By Paul Atreides
Fringe Rebound Day 2
Fringe (adjective), is not part of the mainstream, unconventional, peripheral, or extreme.
Fringe is always a mixed bag, a potpourri, and that is what I love about this annual event. Just when you think it is a bit hum-drum, a surprise comes to delightfully smack you in the face. Day 2 followed that scenario and supplied it in aces.
That said, go. See the shows, and support the companies that entered. It’ll help ensure we can approach the edge again next year.
The Egg Case
★ Still Hungry
Producer: KFT Productions
The second original piece to be entered into this year’s festival is written and directed by and stars Kate Labahn. The program describes this as a “family-friendly whodunit short play full of comedy.”
At its core, this is more a children’s play. The evidence is the display board upstage, and the coloring book pages on popsicle sticks shown to the audience to make sure they get it. Labahn crams in and mixes up as many children’s fairy tales and Broadway musical references as might be possible. Further muddying it, she throws in the current (and not-so-current) pop-culture references. For instance, Mother Goose becomes JMG (Judge Mother Goose) as a nod to RBG (the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg). The script is chock full of those types of references—which went over the heads of children and adults alike. That was made apparent by the lack of any laughter during the approximately 40-minute piece.
Labahn choosing to write, direct, and star is not the best mix. There are so many unneeded scene changes, many with the main characters of Goldie (Labahn) and HP (Nicholas Salyer) wandering the stage (sometimes in half-light, sometimes in the dark). Director Labahn needs to teach Actor Labahn how to properly break the fourth wall because she couldn’t seem to decide if Goldie was talking to HP or explaining things to the audience.
Vanessa Coleman takes on the multiple roles of Cathy, Spoon, and Dish. Coleman does a very credible job with all three. Each one becomes fully defined in mannerisms, body language, vocal tones, and speech patterns. She also instinctively played them all with tongue properly placed firmly in cheek.
The Dumb Waiter by Harold Pinter
Producer: 3 Guys Productions
This short tragicomedy, written in 1957, first hitting the boards in 1960, tells the story of two hired assassins Ben and Gus hiding out in a basement awaiting further instructions on their current job.
For those who aren’t aware: The dumbwaiter was a contraption of old-world convenience first used in large houses with their kitchens and household staff in the basements or the servant's quarters to lift items from floor to floor.
There’s no director listed in the program. What a shame. Because this is superbly crafted theatre. I’ve seen this play before, but this is the first time a production has managed to find the humor that is buried in the script. The sparse set of the abandoned basement containing two single cots with side chairs ensures the play is about the characters. And, be assured, this production brilliantly made the dumbwaiter a character.
Webster and Roberts play off one another well. Ben (Steve Webster) lies on his cot barely paying attention to his younger partner Gus (Alan Roberts), who’s bored and a bit nervous. Gus prattles on about a variety of topics and asks constant questions. Both Roberts and Webster are fully invested. Their timing not only keeps the production moving but ensures the pace keeps ratcheting up the mystery of exactly who they are there to take out.
I cannot give away the ending of this mystery. It wouldn’t be right to deprive you of seeing these two men command the stage.
What: Vegas Fringe Festival
When: Friday to Sunday through June 12; times vary
For exact curtain days and times, check www.lvlt.org
Where: Las Vegas Little Theatre, 3920 Schiff drive
Tickets (single): $20 (702-362-7996; www.lvlt.org)