THIS MAY SOUND LIKE A BIT OF A BACKHANDED COMPLIMENT, but This is where Your Free Time Goes to Die was much better than I thought it was going to be.
(Full disclosure: I'm a member of a local storytelling group with Curt Lund, one of the performers. I have no special knowledge of the show, however.)
It consists entirely of readings from a popular blog. I'm a great defender of blogs as an art form -- yes, the vast bulk of them are shit, but the vast bulk of plays are shit, too, and they're still capable of arranging words in funny, startling, and beautiful combinations. Which is what the play (and presumably source blog) did.
The arranger of said words was Tim Gage, a local playwright who died of melanoma over a year ago. I never knew Tim (unless it was in the background of one of countless, alcohol-soaked artist gatherings), but seeing this show makes me wish I did -- he had a sharp eye, a sharp tongue, and a blunt manner.
The readings are delivered by three performers from diverse backgrounds. The single element of the show that impressed me the most, by far, was the fact that none of the actors seemed counterfeit in voice or a manner or any other affectation -- they delivered the words in their own style, with their own cadence. A single performer attempting to do an impression would have been, I suspect, uncomfortable -- but this weirdly Brechtian solution, dividing Gage's words between three different sets of vocal chords, does a lot to create the sense of a single narrative voice.
After the show, I glanced at my watch -- 7:50pm? Had that really only been twenty minutes? Of course not -- the performance had started at 7pm. The time had flown by so quickly that I had no awareness that I'd been there for nearly an hour.
Related performance details:
This is Where Your Free Time Goes to Die by Screaming Mutes Productions is on stage at Bryant Lake Bowl in Minneapolis. Shows are: Wednesday, 8/10 at 10 pm; Thursday, 8/11 at 10 pm; Friday, 8/12 at 5:30 pm; Saturday, 8/13 at 8:30 pm.
Check back regularly throughout the Fringe Festival for more short reviews on mnartists.org, sent in from our intrepid performance critics on the scene.
About the author: phillip low is a playwright and poet, storyteller and mime, theatre critic and libertarian activist. He has won acclaim at such varied venues as the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, Spirit in the House, FoolFest, and the DC, Indianapolis, Iowa, and Kansas City Fringe Festivals -- even as far as Melbourne, Australia. At the 2007 Minnesota Fringe, his one-man show Descendant of Dragons was the bestselling show in its venue and awarded a coveted Fringe Encore slot, while in 2009 The Rise of General Arthur was nominated for Best Spoken Word Performance by FringeFamous. He is a co-founder of the Rockstar Storytellers and founder and producer of Maximum Verbosity. He has his own show in the Fringe Festival this year, Camelot is Crumbling; he's also assisting with the writing and direction of Minnesota Middle Finger with Ben San Del, as well as performing in Macbeth: The Video Game Remix with Theatre Arlo.