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EMA Review: Fringe 2024 - Part Two

By Paul Atreides

Author, playwright, and Theatre critic at

Fringe 2024 - Part Two

Fringe (adjective), not part of the mainstream, unconventional, peripheral or extreme.

First, a correction. In last weekend’s review, I stated there were two original pieces entered in this year’s festival. Mea culpa. There are five: BIG HAIR, The Will to Live, Mafia Anonymous, Das Schnitzel, and My Decade of Dicks.   

The 13th Vegas Fringe Festival at Las Vegas Little Theatre (LVLT) kicked off last Friday. Original scripts make up the majority of entries  – and that’s part of what a fringe festival should be and part of the fun. It provides an opportunity for playwrights to try out a new piece, see how it’s received, look for what works and what doesn’t, and go back to the keyboard for rewrites.

But the truly exciting part of this year’s crop: Two out-of-town productions. It’s a signal of maturing and true growth for such an event.

The Will to Live by Juliana Renee Martin  ***** Delicious

Producer: Juliana Renee Martin

Imagine if you will, starting at the end. This play begins with death and ends with life. The story arc runs backward. And it works perfectly. Instead of seeing the character of Dorothy slowly lose mental acuity and slip toward death, we’re left with an image of life. Usually not recommended, Martin directed her own work but did so deftly. Sherri Brewer (Dorothey Wright) and Kim Forest (Angela Wright) are both superb. When it might be easy to overdo, they avoid the histrionics or maudlin by dialing in measured levels of emotion.

The technical end enhances the overall production. Romeo Lopez's light design not only signals changes in Dorothy’s mental health but also brings three unseen characters, voiced by Adam Dooley, Jamie Carvelli, and Glenn Heath, to life.   

Das Schnitzel Brothers NOT WITH female Sister Schnitz by 1230 Clowns **** Scrumptious

Producer: 1230 Clowns

If you like clown acts, you’ll like this. If you don’t like clown acts, you’ll like this. It fun, it’s silly, and it’s very adult. As directed by Jimmy Slonina, in a three-peat of an act, these folks – Hans, Roland, Schnitz – will have you laughing as they attempt to revise an act for general (read: family) consumption. Unsuccessfully, of course. Never once slipping out of their German dialect, the actors (whose actual names aren’t in the program) are having fun, and the result is a rollicking good time. If you sit in the front row, be prepared to be pulled into the act. Not onto the stage, but directly into the entertainment of it all.

Mafia Anonymous: The Women Speak by Pina ** Still Hungry

Producer: Pina

Here we get a solo show written and performed – and assumably directed – by the playwright. As the program notes, this is a piece of truth-based fiction. The humor of the play comes in the form of it all taking place in an AA-type environment as these women attempt to make sense of someone close to them having been deeply “connected.” The problem stems from attempting to bring in so many different characters and rapidly switching from one to another. Pina lost track more than a few times and had difficulty keeping the dialects straight. Simplifying it all would help. For a lot of the play, she has portions of a projection directly on her and it becomes distracting. The Fischer Black Box is a small space and it would help to have moved the action to the side – or taken the projection down when it’s no longer needed. 

Krapp’s Last Tape by Samuel Beckett ***** Delicious

Producer: Poor Richard’s Players

This is another one-person show, and Beckett’s work here is, in the words of director Benjamin Lowey, “obtuse.” Esoteric might be another word for it. Don’t let that stop you. Considered avant-garde or absurdist, Beckett loved to make an audience think and come away with their own idea of what they had just witnessed. Think in terms of his most well-known play, Waiting for Godot. In Krapp’s Last Tape, an old man replays the memories of his youth against what he recorded in both notebooks and a tape recorder at the time they happened. Taylor Hanes is excellent as he moves about the stage with hesitation, disappointment, anger, laughter, and frustration – all the emotions which might be experienced and expected when remembering and judging one’s own life.

A hint for Beckett newcomers: There is humor in this. After the performance, an audience member questioned if laughter was ever appropriate. He wanted to laugh but feared doing so. Go ahead, feel free to laugh.

The Best of Fringe – the two highest-rated plays, as adjudicated – will get encore performances the evenings of June 21 and 22.

What: Vegas Fringe Festival

When: Friday - Sunday through June 16; times vary

For exact curtain days and times, check the LVLT website

Where: Las Vegas Little Theatre, 3920 Schiff Drive

Tickets (single): $20 (702-362-7996;


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