse 160’ ahead, and the trials of being a mother on the Cut.  (Aug 6)


And Even My Goldfish (*****)

In this physical theater piece, a very tall man tires to recapture a lost love while dealing with an insistent cleaning lady.  There is an ineffable clarity to the piece that just feels right.  There are many memorable moments, including a small man climbing inside the coat of the lead, and feet becoming gold in a fish bowl.  (Aug 14)


Floating (*****)

The multimedia performance art tale of how the island Anglesea sails around the Atlantic was a perfect Fringe experience for me.  Unlike anything else I have seen, the two performers operate a slide, overhead, and laptop projectors while acting out the story using chains, dunking their heads, outlining the whole story, skateboarding on the island map, passing around wrestling magazines, and so many other things. This is not some high concept incomprehensible show; this is a well designed performance piece that all around me loved and admired.  (Aug 16)   


The London Underground Song (And Other Ballads) (*****)

Dr. Adam Kay, a real anesthetist, performs countless ditties he has written about girlfriends, medicine, and many other topics.  The shorter pieces have the feel of Douglas Adams—a couple of short lines followed by a punch line.  He has two Lord High Executioner type songs in which he deftly negotiates a tight list of drugs or subjects, as well as rag reminiscent of Tom Lehrer.  Please be warned that there are many songs are off-color.  (Aug 16)


Paper Flowers (*****)

A lonely Chilean woman, who initially allowed a hunted tramp to stay the day, finds her apartment and life drawn into his mesmerizing chaos.  I found the portrayals of her need and debasement as well as his angry self-possession both riveting throughout.  (Aug 13)


Esme Tales (*****)

Based on six short stories revolving around, though not necessarily including, a free spirited schoolgirl.  We see stories of her classroom, her mother and father, her teacher’s sister, and a young man who loves dust.  The stories combined with the original music proved quite moving for me.  (Aug 9)


Out of the Blue (*****)

After seeing this Oxford A Cappella last year, and giving them 5 stars, I looked forward to seeing them again.  They did not disappoint.  I loved all but one All but one of the songs was perfect.  Their choreography is even better than last year.  (Aug 27)


Hamp (*****)

A firing squad looms over a guileless, shell shocked soldier as he is court-martialed for desertion in 1918.  The power of this play lies in simple honesty of Hamp, and the growing misgivings of his conflicted attorney.  Both actors carry off their roles beautifully.  The only weak point in the trial occurs when the medical officer is dismissed from his testimony before properly answering questions about shell shock.  (Aug 20)


Cabin Fever (*****)

A veteran shipboard emcee/comedian tries to get his new boss to appreciate his talent.  The comedian provides a wonderful characterization of life among shipboard entertainers.  It is worth seeing this show just for the section where he creates the first five minutes of a show, including commentary about what is happening in the audience.  (Aug 23)


Nosferatu (*****)

A musical about a married man in a rigid town who sells the house next to his the vampire Nosferatu.  The young cast carries off this tale in winning fashion.  All leads have fine voices, and their stylized acting as music box robots makes the story all the creepier.  (Aug 22)


The Unsinkable Clerk (*****)

A shy clerk with a precise routine for every day is suddenly transported into the middle of an ocean where he meets Jonah inside the whale.  This play abounds with whimsy as the pair share adventures in the whale, on board a doomed cruise ship, and on an island paradise.   The facial contortions and demeanor of the clerk reminded me of Wallace of Wallace and Grommet.  (Aug 25)


Rose (*****)

Fiona York plays the role of a Jewish woman whose life takes her from Russia to the Warsaw Ghetto to the Exodus to Atlantic City to Miami to Israel.  There are poignant moments at each stop as we hear of the Jewish community and her family.  This is not a black and white portrait, but a life of many shades of gray.  At one point she channels her beloved first husband, and then finally understands her mundane second husband.  (Aug 26)


The Hamlet Project (*****)

This small, young company successfully condenses Shakespeare’s play about a prince who must deal with the assassination of his father by his uncle.  I found it fascinating to watch as two actors shared the role of Hamlet by perfectly alternating lines.  Their constant back and forth was a great metaphor for the conflicted Hamlet.  As usual, Ophelia’s death scene is the only drag on the play.  (Aug 25)


Other People  (****)

A witty comedy about two flatmates growing apart as one heads on to marriage, and the other stands still, except in his work as a human statue.  The script complements the quips about English history, Paul McCartney, and video games bandied between the two longtime friends, with their bittersweet observations about their personal lives.   The maturing man manages to be sincere about his love for his girlfriend while still playing a video game with his pal.  The stunted man rang true with his adolescent obsession with inside jokes and trivia.  (Aug 6)


The Government Inspector  (****)

The corrupt officials of a remote town mistake a penniless aristocrat for an inspector for the Russian Czar, and fond over him.   The large gap-year cast did a remarkable job with all aspects of this play.  As the play unfolded, I imagined what the Czar thought when it was presented to him!  (Aug 18) 


Into the Hoods (****)

The tales of Rapuntzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Cinderella are set in the hip-hop world of an inner city apartment tower.  Initially there is a sameness to the hip-hop dancing, but about a third of the way in the cast starts to really explore the possibilities, including a nice quiet piece. This is one of the few times that the use of a large back screen for videos and scenery worked well.  (Aug 24)


Story Shakespeare: The Tempest (****)

With the help of two magical creatures, an exiled king maroons his enemies on the island he controls.  The large, young cast does a superb job of adapting the play to one hour.  One of the many highlights was seeing the monster Calaban played by two people at once.  (Aug 19)


Neville’s Island (****)

During a teamwork exercise, four businessmen become marooned on an island in a lake.  Although they are caricatures, the mix of an unstable Christian ornithologist, a softhearted leader, a witty sarcastic complainer, and precise accountant provides the basis of many funny and touching moments.  (Aug 26) 


Clinically Famous (****)

A woman portrays a former soap opera star describing her career from want to be to beloved household name to patient in a clinic for celebrities.  Her observations of each stage had a fine mix of comedy, drama, and insight.  She learns the cost of fame when her role is changed from good wife to an evil betrayed wife, and the public turns against her in real life.  (Aug 22)


The Oxford Gargoyles – Jazz A Cappella (****)

What can I say?  I love good A Cappella, and these singers had the voices and song selection to win my heart.  (Aug 19)


Jack the Lad (****)

