Fringe By Numbers: Day 5, "10.10 Post 9.11: Laughter in the Aftermath"
Day Five: 5:30 p.m. Time Slot
Show: 10.10 Post 9.11: Laughter in the Aftermath
Company: Adam Sharp
Venue: U of M Rarig Proscenium
Die Roll: 19
Fate plays odd tricks. Just shortly after I got a little ticked off at the director of this show for using the comment section of this blog as a place to promote his show, I roll the dice and end up attending his show. Well, there's that. At least I know one of the actors in it, and I normally enjoy his work.
This play is actually an assemblage of 5 short works. It pokes fun at a number of the somewhat-recent political events of our country. Basically, it looks at the "Dubya" era and all that goes with it.
And it does so cleverly in some of the sketches. The first piece was one that spoofed the political tensions of the Middle East. By setting the conflict against the storyline from Romeo & Juliet/Westside Story, the company attempts to take on the absurdity of the long-held animosities of that region. They also use just about every possible stereotypical portrayal of those peoples. Granted, stereotyping is a classic part of sketch comedy. It is one of the seeds of humor and satire. But properly applying them with specific reason is the key to success, and this sketch seemed like it was trying too hard to fit them in just to fit them in.
The second sketch took on the introduction of "Intelligent Design" into the classrooms of Kansas schools. Other spoofs, satires of this have been done. It even led to the start of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Some of these past pieces of political humor have played a major role in challenging the Intelligent Design movement. This sketch will not accomplish anything close to that. It is set up to be like a discussion panel, but the material is tired and well-trod. And, it is assembled haphazardly.
The third and fourth sketch were far better than the others. In "Dubya Quixote" the re-envisioning of the last 8 years as the first book of the Cervantes classic is really well done. From Bush's need to be dubbed a kah-nite by the Supreme court (just like Quijote was by the Castilian Innkeep) to the abuse of he and his horse (named 'Democracy') at the hands of the newly freed Iraqis to the fight against the oil rigs (standing in for the infamous windmills), this parody was well done and well thought out. And it was all in the name of his Lady Liberty (Dulcinea).
Immediately following was a piece that was a rewrite of Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven". It featured a woman crazed with fear over the potential of a terrorist attack. She's so far gone that she cannot recognize her own son trying to get into the house and talk to her normally. At the points of the poem wherein the Raven would normally say "Nevermore", the son would make his comments to his mother. It was brilliant. Sadly the woman playing the mother often ran words together and shrieked too much to be understood, but when she was clear and the son did his thing, it was great.
The final piece then promptly sunk any good will that the last two may have created. "Terrorism's Gay" was not unlike the first sketch in that it played to every possible stereotype of a certain group. And it did so past the point of good taste, bad taste, wretched taste, and no taste. It was just plain bad. I am a hard one to offend. I try to see the point of view from each and every side including those who disagree with me vehemently. But in this case, they lost me completely. Not only was I offended on a personal level, but also an intellectual one.
Back many, many years ago when I first moved to Minnesota, I was lucky enough to work at the Brave New Workshop during the time of Melissa Peterman, Julie Grover, Shannan Wexler, Margi Simmons, Eriq B Nelson, Cedric Yarbrough, and many of the others who have gone on to have great careers in comedic roles. They set the bar pretty high for what I consider good sketch comedy. This show was clearly attempting to reach that bar, it just seemed to hop rather than jump or leap for it.
Rating: d6 = Has Some Merit
Ten Word Summary: Some funny sketches, but mostly ineffective attempts at actual humor.