Editor's note: Every year we look forward to the theatrical inspiration from companies across the valley that comes together for the Vegas Fringe, hosted by Las Vegas Little Theatre. Our team of reviewers has worked to cover each of the shows. Here is the fourth post in our series from Ralph Stalter, Jr. "The Best of Fringe" winning productions perform an encore 6/23-6/24.
Beat the heat and catch them before they're gone!
"The Frogs" by Aristophanes ★★★★☆
Endless with FounDoor Productions
“I need a talented poet, for some are gone, and those that live are bad.” This production, its talented director and ensemble deserve no less than a delicious four stars!
So, DIONYSUS (T.J. Larsen), “the raucous god of theatre and inebriation” is determined to bring back his favorite playwright (Euripides) from the dead, and sets off to travel to the Underworld with his wise-cracking slave, XANTHIAS (Johnny Miles), in tow.
To set the stage, these two toy with each other and the audience, reminiscent of Abbott and Costello. Bound firmly within their fanciful and humorous imaginings, we happily follow these bumbling tour guides and “bear witness to laughter, tears, love, terror, flatulence and spankings!” HERCULES (Brandon McClenahan) joins in the fun and expands the clown antics of these Three Stooges before they set off on their excursion.
The Frogs, is one of Aristophanes’ greatest comedies and is justly celebrated for its wit and keen commentary on Athenian politics and society. It is a stage comedy that satirizes the quality of Athenian tragic drama in 405 BC, the year after the last of the three greatest Greek tragedians, Euripides, died. In addition, it is the last surviving work of Old Comedy and notable for heralding a passing era of literature.
EURIPIDES (Sam Craner) and AESCHYLUS (Geo Nikols) are well-balanced sparring partners as they compete for the seat of “Best Tragic Poet” at the dinner table of HADES (Ronn L. Williams, Jr.). The CHORUS OF FROGS, doing double duty as the CHORUS OF INITIATED PERSONS, is well-balanced and choreographed as they mock, cajole and lighten the mood throughout.
"Terra Nullius" a new play by Bridget Harris ★★★★★
Downtown Theatre Group
As a reviewer, I attempt to maintain an objective eye when attending performances. However, I am at a loss for words to describe my tearful reaction to this phenomenal new play, and the Five Star production that I witnessed at the VEGASFringe Festival this evening. As Michael Kimm aptly put it in his program notes (referring to the 19 year-old playwright), "What child had this unique and mature a voice?"
Having personally experienced similar situations with my 95-year old mother-in-law over the past few years, I, too, kept wondering where such a young person found these words & circumstances that hit so close to home... and heart!
Ironically, Terra nullius is a Latin expression deriving from Roman law meaning "nobody's land", or "land belonging to nobody." Yet everyone in the cast and the audience seemed to connect with Kim Glover’s stellar performance in the lead role of LADY. She truly embodied a very solid and steady conviction to “try” to “make an effort” to hold on to her dream. It was HER Terra Nullius after all, and she was determined to get there someday, somehow. Even her daughter, Georgette, feistily and combatively portrayed by Nicole Unger, was eventually willing to acquiesce.
Theatre only happens at the intersection between the play (script), the creative artists, and a production staged and performed in front of an audience. Supporting cast members -- Cathy Ostertag, Mike Kimball, Joel Wayman and Madson Kopatich – the entire crew, director Michael Kimm and Producer Amy Leigh are to be applauded for their part in encouraging such a gifted young playwright and in bringing this fresh new dramatic piece to Las Vegas audiences.
Kudos to Las Vegas Little Theatre on another successful VEGASFringe Festival! Bringing together 11 companies to perform in two venues over two weekends is no small feat. Thank you for continuing to present theatre that is engaging, entertaining, and affordable. You play an integral role in the continuing success and longevity of the performing arts across Southern Nevada.