by Lorie Lewis Ham
Virtual Rogue Festival has one more weekend to enjoy some great shows! Just like Rogue is different this year, we are posting our reviews differently this year–we won’t be posting them all together, though they will still be in groups. Here is our final group of reviews! You can find all of our Rogue Festival Performer Preview articles and reviews by going to our Rogue Festival section, and you can also learn more on the Rogue Festival website and purchase tickets there.
S’Will Virtual Insanity
Review by Lorie Lewis Ham
As we all know, things have been different over the last year due to the pandemic. What entertainment we have been able to enjoy has mostly been virtual, and this year that includes the Rogue Festival. Instead of jumping in the car and heading to the Tower District in Fresno, we all sat down at our computers with our drinks and snacks, and enjoyed the performances that took place on the first weekend.
The first show I saw was S’Will Virtual Insanity performed by the Fools Collaborative. S’Will is their Drunk Shakespeare themed Rogue show that they have been performing at the Rogue Festival for a few years. This year they brought back S’Willed Romeo and Juliet, which I had seen them perform in person in 2019. They have a new cast of talented local actors: Haley White, Casey Ballard, Camille Gaston, Miguel Gastelum, Kristin Case, and Ryan Woods. The basic idea of the show is that each night a different cast member is picked to start out the show drunk—this performance it was Camille (Juliet). More drinks are taken by the cast during the show.
This is a modern condensed version of Romeo and Juliet with fun local and cultural references plugged in that have been picked by the audience ahead of time. This performance included local streets, people such as local reviewer Donald Munro, and places like Woodward Park, the Tower District, and Goldstein’s. The balcony scene between Romeo and Juliet is done as a Zoom call, which was a lot of fun. There were also political references, nods to West Side Story, mask wearing, and Save the Tower.
While I know it was a challenge for them to do this virtually instead of all together where it would be easier to throw in more physical comedy, they still managed to put on a fun and hilarious show. My biggest laughs were when one of them would start talking and forget to take themselves off mute lol.
If you are in need of a laugh (and who isn’t these days), don’t miss the remaining performances on March 12 and 13 at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased here.
Good Night; Never Goodbye
Review by Lorie Lewis Ham
Good Night; Never Goodbye was written and directed by Charles Jackson Jr. Charles is also is one of the two actors in the show—he plays the character of Eugene. Allison Coats plays the other character, Rebecca. The entire show takes place in a hotel room.
Good Night; Never Goodbye starts with the pair’s first meeting in a hotel room. Rebecca has left a message for Eugene saying she had something important to tell him. They know each other because their spouses work together at a law firm. The news Rebecca has for Eugene is that their spouses are having an affair. Eugene at first refuses to believe it, certain this is some sort of prank. As he comes to terms with the affair, they begin meeting regularly in this same hotel room—the room where their spouses are having the affair. They meet for comfort and support and end up developing a very close friendship. Over the next year, they each go on their own journey of self-discovery, but they travel it together.
This was a sweet and interesting show that took the couple from deception and heartbreak to a beautiful friendship and healing. The Q and A after the show revealed that the performance was also very unique—the dialogue was completely improvised! They had a goal for each scene and then acted out the journey to get there, coming up entirely with their own dialogue. I thought this was amazing and made the show feel even more real. Both actors say they spent a lot of time getting to know their characters so they could say the things those characters would really say. This was a brilliant idea, and highlighted just how good the pair’s acting abilities.
The remaining performance is on Saturday, March 13 at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased here.
UR Here Beyond the Backyard
Review by Lorie Lewis Ham
UR Here is a local company and their show, Beyond the Backyard, is made up of three 10-minute one-acts. 2B or Nah: Sexting Hamlet by Donna Latham; Byzantine by Tlaloc Rivas; and Every Creeping Thing by David Beardsley. The show also includes brief dramaturgy before each piece performed by Michelle Hill Olson, and a talkback opportunity at the end of the show.
