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Rogue Reviews 2015

IN THE March 1 ISSUE

FROM THE 2015 Articles,
andArts & Entertainment,
andTheatre
SECTIONS

by Terrance Mc Arthur,
Joshua Taylor,
& Lorie Lewis Ham

Throughout the week we will be posting reviews of Rogue shows! Check back daily! And then go out and enjoy the Rogue Festival! To check out our Rogue preview article & some Rogue performer preview articles go to our Arts & Entertainment section. And check out our YouTube Channel for some fun performer video interviews! Tickets can be purchased at the door for each show or on the Rogue website at: roguefestival.ticketleap.com.

So far you can find here reviews for The Devil You Know, The Famous Haydell Sisters Comeback Tour, First Men of Promise Rocking the Rogue Part 3, If and When, The Road to High Street, Acts of Affordable Care, A One-Way Ticket To Crazy Town, Best Picture, How To Be Wicked, Ananka Belly Dancers: The Best of Oscar, Switch Back, Shadows in Bloom, Lonestar, Still Shopping For God, Animal Love, Flower Tome Companion, Breaking Bange, Play It Like Virgil, Beers About Songs, Ashes, Check Please, Dancing in the Mist, Fallen, Shame the Devil and Pass the Nails, Spencer/Morris Group, Greatest Hits: 2004-2014, Victory for the Recycled Virgin, Boxcar Figaro, A Girl’s Guide to War, and Rites of Passage, Belly Dance Coalition of the San Joaquin Valley.


The Devil You Know
Review by Terrance McArthur

There’s a monster under the bed.

I know that we’re grown-ups, and we don’t believe in such things, but…there’s a monster under the bed.

In Allison Daniel’s The Devil You Know, it’s purple, has horns, and a horn on its nose. It is operated by a black-hooded Allison, holding molded grips and moving the arms of her creation. The creature explores the bedroom of a sleeping woman and the contents of her purse, making cheerful mayhem. There is shadow puppetry, too, as a smaller imp treks across a sleeping silhouette. When the little monster becomes one with the woman, the show changes from puppetry to a cross between Pinocchio becoming a real boy, an Olympic gymnastics routine, and a Japanese Noh fantasy of possession. Beyond that, there is hysterical audience participation.rogue

Al can Cirque until the Soleil comes up, throwing her body into contortions and space with ease. Her expression can change from confused fear to Karen Black’s feral anticipation of destruction from “Trilogy of Terror” in moments. She is the Eighth Wonder of the Rogue.

It is seldom that you find one person as accomplished in so many performing arts as Al: a puppeteer, an acrobat, a mime, a playwright, a puppet builder, and a magician of the heart—I mean, how many people could make you care about the monster under your bed? Allison Daniel can do it.

The Devil You Know appears at Dianna’s Studio of Dance, 826 N. Fulton St. Catch it…before it catches you.

Remaining performance:
March 7 2015 3:30 p.m.

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a Community Librarian for the WoW! (WithOut Walls) Division of the Fresno County Public Library, roaming the Valley to meet the public’s information needs.


The Famous Haydell Sisters Comeback Tour
Review by Terrance McArthur

Do you love country music: the twang of the guitars, the cheatin’ songs, the big hats and boots, the cheatin’ songs? Have I got a show for you! (If you answered yes to the question, please skip the next paragraph.)
Do you think country music is ridiculous: the twang of the guitars, the cheatin’ songs, the big hats and boots, the cheatin’ songs? Have I got a show for you!

It’s The Famous Haydell Sisters Comeback Tour, a Rogue Festival show at The Voice Shop, 1296 N. Wishon Ave.

rogueIf you are a country fan, the songs are a skewed look at typical country themes, sure to put a smile on your face. If you make fun of country, these songs are biting satires of the excesses made in the name of Nashville. “Seven Seconds (Too Short a Ride)” chastises a guy for finishing in under eight seconds, the regulation endurance for a rodeo cowboy. “Wrangler Butt” is about a girl who really likes seeing a man walk away from her: she enjoys the view. There’s an overly-patriotic anthem, and even a song about discovering an unfaithful lover by finding stray hairs that shouldn’t be seen.

Mattie and Maybell Haydell are a hoot…and they aren’t real. Donna Kay Yarborough and Sadie Bowman play the sisters, and they can play and sing, and make you feel compassion for the most feuding siblings since the Everly Brothers.

Remaining performances:
The Voice Shop
1296 N. Wishon Ave.
March 7 at 5 p.m.

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a Community Librarian for the WoW! (WithOut Walls) Division of the Fresno County Public Library, roaming the Valley to meet the public’s information needs.


First Men of Promise, Rocking the Rogue Part 3
Review by Terrance McArthur

At the 2014 Rogue Festival, I found myself listening to the 1st Men of Promise and their show, Rocking the Rogue Part 2. I couldn’t believe my ears. I couldn’t imagine a stronger blend of rock and religion. I was happily wrong. They’re back…with Rocking the Rogue Part 3, at Mia Cuppa Café, 620 E. Olive Ave.

This faith-based soul-rock group performs rock standards that can be interpreted as having a gospel message…with or without a few lyric changes. Each show has a different set list, but the songs may include “Celebrate,” “Feelin’ All Right,” “Unchain My Heart,” “People Get Ready,” and “Higher and Higher.”rogue

It would take a lot of experience to handle such a diverse repertoire, and this group has plenty of it. Almost a dozen men fill the stage with voice and instruments, and they are all over the median age for rock and roll. These aren’t old guys waiting for their lives to be over. Their cups overfloweth with life, and they know how to “make a joyful noise unto the Lord”…and they can rock!

This is a cure for the angst and depression of many Rogue shows, and a relief from the profanity found in other presentations. Put $10 in the nearest collection plate and let the Spirit move you into a seat for an hour of soul music that will lift your soul. Shout Hallelujah, brothers and sisters!

Remaining performances:
Mia Cuppa Café
620 E. Olive Ave.
March 6 2015 6:30 p.m., March 7 2015 6:30 p.m.

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a Community Librarian for the WoW! (WithOut Walls) Division of the Fresno County Public Library, roaming the Valley to meet the public’s information needs.


