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We’ve been attending Frontera Fest’s Short Fringe all this week, and what a tasty sample box it’s been. With packed houses every night, we’ve enjoyed the fest’s bite-sized morsels of all types of theatre. High points have run the gamut thematically, from previews of Long Fringe pieces to monologues and short plays, not to mention a smattering of improv. It’s been a great week to take in some fringe at Hyde Park Theatre.

We’ve always enjoyed Maggie Gallant’s work, and her latest piece, Our Angle In Heaven, is outstanding. Gallant explores a variety of Britons’ reactions to the death of Princess Di; her characters are fully-formed and fascinating—not to mention hilarious. We plan to check out the full version of the show in the Long Fringe: this Sunday at 4pm at the Salvage Vanguard Theater. Don’t miss it if you’re in need of a lot of laughter…of the meaningful kind.

We’ll also catch the final Long Fringe performance of Daniel Huntley Solon’s Sex, With Benefits on Saturday at noon, at the Blue Theater, because the portion we saw last night was so compelling, we have to see the whole story. It’s a touching, well-written work about two young men, “cyber fuck-buddies,” who meet for the first time. The set-up doesn’t sound nearly as compelling as the work actually is. We highly recommend it.

Monoguists have been in great form this week. Bernadette Nason’s Guns, Hats, and a Big Gulp will make you remember why you love being a Texan, while at the same time leaving you longing for adventure in foreign lands. Kenneth Wayne Bradley’s Wicker Chairs was a touching exploration of loss, and the ups and downs of life. Bradley is always a compelling performer, and a great writer as well.
A few short plays were winners. Aimee Gonzalez’s hilarious Five ‘Til, produced by Loaded Gun Theory, was clever, extremely well-acted and directed, and too much fun to watch. With a clever premise and some unexpected twists, this piece made us wish Gonzalez had a Long Fringe version for us to see. Priscilla Sample’s Lascivious Lunches and Decadent Dinners is a fully-formed murder mystery that will have you from the very first scene. Commissioned by Austin Script Works, the actors are excellent, the pacing perfect, and the writing taut.

Finally, there’s been some solid improv and sketch this week. Most notable are John Ratliff and Lisa Jackson, with a side-stitch inducing long-form piece about the marriage of an aging hipster couple, and the always-excellent Lovey and Lovey, who brought down the house last night with a series of new sketches that made us laugh so hard we were wiping away tears.

With more great shows that we can mention here—Stephen Pruitt’s pirate radio piece TBA comes to mind—Frontera is a sure win on every night. There’s always a wait list, so if you want to be certain to get a seat you should pick up your tickets online. It looks like this week’s Best of Week is sold out, but call the theatre (479-PLAY) to double check, or show up early and hope to get in.

By Jooley Ann in Arts and Entertainment on January 30, 2009 11:07 AM