FronteraFest Short Fringe
With FronteraFest 2006 in full swing, the January 27 Short Fringe program offered an assortment of theatrical ingenuity, frivolity, and tenderness
Reviewed by Heather Barfield Cole, Fri., Feb. 3, 2006
FronteraFest Short Fringe, Week Three
Hyde Park Theatre, Jan. 27
With FronteraFest 2006 in full swing, Friday evening's Short Fringe program offered an assortment of theatrical ingenuity, frivolity, and tenderness.
Round About Players kicked off the set with their "choose your own adventure" romantic comedy peppered with naughty behavior. A swooning young couple had to reassess their relationship once his mother and her father also fell in love. The two, horrified that they might become step-siblings, break up. The woman remains smitten and vows to steal her man back from a lascivious lady all too eager to seduce him with her mouth in a movie theatre. Downstage, a narrator held an oversized illustrated book. She stopped the action at opportunities with potential to shift the plot and turned to the audience, asking them to vote between two given choices. Eventually, the same ending that began the show remained, but it was the journey to the classic closing scene of a couple kissing that made more meaning out of the shallowness witnessed initially.
Stephen Pruitt shyly admitted in his "Catastrophe Theory" that he was a lighting designer who wanted to speak about the purpose for making art. He shared stories in an off-the-cuff manner about tourist traps in Ecuador and a life-affirming camping trip he survived in the Big Bend wilderness of West Texas. Pruitt's sincerity was a rare and refreshing reminder of how theatre acts as a testimonial space for sharing with strangers insights on the making and sustaining of artistic destiny.
RAD dancers performed spoken-word poetry mixed with dance that hinged between feverish rants and calculated smoothness in voice and body. One man prolifically spoke words like a postmodern Allen Ginsberg beatnik while four women wearing shredded white clothes moved according to the poetry's imposed rhythm. Handwritten words covered their bodies from forehead to feet. They became dancing chaos of language and form. RAD's "Sidewalks Speak Truths" was a visually compelling exploration of theatrical genres and conventions.
Cardboard boxes posed as a row of desks and computers in a corporate office in "Our Employees Are Our Top Priority." Workers proceeded with their daily routine of typing and staring at the screen. As they performed idiosyncratic work habits, the manager abruptly called an emergency meeting. In between cold, impersonal office banter, each worker stood alone in the spotlight to reveal a personal struggle that had to remain hidden at the job. Family illness, health, and funerals had no place in the work environment. Written by Jodi Leckbee, this piece exposed the plague of apathy afflicting corporate workforces.
Hoover's Blanket brought sketch comedy to close the night with their "Fresh Strawberries." A man in Scrooge-like pajamas listened to the radio with a crate of strawberries. Upstage, a player used a microphone as the radio amplifier. He announced that scientists had discovered that strawberries might produce hallucinatory effects, at which the man proceeded to fall over himself in tripped-out shock. Fast-paced and goofy scenes followed into bizarre and impossible situations ripe for laughter. It was a good close to an eclectic night of original, homegrown theatre.