If and When-An Awkward Sensation
Review by Terrance McArthur

Do you have An Awkward Sensation? If Kurt Bodden and Allison Daniel are in the room, you can have 20 of them in under an hour. This two-person show by If and When (with added puppets and volunteers) is like watching a kaleidoscope; about the time you figure out what is going on, things shift to another short play or image, and your brain has to start over and re-comprehend the incomprehensible.

rogueBodden is tall and cadaverous, and he always seems to be noticing something just over your shoulder. Last year, he was in the acclaimed Better Than You as a self-help guru. This year, he gets to show a range of abilities that is staggering. Allison is a pixie-topped woman with a mischievous look, and teeth that seem to get longer and sharper as you watch. Her acrobatic control and mesmerizing puppetry draw the audience closer, and they are straining in their seats without moving. Some of the vignettes are over in ten seconds, and others may run as long as five minutes, but each is a faceted jewel which shimmers with clarity.

Killer clothing, a cat burglar in battle with clicking lights, the difficulty of finding housing in San Francisco, and the intransigence of fleecy pants are subjects of amazement. A running thread involves scientists bitten by radioactive animals, whose attributes they acquire at the sound of a person in danger, which leads to gleeful silliness. There is some audience participation, and there is puppetry.

Allison makes magic happen with simple objects that take on life. A tiny marionette man, worked without a control bar (the strings are attached to her fingers) slowly climbs up her body to an achingly simple rendition of “Wayfaring Stranger.” Allison is also represented at the Rogue with her not-exactly-one-person show The Devil You Know.

Allison and Kurt work together with seamless precision, and their solo work is impressive. The show is an exercise in imagination, and it will exercise yours, taking it to new worlds of exploration.

Remaining performances:
Cal Arts Academy/Severance
1401 N Wishon Ave]
March 7 at 8:30 p.m.

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a Community Librarian for the WoW! (WithOut Walls) Division of the Fresno County Public Library, roaming the Valley to meet the public’s information needs.


The Road to High Street
Review by Terrance McArthur

When you review shows at the Rogue, seeing some faces year after year, discovering new performers, missing shows from past years, you start to get favorites. Some of those, shows you think are terrific, can’t seem to get big crowds, and you want to drag people down the street and push them through the door, so they can share something you think is special.

My “Where Are the Crowds?” show is The Road to High Street, Andrew Potter’s show at the Spectrum Art Gallery, 608 E. Olive Ave.rogue

Andrew used to be a juggler, working with a partner in timing as the High Street Circus, transplanted from Rhode Island to San Francisco. They threw clubs at each other, rode unicycles, tossed raw eggs (and ate raw eggs if they dropped one), and played with fire in public. Other acts might have had more skills, but the HSC had the showmanship and devious idea-hatching that street performers needed for survival.

The Road to High Street is a memoir of 15 years of busking, told with slides, video, music, and a self-deprecating wit. Vaguely resembling Zachary Levi (Chuck), Andrew leads his audience on a tour of his past. You will learn about the fine art of living in a former beer vat, how to tell your family you’re going to busk for a living, how publicly admitting you can’t speak a language might help you win international competitions, and when to know it’s time to close the show. His guitar playing adds a dreaminess to his story, that quality of looking at it from a distance. From far away, sometimes you can see things more clearly.

This show is funny, surprising, and gives a peek behind the stage and into the heart of a performer. It’s a feel-good experience. See this show. It’s good for your soul. Andrew Potter may not juggle any more, but he knows how to tell a story.

Remaining performances:
Spectrum Art Gallery
608 E Olive Ave, Fresno, CA 93728
March 6 10:15 p.m., March 7 2015 1:45 p.m.

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a Community Librarian for the WoW! (WithOut Walls) Division of the Fresno County Public Library, roaming the Valley to meet the public’s information needs.


NOCO’s Acts of Affordable Care
Review by Sarah A. Peterson

Drawing on themes of fear, ritual, and rebirth, FresNO Dance COllective (NOCO) tackles issues both timeless and current in its 2015 Rogue Festival performance, Acts of Affordable Care.

This hauntingly beautiful show is structured as a trio of conversations that each present the audience with questions only they themselves can answer.

“What care can you afford to give?” asks a dancer at the beginning, her skin glittering under the lights. As she talks of birth, death, and “the life in the middle,” figures in black and gold emerge from the shadows, flitting around three lit lanterns like moths to a flame. rogue

They curl up within cocoon-like black sheets, swallowed up in the darkness. “Our deepest fear is of being powerful beyond measure.” Bodies writhe, intertwined on the floor, their heads covered.

“When is care, lavished, just enough?” asks another in a piece called “Perfectly Abled Bodies.” Dancers break out of their black cocoons, and what ensues first appears to be chaos. Bodies run, leap, and bounce of one another amid flashing lights and a pounding score.

“Have you ever carried the weight of someone?” a dancer asks the audience before hoisting another over her shoulder. “Can you sustain this, or is it too much?” she wonders aloud as others test her strength.

The cocoon-like sheets come to life, swinging in tandem, allowing the figures to take flight. “Am I too heavy? Can you afford my care?” And then a flash of red light and a violent shove.

The final piece takes on social media and its lack of intimacy. “The world existed before Facebook,” a dancer opines. “When did faceless thoughts replace hugs?”

Bodies writhe around like snakes before finding their footing and taking off, gliding and colliding, both inside the cocoon and without. A lit lantern returns, being pushed across the floor, its light drawing the dancers to it.

And then they surround a black-clad figure in the center, attached to her by lengths of black nylon rope, almost like an umbilical cord.

Featuring music by Trent Reznor, Diplo, FKA twigs, Phosphorescent, and Perfume Genius, NOCO’s Acts of Affordable Care is a performance that resonates with meaning long after one has left the auditorium.

Remaining performances:
Cal Arts
1401 N. Wishon Ave
March 6 at 10 p.m., March 7 2015 11:30 a.m.

Sarah A. Petersonis a library assistant with Fresno County Library, with a Bachelor’s in English and a Bachelor’s in Journalism from California State University, Fresno. In her free time, she makes soap and jewelry that she sells at Fresno-area craft fairs. She has written for The Clovis Roundup and the Central California Paranormal Investigators (CCPI) Newsletter.


A One-Way Ticket To Crazy Town
Review by Terrance McArthur

Les Kurkendaal makes me laugh.

