by Heather Parish,
Terrance V. Mc Arthur
& Christine Autrand Mitchell

Throughout Rogue Festival we will be reviewing several of the shows beginning today! So check back often we will be adding new reviews as they come in! So far we have a reviews of The Velocity of Gary (Not His Real Name), Approaching 80, The Golden Strings of the Forbidden Planet, Poetry Ghosts, Breaking Rank!, Almost Shakespeare, The They, Lot o’ Shakespeare, Hitler’s Li’l Abomination, The Fat Guy Show, Boxcar Figaro, The Sparrow and the Mouse, Songs for Pints, A Hair of the Dog That Humped Ya, The Guy From Out of Town, Poe and Mathews & Kristie With a “K”.

Poe and Mathews
Review by Terrance V. Mc Arthur

Edgar Allen Poe: major American poet and short-story writer of the 19th century, famous for “The Raven, “”The Pit and the Pendulum,” and “The Masque of the Red Death.”

Cornelius Mathews: minor 19th century writer, famous for little more than for the famous people he knew. Imagine the two of them stranded on a desert island…and stand back!

That’s what Bryan Kuwabara and Emily Windler did when they created “Poe and Mathews,” now playing the Rogue Festival at the Tower Lounge. It started as a 15-minute existential clown show, which turned into a 50-minute show, filled with bizarre physical comedy, deliberate anachronisms, absurdist tendencies, and general silliness.

Windler creates a gaunt, pasty-faced Poe, goggle eyed and frantic, living out his story-formula of a character in an odd place encountering odd circumstances and death. Kuwabara’s Mathews is an overstuffed-yet-genial set of accidents waiting to happen.

There are references to the Kübler-Ross stages of grief, whether or not Mathews inspired Herman Melville to write Moby-Dick, disco music, and space aliens. There are moments of the Red Cross First-Aid Manual, the actual writings of Mathews, and “Who’s on First.” I describe it to people as Laurel and Hardy waiting for Godot.

When I first saw publicity and pictures of this show, I said, “I’m not interested.” When I saw a preview segment, I said, “I’m interested.” Now that I have seen this show, I say, “I wish I had seen this show earlier, so I could have recommended it to everybody before now.”

Come back, Poe and Mathews! Come back!

Poe and Mathews plays at the Tower Lounge, 1211 N. Wishon Ave., with a final performance Saturday, March 10 at 1 p.m. Tickets are $9 in Rogue Bucks.

Kristie With a K
Review by Terrance V. Mc Arthur

Kristie Francis is a tall, earnest-looking person, and when she picks up a guitar, you would expect traditional ballads and songs of social protest. You would not expect a song complaining about people who leave their Christmas decorations on their homes for months and months.

Kristie looks at the world through a slightly warped looking glass, saying what teachers would really like to say about their students at a parent-teacher conference and grappling with the pros and cons of whether or not you would want a former boyfriend to write a song about your failed romance. Influenced by her teaching background, she uses visual aids to help the audience learn song lyrics for group participation. To get into the proper singer/guitarist position, she perches atop a long-legged chair and uses plastic foot-blocks, giving her the pose of a NASCAR driver.

She teeters near regular love-song territory with a song about re-igniting old feelings when an old flame strikes new sparks, but shies away from expressing feelings verbally. She sings of singing about chickens, and discusses whether women really need what a man has that they don’t with surprising conclusions.

The songs and tunes are simple, and some of the music is familiar; “Mockingbird Hill,” folksongs, and holiday carols make guest-star appearances. Kristie’s genial manner makes it a pleasant time for all. She even finds a way to solve an age-old problem that faces performers, one that has been studied for years by the likes of George Burns: how do you choose an opening song? Her answer is highly satisfying, and you will find that her first number will fulfill your highest expectations.

Kristie With a K has its last show Saturday, March 10 at1 p.m. at the Spectrum Gallery, 608 E. Olive Ave. Tickets are $3 in Rogue Bucks.

The Sparrow and the Mouse
Review by Terrance V. Mc Arthur

The Sparrow and the Mouse—Creating the Music of Edith Piaf, featured at the Rogue Festival, is a biographical concert of the beloved French songstress, as seen through the eyes of Simone Bertault, her half-sister (They were daughters of a man with many loves and even more children). Piaf, “The Little Sparrow,” born on the streets of Paris (literally—beneath the light of a lamppost), had a soaring voice that rose above the poverty and degradation of her childhood, catapulting her to stardom in France, and she performed throughout the world.

Many women have performed as Piaf, but Melanie Gall chose to focus on Simone, dubbed “Momone” by Piaf, because most people never heard her part of the story. Blessed with a soaring voice of her own, Gall is a world-traveling opera performer who finds time to write Savvy Girl travel guides.

The storyline follows Piaf and Momone through their childhoods in brothels and factories, singing for bread on the streets, the loves, affairs, and tragedies that stalked them, until Piaf became a success.

The music pours out, from “La Vie en Rose” to “Autumn Leaves,” from Jacques Brel’s “Ne Me Quitte Pas (If You Go Away)” to her signature “I Regret Nothing.” Each song shows a connection to Piaf’s life story; each song builds a portrait of the artist, as seen from the closest of lenses.

Gall treats her subjects with love and candor, gleefully reveling in the sordid details with as much enthusiasm as she shows the high points.

The final performances of The Sparrow and the Mouse—Creating the Music of Edith Piaf are on Saturday, March 10 at Starline, 831 E. Fern Avenue at 1 p.m. and at 7 p.m.

Songs for Pints, A Hair of the Dog That Humped Ya
Review by Terrance V. Mc Arthur

It started as a mega-bizarro idea, and over the space of seven years, it has become a Rogue Festival tradition: Songs for Pints.

The name says it all. Buy a pint of Guinness for the singers (The fiddler prefers a glass of red wine) and they’ll sing you a song. The song could be the delicate “Wild Mountain Thyme,” the rousing “Wild Rover” with sing-and-clap-along audience participation, or a revolting Irish jump-rope rhyme. It’s like spending time in a rowdy Irish pub, especially when part of the Veni Vidi Vici patio crowd is talking and laughing in counterpoint to the music, so it isn’t a place to bring the kiddies.

This year, the show is called A Hair of the Dog That Humped Ya. The band line-up has grown and shrunk over the years, but the core performers are Derek McQueen and Russell Noland. Derek can wrench your heart out with a mournful tear or a switchblade, depending on the song, and Noland can sing louder than the thunder of his guitaring. This year, they are joined by Robin Tubesing on the fiddle, weaving a Celtic knot around the voices.

The repertoire is the cream of the Celtic crop—with one exception, included in each of their shows at this Rogue Festival. One song has nothing to do with Irish music and culture. I can’t tell you what song it is, because the audience is sworn to secrecy with a blood oath. All I can say is:

Go to this show. Don’t ask questions. Just go. Trust me.

Songs for Pints performs on the patio behind Veni Vidi Vici, 1116 N. Fulton Street. This weekend’s performances are Friday, March 9 at 6:15 p.m. and Saturday, March 10 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 in Rogue Bucks. The show is PG-13 for occasional language and ribald lyrics.

The Guy From Out of Town
Review by Terrance V. Mc Arthur

As a disclaimer, before I start this review of magician Bryan Patrick, I will admit to you — I do magic tricks. Nothing fancy, but I do a few routines. I just wanted you to know.

Bryan Patrick, appearing at the Broken Leg Stage as The Guy from Out of Town, bills himself as “The Magician So Amazing, He Amazes Himself!” Now, that’s amazing, and I think he has finally taken it to heart. He really seems to share the audience’s sense of wonder. When sponge balls travel, grow, and multiply, he seems surprised. When his own body appears to change shape, he thinks it’s as cool as we do.

