Tuesday, June 23, 2015

St. Lou Fringe Report 2: Of Wonderland and Mustache Wax

Kevin M. Lamb with bike and mustache
With apologies to Rev. Dodgson: The time has come, the critic said, to talk of many things / Of Wonderland and mustache wax, and kids who act and sing.

My St. Lou Fringe experience yesterday (Sunday, June 21) consisted of two shows: "Alice in Wonderland," the 1970 adaptation by Andre Gregory and the Manhattan Project of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" performed by students from Mary Institute Country Day School; and "Mustache Across America," a monolog by Kevin M. Lamb about his bicycle trip across America wearing a mustache and following a mustache-shaped route.

Let's dispense with the latter first. Objectively, biking from the seashore of Portland, Maine, to the seashore at Portland, Oregon is a pretty remarkable accomplishment. It's the sort of thing that, in the hands of a skilled monologist or a gifted writer, could produce some fascinating stories and/or profound insights. In Mr. Lamb's case, unfortunately, it produced a fairly ordinary narrative and some snippets of video of men being interviewed by Mr. Lamb saying mostly uninteresting things about their mustaches.

Mr. Lamb and his collaborator and videographer Caleb Knaan (with whom he did an amusing mustache rap number at the top of his show) are turning "Mustache Across America" into a documentary. If that gives Mr. Lamb a chance to polish and think a bit more about his material, the results might be worth seeing. As it stands, though, his show was a bit of a snooze, even if it did educate me on how to sleep on top of a fast-food restaurant without getting busted.

The MICDS kids had an obvious advantage in that both their source material and its adaptation have solid track records. Mr. Gregory has a long and distinguished career as a writer, director, and actor, and his children's theatre adaptation of Carroll's classic story offers plenty of opportunities for the cast to run, jump, shout, play theatre games, and generally enjoy themselves. Which they did, with abandon.

The members of the cast varied in experience and ability, as you might expect at their age, but they generally did a credible job, and some of them were quite gifted. The mostly kids audience Sunday afternoon appeared to be enjoying itself, as did the parents.

Both of these shows are over now, but the Fringe continues through Saturday, June 27. Monday and Tuesday evenings are taken up with workshops and participatory events, and Wednesday evening with a block party. Fringe performances pick up again Thursday at 6 p.m. For more information, check out the Fringe web site.

No comments: