Fringe Day 1
By Paul Atreides
Author, playwright Theatre critic at EatMoreArtVegas.com
Fringe (adjective), not part of the mainstream, unconventional, peripheral, or extreme.
Last year COVID-19 still had a bit of a stranglehold on theatre in general. As theatre has made a sizzling comeback over the past season, it only makes sense that Fringe is again on the menu. And the menu has expanded.
The 12th Vegas Fringe Festival at Las Vegas Little Theatre (LVLT) kicked off with two of the six entered productions. Original scripts used to abound here and that’s part of what a fringe festival should be and part of the fun. It provides a great place 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. This time out, we’ve got two originals.
(Abridged) Lives of the Saints by David Ives ***** Irresistible
There are three short pieces within this: Babel’s In Arms, Lives of the Saints, and The Mystery at Twicknam Vicarage. At 15 minutes each, as directed by Jacob Moore and Ricky Grey Jr., it’s the fastest and funniest 45 minutes you’ll spend in the theatre.
Very able cast members T. J. Larsen, Drew Yonimori, Cathy Ostertag, Sara Taylor, and Jacob Moore don their characters with gusto.
In Babel’s in Arms, Gorph (Larsen) and Cannaphlit (Yonimori) struggle to build the Tower of Babel in biblical times under the watchful eye of a businesswoman (Ostertag) when language was young and things didn’t have names. The language is a crazy mix of gibberish and modern-day words. Characterizations are full-throated and well-thought-out.
With Lives of the Saints, two women (Ostertag, Taylor) struggle to prepare a funeral breakfast—all action mimed. Meanwhile, Yonimori and Larsen stand at a table with a variety of gadgets to produce sound effects to go with the action. The ladies are a wonder bringing their characters fully to life with the very able vocal and physical tools at their disposal.
The Mystery at Twicknam Vicarage spoofs the plethora of shows imported from the U.K., with hilarious twists and outcomes. You might notice the difference in British dialect and it’s all part of the fun. Moore is the victim of the murder, Yonimori is the Inspector, Larsen is the Vicar, and the ladies are the suspects. Or are they?
It’s About Time by Cardio Spider *** Satisfying
Producer: Cardio Spider
Cardio Spider is sketch comedy, which brings a bunch of short pieces together to create a whole; rather like the stalwart 48-year-old SNL. Directed by Kris Chung, the team of Christopher, Kris Chung, Trina Colon, Paul Lirette, Raul Martinez, and Zannie Seguin have conjured a time machine to 2031. The sketches range from prejudicial attitudes, AI, true crime, 70s disco, and a few “what if” film changes. The writing is fun and the cast is capable. Opening night was a bit sketchy because the timing and pacing were off in some places.
The thing about this type of show is it should move quickly. The minute you let the audience sit in the dark, you have to suck them back in. Each short sketch ended with a fade to black and the cast reset for the next piece. It would better serve the overall by allowing the change to happen fully within view, by making it part of the act. At one point, Seguin and Christopher (respectively) don nurse and doctor garb and it’s unnecessary because the dialogue could easily carry it to fruition.
A couple of performances in front of audiences will shore it all up and make this the fun, fast-paced production intended.
What: Vegas Fringe Festival
When: Friday to Sunday through June 18; times vary
For exact curtain days and times, check out www.lvlt.org
Where: Las Vegas Little Theatre, 3920 Schiff Drive
Tickets (single): $20