It doesn’t matter if he’s making fun of people in Bakersfield who don’t know how to deal with a gay African-American man or if he’s trying to keep his mother from being institutionalized, Les can find the outrageousness of the situation and tap in to the universal emotions of a situation.

rogue A One-Way Ticket to Crazy Town is the story of how Les tried to get his mother to recognize him in 24 hours. If he didn’t succeed, she would become a ward of the state of Texas—not a good thing. Told not to confront or upset her, Les took a page from Scheherezade in the 1001 Arabian Nights—she told her husband stories to keep him from killing her; Les told his mother stories to keep her safe. He told her about how All My Children led to the most startling question she had ever heard. Another story involved a ban on Coca-Cola. Les talked about how he came out. The stories are funny, surprising, and can cut close to the bone. The lighting transitions make it clear what is the frame story, and what are the tales he told his mother.

This is his third Rogue Festival, and it should not be his last. He is in demand, at fringe festivals and at The Moth non-fiction storytelling events. We should demand that he come back to Fresno.

A One-Way Ticket to Crazy Town is part of the Rogue Festival, on stage at Mia Cuppa Cafe, 620 E. Olive Ave. Tickets are $10.

Remaining performances:
March 6 2015 8:00 p.m., March 7 2015 5:00 p.m.

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a Community Librarian for the WoW! (WithOut Walls) Division of the Fresno County Public Library, roaming the Valley to meet the public’s information needs.


Best Picture
Review by Lorie Lewis Ham

I would pretty much see anything that Kurt Fitzpatrick is in–he’s amazing. Like the old saying goes-he could make reading a phone book funny. So when I heard he was doing Best Picture at Rogue this year I knew I had to be there. What’s really great is he brought two equally talented people with him for this show-Jon Paterson and Tara Travis.

rogueBasically, the premise of Best Picture is that they do bits from all 87 Best Picture Oscar award winners in one hour, with some bits and pieces of some other things thrown in–like Star Wars and the Walking Dead. Within the show, they compare this show to Shakespeare Abridged and it’s a really good comparison.

This is easily one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen–and the surprise ending…well I won’t spoil it for you but it’s a riot! And there’s just a bit of audience participation as well, starting with the Red Carpet paparazzi, and some local color is added in too.

If you are in the mood to laugh do NOT miss this show! If I could, I would go back and see it over and over again!

There is some adult language.

Remaining performances:
Fresno Soap Co.
1470 N. Van Ness
March 4 at 11 p.m., March 5 at 9:30 p.m., March 6 at 6:30 p.m., March 7 at 12:30 and 9:30 p.m.

Video interview with cast of Best Picture:

Lorie Lewis Ham is our Editor-in-Chief and an enthusiastic contributor to various sections, coupling her journalism experience with her connection to the literary and entertainment worlds. Explore Lorie’s mystery writing at Mysteryrat’s Closet.


How To Be Wicked
Review by Terrance McArthur

Do you remember when Kirk and Spock beamed down to this planet where they had based their society on a book the First Contact crew left, so they were all 1920’s gangsters and flappers? They said it was a “moral inversion.” There is a show at the Rogue Festival that is a moral inversion, Jaguar Bennett’s How to Be Wicked.

Jaguar, whose comedy act makes him a man people love to hate, conducts a seminar to teach the audience the error of their ways, because they have not gone in error’s way far enough. People try to be good, but morality is just society’s way of controlling you, making you a loser. He lays this out in a logical, reasonable manner, insidiously worming past personal standards and concepts of fairness. It’s like a shark explaining the food chain before he eats you. Machiavelli was naïve, Hitler lacked ambition, and terrorists are short on style compared to Jaguar.rogue

He is a cuddly version of Uncle Fester from The Addams Family, his eyes darting around until he zeroes in on a victim to skewer with his rapier wit. He comes across as a genial sociopath, an agent provocateur for The Dark Side. He is crude, vile, foul, vulgar, and strangely persuasive. He sets aside religion and all the evils and hypocrisies practiced in its name. he dismisses charity as taking from him to give to somebody who doesn’t deserve it. You may never be able to say “I take a principled stand” again.

Jaguar’s crash-course in rejecting kindness as a lifestyle is so popular that it has added performances.
Selfish, amoral, evil, anti-everybody, and out-and-out mean. That’s Jaguar Bennett. Sign up now for his introductory course, Bennett’s How to Be Wicked. It’s only $5, a real steal (and afterwards, you’ll be ready to steal on your own.).

Remaining Performances:
Veni Vidi Vici
1116 N Fulton St
March 5 2015 9:00 p.m., March 7 2015 8:00 p.m.

Video interview with Jaguar Bennett:

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a Community Librarian for the WoW! (WithOut Walls) Division of the Fresno County Public Library, roaming the Valley to meet the public’s information needs.


Ananka Belly Dancers: The Best of Oscar
Review by Terrance McArthur

Nobody plans it. Sometimes, it just happens. Two sets of performers have the same idea at the same time. Best Picture takes 87 Oscar winners and squeezes them into one hour of comedy. The Ananka troupe takes Best Picture winners and interprets them in………belly dance?

Ananka Belly Dancers: The Best of Oscar takes great movies and puts them in motion with swiveling hips, swaying arms, and twisting torsos. It may be the music that inspires the dance, or the setting, or theme concepts that create a storyline for movement. At any rate, the results are fun to watch.Rogue

Fun.

Many belly-dancing shows are serious affairs. They may be exciting, sexy, and alluring, but the dancers don’t show joy. Elly Buffin’s Ananka troupe is filled with dancers who have an attitude of “Isn’t it a kick that all these people are watching me?” These are real bodies. Different sizes and shapes, and they are all having a good time. Some of the costumes are revealing, but many are not. A dance to the musical theme from Lawrence of Arabia features large veils that cover each performer. It shows that you don’t have to be near-naked to be riveting.

There are dances to the Mambo from West Side Story, Colonel Bogey’s March, and an Amadeus-inspired number with costumes that resemble the 1700’s from behind and harem outfits from the front. Bridal outfits adorned the swiveling hips dancing to My Fair Lady’s “Get Me to the Church on Time.” My favorite was a pair of saloon girls dancing to “Turkey in the Straw} (Unforgiven). The cutaway skirts were made to evoke turkey tail feathers.

The Ananka Belly Dancers are performing their Oscar tribute at Dianna’s Studio of Dance, 826 N. Fulton St. Tickets are $9. The Ananka shows are the only belly dancing shows that don’t make me feel embarrassed that I’m watching them.

Remaining performances:
March 4 at 8 p.m., March 7 at 2 p.m.

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a Community Librarian for the WoW! (WithOut Walls) Division of the Fresno County Public Library, roaming the Valley to meet the public’s information needs.


