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Arts & Culture

Fringe Fest 2013 reviews

Our top seven picks

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KEY OF E

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HITLER’S LI’L ABOMINATION


Wonderment is bountiful in this summertime show, largely due to the set pieces and a skilled band of musicians. There was a standing ovation by a full house after the opening performance. Be sure to make this show a priority on your must-see
list. – Audrey Bergquist

LOON
through Sunday, May 26 | Green Venue | orlandofringe.org | $11

Every year at Fringe I encounter a fantastical freakshow of physical theater to fall in love with, like Miss Hiccup (who returns to the Festival this year), Poofy Du Vey or Schave & Reilly. This time around, Portland, Ore.’s Wonderheads won my Fringe Crush fealty with their touching triumph, Loon.
When we first meet Francis (Kate Braidwood), he’s trying futilely to spread his beloved late mother’s ashes in the rain, only to smear them on his shabby suit. Slogging back to his lonely apartment, which literally fits inside a suitcase, Francis spends his time mopping movie-theater floors and waiting hopefully for the connection from his telephone dating service (where he’s Bachelor No. 378: favorite color, plaid; talents, none) that never comes.

If this were the plot of a conventional play, it would be hideously depressing. But because Francis wears a giant, bulbous, balding mask-head and communicates solely through gestures and movements, his plight becomes pathetically endearing instead of simply morose. Inspired by the sci-fi comic books he finds comfort in, Francis eventually abandons uncaring reality and climbs to the heavens, retrieving the moon to be his mistress. It’s hard to have a long-term relationship with a celestial object, though, and despite their whirlwind romance she inevitably wanes.

Loon bathes its audience in the purest magic of imaginative theater, needing little more than the movement of a simple glowing orb to make viewers gasp with childlike delight. Whether slouching, swaggering or slipping into a brief and unexpected Bollywood dance break, Braidwood’s body language is so expressive that Francis’ frozen countenance actually seems to change. My only regret is recommending this show in my preview to families with small children. While there is nothing offensive or objectionable in it, the dark emotions explored are definitely intended for adults, and I’m not ashamed to admit Loon’s bittersweet ending brought me to tears. Not to be missed. – SK

CHASE AND PAUL: SOLO SHOWS ARE HARD
through Saturday, May 25 | Gold Venue, 2113 N. Orange Ave. | orlandofringe.org | $11

Chase Padgett and Paul Strickland are both Fringe veterans who generally perform their music and stand-up comedy acts alone. This year, they decided to join forces, since, well, Solo Shows Are Hard. Luckily for the audience, the synergy works wonders. Together, they’re actually more than twice as good as they are separately.

Both performers are talented songwriters as well as proficient guitar players. And both display welcome flashes of acerbic and self-deprecating humor, playing their comic riffs off one another as if they’ve been honing their act for years, and not just during the one week leading up to their debut Fringe performance together. The icing on the cake comes when the duo performs the rare serious musical piece – their plaintive harmonies are immensely pleasing.

These two guys may have found the perfect collaborator in one another, because as a team they put on a great show. Perhaps this impromptu alliance marks the beginning of a very productive partnership. – Al Krulick

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