While one actor portrays a male prostitute telling his life’s story, another portrays each of his clients.  The tale is told with many ingenious references to Jack and the Beanstalk, including a set of keys with hollow beans with contents that lead him to the house of a giant pimp.  I know it sounds hokey, but fairy tale is well hidden under the gritty realism of the son of a poor single mother surviving in a harsh world.  (Aug 24)


Killing Time (****)

A married woman gives a good Samaritan a ride to his home, and then discovers he has a dark side.   This intriguing thriller has many plot twists as the couple proceeds from supposed seduction to criminal conspiracy.  Unhappily, the last event was predictable.  More importantly, when viewed in the context of the final plot twist, many of the actions of the woman do not jibe with her final characterization.  (Aug 26)


Carbon Fever (****)

Two men are trapped in grocery store when four feet of carbon covers the Earth.  Though beer, Pringles, and sanitation issues are common topics, this tale is not as vulgar as it sounds.  These fellows are trapped, and they don’t forget it.  (Aug 24)     


Blues Brothers Banned at the Fringe (****)

Jake and Elwood take the stage with a horn section and two back-up singers.  I got what I expected—high energy blues with enough shenagins to keep the audience loose in their seats.  When the bass player took the mike, I suddenly realized what a really good voice would sound like in that context.  The one problem with the show was once they got people out of their seats dancing, they would occasionally use riffs that were undanceable and dampen the spirit of the crowd.  (Aug 19)


Past Half Remembered (****)

Four musician/actors and the lead recap the life of a centarian Russian woman using a mix of music, acting, and serio-comic physical theater.  Besides her courtship and marriage, both World Wars and the Bolshevik revolution all have serious impact on her and her husband.  The touch is light, but at 1945 I was scared we had only seen half of what would have been an overlong play, but my fears were unwarranted since it ended shortly.  (Aug 16)


Lolita (****)

Nabakov’s play about a pedophile who becomes obsessed with his stepdaughter.  I found both leads played their complex parts well: the pedophile was both restrained and yet sexually obsessed, and Lolita was both manipulative and yet hurt.   Only the drama teacher seemed out of place with his almost campy performance.  Since my wife is a therapist who deals with child abusers, I was surprised to see Lolita so well adjusted in her later marriage.  (Aug 20)


Waiting for Romeo (****)

In a war torn city, a woman who hasn’t left her flat for a year, and her pregnant sister must suddenly deal with a roguish sniper.  The story is well drawn as each pairing of the trio is explored.  The only fault I could find is that the rogue was inconsistent in his ability to con his victims.  (Aug 23) 


Marlon Brando’s Corset (****)

The dysfunctional cast of a popular medical TV show deal with the scriptwriter’s criticism in a variety of ways, including murder.   Though the cast is stereotypical with blonde bimbo, witless hunk, jealous second banana, and smart actress, most of their interactions are fun.  The scriptwriter’s witty lines and quips are the highlights, while the part after the murder becomes broader, and less interesting. (Aug 16)


The Allotment (****)

A middle-aged horticultural therapy grad student brings four recent immigrants together to rehabilitate a garden plot as therapy.  All five characters are well etched, and except for the student, each is unpredictable.   (Aug 10)


Lies Have Been Told (****)

A one-man show with Philip York portraying Robert Maxwell, the British publishing tycoon who died mysteriously after having been found to have cooked the books.   The forceful York does a fine job of blustering through this tale of a teenage Czech Jew that fled and then fought the Nazis, and later parlayed his good looks, charm, and multi-lingualism into a publishing empire built on loans.    Along the way, he explores the need for more (arising from childhood hunger), and the anti-Semitic prejudice that Maxwell felt throughout his adult life.  My only complaint was that York chose to where a football (soccer) uniform for the last act to symbolize Maxwell’s efforts to fit in with the British.  I suppose the point was that it was silly for Maxwell to try to fit in, but I just found that it weakened the impersonization. (Aug 6)


Dominic Holland Stands Up  (****)

Dominic’s stand-up routine is a mix of describing life as the father of four, and wry observations about life in England in general.  He began with a nice 10-minute riff based on the heat of the room and the fact that there were two kids in the front row.  I appreciate comedians that are clever enough to work with the moment without resorting to sex and swearing.  (Aug 5)


My Name is Rachel Corrie (****)

A powerful true story of an idealistic young American woman who is bulldozed to death by the Israelis while trying to intervene for the Palestinians in Gaza.   Her performance is spot on throughout, and her tales told from the Gaza completely engrossing.  However, I gave it four stars because the first part of the story, set in America, seemed rather slow.  This, combined with “Girl Blog from Iraq” (*****), made for quite a day to ponder the plight of the innocent people being hurt by America and its proxies.  (Aug 10)


Andy’s Promise (****)

A high school senior promises his brother on his mother’s life that he will not lie for a week.  When he lies to his disabled sister, the story takes an intriguing turn as his mother suddenly has a stroke.   Though what I saw was quite good, I wish they did not have to shorten the play; they left many aspects incompletely explored.   (Aug 6)


Lippy Bissoms (****)

Poetry from four middle aged women from Crieff, Scotland addressing the topics of money, travel, celebrations, family, and sex.  This will not be to everyone tastes, but I found myself saying “huh” after many of the poems.  Not the “huh” of “what?”, but the “huh” of something resonating in my soul.  Between many poems, they use a nice device of each describing their ideal man in one sentence using the same word in different ways.  BTW,  “bissoms” is a Scottish word that only roughly translates as gossips.  (Aug 7)


Dickens and Twain : Crossing the Pond (****)

Two actors portray Charles Dickens and Mark Twain discussing their lectures when they performed in each other’s country.  Virtually all of the script is excerpts from their own writing with the elegance of Dickens and the quips of Twain much in evidence.  It was fascinating to hear of their century old observations about the visited countries; America is rough but generous for Dickens, and England was beautiful and civilized for Twain.  (Aug 11)


The Syringa Tree (****)

A white woman tells of her life in the countryside of South Africa from 1962 to now, with the majority of time spent when she was six years old.  The play brings to life apartheid in the most personal terms.  The actress does a marvelous job of portraying the people of her life, particularly her maid.  (Aug 25)


Farewell to the Tooth Fairy (****)

72-year-old comedian Lynn Ruth Miller describes events from her life.  I found the stories heartwarming.  I particularly enjoyed her story of how she befriended a poor boy with stinking fish sandwiches, and then went on to find that he was a great dancer (and vote-rigger).  (Aug 14)


