|Blowing minds for nine years|
The opening night party offered a myriad of sounds and flavors. Catering was provided by several local palate-expanding eateries. Anyone who hesitated to try the seafood pudding from Washington Platform seriously missed out, and Venice on Vine came through with tasty pizzas as well. Music was provided by “The Dukes Are Dead,” a group harkening back to the days of hair bands, both in sound and style. I briefly spoke to Eric Vosmeier, the producer of Fringe, who credited this year’s increased attendance both to word-of-mouth enthusiasm and his recent appearance on NPR’s “Around Cincinnati.” Vosmeier is encouraging Fringe virgins to come out to this year’s festival, which has more locally conceived shows than ever before, including the “FringeNEXT” which features young, high school aged actors. I was sold.
On Wednesday night, I made my way upstairs in the Know Theater, which was filled with eager patrons at 15 minutes to curtain. I was struck by the audience age range, which probably spanned 70 years. Since it was only 7:15pm, the buzz in the crowd was not alcohol-induced, but genuine. After a brief but enthusiastic introduction from Vosmeier, Cincinnati’s own Performance Gallery presented their new piece, “Rodney Rumple’s Random Reality” which proved to be an excellent way to kick off my 2012 Fringe experience. Described by the troupe as a “physical theater modern fable,” this snappy comedy is a refreshing combination of the succinctly simple (think YouTube’s black and white cartoon “Simon’s Cat”) and the trippy surreal (Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland). Rodney Rumple harkens back to the old days when stories actually had a beginning, middle and end.
|Rodney Rumple's Random Reality|
If all I’ve described sounds predictably fairy-tale-like, that’s because it is. But think fairy tale with a twist – Stinky Cheese Man, if you will. What could have been a campy children’s story is instead a witty repartee. Two elements, I believe, are responsible for this: the well-chosen words of the script, short and sweet in today’s verbose world, and the TIGHT performance of the actors. The show was clearly carefully conceived and rehearsed, something that is less-than-valued in much of today’s avant-garde theater scene. Slapstick bits are intricate and well executed, and even when the plot veers into dreamland, the “weird for the sake of weird” bits don’t last too long. “Rodney’s Reality” is definitely worth any Fringer’s viewing experience.