Some magicians have a superior attitude, and treat their assistants with little respect, making rude comments that ensure hatred for the next magician that helper sees. Bryan has really learned to care about the people who share his stage for a moment. He doesn’t belittle them or make them seem foolish. He treats children as human beings, giving compliments to them on their clothes and names, and making them feel that he is grateful to have their help, and that the magic wouldn’t have happened without them.

Nobody has to get in a box, nobody has swords sliced through their body (although a piece of fruit may get knifed), and no birds appear. Small objects do seem to move on their own, cards are found, and the audience feels glad they were there. Now, THAT’s magic!

Bryan Patrick’s final shows are at the Broken Leg Stage, 1470 N. Van Ness Ave., on Saturday, March 10 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 in Rogue Bucks, and the show is rated G.

The Fat Guy Show
Review by Terrance V. Mc Arthur

The Fat Guy Show, part of the Rogue Festival at Neighborhood Thrift, is part magic show, part mime, part karaoke, part clowning, and generally silly, which is a good thing.

Christopher Bange is Mr. Fuzzy, a good magician who happens to be fat, clinging, and hooked on Neil Diamond. All the angst of his life comes out in the form of soulful song parodies and references to the remake of The Jazz Singer. Starting with the cheerful production of a plethora of parasols, Mr. Fuzzy develops his credentials as a prestidigitator, presenting solid magic routines that amaze while they amuse.

The Fat Guy

A loser at love, Mr. Fuzzy fixates on the audience volunteer who helps him in his act, projecting himself into various courtship rituals, so young women should consider their level of commitment when they agree to be a magician’s assistant.

Some people have a problem with clowns, afraid of what lies behind the makeup. Christopher Bange’s face appears greasepaint-free, with a pair of glasses and a Muppetish nose for accent, and he wears a fat suit to balloon his physique. His character is gentle, kind, and unequipped for independent living, but the storyline shows that there is hope. His physical comedy is powerfully controlled, always propelling the story along its proper arc.

The Fat Guy Show
plays at Neighborhood Thrift, 353 E. Olive Avenue. Final performances are Thursday, March 8 at 7 p.m. and Friday, March 9 at 10 p.m.. Tickets are $8 in Rogue Bucks.

Boxcar Figaro
Review by Terrance V. Mc Arthur

Victor DesRoche is a familiar fixture on the Rogue Festival scene, a slight figure in a floppy fedora, with a droopy moustache that will unexpectedly perk up into an impish grin, and a camera that catches all the excitement of the festival. Put a guitar in his hands, and he transforms into a troubadour of tenderness, a rascally raconteur, and the Wicked Wit of the West. His group, Boxcar Figaro, brightens the Veni Vidi Vici patio stage during the Rogue Festival.

Boxcar Figaro

Victor sings of love, Oakland, and nothing with a Ricky Nelson warmth to his voice of longing. The second week’s shows at the Rogue have a different playlist than the first, so this is a group that deserves a second hearing. Mike Witten lays down the bass, Sam Garner provides electric guitar, and Sam Nassar sits in on percussion (Really. He plays a wooden box, beating it with his hands and stroking it with snare brushes, and he sits on it.), but the spotlight (if Veni Vidi Vici’s patio had one) is on Victor, looking Michael Jeter-ish, presenting his folk-tinged view of the world.

I have known Victor for more than 20 years, and his musical abilities and his sly humor have always astounded me. They still do.

At the show, you ought to pick up the Boxcar Figaro CD recorded mostly-live at a previous Rogue Festival. It’s only $5, and a treat for the ears.

Boxcar Figaro plays the Veni Vidi Vici patio, 1116 N. Fulton Street. Remaining performances are Thursday, March 8 at 8:45 p.m. and Saturday, March 10 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 in Rogue Bucks.

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a California-born, Valley-raised librarian/entertainer/writer. He is currently writing a stage adaptation of Jack London’s The Call of the Wild for the Fresno County Public Library’s next The Big Read. He lives in Sanger, four blocks from the library, with his wife, his daughter, and a spinster cat.