Normal (****)

Based on a true story in 1932, a young defense lawyer has a series of conversations with a serial killer in Dusseldorf to determine if he is sane.  The unrepentant killer ensnares the lawyer as he good naturedly describes his life from abusive father to murder at 9 to dysfunctional marriage to his the last of his 42 attempted murders.   The whole tale is engrossing, and argues that evil can be normal.  Only a fantastical killing by the lawyer weakens the play.   (Aug 11)


Turning Trix (****)

The lives of a young shaking drunk and his poetic drunken protector change with the arrival of a soft hearted prostitute and illness.  I found the selective use of rhyming between characters a novel and winning theatric device.  The three primary actors were all strong.  (Aug 13)


Clean Alternatives (****)

The president of a small company is offered money to keep her company afloat just so her competitors don’t run afoul of the pollution laws.  The writing is fast and witty with big business the target a most barbs.  However, the plot does wander a bit astray a bit, and some of the writing seems to be there to show the prowess of the playwright.  (Aug 28)


Delicious (****)

A marvelous pianist and two female singers deliver popular songs ranging from “Tunisia” to “No Business Like Show Business.”  I was surprised by their many whimsical costumes.  They followed the tradition of pseudo-competition and banter leading up to “Together”.  They had fine voices for both their solos and duets.   (Aug 8)


The Black Jew Dialogues (****)

A Black and a Jew explore the differences and similarities of their ethnic history in America.  Their style is light and comedic, while videos provide more serious content occasionally.  This is a wonderful blend of content and humor.  (Aug 22) 


Bouncers –1990 remix (****)

Four men portray 50 characters as they look at life from the view as bouncers at a popular late night pub.  It takes a while to get to know which characters they are portraying at any given moment, but once I became acquainted with the repeated people the mix worked quite well.  Not surprisingly, I found the four soliloquies by the sensitive head bouncer, Lucky Eddie, the best part of the show.  (Aug 7)


The New Standard (****)

Last year, I saw Steve Lawson alone with his bass and looping machine.  This year he appears with vocalist Julie McKee.  Together they create an appealing soft jazz duet.  She clearly has mastered looping over her own vocals.  However, my favorite song was “Get Ready”, in which he laid down a simple loop, and then both worked with each other.  If you don’t like soft jazz, then this would be a two or three star.  They are only here until Aug 12th. (Aug 10)


Paramour (****)

Two young postal workers live alone on an island where they are supposed to sort all of the lost mail of the UK, but instead they read the mail, play games, and fall in love.  The quirky mixture of physical theater and wit charmed me.  The whole play takes place on a floor covered with hundreds of real postmarked envelopes.  “I found your eyeglasses behind the sofa, but they are not the same without your eyes behind them.”  (Aug 16)


Touched (****)

A doctor, a distracted mother, a hairdresser, a wedding planner, a pregnant woman, and a midwife wannabe share a table at a wedding.  Each has a chance to speak of their troubles, and have them nicely resolved by the end of the play.  The wedding planner has the funniest part as she deals with quirky incidents throughout the wedding, including a grandfather dropping his teeth in the chocolate fondue.  The mother nailed the appearance of nervous distraction.  (Aug 21)  


Innocence (****)

A 13-year old plays an 11-year old girl sitting in her bedroom dealing with the tragedy that has befallen her family.  The innocence that such a young and talented performer can bring to the part makes this play work.  The only flaw in the play is that it ignores the realities of modern police investigations.  (Aug 27)


Tossers: More Balls than Most (****)

Seven jugglers show what they can do with shovels, tables, oranges, bowlers, basketballs, bicycle parts, and many other items.  The show varies from singles, to duets, to all juggling with each other.  I was embarrassed for the one woman in the group because she was clearly not of the same caliber as the men; when it was her turn it was always a letdown.  (Aug 22) 


The Plan B Show (****)

 A comedy about how an evil dating service manager/mad scientist, and her female assistant that control the lives of two men.   Most of the zany gags work quite well.  The assistant gets the most out of her part.  (Aug 14)


Reginald D Hunter – Pride and Prejudice and Niggas (****)

At the beginning of the show, this standup comic warns the audience that the title is just a joke, and irrelevant to the topics of the show.  Hunter has a fine command of the English language, but still chooses to use “F****in,” frequently.  He has quite a few perceptive and funny routines.  Highlights were his discussion of racial pejoratives, and a long story about his honorable father revealing that he had been paid to have unusual sex.  (Aug 28)


Jim Henson’s Puppet Improv (****)

As the name implies, this show has puppeteers doing improv comedy using muppets.  They accomplish this by standing on stage manipulating the muppets with a TV camera just above their heads.  While the muppets certainly lend a wonderful whimsy to the whole show, the actual improvisations were mediocre.  (Aug 20)


Get Carter (****)

A very competent enforcer follows many dead ends as he investigates the suspicious death of his brother.  This an attempt to make a direct translation of the pulp movie starring Michael Caine.  It is remarkably faithful to the story, including its grittiness.  Because of its complexity, I think that those who have seen the movie will enjoy it much more than those that have not.  The set utilizes one point perspective to remarkable effect.   As usual, I sat in the front row, and end up spattered with some very stray blood!  (Aug 17)


Shakespeare for Breakfast (****)

A traditional show for the Fringe that takes Shakespeare’s prose and adds modern twists.  “Taming of the Shrew” provides the basic plot for the all female cast, but they speak lines derived from many of his plays.  The audience loved it, and, despite only catching some of the references, I found it quite clever and fun. (Aug 8)


Diva for the Role of Dostoevsky’s Wife (****)

In the present day, a retired actress meets a younger man in a nursing home who thinks he is Dostoevsky.  Together they explore a play about Dostoevsky and his wife.  The story is intriguing, and the acting superb.  (Aug 9)


Urinetown (****)

A musical about how an extended drought leads to a water conservation corporation having laws enacted that requires people to use the company’s pay toilets.  The whole thing is done tongue-in-cheek, with many funny asides by the narrator/cop.  Unhappily, the cast had only a couple of good voices—a common problem with Fringe musicals.  (Aug 13)


My Dearest Byron (****)

Lord Byron found sex and solace in his sister’s love, and then married for money.    While the acting of both brother and sister was superb, it is hard for me enjoy listening to a whiny self-centered man for an hour.  I felt like I was watching the Kenneth Williams play set in an earlier time.  (Aug 18)


