FronteraFest Short Fringe: Best of Week One

Improv, Butoh, cabaret, and one of those commanding performance moments that make FronteraFest made up the Short Fringe 2006 Best of Week One

FronteraFest Short Fringe: Best of Week One

Hyde Park Theatre, Jan. 14

UpRise! Productions slapped the Best of Week audience in the face with the attitude of "Power Is Yours: Take It or Leave It," an assortment of hip-hop, street dance, and the Afro-Brazilian martial art capoeira. It started with Portuguese canto and beat its way with a bongo into Xenogia Spoken Word Collective's head-nodding tale about a tribal warrior and later into a portrait of a Chicana mother. Ballet East dancers were a mixture of grace, groove, and snap. Fringe is all about these commanding moments when you see an angry woman with a 'fro wearing a powerfully red T-shirt that says "Make Love Not War," yelling into a microphone at an absent George Bush while Capoeira da Rua combats nimbly onstage with bamboo sticks.

The four lackeys in Yellow Tape Construction Company's "I.Don't.Care: A Poignant Investigation of the Customer Service Industry, You Jackass" sported white plastic raincoats and caused hilarious randomonium as they gave speedy and efficient runarounds pointing and yelling, "You know nothing." Gap attendants fought aggressively to assist while Breanna Stogner gave a comical testimonial, à la Pretty Woman, about going into ultra-chic boutiques to buy undersized, overpriced designer wear. Though it may have felt like the day after Christmas with nasty zingers to patrons that would have made Howard Stern blush, the ensemble reminded us that bad service happens to good people.

The diminutive piece that followed suit deflated the swollen air of laughter, but in a good way. As best as could be understood from the program, "Frontier Dance" by Red, White and Blutoh as a trio interpreting heroes from different points in time. A marine, a cowgirl, and an astronaut in whiteface danced to one full song from Plaid's Not for Threes album. I wondered what the other pieces were that got ruled out. At best, the brevity and quirky choreography to the electronica won me over.

Content Love Knowles walked onto the stage, turned a sand clock over, and began playing the piano and singing musical highs with moody lows to the themes of time for her "Time Alphabet." Her eyes darted from side to side under her scarlet mane, as if she had a secret from every single person in the audience. We ought to have been sitting at little tables at a bar with smoke residue from before the ban, a neat glass of scotch, and a tip jar. Though deliciously campy, the numbers were sermons which stem from stories about the devil, or a monk, embolisms, or stage fright. Time for Knowles is both her adoring and her unforgiving lover.

Seeing any improv troupe chosen for this night proves that the selection is based solely on its members' talents as performers, or in the case of the troupe Tight, their eagerness to play whatever comes to mind so long as it involves relationships. Always ready to put up a fight, they juggled scene after emotional scene over lentil soup, the suggestion that popped out when they asked one audience member what reminded him of his grandmother. The 25-minute limit was its only caveat.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

FronteraFest Short Fringe, UpRise! Productions, Power Is Yours:Take It or Leave It, Xenogia Spoken Word Collective, Ballet East, Capoeira da Rua, Yellow Tape Construction Company, I.Don't.Care: A Poignant Investigation of the Customer Service Industry, You Jackass, Breanna Stogner, Frontier Dance, Red, White and Blutoh, Plaid, Not for Threes, Content Love Knowles, Time Alphabet, Tight

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