Short Fringe: Wednesday Jan. 26

The Short Fringe lineup on Jan. 26 covered juice enthusiasts, life in a small Texas county, an action TV parody with a ticking clock, and a fading friendship as a wrestling match

Arts Review

Short Fringe: Wednesday Jan. 26

Hyde Park Theatre

Wheatgrass enema, anyone? The Short Fringe lineup tonight began with "The Juiceman Cometh" by Cliff Diver Productions, written by Peter Spiro. Fresh-squeezed-juice enthusiasts eagerly waited for Guru Jay "The Juiceman" to arrive while they debated the unique health benefits of various fruit and vegetable liquid concoctions. Once the anticipated speaker came, he ravenously devoured barbecued ribs to the horror of his supplicants. With a cast of goofy characters and extreme vegan philosophy, this short play satirized health-conscious fanaticism against the gluttony of carnivores. Following that, Tom Doyal, seated alone under a spotlight, read two stories about the vicissitudes of life in a small Texas county. First was a seemingly autobiographical account of his mother's death in which her erroneous donation of his entire inheritance to the church led him to decide to secretly nickel-and-dime office supplies from the church as revenge. In the second story, he offered alternative perspectives on the phenomenon of prophecy as everyday acts reliant on positive compassion.

Gnap! Theater Projects offered the improvised parody "24 Minutes," mocking the action-thriller television series with a similar yet chronologically different title. After asking audience members to name an hour of the day, a location, and an example of a dreadful incident at work (in this case a wrong keypad pushed on a register), performers Shannon McCormick and Shana Merlin hilariously created impromptu scenarios of government agents, Highland Mall bandits, and evil clothes store clerks. Moving seamlessly vocally and physically into various characters, the duo skillfully initiated and resolved absurd situations under the ticking clock. Finally, Austin Script Works writer Ryan Pavelchik, brought us "The Match," an allegory about a fading friendship between two buddies as mock living room wrestling meet. Broadcast voices relayed the action of the costumed and masked, posing and primping contestants while they pounced and strangle-held one another on, over, and beside a dull brown couch. Eventually, the dialogue overhead contrasted with the action of signature fight moves and grunts as one friend rejected the other's lack of understanding and immature behavior. Initially frivolous, then bittersweet, this short play articulated complexities in relationships and competition without shoveling formulaic tragedy into the mix.

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FronteraFest 2005, FronteraFest Short Fringe, The Juiceman Cometh, Cliff Diver Productions, Peter Spiro, Tom Doyal, Gnap! Theater Projects, 24 Minutes, Shannon McCormick, Shana Merlin, Austin Script Works, Ryan Pavelchik, The Match

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