Switch Back: Maryclare McCauley
Review by Joshua Ryan Taylor

There is a tragedy happening at the Fresno Soap Co. No, not King Lear. Not even Maryclare McCauley’s Switch Back. But that there were only ten people in the audience when I saw it.

This show deserves sold-out houses. This show deserves a fight to get tickets.

It’s an autobiography. And not in the subtle way that The Glass Menagerie or Long Day’s Journey Into Night are autobiographies (though it does have the poetic realism of those pieces.) No, it’s literal autobiography. The protagonist is named Maryclare. And this is her story.

She moves down south, and she meets a man. A nice, good ol’ cowboy. They hit it off. After a while, he gets an offer to watch over a cabin up on Switch Back Mountain, and he invites her to come with. It’s beautiful and perfect. Just the two of them, isolated, together. Just like The Shining, except romantic. Except Louis is hiding a few dark secrets.rogue

The play quickly shifts into a fight for her life. As McCauley switches between all of the characters, she paints for us a picture with the passion of Van Gogh. While many solo performance plays become about showcasing the actor’s ability to play a plethora of characters and forget to tell a story, McCauley places the story front and center, using herself as a vehicle for one of the most harrowing pieces of theatre you will ever see.

It’s hard not to hear Brokeback Mountain whenever she says Switch Back Mountain. Perhaps that’s intentional. Both stories do the same thing – claw into your chest cavity, rip out your heart, and wish you goodnight.

I was astonished by how viscerally affected I was. Many times during the performance, I had to restrain myself from getting up and punching her in the face. Then she would switch characters, and I would again have to restrain myself, but this time from hugging her. In such an intimate space, McCauley is able to stare right into your eyes, lay bare her very soul, and entrust it into your hands.

There were nods and sighs of recognition throughout the audience. Anyone who has spent any time in the country will completely understand when she mentions that the nearest store is an hour and half away or when Louis tells Maryclare that all the girls have elk tooth earrings. McCauley turns the story of an abusive relationship into a universal one, just like how Brokeback Mountain turned the story of a same-sex relationship into a universal one. In his review of that film, Roger Ebert wrote, “The more specific a film is, the more universal, because the more it understands individual characters, the more it applies to everyone.” McCauley’s story is our story.

Contains adult language and frightening & violent scenes.

Remaining Performances:
Fresno Soap Co.
1470 N. Van Ness
March 3 at 9:30, March 6 at 5:00, and March 7 at 5:00.

Joshua Ryan Taylor is a Fresno actor and writer. He is also on the Artistic Advisory for the Woodward Shakespeare Festival.


Gemma Wilcox: Shadows in Bloom
By Joshua Ryan Taylor

Gemma Wilcox is a force of nature.

Back with her one woman, twenty-two character show, Gemma Wilcox proves that magic is indeed real. Wearing only a black shirt and black sweatpants, with no props or set but a piano bench, aided only by a bit of light and sound, Wilcox takes us on a journey through thirty-something Sandra, recently divorced, and her attempts to find, as Cher would say, life after love.

While Sandra is the protagonist, Wilcox also plays her new boyfriend, Pete, her daughter, Louise (not Lou), a sexy jazz club singer, a few waiters, a chef, some plants, a couple of lobsters, and plenty more. Highlights include a teddy bear with a war record, a wise neighbor who can talk to plants, and a flamboyantly gay calla lily named Kevin.rogue

I’m struggling with how to write this review. It would be possible to simply heap praise on Wilcox who, in addition to being one of the most entrancing performers to ever grace the stage, is also one of the kindest human beings I’ve ever met. It would also be possible to give a straightforward analysis of the show, but Wilcox resists that. Or, seeing as I’m the lighting operator for the show, give backstage anecdotes and insider tips.

Instead, I think I’ll take a page from Gemma’s (for I do call her Gemma, though she’s in my phone as Most Amazing Person I’ve Ever Met) book, and eschew superfluousness.

Gemma Wilcox is a master and a magician, and if you do not see her perform, you will regret it for the rest of your life. Guaranteed. Get there early. Tickets sell out within minutes of going on sale.

Contains adult language.

Remaining Performances:
CalArts Academy Severance Theatre
1401 N. Wishon Ave.
March 5 at 8:15, March 6 at 7:00, and March 7 at 4:00
Gemma is also having a workshop on Wednesday at Cal Arts

Video interview with Gemma Wilcox:

Joshua Ryan Taylor is a Fresno actor and writer. He is also on the Artistic Advisory for the Woodward Shakespeare Festival


Lonestar: California Public Theater
By Joshua Ryan Taylor

Think No Exit, but with beer. And southern accents.

The plot, insofar as there is one, follows Roy (Matthew Comageys, cunningly adept at using the space,) who has just returned from war, and is trying to readjust to normal life. Of course, such adjusting is aided by enough alcohol to kill a baby elephant. His brother Ray (Joshua Lucas, surprisingly restrained, considering the material) may or may not have brain damage, but he’s trying to help. Only he can’t. Such is the position of one whose loved one has a mental illness – no matter how much you try to help, the most you can do is simply be there.rogue

About halfway through the show, Ray’s old friend Cletis (played by Jeff Tuck about as well as I suppose one can play the role) shows up and, after taking Ray alone, informs him that he has wrecked Roy’s precious car, and he wants Ray to take the blame. (It makes more sense in context, I suppose.)

But enough about the play; let’s talk about what’s important – the production. For a play is the script, a production is the collection of specific choices made by the ensemble producing it. The play is very easy to fault on a lot of different levels – the production isn’t quite so easy to fault.

All three actors struggle to find meaning in the little with which they have to work, and I would be remiss to not commend the effort and commitment. The set is among the more impressive I’ve seen in the Fresno Soap Co. space. While it maintains the minimalism required by the ultra-intimate space, it pushes up against what you can and cannot throw in the space. The sound design is effective and enhancing without straying into distracting.

On the whole, director S. Eric Day has crafted a production that does the most with its source material and holds up under its own internal logic. He had his work cut out for him – he’s contending with a script that thinks jokes about defecation and masturbation are the highest form of art.

Let me be frank: I do not like the play, but I appreciate the work the gentlemen of California Public Theater put into it. And I do encourage you to go see it. Many of the audience members enjoyed it, and it’s quite possible that you will too.

Contains adult language and violence.