Desperate Improvisations (****)

An artistic director gathers three writers together to write a new play.  Utilizing the director’s own life as a touchstone, the drag queen performing artist, mystery writer, and an American Sci-Fi student in turn create a play that shifts back and forth based on their own theatric biases.   The abrupt changes keep the play interesting.   (Aug 13)


The Iliad (****)

Three actors take this epic and cut it down to one hour.  They did a remarkable job playing many characters, and providing the necessary exposition to fairly faithfully dramatize the giant story.  They wisely decided to just cover the first half.  (Aug 24)


Pigeon Man Apocalypse (****)

After an abusive childhood, a disturbed man seals himself in a space where he lives on pigeons and rainwater.  Among other things the man relates his dealings with his parents, and an aborted love affair.  The actor executes a perfect blend of a madman and storyteller.  (Aug 23)


Animal Farm (****)

One man plays all the animals in Orwell’s story about a communist revolution that slowly goes wrong.  The actor does a fine job of differentiating between the many characters.  The play is faithful to the book, but its two hours wore me out.  (Aug 28)


Under Ice (****)

A middle-aged businessman is disenchanted with the new personal effectiveness training of his company.  The lead is superbly written, but the constant business-speak from the other two actors is mind numbing for him and the audience.  Though I was awake throughout, I found many around me nodding off.   (Aug 19)


Audience (***)

This play has a director providing a running commentary as the onstage audience faces the real audience and supposedly watches his play.  Seemingly all the possible events happen on this one night from latecomers that cannot find the right seats to contagious coughing to serious scenes misinterpreted as funny.  The large cast provides room to portray a wide variety of situations.  The one flaw was that the play did not end in a discernible fashion; the fake audience just drifted offstage during their intermission, while the real audience had no idea that the play was finished.  (Aug 27)


Life Sucks … and then you Die (***)

Ray Jessel, a 70-something composer, plays a set of funny ditties.  Most are quite funny, including one in the style of Noel Coward.  (Aug 27)


The China Vase (***)

A platoon deals with cowardice in World War I, and then a similar platoon deals with the abuse a prisoner during the recent Iraqi war.  The two acts explored different aspects of the necessity of group cohesiveness and discipline.  Despite its topicality, the play never really grabbed me.  (Aug 28)


White Open Spaces (***)

Five actors deliver seven monologues about race relations in the lily white county of Shropshire: a Black woman at a wedding, a restaurant owner refusing a Traveler, an old man rejecting development, a cleaning woman hearing of a Black marrying a White, a Pakistani confronted by a landowner, a Black interrogated about the whereabouts of his White girlfriend, and a woman mistreating a Black.  Five of the stories are quite strong.  (Aug 21) 


Another Country (***)

In the 1920s, one house of a public school must deal with the suicide of a young member.  As an American teacher, I always find it interesting to see the inner workings of the English public school system with its hierarchies, hazing, and homosexuality.   The well-crafted characters did not disappoint.  My problem lay in not being able to understand what they were saying because some actors spoke too fast and/or softly.  (Aug 20)    


What I Heard about Iraq (***)

Six actors recite quotes from prominent American Republicans and Tony Blair that track the story of the invasion of Iraq.  While there is a certain satisfaction in hearing the politicians get tripped up, particularly Donald Rumsfeld, that is as far as this play goes.  We already know they were wrong and stupid. It seems to me that the only point of this play is to allow the audience to feel smug.   (Aug 24)


Hillary Agonistes (***)

In 2009, President Hillary Clinton must deal with 65 million people in the world mysteriously disappearing in one instant, leaving their clothes behind.  The crux of the play is to whether Hillary will treat the event as the Rapture which leads to Armageddon.  The premise, Hillary, and her press assistant are great.  However, the concept that impeachment could start in a few days is farfetched, as is the lack of deference given the President by her subordinates.  (Aug 26)


John Hegley Elevenses (***)

A likeable Brit reads and sings his doggerel at 11 each morning.  The fare is light, but just right to start your day.  (Aug 10)


A British Guide To World Religions (***)

The pair provide a pleasant mix of jokes, quotes, and basic information of the major religions from Hinduism to Scientology.   Don’t go to expecting endless humor, but all in all the experience is quite fulfilling.  (Aug 7)


Midnight Carousel (***)

This cabaret of different acts each night from across the Fringe has Dusty Limits as the compere.  When Dusty is on the stage, all will have a good time.  The only other regular acts are two burlesque women.  They did a marvelous fan dance, and a less successful balloon strip.  The invited acts vary from great to mediocre at best.  (Aug 9)


Kyogen – Raw and Uncooked (***)

With audience help, a young Japanese man creates a three person play in the Japanese Kyogen style.  He frequently pauses to teach the audience this art form as well as comparing it to No theater.  His friendly demeanor made the experience fun for all.  (Aug 9)


Klepto (***)

A likable former kleptomaniac tells his life’s story utilizing poetry and stand-up.  From child abuse without pathos to publishing his own book using stolen materials his winning personality made the whole tale quite enjoyable. (Aug 9)


ASAP (***)

A man and woman review their lives after a car accident kills their spouses.  The men were best buddies, and the women were sisters so there are a lot of pairings shown as well as many group events.  The whole play is consistently enjoyable, except for some superfluous cavorting/dancing. (Aug 17)


Danny’s Wake (***)

A teacher and a plumber are the only people that show up to watch over a 32-year old man’s casket for the night, and spend the night talking about their marriages, and correcting false share memories.  The play starts rather slowly, but then has a good second half, except for an unnecessary epilogue.  A highlight is a section where the plumber explains the sources of the nicknames for all of their school chums.  (Aug 17)


Wasted (***)

The story of a real couple that tortured and murdered five children in the 1960s.  The fact that this is based on “The Crime of the Century,” makes each aspect all the more chilling.  When the unrepentant man describes his first experience with torturing a cat, I came to understand and yet hate him.  (Aug 21)


Sit (***)

Three men use physical theater to provide the history of the chair, and then develop many sketches with chairs as their focus.  The sketches are quite uneven, though the range of uses of chairs in sketches is impressive.  They do have one of the few high quality videos that I have ever seen at the Fringe; it covers the history of chairs in  the 20th century using doctored film clips. (Aug 17)


It’s A Girl (***)

