Fringe By Numbers, Day 4: "The Department of Angels"

Categories: Fringe Festival

Day Four: 8:30 p.m. Time Slot


Show:The Department of Angels

Company: Schave & Reilly 

Venue:  Minneapolis Theater Garage

Die Roll: 13


I, like most people of my generation, were raised on Looney Tunes, the Little Rascals, and The Muppets.  With the exception of the Muppets which were brand new at the time, our parents had seen those same things when they were kids, too.  Through cartoons and the like, we have no seen the vaudeville style comedy for many, many years.  And so are perhaps a bit numbed to it.  My daughter, at age nine, has a different perspective of what comedy is because she watches all the Disney Channel shows, and sitcom-like children's programming that is unlike that which we grew up with.


The reason I mention this is because watching this show is like traveling back to the 50's for the first run of some goofy cartoon-like vaudevillian performance on TV, or at the very least watching it in reruns during the late-70's/early 80's.  However, it is also like watching it at that time with the knowledge of today.  Do you remember how in Back to the Future Marty sees a Honeymooners episode in the 50's, but he's from the 80's so he already knows how it's going to turn out.  Well, such is the situation with this show. 


I am bummed that I didn't still have my daughter with me at this show.  She has not really experienced this type of comedy much.  She would've found it funny.  I would've really enjoyed it when I was her age.  At my age in the year 2008, I did enjoy it for what it was, but I didn't really find it funny anymore.  This is comedy from a simpler time and for a simpler time.  But, any time is a simpler time for the young than it is for those who have older knowledge.  (Wow!  That last sentence was both deep and confusing!  Great job, Chris!).



ANYWAY... Let me tell you about the play before I wax philosophic for far too long...  The idea of the play is that we meet two Angels on their way to work.  Heaven is apparently not unlike the cubicle filled office world that many people work in today.  I'm not sure if that is incentive to go to heaven, but at least it is something familiar.  In this heavenly corporation, these two workers go through different tasks while performing practical jokes on each other and waiting for a phone call: The Big One.  They accomplish their tasks in silly ways, and they make fun of things like coffee breaks and security checks.  Finally, they screw up big time and get themselves fired.  As fallen angels they seem to have the potential for more fun than their office job gives them, though.


Most of the show is silent, but set to music.  The music is fun.  Some of the pieces will be recognizable from TV commercials.  Others are fun bachelor pad versions of older popular tunes.  My favorite section of the play was set to "Ray's Rockhouse".


I don't want to put this play down just because the territory was familiar and well trod. What I do want to do is say that it is basically a live-action cartoon that is better suited for kids and those nostalgic for this type of show.  I love reminiscing about the past of popular culture, so this was a nice time.  A good way to end the night.  But, it would've been far better if I was under the age of 10.


Rating: d10 = Worth Going To


Ten Word Summary:  Angels fall from grace due to their own comedic ineptitude.

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