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Fringe Dwellers

Pioneer Press writers will be reviewing dozens of shows during this year's Fringe Festival. While traipsing from show to show, they'll have eyes and ears open to notable moments, odd encounters and unusual events. Those observations will be recorded here.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The system explained...sort of

As the creator of the much-discussed Must See / Worth Considering / Avoid Like The Plague paradigm, I've been mulling Carolyn's dilemma. I feel for her. It's been a middle-of-the road kind of Fringe for me as well.

I have reluctantly assigned some shows Must See status ("Love in a Time of Rinderpest") while others were consigned to the bowels of Avoid Like the Plague hell ("How to Cheat") with an equal lack of enthusiasm.

The reason for the stratification is to help offer a key to readers. We'll review 50-some plays in this year's Fringe when all is said and done. Most of those reviews are written hastily (I myself have become adept at writing 100 words of deathless prose in about five minutes), go online almost immediately and will be bunched into the paper and the website.

Without some organizing principal, the result would be a mishmash as difficult to decode as "Past the Size of Dreaming."

Fringe junkies may love pouring through all that writing, comparing and contrasting, but the casual Fringe-goer -- the kind of patron, by the by, that is essential to the Fringe's existence and survival -- will have neither the time nor the inclination to go through endless blocks of gray, separating the good from the not so good.

The labeling of shows is a conceit, a shorthand. The two categories on either end of the spectrum are hyperbolic, and they are supposed to be. I suppose we could offer a more refined system for evaluating shows -- letter grades or stars or something. But...isn't this much more fun? Much more discuss-able?

We'll save the cutting-a-break-to-weeping-playwrights story for another day...

Meanwhile, you can see the most up-to-date listing of Fringe reviews on our OnStage page. These reviews will drift into the paper in the next day or two as space allows.

-Dominic P. Papatola


Blogger Bill said...

I don't object to the different levels; you are, after all, here as a scout for the paying audience members, and having a see/maybe/don't see breakdown is quick and convenient. It's the pejorative use of "Avoid Like the Plague" to which I object.

8:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You were much too kind to the performance by No Refunds Theatre. Utter crap. The only funny thing in the entire show was the liquor "commercial", if only the rest of the show was as well executed. It's also sad the best actor of the bunch was nothing more than an exact copy of Megan Mullally's "Will and Grace" character Karen Walker. The improv was sloppy, the sketches went on too long, and the onslaught of sexual/gay-bashing humor was stupid and insulting. Even a 5th grader would find the humor juvenile. This show could have been a very funny parody. Instead it simply stank.

12:38 PM  
Blogger Chowie said...

What stinks even more is that you feel compelled to trash us anonymously.

At least Papatola gave us a public paddling.

1:43 PM  
Anonymous Matt Sciple said...

Thanks Dominic. You've explained a great deal. We'll know next time not to present anything that taxes your critical faculties for more than five minutes.

Here's a friendly suggestion: take, say, ten minutes to think about the play first, then write for ten minutes, and you'll still have ten minutes to make it to another show. Maybe then the shows wouldn't seem so "difficult to decode."

I might be more thoughtful if I took the time, but isn't this more fun?

Matt Sciple, writer of the Avoided Like the Plague "Past the Size of Dreaming"

2:27 AM  
Blogger Matt Sciple said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:27 AM  
Blogger Tim Mooney said...

With a nod to Fringe Blogger, Phillip Low, who requested promotions in the form of sonnets:

“Avoid it like the plague,” says Pi’neer Press,
While missing every message that it bears,
There’s reasons life is later in such mess,
It seems something to do with just who cares.
Three hundred years from now we see the fallout
Of actions we are only starting now
But with an idle warning or a callout,
We may get clues of when or why or how.
The arrogance of bloated, bastard fives,
The reckless tyranny behind the fours,
The thoughtless rearrangement of our lives,
The elephant who’s here, which each ignores.
It’s just a play, a few thoughts out on loan;
The plague you miss, though, may well be your own.

1:44 PM  

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