Remaining Performances:
Fresno Soap Co.
1470 N. Van Ness Ave.
March 3 at 8:00, March 5 at 11:00, and March 6 at 9:30

Joshua Ryan Taylor is a Fresno actor and writer. He is also on the Artistic Advisory for the Woodward Shakespeare Festival


Still Shopping For God
Review by Lorie Lewis Ham

In Still Shopping For God Erica Lann-Clark shares her story of her life long search for a higher power. Through the years she tried a little bit of everything, including variations of her own Jewish roots. She’s not willing to buy her parents atheist beliefs, and she feels someone is in charge, but who?

Erica takes her audience with her on this wild and hilarious ride. Her humor and blunt honesty is at times I’m sure offensive to some, and at other times very adult, but her delivery just makes you enjoy the ride anyway.

theatre

Erica Lann-Clark

There are also some very serious moments when she shares about her family fleeing Vienna on the eve of the Nazi invasion, and about those of her family who didn’t make it. And you get a glimpse into a theater therapy group where children of Nazi’s and children of Jewish survivors face each other for reconciliation.

In her article here in KRL Erica describes her show like this, “Still Shopping For God is my story of how a person just like you or me can turn our fear and our hatred into both personal freedom and personal power. That’s what my show is about and why I’m taking it on tour while I’m still strong enough to go on the road.”

Even though I’m pretty sure she’s in her 70’s, Erica shows no sign of slowing down and has as much energy on stage as any of the younger performers. I can only hope I have that much spunk when I’m her age. She’s a delightful mix of shocking, sweet, strong, insightful, inspiring, and oh so very funny! You don’t want to miss Still Shopping For God.

Contains adult language.

Remaining performances:
Voice Shop
1296 North Wishon Ave
March 4, Wednesday, 8:00 p.m.
March 6, Friday, 6:30 p.m.
March 7, Saturday, 8:00 p.m.

Video interview with Erica Lann-Clark:

Lorie Lewis Ham is our Editor-in-Chief and an enthusiastic contributor to various sections, coupling her journalism experience with her connection to the literary and entertainment worlds. Explore Lorie’s mystery writing at Mysteryrat’s Closet.


Animal Love
Review by Lorie Lewis Ham

The is a one woman show where Annette Roman shares her bittersweet tale of love and loss. The story starts off with a young Annette and her love for animals, and through the years Annette often finds a more satisfying love from animals than from people. When her mother becomes allergic to dogs and the dogs who had been Annette’s best friends and protectors have to go, she tries to find another pet to fill that void, and we get to enjoy her hilarious journey.

Eventually as an adult Annette finds another perfect pet in an unexpected place, pet rats. We follow her life with the rats, including some discrimination that those pets often endure, as Annette also deals with human sadness and loss in her life. I have to say this show wasn’t exactly what I expected, and it took some very dark turns as Annette shares about her mother’s illness, and her time in hospice care where Annette and her siblings were her caregivers (there seem to be a lot of stories which involve this, this year), as well as other losses in her life. And eventually, sadly, she learns what short life spans her pet rats have as well. rogue

However, while there are moments where you feel sadness with her, Annette shares her story in such a delightful, light hearted and funny way, you laugh with her more than you cry.

As a long time fan of rats as pets I was thrilled to see her include these wonderful animals in her show (not live ones of course, everything is acted out and imagined). Annette is a talented performer sharing from her own heart and life and you leave feeling uplifted and a bit inspired, and having laughed a great deal.

Remaining performances:
Dianna’s Studio of Dance
826 North Fulton Street
March 7 at 9:30 p.m., March 7 at 6:30 p.m.

Lorie Lewis Ham is our Editor-in-Chief and an enthusiastic contributor to various sections, coupling her journalism experience with her connection to the literary and entertainment worlds. Explore Lorie’s mystery writing at Mysteryrat’s Closet.


Flower Tome Companion
Review by Terrance McArthur

Take Garrison Keillor and the Prairie Home Companion crew, pick them up in a Minnesota tornado, and drop them out over Fresno. Change the names to protect their careers, and you have Flower Tome Companion, a Rogue Festival show that is filling The Voice Shop, 1296 N. Wishon Ave.

This mock radio show is the work of Mike Workman, Don Weaver, and Glen Westersund, with music direction by John Alden. There are over a dozen people in view, more than you’ll find in any other Rogue show. And, oh! What people they are! Don Priest, Valerie Priest, Debi Ruud, Karen Marguth, Mike Smith, Ty Kanzler, Mike Workman, Joey Arriola, John Alden, Larry Lindberg, Steve Ono, Glen Westersund, and more.rogue

Workman is Harrison Freeler, commenting on the doings of the “Flower District” with a warm voice and wandering the not-too-mean streets as “Luke Warm, Private Eye.” From time to time, a group of actors simulate a group of bar-dwellers at the Euphoria Bar and Grill, each with beer in hand (except for one poor fellow who can’t get any respect or service, a running gag that builds and builds until it explodes into…..aw, you’ll just have to see it.}
Prairie Home Companion is a loving satire of old-time radio shows, and Flower Tome Companion is a loving satire of Keillor’s show. The depth of talent here is evident when you realize that Ruud and Marguth have been headliners in their own right (and they mostly sing backup, here) and local music legend Ono is sitting against the back wall with his guitar, gently smiling as he helps create the equivalent of a movie soundtrack for the show.

There are little must-be-Fresno touches like the Flower District and the Turkey Pie Shop (The Voice Shop is less than two blocks from the Chicken Pie Shop in the Tower District), and enough bad jokes and silly songs to keep anybody happy. It’s one of the jewels of the 2015 Rogue. See it and watch it shine.

Remaining performances:
The Voice Shop
1296 North Wishon Ave.
March 4 at 6:30 p.m., March 6 at 9:30 p.m., March 7 at 2 p.m.

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a Community Librarian for the WoW! (WithOut Walls) Division of the Fresno County Public Library, roaming the Valley to meet the public’s information needs.


Breaking Bange
Review by Terrance McArthur

Christopher Bange is a clown.

Christopher Bange is a magician.

Christopher Bange is wild and unusual.

He hit the Rogue before with clowning, magic, mime, and Neil Diamond karaoke in the Fat Guy Show. He has returned in new, wild, and unusual form with Breaking Bange. Don’t bring the kiddies.