Lot o’ Shakespeare
Review by Heather Parish

When a slightly built Tim Mooney comes out in Elizabethan puffy pants and a jester’s cap and bells, the audience has no real idea of what they’re in for. There is no way they can anticipate the whirlwind of emotion, voice, language and sweat that Mooney can deliver inside of one hour with Shakespeare. His Bingo-Game-o’-the-Bard is one of the simplest, but most effective Shakespeare themed shows I’ve seen.

His bingo game is actually a game of “Iago” where the audience plays along on cards marking off each monologue as it is randomly called from the bingo balls he draws. And yes, he even gives prizes for winners (always a way to win over audiences!). But truthfully, the prizes are just the cherry on this sundae of Shakespearean proportions.

Tim Mooney

Mooney is obviously an accomplished actor. His expansiveness of language, use of structure, and sideways entries to the language of Shakespeare’s characters makes his monologues so clear and precise, after just an hour the audience finds they understand all of that Early Modern English like they’re listening to a Shel Silverstein poem.

The energy and verve Mooney brings to Shakespeare’s language obviously stems from a love of his craft and it is completely infectious to the audience. There’s something here for everyone: Shakespeare enthusiasts will love the variety and vivacity he brings to this muscular language; Shakespeare novices may discover that there is far more alive than dead about Shakespeare’s characters, right here at the Rogue Festival.

Show Details
What: Lot o’ Shakespeare from Tim Mooney
Where: Starline Mainstage Venue, 833 E Fern Avenue.
Cost: $9 in Rogue Bucks only. Purchase Rogue bucks in advance at the Starline Grill.
Rated: PG, Latecomers admitted within 15 minutes.

Editor’s note: This show sadly only played the first weekend, so be sure and watch for it to come this way again. In the meantime, check out an article here at KRL where Tim shares how his show came to be & about life on the road.

Hitler’s Li’l Abomination
Review by Heather Parish

Annette Roman finds herself in a rather rare cultural position: daughter of both a former Hitler Youth member and a Jewish Holocaust survivor. The tale she tells has exactly the mix of sharply wry humor, suspicion, heartiness and, yes, endurance as you might expect.

What you might not expect is how starkly the contrasts of her life have informed her political and cultural identity today. It is a fascinating and unique journey of family life against the backdrop of long-view history that she takes us on.

Her performance has a quirkiness and buoyant energy that immediately gets the audience on her side. The humor is well written and delivered and her portrayal of the wide range of characters in her life is sharply drawn. From her father’s dour cruelties to her mother’s irrepressibly tight smiles, her body possesses each character fully.

And the story weaves in and out of time and space, through Hungary, Russia, Germany, and myriad other places to land us right here in 21st century America with its own flirtation with fascist ways of thinking. Roman’s connections to this are shockingly relevant and, while I wished for a bit more commentary on the parallels of her parents’ world and our own, what Roman gave us in her narrative gave me plenty to think about on my own.

In the end, Hitler’s Li’l Abomination is funny, thoughtful, and engaging Rogue offering. Well worth the time and gray matter.

Show Details:
What: Hitler’s Li’l Abomination, by Annette Roman
Where: The Tower Lounge, 1211 N. Wishon Avenue, next to the Tower Theater.
When: Wednesday 3/7 8:30 p.m., Friday 3/9 10 p.m., Saturday 3/10 2:30 p.m.
Cost: $9 in Rogue Bucks, can be purchased at the Tower Theater Box Office.
Rate PG-13, 60 minutes.

Heather Parish is a freelance writer & theatrical director. Originally from Visalia, she is the artistic director for The New Ensemble in Fresno. Heather can be found on Facebook.

Almost Shakespeare: WSF Goes Rogue!
Review by Christine Autrand Mitchell

The program lists this production as “not your English professor’s Shakespeare,” and I can’t agree more. Because the production takes on many aspects of Shakespeare’s time, like a rotating cast, virtually no rehearsals, and audience participation, it takes a little bit of time to get into the swing of things, but by the end, everyone’s a friend.

