Tragic story of absurd shocks Fringe audiences

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By Bob Evans

When one sees Tennessee Williams’ name on a project, continue to expect over-the-top Southern female lead characters, but do not expect cookie-cutter story lines that rip your heart out; so, be forewarned, “The Gnadiges Fraulein” strays from the Williams norm to an over-the-top exaggeration of Southern decadence.

A relative new production company in KC, Thud Production took the predominately unknown William one-act play, The Gnadiges Fraulein” for their first entry into the KC Fringe Festival and shocked Tennessee Williams fans with an outlandish story of life along the beachfront of a Florida Keys “dormitory.” In this case, similar to Daphne DuMaurier’s story that became an Alfred Hitchcock thriller, The Birds, Williams creates a story about an internationally known performer whose career tanked and she now competes with birds for fish rejects from fishing boats.

The Gnadiges Fraulein” is a story of survival of the fittest as a woman of social stature now survives and pays her rent by catching fish rejects from fishing boats on their return from a catch. The fish not big enough to sell are tossed overboard to awaiting Cocaloony birds. The THUD production of “The Gnadiges Fraulein” continues at the Musical Theater Heritage Stage 2 in Crown Center for several more performances.

From the Fringe website: “Not your mama’s Tennessee Williams. The Gnadiges Fraulein – a once revered performer, has been reduced to battling giant cocaloony birds for discarded fish to keep her residence at a demented boarding house on an eerie and unnatural Florida Key. The odd guests of the boarding house, their desperate landlady, a cruel gossip columnist, and a flock of monstrous birds round out this overlooked, slapstick-tragedy about the perseverance of the artist and the human spirit.”

Give credit to the cast and production team for their efforts. The play would be difficult to present and produce. The author’s name alone creates an expectation that is not met in this piece. Williams is not known as a comic writer, so his blend of comedy with tragedy just does not work. The cast tries hard to capture elements of Williams’ tone, but most becomes lost in this jumbled mess of a play.

Valiant efforts to make this play work come from the actors and production team. They are: Jennifer Loumiet as Polly, Lynn McCutchen as Molly, Tyecorey Davison as the Permanent Transient, Tommy Waller as Indian Joe, Deborah Madick as The Gnadiges Fraulein, Bryson Kenworthy as Cocaloony Bird. The crew is Taylor Hudson, director and stage manager; Taylor Hudson and Derek Trautwein, scenic design; Lauren Smith, costume designer; Kalyssa Brockman, properties design; Taylor Hudson, sound design; Chas Coffman artwork; Taylor Hudson and Zach Craft, producers.

“The Gnaduges Fraulein” is at the MTH Stage 2.
Tags: KC Fringe Festival, Kansas City Theater, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment, The Gnaduges Fraulein”, Musical Theater Heritage Stage 2, MTH Stage 2

Images courtesy of 2018 and Bob Evans | KC Applauds

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