Author: Elise Hanson

SHOCKHEADED PETER is macabre merriment and mirth

SALT LAKE CITY — A woman pokes her head out between two curtains, lit dimly by warm light that highlights her grotesque, pale makeup and missing teeth. “I am the greatest actor in the world!” she howls. She steps out onto the stage and performs the speech again: “I am the greatest actor in the world! Behind this curtain stand the portals to the darkest recesses of the human imagination within which waits such monsters as your wildest nightmares could never anticipate!” She will be the emcee, the ghoulish guide through a series of grim and giggle-mugging tales of children...

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FOREVER PLAID is a safe bet for Hale’s new Jewel Box

SANDY — Hale Center Theatre has opened a part of their new Jewel Box theater in Sandy, and the company has chosen the jukebox musical Forever Plaid as its premiere production. For me, going to the Salt Lake County Hale (which, because of their new facility in Sandy, we probably can’t call “the West Valley Hale” any more) is like eating a peanut butter sandwich: sweet, reliable, and I’ll be satisfied afterward for about 30-40 minutes. There is nothing bold or surprising happening with that company, and they produce very little heart-rending or thought-provoking theatre. It was unsurprising, therefore, that Hale chose...

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DONE DID GOT GONE WITH THE WIND is delightful goofiness

SALT LAKE CITY — In The Blue Sheep Theatre Company’s premiere performance, comedy is king. Playwright Keri Gukeisen has crafted a parody of the iconic Gone With the Wind and brought it to the Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival. The result, entitled Done Did Got Gone With the Wind was a hoot and a half. Fringe can be full of heavy pieces—dramas fraught with emotion and artistic nuance so surreal it makes your brain vibrate. A breezy, accessible comedy is therefore a breath of fresh air. Gukeisen came at this parody sideways: the premise was a down-home grassroots theatre company from a “football town” attempting to stage Margaret Mitchell’s seminal classic. Something I found fascinating about this production was that most of the actors performing it seemed to me to be fairly green, but it totally worked with the premise. Their staged failures at remembering lines, knowing how to exit, becoming injured backstage halfway through and switching leads, and bringing their backstage drama in front of the audience was all very believable and genuine as well as being heightened and hilarious. One particular highlight was when Conor Thompson—playing a character who had recently croaked—rolled offstage in a fantastic showing of physical comedy. I about fell off my chair laughing. As I mentioned, each individual actor has potential that could be strengthened with more classical experience, but they came together to work as an ensemble. One...

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ONE FOOT is sweet and ephemeral

SALT LAKE CITY — As part of the Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival, Wasatch Theatre Company is showcasing One Foot, a play by Lojo Simon. One Foot tells the story of a young married couple who live in a rural farming community near a lake. One morning the husband, played by Jarom Christopher Brown, awakens to find that his right foot has absconded from his body. His wife, played by Alyssa Franks, remarks on what brought them to this point, and their love story is told in a series of flashbacks that eventually wind back to the present. The script itself was fine, certainly...

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JAWBONE’S DAUGHTER is going places

SALT LAKE CITY — In The Jawbone’s Daughter, as an absurdist piece by writer Eric Paul Lyman, there really is no story, because the story doesn’t matter. There is a trace of plot, however. Three men are poised after monumental disaster has struck, and two of them are starving. They appear at a locked door, and suddenly another man appears. He places a podium on the stage with a telephone, a bell, and a sign: “Please ring bell for service!” The haughty character Flince refuses to comply with anything: ringing the bell, submitting to a search and identify, or listening politely while someone reads a poem. Cannibalism is considered, and in the end, human nature gets a pie in the face. I love an absurdist piece. So, I may be slightly biased when I proclaim that The Jawbone’s Daughter is the best piece of work I have seen at the Fringe festival thus far. There are some shows I just wish I could shoot into superstardom with the press of a button, and this is certainly one. With a superb script, surprising and astonishing acting, and shock factor laughs, this play is one that I wish could go far. My hope is that the writer will see this play for what it is: something truly special, and try to do something with it. Basically, these guys should be paid. Jon Liddiard...

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