The performance I caught had Greg Taber, Executive Producer for WSF, acting as our guide. Just hearing “Shakespeare” causes a certain level of expectation in the audience, but the cast quickly destroys that when they toss out salty insults at you (not meant as a personal offense, of course, since you get to volunteer for it), when the cast heckles one another – to arrive at some hilarious ad libs, and when an audience member is pulled on-stage (planned or not, I must ask).

Since the audience gets to select the pieces, it’s always a new performance. I encountered the Scottish play in two separate incarnations, Abbott & Costello a la Bard (hope you get to see this one!), Elmer Fudd as Polonius – brilliantly played by Hal Bolen, some political updating, among almost doze sketches.

There was much guffawing of the audience along with some lovely surprises, foul language so don’t bring the kiddies, but do catch Shakespeare, as you’ve not seen it before! There are two performances left: Wednesday, March 7 at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Severance.

The They
Review by Christine Autrand Mitchell

Watching Jessica Reedy as a schizophrenic mother in this one-act, two-actor play is absolutely entrancing. She portrays the troubled mother with such conviction; I could barely take my eyes off her during the one hour drama. And I wasn’t the only one.

Matt Otstot plays the frustrated son, trying to break the wall of her delusions with absolute logic and psychological jargon, which inevitably only ends in more frustration. After all, The They keep telling the mother things that sound a lot more believable than his lecture on which medication does what or his philosophical analogies, which sound too text-book and distant.

The They is A.R.T.’s entry into the 2012 Rogue Festival. In the past, I have caught every performance, usually a series of short one-act performances with wonderful humor (whether banal or esoteric), insight and fantastic actors. This year they present an original play written by one of its founders, Michael Peterson, his first play.

The They is a semi-biographical tale about Michael’s life with his mentally ill mother. There are parts that clearly touch anyone who has dealt, even remotely, with such matters. The mother is complex even in her simplest confusion about whether she’s taken her meds or not, “Is the green box empty or not?” her son asks. But she can’t answer, even when she looks at it. The mother is well written and, more importantly, so incredibly well portrayed.

Because the play only has two characters, the flaw lies in the writing and development of the son’s character, but not in its performance. There are only the lines to work with and there’s very little sub-text for the son, Mike, other than frustration and its associated emotions. After dealing with an ill mother for 20 plus years, there has to be more to portray or say. Also, the shock of breaking through the fourth wall almost half way through detracts from the compelling performances we are witness to, since a pact has already been established with the audience that we are voyeurs into this mother-son pair and do not expect to be addressed.

I recommend you catch The They to witness the fabulous performances of two great local actors, showing at Severance again on 3/7 at 8:30 p.m. and Saturday, 3/10 at 6 p.m.

Check out an article here at KRL where Michael explains how this play came to be.

Christine Autrand Mitchell writes & edits for KRL. She writes fiction, non-fiction, screenplays, is a filmmaker & coaches other writers. Her screenplays have been shortlisted in international contests. Her Producer credits include short films & an award winning feature. She is the owner of Entandem Productions, specializing in casting and production services.

Poetry Ghosts
Review by Terrance V. Mc Arthur

Poetry Ghosts—Here’s the set-up: a frustrated poet walks into the parlor of a cheerful spiritualist—you know, a happy medium—in search of inspiration from the spirit realm to cure his writer’s block. Even though the silly psychic uses a crystal ball that suspiciously resembles a turned-over punch bowl, she has connections…and a large poetry book. She summons a succession of poets who read their classic poetry, and the young writer quickly produces verse that evokes the style, life, subjects, or emotions of that shade.

This clever Rogue Festival presentation is the work of the Fresno City College Arts and Literary Club. Each past-poet portrayer wrote the response poem that the young writer supposedly creates. Each show features a different line-up of literary lions, including John Greenleaf Whittier, the ancient Chinese poet Li Po, Anne Sexton, and Emily Dickinson.

Some cast members are more at ease in front of an audience than others, who would probably benefit from the use of a microphone. Anne Sexton comes off as a neurotic obsessed with her psychiatrist and alcohol. Whittier seems stiff, but his poetry always seemed that way to me, anyway.