Mr. Magic loves magic and hates people. The Karaoke Clown wants to be wacky, even in his dating and sex. Christopher just tries to keep the peace between his Hyding Jekyll and his Jekylling Hyde.rogue

This is one of those shows where the audience is part of the performance, and that makes the unexpected become the expected. When the Clown’s chosen date from the crowd turned out to be from Finland, it put a definite off-spin on a karaoke medley. Mr. Magic’s assistant is showered with verbal abuse…heck, the whole audience is cussed out.
When overdrinking and showing off result in a catastrophic injury, Christopher’s two alter egos have to work together to help him survive.

Bange’s characters can be foul, annoying, awkward, and charming. You will see magician-in-trouble illusions, crazy karaoke, and simulated doll sex. The dueling personalities illuminate the humanity of every human performer.

Breaking Bange performs at Mia Cuppa, 620 E. Olive Ave. Tickets are $10.

Remaining Performances:
March 4 at 6:30 p.m., March 7 at 2 p.m.

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a Community Librarian for the WoW! (WithOut Walls) Division of the Fresno County Public Library, roaming the Valley to meet the public’s information needs.


Tony Imperatrice: Play It Like Virgil
Review by Terrance McArthur

In the Sixties and Seventies, Virgil Fox was the Liberace of the organ, one of the most popular musicians of his day, playing in rock venues…and the critics and musical purists hated him. Tony Imperatrice disliked him…without ever having heard him. Then, in 1984, he was buying music for his first CD player and found The Digital Fox…and was amazed. For years, he has tried to put together a program to honor Fox. It was worth the wait.rogue

Play It Like Virgil is Tony’s tribute, a Rogue Festival Off-Rogue show at the Cal Arts-Severance building, 1401 N. Wishon Ave. Peppered with sound-bites from the famous showman and bits of his recordings, the show covers Virgil’s life and music.

Tony performs some of the Bach pieces that Fox was known for, playing a Rogers organ, the same company that made Fox’s favorite instrument, the “Black Beauty.” The sound is powerful, ranging from crystalline trebles to filling-loosening notes from the pedals. Tony rides the organ bench like it’s a wild mustang, pours his soul into the keyboards like the Phantom of the Severance, and creates a wall of sound that makes Phil Spector seem like a kid with a kazoo.

I tend to think of solo piano performances as self-indulgent, shouts of “Look at me!” Organ music, on the other hand, is a filling of space, crying “Behold!”

If you don’t know who Virgil Fox was, you will be enlightened. If you think Johann Sebastian Bach is boring, you will be surprised. If you are a Fox fan who loves the roar of the pipes, you will be as happy as a spider who just found a fly carnival.

Remaining Performances:
Cal Arts
1401 N. Wishon Ave.
March 4 at 7 p.m., March 7 at 2:30 p.m.

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a Community Librarian for the WoW! (WithOut Walls) Division of the Fresno County Public Library, roaming the Valley to meet the public’s information needs.


Beers About Songs
Review by Terrance McArthur

Ryan Adam Wells is tall. He’s handsome. He sings. He plays guitar. With his thick, Biblical hair, it’s no surprise that he gets asked to audition for the title role in Jesus Christ Superstar. Currently, he has a worth-seeing Rogue Festival show, Beers About Songs, at the Fulton Street Art space, 1118 N. Fulton Street.

You’ll see a lot of confessional-type shows at the Rogue, but this is the only one you’ll see with a good beat and you can dance to it. Ryan tells of romance when he became the bad guy, and love that did bad things to him, and his longest-lasting relationship—beer. Most of his songs, strung into his life story, are about one of those relationships. Between the songs, guitar strains tie it all together, giving an Arlo Guthrie/Alice’s Restaurant atmosphere to the proceedings. Its tone is light and gentle, even when dealing with topics that required an intervention. rogue

Ryan’s warm, strong voice and winning smile make it like listening to your wayward cousin telling you about the latest mess he got himself into. You know he made some big mistakes, but he’s such a great guy that you just shake your head and cry. It’s a show that begs for a beer to go along with the songs; the venue doesn’t have a liquor license, so there’s root beer.
Tickets are $5.

Remaining performances are:
Fulton Street Art
1118 N. Fulton Street
March 7 at 4:15 p.m.

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a Community Librarian for the WoW! (WithOut Walls) Division of the Fresno County Public Library, roaming the Valley to meet the public’s information needs.


Ashes, Presented by Curtain 5
Review by Lorie Lewis Ham

Ashes is a play presented by local theatre company Curtain 5, who originally produced the show last winter, but after turning crowds away decided to bring it to this year’s Rogue Festival.

RogueThis is a one-act play about two very different daughters fighting over their father’s ashes. Rebecca is the high society sister who lives in Manhattan–the show takes place in her living room. Bridget is an unemployed teacher who is very much a free spirit and lives in New Jersey. The evening starts off strained but civil, and quickly deteriorates with insults, dragging up the past, putting down each other’s lifestyles, and eventually even becomes physical. The husbands, Rebecca’s straight laced husband Tom and Bridget’s artist/unemployed teacher husband Danny, get into it as well.

Even if your family hasn’t ever fought over someone’s ashes, I think many of us can relate to the tensions that can exist sometimes between family members, especially over life choices and old wounds. This is a very believable story, which is actually quite funny at times because of the absurd extremes these four take things too. All four actors do a great job of bringing these characters to life. Be sure to catch Ashes at this year’s Rogue Festival for some good old family drama and laughs.

Remaining performances are:
Fresno Soap Co.
1470 N. Van Ness Ave.
March 2 at 9:30 p.m., March 4 at 6:30 p.m., March 5 at 8 p.m., March 7 at 8 p.m.

Video interview with actor and director of Ashes:


Check Please presented by Highlander Theater Co. from McLane High School
Review by Lorie Lewis Ham

Check Please follows a series of really bad blind dates. Would you want to go on a date with a kleptomaniac, a mime, or someone who can’t quite settle on one personality? Check Please is exactly what all of these daters end up asking for very quickly in each scenario. Rogue

This show is put on by students from McLane High School. While you may have to stretch your imagination to believe some of these kids are old enough to date, they do a good job of putting on a very funny, though very brief, show. If you’re looking for a good laugh don’t miss Check Please, and I think it’s great that a high school theatre company brought something to Rogue. And this is one of the few shows you can bring the whole family too.

Remaining performances are:
Fresno Soap Co.
1470 N. Van Ness Ave.
March 2 at 6:30 p.m., March 4 at 5 p.m., March 7 at 6:30 p.m.


