FRINGE 2021 REVIEW: True Fictionalist (Special Event)

Paul Strickland’s second "True Fictionalist" performance is set for 8 p.m. Friday, June 11, promising a different set of not-to-be missed tall tales.

click to enlarge Poster for "True Fictionalist" - Photo: Provided by Cincy Fringe
Photo: Provided by Cincy Fringe
Poster for "True Fictionalist"

I’ve said before that Paul Strickland should be declared a local treasure. Apparently that designation can be expanded nationally: At the recent Orlando Fringe, his show Away, Now with Erika Kate MacDonald (reviewed separately) sold out all of its performances and received the Critic’s Choice Award as the 2021 “Best Variety/Specialty Show.” Cincy Fringe-goers first met — and adored — Strickland in 2013 when he introduced audiences to a spectacular tall tale about Ain’t True and Uncle False, residents of the wildly, comically imagined Big Fib Trailer Park.

Strickland has been entertaining Fringe lovers near and far since then (he also now lives in Covington, so pleased he’s been with the local support for his storytelling), and as a bonus to this year’s Cincy Fringe attendees, he’s doing a pair of solo storytelling sessions, True Fictionalist.

On Saturday evening, I heard him regale a sizeable (but socially distanced) crowd at one of the Fringe’s outdoor stages, the parking lot just north of Know Theatre with a sprightly “Lookin’ Good” mural. His performance offered a handful of his tall tales: We met Winifred Restarea, the “Johnny Appleseed of Rest Areas,” as well as a morality tale about Ed Smith the Third and Bertram Lingenberry the Only, respectively candidates for the most boring and the most arrogant of men. He added another chapter in his Ain’t True stories with Uncle False’s Rumpelstiltskin, a hilarious reinterpretation of the Grimm Brothers fairy tale. He wrapped up with a story about Uncle False’s “living room toilet.” As strange as it might seem, all these stories, told with clever verbal humor and the occasional song, end up with rather profound insights into human nature — delivered in a most amusing way.

Strickland’s second True Fictionalist performance is set for Friday, June 11, at 8 p.m., promising a different set of not-to-be missed tall tales.

For those who can’t get enough of this talented performer, he’s promoting another iteration of his Cincinnati Storytelling Festival, October 21-23 ( at the Madcap Education Center (3064 Harrison Ave., Westwood). He’ll be a performer, along with several local and national storytellers.

The Cincinnati Fringe Festival takes place June 4-19. For more information, show descriptions, a schedule and tickets, visit