The poet-performers are earnest in their efforts, and “Li Po” proves a moving springboard for thoughts on war. The framework works as a support for turning what would normally be a mundane writing assignment into a theatrical experience that may cause spectral visitations of your own, but I’ll probably wind up being inspired by Theodore Seuss Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss.

The remaining performances of Poetry Ghosts are at Spectrum Gallery, 608 E. Olive Ave., Wednesday 3/7 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday 3/10 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $3.

Breaking Rank
Review by Terrance V. Mc Arthur

When Howard Petrick was drafted in the 60s, it took him an hour of study in the library to make him ready to confound the United States Army by refusing to provide any information besides his name. He did not refuse to be inducted, but he was against the War in Vietnam. A year later, he was inducted, and fought against the war from inside Fort Hood. Eventually, his anti-war efforts created investigations, journalistic interest, and worldwide reactions as a 19-year-old from Minneapolis became a savvy radical, waging a war to prove that soldiers didn’t want to fight a war they could not understand or support.

Howard Petrick in Breaking Rank

Petrick knows the story he tells, because he lived it. He speaks it with the words of a soldier, profane and cutting-edge straight. If you are anti-war, he will be your role model. If you support military intervention, he will open your eyes. There are shades of Catch-22, overtones of Gomer Pyle, USMC, and a foundation of Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant without the guitar playing.

There are wondrous scenes of learning the ropes of military life and sabotaging a “Know the Enemy” lecture by interrupting the instructor with facts. Petrick portrays all the characters, from green recruits to lost teachers to military lifers, each with his own identity. It’s a dazzling display with a self-deprecating honesty.

Petrick didn’t think he was a hero, just a man trying to live the thoughts of his heart, which can be the greatest kind of hero.

The remaining performances of Howard Petrick’s Breaking Rank! are at Starline, 831 E. Fern St., Wednesday, 3/7 at 8:30 p.m., Friday, 3/9 at 7 p.m., and Saturday, 3/10 at 4 p.m. Tickets are $9.

Check out an article by Petrick about how this show came to be right here in KRL.

Approaching 80

Review by Terrance V. Mc Arthur

I love Lynn Ruth Miller, and I have for several years, ever since she first sashayed her way into the Rogue Festival. Oddly enough, my wife doesn’t mind my infatuation—she loves Lynn Ruth, too.

A 78-year-old pint-sized package of dynamite, Lynn Ruth skewers our stereotypes of old age with a lively, cheerfully-ribald take on sex, aging, sex, cooking, sex, medical problems, sex, exercise, sex, dating, sex, driving, and…that, too.

Lynn Ruth Miller

Sometimes, she forgets the lyrics to a song, or she finishes before the music, but she’s honest about a life where the “senior moments” are the ones that matter. She sings, she dances, but she doesn’t crawl on her belly like a reptile, although I wouldn’t put it past her.

What makes her funny? She has enthusiasm for what she’s doing. She’s not afraid to tell the truth…or to stretch it, if that’s funnier. Her routines are more polished. There’s a glint in her eye that reminds me of Ruth Gordon in Harold & Maude. She knows how to strip, even if she doesn’t do a lot of it in this show.

Approaching 80 is filled with new material and new songs. The older audience members nod in agreement, the younger listeners shriek with laughter, and everybody has thoughts of “Did she just say what I think she said?”

When the show is over, you ought to buy her CD of songs from the show. It only costs $5. You’ll laugh a lot, and you’ll find that she’s good company.

Lynn Ruth Miller’s Approaching 80 remaining shows are at Spectrum Gallery, 608 E. Olive Ave., Sunday, 3/4 at 7:30pm. Tickets are $4.

The Golden Strings of the Forbidden Planet

Review by Terrance V. Mc Arthur

Blake Jones is known for his work in the local music scene through The Trike Shop and the tribute band The Beetles—he has even toured all the way to Liverpool, England—but he is also known as a master of an unusual musical instrument, the Theremin, which he plays with the harp of Ellie Choate and the percussion of John Shafer in a Rogue Festival show called The Golden Strings of the Forbidden Planet at Veni Vidi Vici.

