In Search of the Perfect G-String: Oh, to stroke that elegant neck, to trace the curves of that body . How can anybody doubt the sensuality of a cello? Yvonne Caruthers, a cellist for the National Symphony Orchestra put together an interesting mix of music and stories. Her stories range from the finding musical passion at Tanglewood to touring the world as a performer, from sexist conductors to finding the right rhythm in relationships. Caruthers may have been a newcomer to this sort of solo performance, but I hope she will continue to pursue it because she has a unique voice and uses it well.
Arlington National Cemetery: My Forever Home: This show gets the friend disclaimer. Ellouise Schoettler is an active part of the storytelling community and I've seen several of her previous fringe (and non-fringe) shows. This piece filled in a part of her story she had hinted at before - the death of one of her children. She ties that into gravesite visits, continuing with later visits to her husband's grave. I liked her idea of "getting to know the neighbors" in her own future home. But I wish the stories of other Arlington "residents" were more developed. I suspect they will be in the future, as this is a work in progress.
Underneath the Lintel: This one man play has been making the round of fringe festivals and is starting to show up on more mainstream theatre stages. The story involves a librarian, a book that is 123 years overdue, Les Miserable, a ticket from a Chinese laundry, and a lot of other "evidences" that lead the librarian on a complex journey. I have to admit that I didn't know quite what to make of it. It did hold my attention and had some humorous moments. Pat O'Brien did a convincing job as the Librarian. But his descent into obsession was decidedly uncomfortable to watch. Interesting but disturbing.
Urban Legends: This was basically a bunch of teenagers telling urban legends. Most of the stories were familiar, though there were some I didn't know. It was a bit overdramatized at times, which is an obvious temptation of youth. The more straightforward direct storytelling was more effective. Fortunately, that was most of the program.
The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs: The Musical: I enjoyed Mike Daisey's monologue, but the idea of musicalizing it would never have occurred to me. This worked surprisingly well, though it is a rather different beast than the original. I'd suggest seeing the original first, because this version skips a lot and is, therefore, a bit hard to follow. My major qualm had to do with one performance. Steve Isaac, who played both Mike Daisey and Steve Jobs, is a fine actor, but his singing was not always on key.
Our Boys: I went to see this because I always go to see what the Victorian Lyric Opera Company does at the Fringe. They've taken the path of pulling out (non-musical, non-operatic) Victorian era plays. This one, by Henry James Byron, was the first play ever to run for over 500 performances. It has to do with two fathers trying to manipulate their sons into marrying. But each of the sons is in love with the woman who is supposed to be destined for the other young man. It was silly, but quite funny. It's the sort of thing VLOC does well and you already know whether or not you like it. I do.