Fringe Audience, Day Two

I’m in the curious position of having a little bit of time free. I was supposed to go see the Bigfoot musical, but they’ve sold out. Their entire run. So what the hell do they care about my opinion? I don’t even care about my opinion of a show that’s doing just fine without me.

With that in mind, that my opinion really shouldn’t mean that much, I’m treading into unfortunate territory. I understand that everyone who does a play thinks they have worked really hard at it, and I understand that for most people, speaking in front of people is their number one fear, (more than death, research has shown, leading to the inevitable joke that people would rather be in the casket than delivering the eulogy), but when your show gets in to the Fringe festival and you run it along side so many other wonderful performances, you need to know when you’ve fallen way short of expectations.

I saw two shows yesterday, The Dead Sea and Mimi LeDuc. The Dead Sea is one of the worst plays I’ve sat through in a long history of sitting through terrible plays. I went and saw plays in Los Angeles that were better than this, honest to God, *Los Angeles*.

The ways in which this show failed are so many and so persistent that to list them one by one does a disservice to the effect the entire show has on a person. The performances were, at best, self indulgent and average, at their worst it was the dregs of college acting, people miscast for their age, guys not knowing their lines covering for other guys, self hypnotic meaningless speeches to dead mothers, all wrapped up in what I have to guess was meant to be a naturalistic piece.

At one point a character goes off stage to make some food, and there is no accompanying sound cues. Fine. But then a character goes off stage to take a shower, and there is a sound of a shower running the whole time. And then the shower had nothing to do with the plot of the show.

Two characters get into a fistfight, a third tells them to stop, they do, and nothing else happens. A character has the line, “I’ll never forget that day again”, about a day he has not yet forgotten.

Do you see what I mean? I have a thousand examples in my head, burned in there like spots of missing sunscreen, but to list them misses the point. They turned on a TV and left it on Mute for five minutes and I missed everything that was happening in the play while I watched Tom and Jerry, and yet I didn’t miss a second of plot development.

I saw a production of Fiddler on the Roof in 1994, where Tevya was drunk, Perchik was gay, Hodel was tone-deaf and Yente missed her entrance at the beginning. That play was worse than this one, only because the material was good and the worked to wreck it. This play should never be produced again.

I apologize. I know they worked hard on it, but it was god-awful.

Mimi LeDuc was wonderful. I am going to try to bring Mac and Jordana to it if we can get tickets. It is a great show and I will discuss it a little longer once we’ve all seen it again, but there were two small criticisms. Three or four of the songs didn’t quite end well, they didn’t know exactly how they wanted to dismount, so to speak.

That’s stupid. I feel like an ass for saying that because this show was so great. If I devote two paragraphs to the show, one should be about the amazing execution, the fantastic orchestration, the producerial dedication to every possible detail, the simplicity of the choices and the deftness of the shepherds that brought this great piece in to the Fringe. The performances were INCREDIBLE, with the possible exception of the Mormon husband of the main character, who was simply quite good.

And that leads to my only real criticism. From the far outside, and perhaps from the deep inside, the Mormons look like a group of people who have a stranglehold patriarchy, simply because men hold the priesthood and are the heads of their households and stuff. But, man, from a slight distance, knowing the Mormons well but not being one, I tell you, this is a group of people led by women. The strongest, meanest, no bullshit-taking, hard as nail bitches in the world are making baked goods right now for their families. To imply that Mormon women are somehow in need of liberation more than, I don’t know, Baptists or something is not in line with my experience. It didn’t wreck the show for me, and I like the “pioneer stock” jokes littered throughout, but I don’t think that aspect of it is true.

Go see Mimi LeDuc, though, it is out-of-sight good. Actually, don’t go, because I need to get tickets for me and my producers.