The annual San Francisco Fringe Festival embraces humanity again
But the wordless plot is sometimes challenging to decipher, the pace sluggish, and the action repetitive enough that, by the end, you realize it's just a nifty installation that thought it was a play.
Meanwhile, Legacy of the Tiger Mother, by Las Vegasbased Angela Chan and Michael Manley, manages to pack a very clear, funny, and compellingly heartfelt storyline about intergenerational tensions between a Chinese American mother and daughter succinctly into a very agreeable hour with music and witty lyrics for good measure. Chan's semi-autobiographical musical may have formulaic elements, but they're executed with winning skill and verve by a smart team fronted by the fine duo of Satomi Hofmann and Lynn Craig, accompanied by Chan on a piano that segues slyly between erratic keyboard exercises, controlled classical recitals, and expressive Broadway-style outbursts. (Meanwhile, on the darker and definitely weirder end of the cabaret spectrum, there's SF's Dan Carbone and Andrew Goldfarb in The Wounded Stag & Other Cloven-Footed Tales of Enchantment, whose archness is so arch as to be uncomfortably sincere.)
915 Cayuga's SF Fringe Fest Extravaganza is a more promising title than show, but the radio-style variety piece, recorded as a podcast before its "live" Fringe audience, has a low-key charm despite often clunky or corny writing thanks to a fairly personable and adroit cast.
Among the more misleading titles is Aerial Allusions at least if, like me, you picture some serious acrobatic work happening on and/or over the stage at some point. True, there's a little able and lithesome wriggling around a ladder near the outset, but this meandering and semi-inept duet by a Canadian couple is lopsided in talent and altogether rambling. It took only a few seconds for one gentleman at the back to clear a path through some empty chairs and burst out of the theater. My date followed him a few minutes later. *
SAN FRANCISCO FRINGE FESTIVAL
Through Sun/16, most shows $10 or less
156 Eddy, SF