Onstage: Far End of the Fringe

Five more shows join this week's Fringe Festival lineup

Cincinnati Fringe Festival

Torie Wiggins of Your Negro Tour Guide

Southwest Ohio Society of Badasses (New Stage Collective, 9:15 p.m.) It's a story that revolves around, of all things, a BB lodged in the central character's head. At least, that's one of those life-changing moments explored in this original performance piece by Bill Doan, a Southwest Ohio native and self-declared badass. Equal parts edgy, angry and funny, Southwest Society of Badasses is, according to Doan, a celebration and a warning about what happens when rednecks, alcohol, religion and guns are the key elements in a young man's upbringing. He surmises his piece was chosen for the Fringe because "organizers were attracted to all the cuss words in the script." We think it had more to do with that BB. (Rodger Pille)

Strawberry Pie (Know Theatre, 7 p.m.) In Jamming Talent Productions' drama for the Fringe Festival, "Strawberry Pie," Joe's never-ending happy hours with his buddy-in-the-glass, Jim Beam, spiral him down into addiction with even more dangerous substances. "Joe finally starts to pray out to God," says Jeremy Allen Millsaps, artistic director of the seven-year-old Cincinnati performance company. Joe's Higher Power hears and sends Joe some guardian angels. They appear as a trio of aerial dancers, who, wrapped in fabric, swing down to earth for a dramatic rescue on stage. But "Strawberry Pie" is no fantasy.

"This is actually a true story," Millsaps said. "It comes from a loss in my family last year. My 18-year-old cousin, Joe, overdosed and died a horrible death." (Jerry Stein)

Don't Make Me Pull This Show Over: Dispatches from the Frontlines of Parenting (Know Theatre, 8:45 p.m.) This show has a serious pedigree, directed by CCM drama professor Richard Hess, whose shows have captivated Fringe audiences for three years running, and also featuring music by Richard Oberacker, a Cincinnati native and UC grad now conducting for Cirque du Soleil. Oberacker's musical Ace thrilled Playhouse audiences last year and is headed for Broadway. With Robert Taylor, Oberacker created a song cycle about the choices parents must make, for better or worse. Hess, music director Terry LaBolt and a cast of outstanding local talent and CCM grads offer musical snapshots about the balancing act of raising kids. "Not all of us are parents," Hess laughs, "but everyone has been a child." (Rick Pender)

Nearly Nude (Contemporary Arts Center, 9 p.m.) Wearing a title that grabs your attention, MegLouise Dance's "Nearly Nude" is as much about relative perspectives as revealing costumes. Founder/Choreographer Megan Pitcher points out, "Dance is frequently done in very little clothing, but I think that admitting that is actually unique." Context is everything, and here the dancers explore how female body image issues take shape in the face of pervasive media messages. "Nearly Nude" seeks to reexamine our culture's standards of beauty, to question them and offer other options. Pitcher says, "It's gonna be an adult show, and it's gonna be for those people who are not necessarily looking to see your typical 'beautiful' modern dance concert. It's actually gritty." (Julie Mullins)

Your Negro Tour Guide (Media Bridges, 8:45 p.m.) CityBeat readers will recall Kathy Y. Wilson's sassy columns about issues of race in contemporary America. Director Jeff Griffin and actress Torie Wiggins were at UC during Wilson's heyday. They've translated some of her columns into a one-woman show that's been presented in New York, Texas and elsewhere. "There's no traditional narrative," Griffin says, "but rather a trajectory of emotion — her words are harsh, funny, amusing, insulting, serene and thoughtful." Sure to resonate with local audiences is a column, "Dear Angela," written to Timothy Thomas' mother after his shooting by a police officer in 2001 touched off weeks of racial unrest. (Rick Pender)

Go to blogs.citybeat.com/fringe08 for reviews of every 2008 CINCY FRINGE FESTIVAL production.

Rick Pender

RICK PENDER has written about theater for CityBeat since its first issues in 1994. Before that he wrote for EveryBody’s News. From 1998 to 2006 he was CityBeat’s arts & entertainment editor. Retired from a long career in public relations, he’s still a local arts fan, providing readers (and public radio listeners)...
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