Dancing in The Mist
Review by Lorie Lewis Ham

Dancing in the Mist is the story of two people–a mother, Gillie, who is suffering from dementia, and the son, Mike, who is her caretaker. We follow them through the different stages of dementia as Mike cares for her with love and a bit of flair–taking advantage of the fact he is an actor to become whoever she needs him to be at the moment.

We not only watch this play out, but Mike also narrates the story and provides insight to how he felt and what he was going through during all of this. Having watched my father go through some of this in the end stages of his Parkinson’s, I can tell you this is very much spot on to how it is really is. I think this is a story many of us can relate to, perhaps find comfort in knowing we weren’t or aren’t alone, and it can even teach us a few things we can use when or if we ever face this situation ourselves. Through Mike’s perspective we not only see his own struggles, but we also get some light funny moments as well.

Dancing in the Mist was written by Fresno’s own Marcel Nunis, who was one of the founders of the Rogue Festival, and much is taken from his own experience. Kurt Fitzpatrick (one of my favorite Rogue performers) plays the son wonderfully, and Xan Scott plays the mother, and despite being young herself, wonderfully makes us believe she is Gillie. The chemistry between these two is great, and they make you feel not only their pain, but the sweet love that exists between this mother and son despite the tragedy that faces them. There’s a fun little mysterious twist to this story that adds another level to it–but I’ll leave that as a surprise for you to discover when you see this show, because see this show you must! It will make you laugh, smile and cry.

Rogue

Xan & Kurt

Remaining performances are:
Fresno Soap Co.
1470 N. Van Ness Ave. Fresno, CA.
March 2 at 8:00 p.m., March 6 at 8 p.m., March 7 at 3:30 p.m. Tickets are $10.

Video interview with Kurt Fitzpatrick & Xan Scott:


Fallen
Review by Lorie Lewis Ham

Fallen starts out as a sweet love story and courtship set in New York in 1911. Naomi Gingold (played by Heather Rule) and Seth Froumkin (played by Charles Montoya) work at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. They meet and both like each other right away, so Seth sets out to court her. The courtship is sweet and old fashioned and the couple is adorable. The story however ends in tragedy, as it is based around a real life tragedy, a fire at the factory on March 25, 1911 where 146 garment workers lost their lives. Rogue

Heather is a local performer who also wrote this show for Rogue. So much is packed into this one act play–somehow in this short period of time you are drawn in to this romance and fall in love yourself with this sweet couple. Both actors do a beautiful job of making you feel like you know these two, and of portraying the tragedy that follows way too soon. Charles does an excellent Russian accent, further helping to bring his character to life.

This is a must see show at Rogue–it will have you smiling, laughing, falling in love, and crying over the tragedy this couple ends up facing–all in one short span of time. You can learn more about how this show came to be in their Rogue Performer article.

Remaining performances:
Mia Cuppa Caffe’
620 E. Olive Ave. Fresno, CA. 93728
Sunday, March 1, 3:30 p.m.
Thursday, March 5, 9:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 7, 3:30 p.m.

Lorie Lewis Ham is our Editor-in-Chief and an enthusiastic contributor to various sections, coupling her journalism experience with her connection to the literary and entertainment worlds. Explore Lorie’s mystery writing at Mysteryrat’s Closet.


Shame the Devil and Pass the Nails
Review by Terrance Mc Arthur

Pearl Louise didn’t know what she was getting into when her family decided to build a duplex in a high-crime area of East Oakland. The audience doesn’t know what it’s getting into when they go to see Shame the Devil and Pass the Nails at the Spectrum Gallery, 608 E. Olive Ave.

Pearl looks like a nice, friendly person, but the world she throws us into is not nice. The vacant lot is littered with discarded furniture, and broken syringes and used condoms are underfoot. She puts us in between a prostitute and her customer and their argument over her fee in loud tones and coarse words. We get a portrait of an 11-year-old gangsta and the realm of the drug dealer. This is not “Home Improvement: Ghetto Edition.”rogue

One of the interesting facets of Fresno’s Rogue Festival is that it is a place for performers to work on projects that haven’t reached a final form. Metaphorically, we are the out-of-town tryout for Broadway-bound productions. Pearl is developing a full show, and we are getting portions of it. What you see may not have a resolution, and it may not be the same scenes that another audience will see, but it will be intense, harrowing, and a look at another world.

Remaining performances at:
Spectrum Art Gallery
608 E Olive Ave, Fresno, CA 93728
Sunday, March 1 2015 3:15 PM — 4:00 PM
Saturday, March 7 2015 12:30 PM — 1:15 PM

Spencer/Morris Group, Greatest Hits: 2004-2014
Review by Terrance McArthur

David Spencer and Randy Morris have been friends for ages, and have played music together for a long time, and have been Rogue performers for over a decade. This year, the Spencer/Morris Group revs up Greatest Hits: 2004-2014 on the Veni Vidi Vici patio, 1116 N. Fulton St.

RogueAny songs I tell you about will mean nothing when you see the show, because each show is going to feature a different set of songs. With 11 years of songs to choose from, you don’t know what you’re going to get. Spencer writes about the quirky history and people of Fresno, and the quirky history and people of the United States. One series of Rogue shows annually chose a decade (1960’s, 1990’s) for comments and reminiscences. Some of the songs have original tunes, and others are parodies set to music we all know. Where else would you hear a tale of low-riding Fresno’s streets to the melody of “Ghost Riders in the Sky?”

Spencer pounds away at his amplified acoustic guitar and semi-growls out the words. Morris adds sax and flute overlays to the music and offers some explanations and introductions for the songs. Randy is a big, cuddly fellow, curling around his instruments as if the body contact will heighten the sound.

The Spencer/Morris Group is two guys, but they turn into whole ensembles playing everything from dirty blues to bubble-gum pop to reggae. Go. See them. Listen. Smile.

Remaining Performances:
Veni Vidi Vici
1116 N Fulton St, Fresno, CA 93710
Friday, March 6 2015 6:30 PM — 7:15 PM
Saturday, March 7 2015 6:45 PM — 7:30 PM


Victory for the Recycled Virgin
Review by Terrance Mc Arthur

Houston Robertson is a tall, angular woman, 78 years old. She isn’t sitting in front of a television, quietly knitting. She’s standing in front of an audience at the Rogue Festival in Fresno, talking frankly about orgasms and the pleasures of younger men in Victory for the Recycled Virgin at Fulton Street Art, a storefront at 1118 N. Fulton Street, next door to Veni Vidi Vici.

theatre

Houston Robertson

There are certain kinds of shows you see frequently at the Rogue. There are the “I Survived That?” shows that tell about horrible things that happened to the performer and invite people to laugh about it. Some shows are of the “I’m Going to Tell You the Truth” shows that lash out with frank language and invite people to laugh about it. Other shows are “My Life Is Important to Me and It Should Be to You” ones that invite people to laugh about it. Victory is all of those.