A Theremin is the crazed invention of a Russian maybe-spy that creates the otherworldly oo-EE-oo sounds on the soundtrack of Forbidden Planet in the 50s and the Beach Boys’ Good Vibrations in the 60s. Played by not touching it, the performer waves his hands around it like a person trying to pick up a live wire without electrocuting himself.

The shimmering electronic sounds combine with the plucking of the harp strings to create the audio equivalent of flocks of angelic hummingbirds.

The music ranges from wispy compositions to a Disney medley, from the Beatles to classical music, and the theme from Black Orpheus (“A Day in the Life of a Fool”). Choate pulls amazing sounds from her massive concert harp, shining and confident in her solos. Shafer provides a gentle background rhythm with his gentle brushwork, while Blake turns his jovial cuddliness into steely concentration when his hands enter the electromagnetic field.

If you want to hear ethereal music, the likes of which you have never heard before, see The Golden Strings of the Forbidden Planet, and consider picking up the CD that pairs this music with the Orpheus Chamber Music Ensemble, which is also playing the Rogue Festival.

The Golden Strings of the Forbidden Planet remaining show is at the patio behind Veni Vidi Vivi, 1116 N. Fulton St., Sun., 3/4 at 2:30pm. Tickets are $5.

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a California-born, Valley-raised librarian/entertainer/writer. He is currently writing a stage adaptation of Jack London’s The Call of the Wild for the Fresno County Public Library’s next The Big Read. He lives in Sanger, four blocks from the library, with his wife, his daughter, and a spinster cat.

The Velocity of Gary (Not His Real Name)
Review by Heather Parish

Terry Lewis is a talented Fresno actor whose even-keel nature is a reassuring presence onstage – especially in The Velocity of Gary (Not His Real Name), the Rogue Festival offering performing at The Voice Shop.

See, Gary’s a slut. A big one. And he’s also a deeply sensitive young man who makes his living as a hustler who works when he can on the fringes of the gay sex trade in Manhattan. When he wears his leopard print bikini briefs, his beat-up leather jacket, and his mirror sun glasses, he feels “Anything can happen.”

Terry Lewis

And it does. Although alone on stage, Lewis portrays a fascinating variety of characters in increasingly alarming situations: sex, violence, death, disease. . . they’re all the real-life fodder of Gary’s world. Is it any wonder he clings to the façade of his “Gary (not his real name)” identity among these all-too real experiences of life? But it is Lewis’ steady nature that provides a core of safety for the audience throughout the play and its challenging subject matter. His performance is subtly understated, but contains great power in the moments where he is silent onstage – Lewis’ sensitive and vulnerable energy onstage is potent and very moving.

Directed by J. Daniel Herring, the staging is simple and inventive using chairs and platforms to create the world of Gary’s life. While on opening night there were a few moments that seemed a little too slow and considered, there is every possibility that will be remedied during the performance run.

Ultimately, The Velocity of Gary (Not His Real Name) is a fully realized theatrical offering about love, risk, and hope that is highly Rogue-worthy.

Show details:

What: The Velocity of Gary (Not His Real Name) by James Still. Directed by J. Daniel Herring. Starring Terry Lewis.
Where: The Voice Shop, 1296 N. Wishon Avenue, 1 block north of the Tower Theater.
When: Sat. 3/3, Thu 3/8, Fri 3/9, at 8 p.m. and Sat. 3/10 at 11 p.m. (90 min) No latecomers.
Cost: $10 in cash or Rogue Bucks
Rating: NC-17 for mature subject matter and nudity.

Heather Parish is a freelance writer & theatrical director. Originally from Visalia, she is the artistic director for The New Ensemble in Fresno. Heather can be found on Facebook.

Check out our Rogue Performances event page for info on more of the performers and our Rogue Preview article.


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