This revue has five disparate women banding together to deal with their pregnancies and the proposed development of a nuclear waste site in their town.  The vignettes cover pre-natal classes, uncaring obstinate doctors, caring obstinate husbands, methods of protest, and a childbirth on stage with a play-by-play announcer.  (Aug 6)


Immortal (***)

A circus in which the audience stands at all times and is herded around the big top to allow aerialists to perform above them.  Much of the time antic performers move among the crowd.  The novelty of the experience was great, but since there were no grandstands all acts had to be based on performing above the crowd.  Even high quality aerial acts get boring when there is virtually no break.  (Aug 25)


The Art of Disappearance (***)

This piece interweaves the life cycle of two raindrops with the story of a hairdresser and her long lost fisherman lover.  The dance of the raindrops is much the stronger of these only tangentially related stories.  I delighted in seeing the dancers convey the initial pitter-patter of rain as well as their intermingling and parting as they flow down a river.  (Aug 20)


Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (***)

We see the quirky lives of the two inconsequential friends of Hamlet that accompanied him to England, and then killed there.  The two leads were great as they dealt with 195 consecutive heads, and played the Question Game at breakneck speed.  I must admit that I would have enjoyed this more, and probably given it a higher rating, but I was tired.  (Aug 26)  


David O’Doherty is my name.  (***)

David’s stand-up routine is fairly typical for a single twenty-something man.  He does write and perform songs on small Casio keyboards.  Some of the songs are quite funny, while others have little to offer.  I should add that I was suffering from jet lag, and may have enjoyed him more later in my visit.  (Aug 5)


Think Pink! (***)

Thirteen Oxford women sing a cappella.  I had already heard the Out of the Blue and Oxford Gargoyles a cappella groups, and was surprised when I found this group lacking.  Only one soloist had enough volume to rise above the chorus.  Without more bass and/or percussion, the upbeat songs just do not have the energy of the other two groups.  (Aug 27)


Twilight Los Angeles: 1992 (***)

More than a dozen actors perform the words of people involved the event surrounding the 1992 riots after the four police officers were found innocent of beating Rodney King.  Though the presentation is chronological, there still seems an aimlessness to it.  I found it way too long, with a few characters completely superfluous.  (Aug 12)


Bed Bound (***)

While they are stuck in a bedroom, an Irish daughter with polio trys to converse with her furniture salesman father(?).  The father’s description of his murderous single-minded rise from poor stock boy to owner of six furniture stores is always riveting.  The noise from two large ventilating fans combined with her quiet, thick brogue made they daughter’s lines unintelligible in the beginning.  By the time she started to speak louder, we had lost interest in her more confusing tale.  (Aug  11)


Bach-Bukowski (***)

Willem van Ekeren plays selections from Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier while reciting the poems of beat poet Charles Bukowski in a bluesy voice.  I felt quite sophisticated, but could not understand the Belgian in parts of the more chaotic poems.  The phrase “mutilated minutes” for time spent working really caught my ear.  (Aug 14)


Africa’s Heartbeat (***)

Twenty-five Ugandan and Kenyan children join ten Ugandan adults to produce for African dance and songs.  Seemed like everyone in the audience loved this.  All demonstrated a wonderful enthusiasm.  I just couldn’t get it out of my head that a group of Black children were shipped away from their homes for the entertainment of a White audience.  That was my problem, not theirs.  Mind you, the money from the tour goes to help 6,000 people.  (Aug 14)


Danceforms (***)

I found my enjoyment of these ten dances caused me to reflect on what appeals to me in general.  The bell curve was at work.  “Morning”, a duet about repeated morning sex and satiation, was clear, short, and not unnecessarily repetitive.  In the other dance of note, a man donned a shirt with ten-foot sleeves that he proceeded to manipulate like flowing ribbons.  The balance of the dances had occasional beauty and innovation, but leaned toward the uninspiring mundane with usually similar music.  (Aug 11)


Struwwelpeter (***)

Five clowns adapt eight of Hoffmann’s brutal fairy tales.  Most teach a moral by a child suffering a horrible death caused by their naughty actions.  The choice of clowns and occasional black light provided just the right tone of these bizarre stories.  (Aug 10)


Two to Tangle (***)

Two mimes take a couple from courtship to married life to a flooded home.   I cannot remember seeing such an extended mimed story.  Part of its attraction is its uniqueness.  (Aug 9)  


Crime and Punishment (***)

In Czarist Russia, a poor man murders a pawnbroker while he and the crime’s investigator share the same woman.  The play has all the darkness of the novel, but the coincidence that permits the investigator to solve the crime weakens the story.  (Aug 25)


Eclipse (***)

Though the acting was pretty good from these secondary school students, this dark story of an interloper among young people watching an eclipse was difficult to understand as a whole.  Riddles remained unanswered, and rituals appeared from nowhere.  (Aug 8)


When To Run (***)

One actress portrays four women for whom running becomes an important part of their life.  We learn of the lives of a 15 year old track star, an obsessed married runner, a lifestyle guru, and a dog walker.  Since the actress made no costume changes, and the older women’s characterizations were only subtly different, it was initially challenging to figure out who she was portraying as she changed characters every few minutes. (Aug 8)


Talk Radio (***)

We step into a talk-radio station, and while watching one host interact with his callers, we learn of his life from his colleagues.  There is plenty of room here for diatribes by the host, but the disjoint between his consistent abuse of his audience and their adoration of him seems a bit unreal.  The story is quite dated in its references to events, and portrayal of the host as having liberal views when conservatives now dominate the airwaves.  I do admire how the actor could interact perfectly with pre-recorded callers.  (Aug 24)


Voices in the Dark (***)

A young eloping couple takes refuge in barn, and then the story turns very dark when another couple comes upon them.  The elopers are sweet but inconsequential, while the latter couple has more meat.  The unlikely coincidence that the elopers would be in the barn at such an inopportune time severely weakens the play.   (Aug 21)


The Pier Glass (***)

In the early 19th century, a theater company arrives in a town that has a young heiress under house arrest by her stepmother.  The costumes were among the best I have seen, however the production as whole fell flat.