Robertson was a dutiful wife and mother for 21 years, waiting for her chance to start making her own impact on life. Just when she began making her first steps toward personal growth, her view of their marriage was shattered by her husband, and she started to see how he had falsely controlled her world. When she finally stepped out on her own, she began dealing with dating and sex and clowning. Clowning? Yep, clowning on the streets of San Francisco.

She wants you to see her as a person, not as an old lady. She does it. That’s a lot for $5.

Remaining performances:
Fulton Street Art, 1118 N. Fulton
Sunday at 4:30 and the following Saturday, March 7 at 1:45


Boxcar Figaro
Review by Terrance McArthur

Victor DesRoches is the locomotive of Boxcar Figaro, chugging along with his unusual songs and the rest of the band clickety-clacking behind him. Exceedingly original songs, sprinkled with a few covers: Victor sings in his rumpled, behatted, I’m-doing-what-I-love style. Mike Witton (on bass) and Sam Garner (on guitar and mandolin) sit behind him like bearded gargoyles, lifting and supporting the music of Victor’s guitar.

RogueWhen he isn’t singing, Victor talks. When he talks, people laugh…or think…or look slightly puzzled. He may talk about agricultural irrigation techniques or the lack of overt protestations of love in his family, but it all sounds terribly fascinating when it comes out of his mouth.

He doesn’t shout or wail: he doesn’t have to. The lyrics just show up in the air, images of common things twisted slightly, turned enough that they show new relationships with the universe and the human heart. It isn’t everybody who sings about the Salton Sea or Fresno or Nothing. Maybe they should…but they probably wouldn’t sing about it as well as Victor.

Remaining performances:
Veni Vidi Vici
1116 N Fulton St, Fresno, CA 93728
Thursday, March 5 2015 7:45 PM — 8:30 PM
Friday, March 6 2015 9:00 PM — 9:45 PM

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a Community Librarian for the WoW! (WithOut Walls) Division of the Fresno County Public Library, roaming the Valley to meet the public’s information needs.


A Girl’s Guide to War, Quake Theater
Review by Joshua Ryan Taylor

Claire Patton doesn’t so much enter the stage as catapult onto it. In Quake Theater’s production, fresh from the Boulder Fringe Festival, Patton (with a little help from her friends) creates and manages to sustain an energy so electrifying that, even when the show strays from its comedic roots in order to philosophize about war, it’s impossible to turn away.

Her story is this: Millicent Gulch, a fourteen-year-old girl, is performing an interpretive dance at her middle school talent show with her best friend (whose name is a running gag in itself) about the historical and political significance of Napoleon Bonaparte. Except her friend doesn’t show up. And thus Millicent is left to fend for herself in front of an anxious audience expecting a show, an army of middle schoolers expecting to perform after her, and the judgmental Napoleon himself.Rogue

To call this a one woman show would be misleading. While Millicent is the core of the performance, she receives help from her backstage crew member Scott (Tim Rearick, less Napoleon Bonaparte than Napoleon Dynamite.) And that’s not to mention the audience. To explain how the audience is involved would be to ruin many of the very best jokes (let’s just say that at the opening performance, Patton had to convince a girl’s mother to allow her daughter to swear onstage [in the name of art, of course.])

Some standout moments: a shadow puppetry interlude involving Napoleon and an accordion, a mouse that reveals the inner thoughts of those around it, and a mid-show monologue about the emotional resonance of ripping out someone’s guts.

Know that when you see A Girl’s Guide to War, you are in for a barrel of laughs and a gloriously good time. But also know that the show isn’t just surface-level, fourth wall-breaking humor. The piece runs deep. It includes commentary on war and plenty of emotional anguish. Interestingly enough, though, those are perhaps the funniest moments in the entire show. Then again, what is comedy but the suffering of someone who isn’t you?

A Girl’s Guide to War remaining shows at the CalArts Academy Severance Theatre are March 4 at 9:30, and March 6 at 8:30. It contains adult language and humor.


Rites of Passage, Belly Dance Coalition of the San Joaquin Valley
Review by Joshua Ryan Taylor

Rites of Passage, the new show from the Belly Dance Coalition of the San Joaquin Valley, attempts to, through the art of Middle Eastern dance, journey through life itself. What’s amazing is not the audacity, but the level at which it succeeds.

Starting with a solo dancer confined to a small pool of light, we are delivered into the world. The world that these women (and one man) create is, ostensibly, far more joyful and bright than our world. That is, until they delve beneath the surface and explore the dark underbelly of life.Rogue

The first part of the show is ebullience, distilled. It features pieces on birth, first love, and a childlike (but not childish) view of the world as an oyster guaranteed to have a pearl. This section concludes with a marvelous duet between a dancer and a drummer – the live music combined with the vivacity of the dance make it a high point in the show.

Near the middle of the performance, the group digs deep to discuss the sorrows and losses one has in life. The heart of the show lies in two duets which, back-to-back, tug at the heartstrings. The first begins with two women, completely veiled, separated, cut-off from each other. As they strain to reach each other, we are plunged into their world, their struggles. It makes it all the more powerful when they finally come together at the end – I won’t spoil the best moment of the piece, but know that there wasn’t a face in the audience that wasn’t beaming.

The second duet is the story of two sisters, one of whom has passed on. As the living sister grieves, she manages to bring the other back to life. They revel in the joy of the return to sisterhood, but all is not calm, all is not bright. We see a light slowly call her back to the land of the dead. At first, her sister’s love can keep her on this plane of existence, but as the light grows stronger, it becomes more and more difficult to stay together. They both know the reunion must end, but must it happen now? The power of the piece lies in its ability to be both emotionally affecting and spiritually cleansing.

As the show comes to a close, we return to the brightness of the beginning, and we appreciate it even more for the interlude in the middle. Joy is all the more joyful after sorrow.

Rites of Passage remaining shows are at the CalArts Academy Severance Theatre on March 4 at 8:15, and March 7 at 5:30.

Joshua Ryan Taylor is a Fresno actor and writer. He is also on the Artistic Advisory for the Woodward Shakespeare Festival

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