Performing Arts

Kansas City Fringe Festival brings live performances and cinema to venues around town

“Liminal State: A Traveler’s’ Guide” will continue through July 29 at Musical Theatre Heritage in Crown Center.
“Liminal State: A Traveler’s’ Guide” will continue through July 29 at Musical Theatre Heritage in Crown Center. along@kcstar.com

There are so many shows each night of Fringe Fest, seeing three back to back to back on Friday was a full commitment but still only accounted for 6 percent of the offerings. Fringe’s variety provides opportunities for familiar fun or serendipitous exploration of live performance, visual art and cinema, whether you dedicate yourself to one venue or zoom around the city.

"On the Road to Verona" Unicorn Theater, Levin Stage

Akin to the popular “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare: Abridged,” this talented troupe from The Minnesota SkyVault Theatre Company gave a tongue-in-cheek version of William Shakespeare’s “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” mixing music with Elizabethan and contemporary English, flexing in and out of character as adolescent minstrels abandoned by the playwright, trying to put on the play using a page of notes and intuition.

From their well-timed classic vaudeville gags and word play to the excellent musicianship, the sincerity of these youngsters and their “theater kid” awkwardness metamorphosed from a ragged “let’s put on a show” enthusiasm into a moment of pure intensity, the division between play and play and reality vanishing for a moment. No wonder this show has been winning awards.

"Yiddish With Dick and Jane" The Arts Asylum

The live-action version of the parody book “Yiddish with Dick and Jane” was a sweet and goofy show, produced by The Arts Asylum. Acting out the narrated vignettes, Dick and Jane (and their little sister Sally) are all grown up now (and Jewish), dealing with the complications of life (mostly betrayal, but in a funny way). The commitment of the actors gave the straight ahead adaptation a broadly humorous delivery, the audience chuckling expectantly.

"Liminal State: A Traveler’s Guide" Musical Theater Heritage, Mainstage

Unsettling and experimental, Fishtank Theatre used the influence of butoh (a Japanese dance theater form) to examine the transitional moment, the cusp of being, from comfort and familiarity to growth and new experience. The hour-long movement piece was set against processed electric guitar, murky susurration to groovy beat, layered with samples of rain, birdsong, and screams, while changing light sources made sinister, morphing shadows and silhouettes.

A series of seven solo segments was part ritual, part randomized, the ensemble reacting to each soloist’s impulse. The performers used tortured gestures, tense, twitching, exaggerated finger movement, examining their hands as though surprised at the action, eyes wide, darting back and forth, some as through terrified, other as though possessed, writhing or hunched or perched on tiptoe, held off balance.

It’s an art form and concept with space for examination, one of a kind in this year’s Fringe.

Fringe Fest KC continues through July 30. For more information about show times, ticket information and locations visit kcfringe.org.

Fringe Festival

The 13th annual festival continues through July 30 at various venues. Attendees must purchase a $5 Fringe button. Tickets to each event are an additional $10. Visit kcfringe.org or by call 816-359-9195.

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