Theater

Reviews of theater productions, both traveling and originating in Minnesota.

Human Combat Chess Is Back with Duels, Banter, and Fun

It’s back! Human Combat Chess from Six Elements Theatre is returning to the stage—which is to say chess board—to once again battle for a championship title. After a grueling season it comes down to two teams: the Legion and the Celts. Last year I was introduced to Midwest Combat Chess League’s Human Combat Chess via the 2016 All-Star Tournament, which was not only very entertaining but also educational. I had no idea Human Combat Chess even existed (and in...

Anxiety! The Musical Confronts Mental Health with Song and Comedy

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “Those with social anxiety disorder experience an intense fear of being scrutinized and negatively evaluated by others in social or performance situations. Some literally feel sick from fear in seemingly nonthreatening situations.” Simply defined, social anxiety is the fear of interacting with other people. But social anxiety can be selective. Anxiety! The Musical, presented by Fearless Comedy Productions at the Historic Mounds Theatre, is not a show that makes light...

It’s War, Love, and Ninjas in Qui Nguyen’s Vietgone

Qui Nguyen, the playwright behind the geeky She Kills Monsters, is back with another outstanding story that addresses stereotypes and social issues through humor and music. Vietgone, showing at Mixed Blood Theatre through April 30, is not a story about the war in Vietnam. It is not a story about the transitions to American life by Vietnamese refugees. It’s not even about the politics of both countries surrounding the war. No, according Nguyen—who himself features in the story, played...

Animal Engine Will Pull Your Heartstrings with Darlings, the Story of Peter Pan from a New Perspective

Earlier this week, you may have read on this site about Animal Engine Theatre Company, an ensemble recently relocated to Minneapolis that specializes in devised physical theater. Their production of Darlings is currently at the Southern Theater for a one-weekend run, and last night I had the opportunity to witness what other critics have raved about. There have been countless versions of J. M Barrie’s classic Peter Pan, but Darlings stands apart. Rather than being a straight retelling, it looks at the story from the perspective of...

Minnesota Tonight Brings You the Local News . . . Hilariously

Minnesota Tonight is a local news show delivering politics, headlines, and legislation content in an entertaining package, not unlike Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. Episodes tape at the Brave New Workshop every month, usually to sold-out audiences, and you can catch them after the fact on their website or their YouTube channel. I recently met up with founder and executive producer Jonathan Gershberg to learn more about this increasingly popular show. Gershberg, who is also the host of Minnesota...

Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came Mixes Scholarship and Swordplay

The “Childe Rowland” (or Roland) story comes from a mishmash of sources: the Song of Roland, a chanson de geste probably written about 1040 CE; a Scottish ballad; a line from a (fake) madman ending a scene in Shakespeare’s King Lear; a Robert Browning poem (audio version) arguably more about the poet than Childe Rowland; and a fairy tale retelling of the Scottish ballad, in chronological order. Steve Schroer, founder of the Hardcover Theater and prolific playwright, adapter, and professor,...

A Klingon Christmas Carol Brings Scrooge and Star Trek Together Again

When I first heard back in August that auditions were happening for A Klingon Christmas Carol, I immediately had to share with a group of fellow Star Trek nerd friends. After much fangirling and wishing they could move here for the experience, it was largely not-at-all discussed for months, until it popped up in my Facebook feed as a suggested event. I promised them I would go, so tickets were purchased for a double date on opening night. I’ve never...

In Woodbury, Seussical the Musical Is Fun, and Fun Is Good

On the 15th of May (or the 2nd of December), in the Jungle of Nool (or Woodbury), in the heat of the day, in the cool of the pool, Horton heard a small sound: the sound of a Who. He promised to protect them, because after all a person’s a person, no matter how small. Take a trip down memory lane to when you were a small child listening to the rhythmic stories of Dr. Seuss being read to...

Vilification Tennis Takes on the War on Christmas

Yule Regret This: The Vilification Tennis War on Christmas, the insult-battle group’s November 26 holiday special at the Bryant-Lake Bowl, was disturbingly comical. If you haven’t heard of Vilification Tennis—who have appeared at CONvergence, Transvestite Soup’s Rocky Horror Picture Show, and other events in addition to their own dedicated performances—you owe it yourself to catch one of their shows. Their usual fare is not the family-friendly version you may have seen at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. At Yule Regret This,...

No Critical Failures in She Kills Monsters

I didn’t know what to expect when I decided to attend opening night of Gadfly Theatre Productions’ rendition of Qui Nguyen’s She Kills Monsters, performed at Gadfly’s new space in the Fox Egg Gallery and directed by Immanuel Elliot. The basic premise is that when Agnes’s much younger sister dies, she discovers things she did not know about her sibling via a Dungeons & Dragons notebook she left behind. But I quickly realized that it is about much more than a girl who plays D&D....
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