2B or Nah: Sexting Hamlet moves Hamlet to modern times where he is sexted by his uncle/step-father having sex with Hamlet’s mother—a modern equivalent of walking in on them having sex. While Hamlet deals with this, he is also dealing with the suicide of his love and being haunted by her. The show is directed by Marc Gonzalez, who said in a recent Rogue Preview article that he feels the funny is balanced with the empowering moments written for the iconic characters of Gertrude and Ophelia.
Byzantine is directed by Marikah Christine Leal. This show takes place at a yard sale. A young woman is trying to sell a table and chairs to a poor young college student. Through this simple story, class division is showcased. We learn about the struggles of the young student to make ends meet being from a poor family, and why the table is so important to the young woman selling it, and their stories bring them together. This was a simple, yet sweet story.
Every Creeping Thing is the final selection and it is directed by Nwachukwu Oputa. This show was actually written with the intent of being performed virtually. The characters in this show have come together for a Zoom call as a task force to figure out how to deal with the asteroid that is headed their way. The call includes dinosaurs, a cockroach, and a rat that keeps interrupting them. Their different perspectives on what to do are interesting and are an obvious parallel to the climate change debate in our current times. Every Creeping Thing was fun and thought provoking, with an interesting ending.
This three-act show provides the audience with some food for thought, some sweet moments, and some laughter.
The remaining performance is on Sunday, March 14 at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased here.
Right Now: Year Two
Review by Lorie Lewis Ham
I have been a fan of Martin Dockery’s shows for some time now, so I was excited to see that he was going to take part in this year’s Virtual Rogue Festival. His new show is called Right Now: Year Two.
Martin has been doing a series of virtual shows once a month since last August all called Right Now, and then whatever month it is, telling the story of “Right Now.” In a recent article for KRL this is what Martin had to say about these shows, “I began in August with, fittingly, Right Now: August, broadcasting from my backyard on a hot summer night, a chorus of youthful crickets harmonizing to a story of comical anxiety. Always comical. Always anxious. Everything’s funny. Nothing’s funny. Again in September with Right Now: September. Each month another show. Through birthdays, the election, the inauguration. The crickets left. I’ve continued alone. Speaking into the tiny green dot of light on my laptop. A camera. A two-way mirror. No audience feedback. An all new show each and every month. Something to connect us all. The crickets don’t know what they’re missing.”
Right Now: Year Two is the culmination of this past year. “The unbelievable, the unfathomable, the surreal, the inspiring, the sympathetic, the thought-provoking, the mind-bending ramifications of twelve months of staying in, of weathering the weather alone, of attending funerals online, of celebrating birthdays in two dimensions, of absence, of virtual affirmations, of missing the touch of others.”
Each show is born out of this very moment and won’t have been performed before or ever be performed again. In Right Now: Year Two Martin talks a lot about what this year has been like for their 2-year-old daughter, not really knowing any other kind of life. But she is happy. She has not only missed some of the good things like friends, but she has also missed the bad.
It is difficult to fully share what this show is about, as it is about so much—it is about the life we have all been living through this pandemic. Martin shares feelings many of us have felt, and how many of us have learned through all this what truly matters in life. Martin takes the ordinary things of life and brings a magic to expressing them that is incredible. The ordinary suddenly becomes the extraordinary. He makes you feel everything! You connect with him and his words. You feel like he has looked right into your soul—like he knows you and you know him. Performing virtually did nothing to make this any less magical, you could feel his energy bursting through the screen as though he were right there in front of you performing on a stage.
Do not miss this show! Right Now: Year Two isn’t just a performance, it is an experience!
The remaining performance is on Sun, March 14 @ 6 p.m. and tickets can be purchased here.
Check out our Rogue Festival section for more reviews.
If you love local theatre, be sure to check out Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast, which features mysteries read by local actors–many of whom you will have seen on local stages. You can find the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Play, and also on Podbean. A new Christmas episode went up this week!
Check out more local entertainment articles in our Arts & Entertainment section.