Thursday, September 10, 2015

Review of Kids Fringe at the Chicago Fringe Festival

Once upon a time I went to Kids Fringe at the Chicago Fringe Festival. I saw two shows and they were called Once Upon a Zombie Apocalypse and That's Weird, Grandma. (I am going to see a third show, called Punch & Judy, but I'll add that in after I see it.) I thought these shows were really fun and entertaining and I liked them a lot. I think it is a cool idea to have a Fringe Festival for kids so that kids can see a festival that's just for them that is not like some of the other kids theater out there that is more standard. This was more fun and unusual. I think even more children's theater should be like this, where it is more than just fairy tales everybody has heard of put on by adults. I do love a lot of adaptations of books like they do at Lifeline, Chicago Children's Theater and sometimes Emerald City, but it is also fun to see ideas that don't come directly from books.

Once Upon a Zombie Apocalypse was written and directed by Ashley Roberson. It was about these three kids, CeCe (Angela Alise), DJ (Joel Boyd), and Jack (Jalen Gilbert). They are brothers and sisters and their parents (Andi Earles and Terry Francois) go away for a few hours, and their little sister CeCe tells them they can do whatever they want if they play with her for a half hour. They all have their own personalities. CeCe is the energetic one, DJ is the nerdy one, and Jack is the kind-of-insecure one. But CeCe loves fairy tales, and feminism it seems, and DJ loves Zombies, and Jack loves Jill (Monica Moore) also known as his study group buddy, also known as his "girlfriend." I loved the feminist princess idea. Cece went to rescue her kingdom with no princes or anyone's help. But then there is a zombie-killer zombie cow played by DJ who helps her out a little. I love how he says "I'm a zombie-killer zombie cow, man" just like he's saying "I'm in fifth grade." Like it is just like a normal thing for him to say. I loved the Titanic reference when Jill had to go home. She just had to go home, but she did this entire dramatic death scene and then was like, "Oh yeah. I do have to go home. I'll see you later." And Jack continued his screaming "Noooo!" I think this show may have had the best ending line ever. You have to go see it to know what it is, and I would definitely recommend you go see this show. It is very very fun and interesting and you will laugh your pants off.

That's Weird, Grandma is produced by Barrel of Monkeys. Kids write it. They do it. And the world is saved. I write stories for them at the Loyola Park program, so I am one of those kids! This one did not have any of my stories in it, but it did have some by my friends and classmates. It was directed by Joseph Schupbach. I always think that Barrel of Monkeys does great shows, and this was not different. I felt like a lot of the stories in this were really enjoyable and a lot of fun. I really liked the horse story. It was about this girl (Rachel Wilson) whose parents (Bradford Stevens and Ryan Williams) were separated and she got a pony named Zurine (Curtis Williams). She gave it some food and it got its hoof stuck in a fence. I found it really really funny and I liked the depressing country music they played. I also liked the costumes for this piece and how everybody ran on stage at the end and did this slow-motion happiness running. And the mom came in running from off stage smiling even though she had nothing to do with that part of the story. There was also another story called "The Long Day" which was about this little boy (Nick Hart) who went to his grandma's (Curtis Williams) house and it was a very very long day. And his grandmother would keep telling him to go get things, but then the thing was that while he was going over to get the things he would just say. "The long day! The long day! The long day!" And he said it in a very shaky, depressed, and scared way. I thought that that was very very funny. They said it was like Samuel Beckett, and it was. The Grandma was basically just a grandmother in a garbage can because she couldn't do anything for herself. She just had her grandson dress in a sack and a sunbonnet and sent him to work. There was another one about crocodiles being domestic animals (chomp chomp chomp). Caleb Probst sang that and everyone else was a backup singer dressed as a crocodile. I liked that song very much. I thought it was very funny and very catchy. I'd like to get it on iTunes!

People who would like these shows are people who like long days at your grandmother's house wearing sacks and zombie-killer zombie cows. (I'll think of a third thing when I see Punch and Judy!) I think that people should definitely definitely go see this festival. I had a ton of fun, and I hope you do too!

Photos: Ashley Robeson, Evan Hanover

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