The ‘It’ Girls (***)

Much to their uncle/father’s consternation two teenage girls reject two suitable businessmen suitors, and become enamored with two flowery rogues.  The conceit of the play is that styles of English used vary: the father in standard English, the girls in Jane Austin prose, the businessmen in hip-hop slang, and the rogues in Austin prose with malaprops.  While this device is fun, the plot is slight.  (Aug 18)   


Slap! (***)

A famous rigid German hairdresser, an innovative English make-up artist, and her star struck assistant sit in a trailer in a bog waiting to work on a rock band for an MTV video.  Much of the material comes from the fact that the hairdresser and artist were chums in cosmetology school, but had a falling out.  This is light comedy fare with little substance.  (Aug 22)


Strange Games (***)

Three clowns provide an uneven mix of stories.  Some are wonderfully fun, while others are ponderous and dull.  During one of the better stories, I was distracted by how the large swan puppet had a large hole in it and was quite dirty.  On the other hand, the shabbiness of a Christmas tree created from an umbrella skeleton and trash was integral part of its sweetness.  (Aug 9)


Strong Native Women (***)

Three Native American women present dances and stories of famous Native American women.  While their relentless solemness added some gravity to their show, it also highlighted a weakness of the show.  Almost all of the stories deal with their interactions with their White conquerors.  These strong women are defined only by their sorrow, and never by their joys—they are totems that lack depth.  (Aug 12) 


My Brother’s Keeper (***)

The last two Jews in Afghanistan under the Taliban hate each other.  Though initially interesting, their petty vehemence and vengeance is wearying after a while, and the moralistic ending too predictable.  (Aug 9)


Finding Marina (***)

This unusual play transforms Romeo and Juliet into a myth of war torn Sri Lanka using a mix of children and adults from that island.  The audience covers more than a mile as it walks from scene to torch lit scene of dance and story within the Botanical Gardens.  It is worth the unique experience, but despite wearing an upper long john my California body was still cold in August!   (Aug 15)


NewsRevue 2006 (***)

Last year I gave this comedy revue five stars.  So what happened?  This year there were more songs, and fewer sketches than last year.  More importantly, there was a lot more material that only Brits could understand.  So, it may well be worth five stars for Brits, but the ratings are based on my enjoyment.  (Aug 28)


With a Song in My Heart (***)

Three women and three men sing medleys of Richard Rodgers songs.  I have always loved the Rogers and Hart collaborations, and was reminded that his work with Oscar Hammerstein was ground breaking.  While the songs are wonderful, only two of the voices could do them justice.  (Aug 19) 


Love the Radio Edit (***)

Two women and two men lip-synch and act to short sections of popular songs to tell a love story.  I embarrassed to say that I did not realize that this is one long story; I perceived it as a set of separate stories.  In any case, since the songs are all hits, the audience cannot help but have a good time.  Having made a novelty tape composed of parts of songs when I was six, I could not help but notice that the songs could have been re-ordered to better effect.  (Aug 13)


Young Macbeth (***)

A young cast tackles Shakespeare’s play in one hour.  The basic story and key lines are there, but the only memorable parts are too loud music between scenes, and a screechy witch.  (Aug 21)


Pisspots and Portraits (***)

Six actors explore more than a dozen works of art from Michaelangelo’s David to Warhol’s Marilyn.   This uneven piece feels like classic Fringe with some inspired accessible scenes mixed with other scenes that seem to have little point except as acting exercises.  (Aug 20)


Purgatory (***)

Yeats short play about a man who continues to feels a familial taint even twenty years after killing his father.  The story starts slowly, and does not pick up much speed.   There was some beauty in the language of the disturbed man as he belittles his parents and himself.  (Aug 24)


Duels (***)

As the title indicates, this is a series of scenes involving various forms of combat.  Unhappily it is obvious that these are actors, and not trained martial artists.  I did find the first story about combat in a video game using ballet the best of the lot.  (Aug 18)


Bat Boy: The Musical (***)

A teenage boy with fangs is found in a cave quickly learns to speak, but is viewed as a threat by the townspeople in a dying West Virginia town.  This overlong campy musical has some funny parts, but poor voices and tuneless songs abound.  The songs particularly grated, after listening to the works of Richard Rodgers over the weekend.  (Aug 20)    


Think No Evil of Us:  My Life with Kenneth Williams (***)

This one-man show is half an impersonation of the wit Kenneth Williams by David Benson, and half vignettes from Benson’s life.  I know nothing of Williams, and found little pleasure in watching Benson portray Williams as an unpleasant self-centered elitist with few redeeming qualities.  On the other hand, I found Benson’s autobiographical sketches alternately funny and touching.  (Aug 17)


Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay!  (**)

In Italy, a wife must hide from her husband the fact that she was one of the shoppers who rebel at high inflation and loot a grocery store.  This is fine farce, complete with people climbing in windows and women pregnant with stolen vegetables.  I had real trouble suspending my disbelief when seeing lumpy vegetables under a blouse being thought of as a pregnancy.  (Aug 27)


Sequinned Suits and Platform Boots (**)

In the 1970’s, a young man discovers glam rock, and attempts to form his own band.  The play is a mix of glam rock songs, teen sexual ambivalence, campy parents, a genie, and a whole lot more.  Though there is a plot thread, the whole mixture lacks focus.  (Aug 19) 


Doctor Faustus (**)

Doctor Faustus trades his soul for 24 years of his every wish being granted.  This play doesn’t work because Faust displays no interest in the things for which he traded.   When he is granted Helen of Troy there is no passion to be seen.  Never do we see any motivation for him to make the hideous bargain. (Aug 19)


Ketzal (**)

Seven bald topless dancers portray the life story of a birdman.  Though I had a general idea of progress, I never felt sure.  As with other dance pieces, I found most of music monotonous; in this case it was atmospheric sounds rather than music.  The one highlight is at the end where they fill stage with an inch of water, and then flounce, slide, and splatter around in it.  I must admit that during the boring scenes I tried to figure out if one particularly flat-chested dancer was a man or woman.  By the end, both my companion and I were just tired.  (Aug 23)


Fish Story (**)

Three people leave a safe house in the countryside after spending five years cut-off from civilization.  At least that is suppose to be the premise.  The problem is that their knowledge of the world is erratic.  They don’t understand what roads and cars are, but they do understand stores, radios, and packaging.  I just could never understand the people.  As with “Tylwyth Teg,” my companion thought the play wonderful.  (Aug 23)


The Tylwyth Teg (**)

Three fairies try to contend with industrial development by swapping babies with a woman.  This physical theater piece has some interesting parts, including a changing silhouette panel, but was too slow and sometimes incomprehensible.  I should note that my companion loved it.  (Aug 22)


Frankenstein (**)

A seemingly complete telling of the story of Frankenstein, including the doctor’s aborted creation of the monster’s bride to be.  At one and a half hours, the stilted play wore me out.  It did get me interested in reading the book, just so I could know what was the real original story. (Aug 18?)


