Pardon my riff on the Gashlycrumb Tinies, but even though I’m merely halfway through my dance card at the Fringe, I’m ready to declare a winner. My first show of the evening was so delightful, I spent the rest of the evening smiling.
This show is for fans of Edward Gorey and anyone who finds death in Victorian garb downright hilarious. The Happenstance Theatre company’s presentation of sharp little vignettes of mortality, despair, and mayhem had me in tears. Of laughter. Not only is the execution (!) of each sketch done with superb timing, but the acting – in which so much is conveyed by a glance, a cocked head, or a withering stare – is brilliant. That the performance is set in the Marigny Opera House, a genteelly decaying, deconsecrated church adds an extra dimension. This is one of those shows that everyone is talking about, so if you’re planning to see it, get to the venue early, there are going to be crowds.
Cirque du Soleil alum Krin Haglund does cabaret songs and acrobatics, but what remains strongest in my memory is her expressive face. She pulled an audience member up to the stage for part of the show, and her puppy-dog-eyes silently imploring him to pour her a glass of wine — she gave him no verbal hints at all — were priceless. Her aerial and trapeze acts aren’t unique, but her personality is, and it shines through.
Running Down the Mountain
This show, which sadly only ran for two performances on Friday, tells a story of a brother and sister living alone in the Great Smokey Mountains. The dreamy emptiness of their daily chores and their longing for something more is poignantly underscored by great mountain music. The Fringe show is a stripped-down version of a longer work created by New Noise, and they combine sounds and story in innovative ways, including a rhythmic dinner-time percussion piece and the use of recorded tape played with hand-moved cassette playback head.
This is a magic show where the story-telling often overshadows the magic, which is not do say he doesn’t perform the tricks well, it’s just that he also an excellent spinner of yarns. San Francisco magician Christian Cagigal replaces the usual patter with a series of slightly sinister tales involving mysterious gamblers, enchanted coins, and of course, cards. His set up is a table with a video camera mounted above it and a large projections screen so that you can see the objects he manipulates at all times. A very entertaining way to spend an hour.