Fringe By Numbers, Day 10: "The Bronze Bitch Flies at Noon" and "Dog Tag"
Day Ten: 8:30 p.m. Time Slot
Show: The Bronze Bitch Flies at Noon and Dog Tag
Company: Magicword Theater
Venue: U of M Rarig Center Arena
Die Roll: 19
I really like Matthew A. Everett & Anne Bertram, the writers of these pieces. This production was made up of two shorter plays through which these two writers explore the nature of loving relationships. One of the best things to me about Matthew's writing has always been that he tackles love stories. So many people have left basic love story comedies behind in an effort to be edgy. What many people forget, is when dealing with gay themes, basic love stories push the most important edge. Here's what I mean. All too often gay theatre is about making a point. All too often it includes things for shock value and flaunts the parts of gay culture that are campy or lurid, or whatever else. To the average non-enlightened heterosexual individual, seeing gays as campy, silly, and gross isn't that challenging. A piece of art that helps that perception along isn't accomplishing all that much, no matter how much the purveyors of such theatre might think they're presenting satire or an important commentary on the beliefs of others.
Matthew and Anne accomplish something far more subversive to anti-gay thought in these two plays by presenting the main characters as people who are completely normal. Everyone, no matter their sexual orientation, wants someone to love, wants to heal, wants to be attractive to someone, wants to have someone to care for. Anyone can identify with a love story. That's the most brilliant thing about making the choice to write romantic comedies. They cut through the crap and set up the characters as real people shooting for the one universal thing that we all strive for.
William T. Leaf, who I should disclose was in Dandelion Snow (By Matthew A. Everett) with me in 2004, gave these shows a solid treatment and while he claims that directing these shows was easy due to the skills of the actors (we'll get to that in a minute), he has directed a terrifically smooth and believable production. Even in the second piece, in which one of the characters is a talking dog, his approach to the pieces led to being able to easily buy into the reality presented. Was a talking dog realistic, no? Were the feelings and actions of all those on stage completely consistent with what makes us human and what makes that humanity beautiful? Yes.
Now... For the acting. I've known of these actors for a while, but haven't ever seen any of them on stage prior to this show. That's not entirely true... I've seen a couple of them on stage at the Twin Cities Unified Theatre Auditions, but that's not the same as in a show. Right? So... anyway...
Sasha Andreev plays both of his characters with quiet strength and a vulnerability that enhances the masculinity that radiates from him. Buddy Haardt plays two characters who are subtly, but importantly, different from each other. In the first play he is the unsure and timid virgin trying to cure that condition, but being unsure of how to do so. He is awkward but adorable. And he is instantly empathetic. In the second scene he is the former lover putting his all into putting his feelings on the table...earnest and passionate without over-playing.
Joe Bombard kept both scenes light with his entertaining presence. His security guard was just the right bit of silly to interrupt the first play, and his talking dog made the scene everything that it was in the second.
Random side thing... This apparently was my day to have shows associate with my former Fraternity days. This show did so in two unexpected ways. First off, Sasha Andreev reminds me of one of my brothers. Second, he was wearing a shirt from my fraternity. That was just plain uncanny to me.
Rating: d20 = One Of The Best
Ten Word Summary: Romantic comedies keep it real and feature talents of all