Rabbit (**)

This has a powerful man and his wife visiting their daughter and meeting her heroin addict boyfriend for the first time.  I liked the first scene with the daughter and boyfriend dealing with the impending visit.  However, because her smooth young body betrayed her role, I was really put-off by the wife suddenly stripping to a bra and panties; vamping would have been better for me.  (Aug 14) 


A Slice O’Minelli (**)

Rick Skye impersonates Liza Minelli.  He puts his all into the songs, and does a fair imitation of her voice.  However, despite wearing Liza’s costumes and makeup, this good sized man just does not look like her, and cannot dance.   At the end of the show, he plays a clip with the slim vivacious Liza in “Happy Endings”, which reinforced my opinion that he should ditch the drag, and do it straight.  I should note that the older folk in the show loved it. (Aug 9)


Confessions of a Paralyzed Porn Star (**)

Accompanied by a pianist, an actress with the same name as a successful porn star sings songs about her own life.  She is clearly a clever lyricist, but most of the songs are tinged with anger/violence and are too loud for my tastes.   She did have one song in the style of Joni Mitchell that had beautiful music and evocative lyrics.  (Aug 8)


The Powder Room (**)

Like last year’s student burlesque show, despite pasties, bumps, and grinds, this show seems naughty but not sexy.   The students give it their all, but it seems they couldn’t decide whether to go for camp or make it an homage.  A murder on stage was neither.  (Aug 7) 


Parasites (**)

A haughty professor from another university comes to inspect the parasitology department whose primary professor is now a drunk.   The first scene, which is between the drunk and the young head of his department, is quite entertaining.  The later scenes twist into silliness that pale by comparison.  (Aug 7)


American Vaudeville (**)

Two men trace a vaudeville comedy duo from 1910 to 1927 by mixing vaudeville acts with events from the duos lives.  In most cases the men display few skills that would qualify them for a real vaudeville show.  Both during the acts and during the real life scenes, the entire play proceeds at a glacial pace—the antithesis of fast paced vaudeville.  (Aug 22)  


Vaudeville Cabaret Club (**)

The third cabaret of my visit had your standard host, and visiting acts.  The Tasmanian host had a good singing voice, and was quite personable.  Nonetheless, cabaret shows depend on their acts.  The first few acts were very good, but the rest were pretty forgettable.  The Liquid Druid who manipulated up to seven clear orange size balls was amazing!  They seemed float across his hands and arms.  At the other end of the scale was a woman who thought it would be incredibly amusing for her to put ice cubes in her dress to simulate a nipple.  (Aug 14) 


For Every Passion Something (**)

This is a somewhat odd selection of scenes from Shakespeare plays.  Though I love Shakespeare, and the students did an adequate job, I could see no rhyme, nor reason to their selections.  (Aug 11)


No Obvious Trauma (**)

A catatonic woman is treated by two physicians.  Another play that put me to sleep.  The only highlight was the use of two puppets to recreate the past, and communicate.  (Aug 21)


So Simple (**)

This begins with a woman dancing, and shortly adds a male partner.  Though there are some nice movements, there is a general sameness to the music and work.  (Aug 21)


Scapin the Cheat (**)

Moliere’s farce about two wastrel sons trying to convince their mothers to give their permission and money.  The highlights are the scamp servants that scheme to help their masters.   They decided to play directly to the audience in a very broad style.   This dulled the impact of true farcical elements for me.  (Aug 12)


Little Red Riding Hood (**)

Two men and two women try to stretch the tale into fifty minutes.  While it was interesting to see the actors take turns in the lead roles of their genders, the story is just too slight to support fifty minutes.  (Aug 19)


Easy Targets (**)

Four forgettable monologues by four actors provide targets for the knotted socks thrown by the audience.  In America, the audience pays for the socks in fund raisers, but at the Fringe crates of socks are supplied for free.  Despite inciting performances, the older folks only half-heartedly participated, while the younger folks threw repeatedly and with gusto.  It made me wonder what issues they had.  After the performance, the young had a war among themselves :)   (Aug 9)


Accidentally Waiting To Happen (**)

Three young women are involved in a car accident deal with it in three different ways.  One obsesses over remembering her now dead sister, one fears the outside world, and one leaves the world of sanity and becomes homeless.  All three are always on stage, but the tale is told by rotating through each individual’s bizarre life with minimal interactions with the other two.  While the offstage pianist played somewhat interesting improv situational music, the pacing as a whole is quite slow.  I noticed that others in the audience were looking at their watches when the play was only half through.  (Aug 11) 


Girl in a Box (**)

A 17-year old man invited to a small seaside town disrupts the lives of a 25-year old brother and a 28-year old sister.  A burlesque queen provides some delightful entertainment in the many interludes.   This tale of abuse has its moments, but is too disjoint because of the many scene changes using the shower-curtained room (box).  (Aug 8)


Victims of Freedom (**)

A short slice of life play that has a family harboring terrorists and then find themselves terrorized when they are discovered by government mercenaries.  While the play depicts torture and rape, there seems little point to the play as a whole, except to say that innocent people are hurt in wars on terrorists.  (Aug 26)


Paradox (**)

An anthropologist explains to a TV presenter how a modern family can be divided into three species (kids, parents, and grandparents) and then compares them with videos of Neanderthals.  To give an idea of the level of humor, the grandparents had Stinkus in their species name.  The videos just had actors in gorilla masks cavorting around a stream, and added nothing to the little that was there already.  (Aug 12) 


Picking Holes in the Mist (**)

Four new strawberry pickers end up in a pub, and learn about themselves.  I found that I had little interest in their problems.  The only interesting character was the pub owner who spoke in malapropisms.  (Aug 9)


WASP (**)

Steve Martin’s short play about a family of WASPs in middle America has some funny bits, but seems to go nowhere. (Aug 8)


Diary of a Nobody  (**)

Rodney Bowes, a star of the 60’s(?) Britcom “Likely Lads”, portrays a Victorian clerk reading from his diary covering a year of seemingly inconsequential events.  Those that know him, and/or read the book found the show wonderful.  Without the benefit of either, I found him to be a confused actor that forgot his place in a script that only occasionally held the interest of my jet-lagged mind.  (Aug 5)


