Author: Elise Hanson-Barnett

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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ELEPHANT’S GRAVEYARD is a dark and uniquely drawn little play

SALT LAKE CITY — Mob mentality is a psychological phenomenon that has always been of great interest to me, probably because it both fascinates and terrifies me. Fantastic feats can be accomplished by a group of angry people, particularly if that anger is fueled by a bit of showmanship. In George Brant‘s acutely orphic Elephant’s Graveyard, that very idea is explored in a cleverly unusual way: through a series of monologues. The script is a true ensemble piece, with all of the actors having a similar amount of stage time throughout its action. Never at any point do the actors actually speak...

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STALLED shows and never tells

SALT LAKE CITY — As my first show at the Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival, Stalled did not disappoint. In Stalled, a girl rushes into the bathroom in the middle of an apparent panic attack. She is soon joined by her friend (dressed as a bunny rabbit), who briefly talked her down until the anxiety-ridden girl’s boyfriend Ollie appears. Billed as a collaborative effort by stars McKenzie Steele Foster, Shawn Francis Saunders, Alexander Woods, and Amy Ware,  the show is a lovely, graceful little piece of theater that shows far more than tells. Fans of conventional storytelling may find themselves lost in waves of...

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BLACKBIRD draws on the raggedness of life

SALT LAKE CITY — The phrase “trigger warning” was designed for works like Blackbird. This dark little show is difficult to watch, even for those without trauma. But though trying, agonizing, and cruel, it is also the most rewarding piece of theater I have seen this year and indeed one of the most evocative pieces I have ever seen. The play, written by David Harrower, begins with 27-year-old Una, played by Anne Louise Brings, being ushered into an office break room by 55-year-old Ray, played by Mark Fossen. At first, the relationship between the two is unclear. She bemoans the state of the...

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