FRINGE 2017: 'bed (a fever dream)'

This is exactly the kind of show that Fringe Festivals are about: unconventional material, decidedly non-commercial, told in a skilled and creative way.

Performance Gallery has participated in all 14 Cincinnati Fringe Festivals, and this year’s entry, bed (a fever dream), reflects what this interesting company is all about: expressing basic human themes in provocative ways, using a mix of imagery, dialogue, music and movement to achieve an end-product that is usually more than the sum of its parts. Directed by Regina Pugh, bed takes something that seems mundane and generic — our beds and sleeping — and looks at it through the lens of unique individual needs and experiences.

The workshop manner in which the show was developed showed at the beginning, where the dialogue and movement pushed a bit too hard to establish the show’s theme. The action ostensibly focuses on Aiden Sims who desperately tries to get some sleep, but is blocked by those things that keep us from getting rest — nightmares, our partners getting crumbs in bed and so on. Some of those moments worked better than others, but the Ensemble of Erin Carr, Daniela N. Nevova, Andy Simpson and Willemien Patterson were always involved and committed.

That said, the play really took off when each actor was featured musically (with excellent instrumental and vocal accompaniment by Nathan Singer and Claire Patterson). What I liked in particular was how well Pugh and the creative team chose songs and matched them to the musical ability of the specific actors and the emotional focus that they had built throughout the show. In the show’s final 15 minutes this effectively raised the tension until it was climaxed by Sims’ nightmare and experience waking up. This is exactly the kind of show that Fringe Festivals are about: unconventional material, decidedly non-commercial, told in a skilled and creative way. It’s well worth seeing.


The CINCINNATI FRINGE FESTIVAL continues through June 11. Find CityBeat reviews of 40-plus early performances here. For a full schedule and more info about Fringe, visit cincyfringe.com.



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