Doom Riders – The Four Noels  (**)

Three men spoof gothic horror movies by portraying a triad trying to raise an evil god with a human sacrifice.  There were good spirits throughout, but my jet lag really kicked in, and I nodded off during parts. (Aug 5)


Songs My Granny Frowned At (**)

A male singer with a decent voice and a pianist perform ditties that they wrote.  Most of the songs rambled, and, in the end, I might have guessed that they were written while the pair were on LSD.  (Aug 28)


Gizmo Love  (**)

A studio scriptwriter is assigned to fix a heartfelt script written by an eleven-year old boy while two gangsters make sure they do a good job.  The performances by the scriptwriter and one of the gangsters were top-notch, but I dozed from jet lag, and couldn’t comprehend what was going on towards the end.  (Aug 5)


American Football (**)

A black comedy in which a long haired teenager joins the Marines, cuts the head off an Iraqi, and ends up in Leavenworth Military suffering the abuses of Abu Ghraib.  There is bad taste throughout, including a talking severed head that is used as a ball.  (Aug 13)


Skin of the Moon  (**)

This was a cross between Rocky Horror and 2,000,000 B.C.  Despite the best efforts of the talented, and sexy, supporting cast, they could not overcome preview snafus and the shortcomings of the writer/director/lead.   In most cases, his attempts at audience participation fell flat, or worse.  In particular, he chose to grab a disabled man’s crutches and then stage a race with another cast member.  After a woman with a crutch left during the performance, he said that she should F*** Off!  I would have given this one star, but I presume that at least the technical snafus will be remedied. (Aug 5)


The Road (**) (Not posted to edfringe.com to protect feelings)

These four dance pieces performed by American high school students made me aware of the high quality of the other dance shows at the Fringe.  The first two pieces felt like recitals where each student was asked to demonstrate that they could perform basic dance movements.  There was little flow, and I could not ignore all the shaking during poses.  The last two pieces did have a few moments of interesting choreography, and at least a couple of the dancers appeared competent and at ease.  (Aug 23)


Provocative Cinema (*)

All of these three short films are flawed, though there are some worthwhile aspects.  There is a beautifully lit seduction scene, and a horrific scene of an actor being suffocated by wrapping his head in cellophane.  (Aug 24)


Tea Before Honour (*)

At morning tea on an estate, a young woman properly guesses her hostesses’ age, but is challenged to a duel for the perceived slight nonetheless.  The sound is poor, and the young woman displayed little fencing training.  (Aug 19)


(I am) Nobody’s Lunch (*)

A cabaret based on interviews with random regular folk about events since 2003.  I do not know what was wrong, but I just could not stay for awake for this, despite it being 3 in the afternoon.  The fellow next to me also nodded off.  Each time I awoke, I would hear a lousy song, or an incredibly uninteresting monologue.  (Aug 15)


Cabaret of Menace (*)

This “…bold, adventurous” revue has nothing to recommend it to a tired fellow at midnight.  I kept looking for something funny, or even comprehensible, and failed.  However, if you are a night owl actress, like my companion, you may find this Cambridge student production to your taste.  (Aug 24)


Assassins (*) (not posted to edfringe.com because play has ended)

This musical about the nine American presidential assassins failed on many levels.  The large company has only one singer with range and volume, the design concept is weak and overlong, and the music and lyrics are utterly forgettable.  I cannot think of a bright spot, except that there was a pin-up of Jodi Foster shown during John Hinckley’s scene.  (Aug 11)


The Gun Show (*)

A late night show with interviews, a band, and visiting acts.  The band was not designed for a seated audience, one act was obviously drunk, and the host could not even feed questions to an improv comedian.  The best act was a magician at the end.  (Aug 13)


The Decline of the Scunthorpe Textile Industry (*) (not posted to edfringe.com because play has ended)

Five real public school boys chat at school and go to a pub.  Written by one of the cast, the play is sophomoric throughout, and not to my taste.  However, it was fun to see that the young girls in the audience loved it.  (Aug 12)


What’s the Question (no stars)

The playwright starts with the hackneyed subject of TV game show, and produces virtually nothing funny.  I think I chuckled twice, and smiled three times in an hour.  I am truly amazed at the level of bad acting, and bad writing.  With just a few tweaks this show could become a hilarious campy play about how not to produce a play about TV game shows.   I suppose it is not surprising that this is the same company that produced “Two Blokes in Search of a Pub,” the only other no star play I have seen.  (Aug 25)


Two Blokes in Search of a Pub (no stars)

After their local pub is closed, two young men set out to find the perfect pub, and deal with a homicidal neighbor and producer along the way.  I had been warned that this was worthless, but I had told one of the cast members that I would see it.  Unhappily, the warning was accurate.  There is nothing here, and the cast and playwright appear to know that from the outset.  To give you an idea, the best of laugh of the evening came for a chair that was half covered in aluminum foil.  (Aug 8)



I am a 53-year old Computer Science lecturer from the University of California in Davis who thinks even a bad play is better than no play at all.  Besides teaching, I work as a house painter / handyman to earn the extra money to pay for my travels.  I have been to the Fringe four times before.  Three years ago, after two weeks touring France, my wife and I spent nine days of our honeymoon at the Fringe.  We shared 45 plays, and I attended ten other events besides.   Last year, I fulfilled a dream of seeing an entire Fringe Festival.  I saw 151 performances.  You can read my short reviews of those at 2005 Reviews.  This year I expect to see about the same number.  I expect to devote most days to only one venue to maximize the number of performances I can see.


After more than 200 plays in just a little over a year, I have a much better idea of my biases and prejudices in the role of a critic.  I find that I prefer fact to fiction, innovation to repetition, coherence to creativity, the concrete to the symbolic, and cleverness to depth.  I realize that many of these are antithetical to the spirit of the Fringe, but I cannot deny my nature.  In particular, I just do not like shows that push the bounds of creativity beyond my ability to make sense of them.  Because I choose to fill time slots with whatever is available, I still expose myself to such shows, and do not mind.  However, I do feel a little guilty giving a low rating to a show on which a company has worked so hard, and with such commitment.  But I envision that that is my role—to accurately report my enjoyment so that others may better use my ratings.    In all but a very few cases, I admire the effort of each company, and wish them well.


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