SF Fringe Festival 2004
review Pat Craig, Contra Costa Times
- Get inside spirit of adventure at Fringe, Climate
- By Pat Craig
- CONTRA COSTA TIMES
- Magician Paul Nathan's show, "An Hour of Magic in an Hour and
20 Minutes," isn't part of the San Francisco Fringe Festival, but
it could be. It has the same spirit.
- With both "An Hour of Magic," at the Climate Theater, and
the annual Fringe Festival you are treated to a wild theatrical adventure
in a venue well off the beaten path.
- Nathan's show is wild, innovative, clever and bargain-priced (proving
that sometimes, you actually get more than you pay for).
- At the Fringe Festival, featuring more than 40 productions at 10 different
venues, one of many highlights is Doreen Maller's "Other American
Stories," billed as "short stories for the stage." The pieces,
"Lego Towers," which she performed last weekend; and "The
Eternal Light," which plays Thursday through Saturday in the Marsh,
1062 Valencia St., are staged-reading/theater-style pieces.
- "Lego Towers" is a wide-ranging mother's tale of dealing
with life in the post-9/11 era. It is a delightful rambling piece that
plays off a tall Lego model of the two World Trade Center towers she discovered
one of her children had made and left, for some time, in the living room
of the home she shares with her husband and family.
- The piece is as much read as it is acted, but since it was developed
as a performance piece, Maller has structured her words to be pleasing
to the ear, in a plain-spoken sort of prose that, in the end, sneaks up
on you as something surprisingly eloquent.
- Maller hauls down the mommy track at breathtaking speed, never faltering,
and showing a keen appreciation for the spoken word and an uncanny knack
for low-key performance that makes her shows well worth seeing.
- Nathan uses the same less-is-more technique but for a much different
effect. He is one of those variety performers who is probably better known
in Europe or from the private performances he stages for various companies.
- You don't expect to see a performer such as Nathan plying his trade
in the Climate Theater, a 40-seat SoMa house (even if it's his own venue).
And when he starts, the whole thing is so low-key, you don't really know
what to expect. Nathan comes onstage a little early to tell the audience
it'll be seven or eight minutes before the show starts.
- And, when he makes his grand entrance, it's not all that grand -- just
another guy in a striped vest stepping onto a tiny stage. But then, there's
the magic -- close-up stuff devilishly well-executed. He gets considerable
mileage out of the simplest props, such as a crumpled-up piece of paper
or a silk square.
- He also does some incredible fire tricks, big-stage tricks that are
astounding when performed on the small Climate stage.
- Nathan also plays well with his fellow cast members. Guitarist John
Anaya, an excellent musician and a delightfully dry wit, is used almost
exclusively to put Nathan in his place. The other regular, the Indra, performs
as everything from a dog to Marlene Dietrich (you really do have to see
both). She, too, is extremely flexible, showing not only a flair for charming
silliness but an effective singing voice.
- Shows usually also include a guest star.
- The point, though, is that this sort of entertainment -- the Fringe
Festival and Nathan's low-key magic -- is a rare treat for most theatergoers
who view attending the theater as a fancy night out. This stuff isn't.
Ticket prices are low, the seats are close-up, and, where it's available,
you drink your beer right from the bottle.
- Home / Now Playing & Coming Soon / Back to Media List / To