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Expiration Date

Candy Simmons’s simple props include a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and a movable screen in her one-woman show about the late stages of life. But she does not need more than that — and her subtle but effective theatrical gifts — to make “Expiration Date” a wry, moving, poignant and funny experience. Simmons plays Lucille Barker, who has been diagnosed with cancer at age 35. She takes us through her journey with medical professionals, her no-nonsense brother and her visit to a mortician. For a gifted actor such as Simmons, this is a showcase of strength and talent. (7 p.m. Sat., 5: 30 p.m. Thu., 1 p.m. Aug. 10, 4 p.m. Aug. 11, Intermedia Arts, 2822 Lyndale Av. S.)

Rohan Preston

Once Upon a Chalkboard

Tod Petersen and Tyler Michaels trade on their wits in a series of fairytale vignettes — improvised from suggestions from the audience. Their gimmick? Bringing other audience members down to draw props and costumes on chalkboards. The lads are charming, whip-smart and eager to look ridiculous, even if their mprov skills are a work-in-progress. The stuff here is raw, playful and inventive — just what you hope for in the Fringe. The show on occasion gets flabby, and I wish the guys would wheel out some accents other than the mincing British lilt. They’ve got the chops. (5:30 p.m. Sat., 5:30 p.m. Thu., 5:30 p.m. Aug. 10, 1 p.m. Aug. 11, Minneapolis Theatre Garage, 711 W. Franklin Av.)

Graydon Royce

The Zebra Shirt

Here is one of those shows you love to find after wading through the weeds of a long evening. Matthew Trumbull, a Minnesota actor now living in Brooklyn, tells the eloquent story of his father’s death, its aftermath and the memories he has since collated into a search for meaning. Trumbull recalls his father as a romantic who had not a bit of sentimentality, and that is what distinguishes this one-man show from others that traffic in the same sad details. He finds dimension in stories, in relationships, moments and totems. This is a must-see. To say more would be meaningless. (7 p.m. Sat., 5:30 p.m. Wed., 1 p.m. Aug. 10, 4 p.m. Aug. 11, Tek Box at the Cowles Center, 528 Hennepin Av. S., 2nd floor)

Graydon Royce

The Final Act

Elizabethan playwright Christopher Marlowe was murdered in 1593 with a dagger through his eye. The motive always has been a mystery, and that launches Tedious Brief’s fascinating speculation, featuring spies and Marlowe’s homosexuality. The show blends Shakespearean language with the style and convoluted plot of film noir, being faithful to both. It also adds witty, comical dialogue, and camp, plus broad physical comedy. Director Carin Bratlie maintains a nice balance of all the elements. One blemish: the cavernous space made it hard to hear some of the language. (5:30 p.m. Sun., 7 p.m. Tue., 8:30 p.m. Thu., 4 p.m. Aug. 10, Woman’s Club, 407 W. 15th St.)

William Randall Beard

These Old Shoes

An ensemble known for its physical acting excellence has misapplied its signature style. Most of the actors in the Transatlantic Love Affair group appear to be under 45, and they are all fit and nimble. However, the cast plays elderly characters in a contemporary nursing home who quake, quaver, shake and shuffle as senior-citizen stereotypes. There are some genuinely touching flashback moments involving unrequited love between a Korean War soldier and his stateside sweetheart, but the convincing naturalistic acting in those scenes is crudely juxtaposed with the senior scenes. (1 p.m. Sun., 7 p.m. Mon., 8:30 p.m. Wed., 5:30 p.m. Aug. 10, Music Box Theatre, 1407 Nicollet Av. S.)

John Townsend

Katharina Von Bora

Margaret Shryer’s small biography of Martin Luther’s wife is best fit for a salon reading. Even in the fairly intimate confines of the Theatre Garage, Shryer’s quiet and expressive voice gets lost easily. Her writing is literate and lovely with details both familiar (Luther’s opposition to the selling of indulgences) and intriguing (Katharina’s protest to a potential suitor that if she wanted to marry an older man, she would marry Herr Doctor Martin Luther). If you do not have at least a passing interest in Luther or European medieval history, you might feel you’re in a lecture room. (4 p.m. Sat., 5:30 p.m. Wed., 7 p.m. Thu.,2:30 p.m. Aug. 10, Minneapolis Theatre Garage, 711 W. Franklin Av.)

Graydon Royce

Don’t Fake Your Own Death

A modern-day actress meets Shakespeare, as he explains his lost manuscript, “The Rules of Love” to help her learn where she went wrong on and off stage. Ample time is spent on key lovers from Shakespeare’s most famous works such as “Hamlet,” “Romeo and Juliet” and The Scottish Play. Sarah Chandler, who plays the actress, also wrote the show. Michael Ooms plays Will, who leads us through a five-act structure of comedy versus tragedy. If you are a Shakespeare buff, this show is for you. (2:30 p.m. Sat., 5:30 p.m. Wed., 7 p.m. Fri., 10 p.m. Aug. 10, New Century Theatre, 615 Hennepin Av. S., in City Center.)

Bartley Stratton

Hitler, Satan and Me

Kristen D. Anderson’s beguiling account of her marriage to a man molded by the Hitler Youth program has a confessional spirit. She and a stoic Jack Rose as her husband, Rolf, sit on stools and tell their stories separately to the audience, never facing one another. Though her speaking voice often lacks power, a bravely vulnerable Anderson reveals Rolf’s sadistic mental cruelty. As Rolf relates being young in a ravaged Dresden after having been indoctrinated, it becomes clear that the trauma of that period subconsciously misshaped his character. (8:30 p.m. Sun., 10 p.m. Wed., 7 p.m. Thu., 10 p.m. Aug. 10, Intermedia Arts, 2822 Lyndale Av. S.)

John Townsend

I Make No Promises, But Someone’s Probably Going to Die

Playwright Annie Scott Riley takes on some dense, weighty ideas in this comedy about people waiting to voluntarily and clinically kill themselves. Is therapy just a game to keep humans functioning on the wheel of commerce? Is there a spiritual path to enlightenment? Maybe it’s the therapist who is a psychopath. John Middleton, Joanna Harmon, Adia Morris and Dave Gangler head a strong cast. Ultimately, Riley does not bring her ideas into crisp focus and the play wanders into sidelights, leaving the ambition unfulfilled. (8:30 p.m. Sat., 8:30 p.m. Mon., 4 p.m. Fri., 10 p.m. Aug. 10, Illusion Theater, 528 Hennepin Av. S., 8th floor.)

Graydon Royce


Three cities, a state, a puppet and a Mayor converge to create a political satire. Ryan Robert Nelson plays a charming man in pursuit of the beautiful Minneapolis (Anna Weggel) and the steps he takes to win her over to become her Mayor. He leaps through hurdles — of Duluth, brother St. Paul and mother figure, Minnesota. Poems, songs and inside jokes layer the show. The four-person cast elicit laughs throughout due to topical humor. (2:30 p.m. Sun., 8:30 p.m. Tues., 4 p.m. Fri., 7 p.m. Aug. 11, New Century Theatre, 615 Hennepin Av. S., in City Center)

Bartley Stratton

minnesota fringe festival

What: 896 performances of 176 shows over 11 days.

When: Weekdays beginning at 5:30 p.m. with last show at 10 p.m.; Sat.-Sun, beginning at 1 p.m. Ends Aug. 11

Where: 16 venues near West Bank, Loring Park, Downtown, Uptown.

Tickets: $12 per show. Multi-show passes available at discount. Plus $4 button. 1-866-811-4111.

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