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The impressive Flying Españas miss the mark at Rochester Fringe 

click to enlarge The Flying Españas and the Wheel of Destiny. - PHOTO PROVIDED
  • PHOTO PROVIDED
  • The Flying Españas and the Wheel of Destiny.
Even as The Flying Españas flew through the Friday night air over the downtown Rochester playground of Parcel 5 with its show "Flippin Metal Circus," the  narrator could not resist making an observation that his recent meal of food-truck tacos was the real danger.

Pointing out the portable toilets, he warned, “Do not use the third one from the left for at least a half an hour.”

This was Day Four of the Rochester Fringe Festival, with a trapeze artist dangling from a motorcycle that was balanced on a cable strung overhead. There was also “The Wheel of Destiny,” a huge axel with two cages of wire mesh and steel on each end, and a couple of Flying Españas dressed like waiters at a French restaurant, scrambling inside the cages to make the whole thing spin like a giant double hamster wheel.

All set to the music of a live heavy-metal band.

We’ve seen this kind of thing before at the big Rochester Fringe shows, where thousands of people gather to watch the toys take over. With varying degrees of wonderment. Spectacularly colored balloons, representing creatures from other planets. Giant, rip-snorting steam engines. Bandaloop, the outfit with climbing rigs that allows its troupe to soar through the air like spiders spinning a web, dancing on the side of a downtown building. In fact, Bandaloop returns to Rochester Fringe next weekend.

So here were the Flying Españas high overhead – daredevils using excellent timing, rhythm, and a sober awareness of the effects of gravity – to nimbly flip from one trapeze swing to the next.

Sections of grass directly beneath the daredevils was kept clear of onlookers, just in case… well, just in case one of the Flying Españas dropped their keys, or a wallet, I guess.

Great, but… here’s what was missing: a story. And the human element. Who were these Flying Españas? And why were they doing this? The rigs, dwarfing their humans, were the stars of the show.

And this show was over after a brief half-hour; by then, the air in the portable toilet third from the left had cleared. Our narrator must have thought the crowd looked hungry for more as it drifted from Parcel 5, reminding us: “And don’t forget the taco truck.”

The Flying Españas return for two more shows at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday.

The “Late & Live” variety show

We’ve seen Mark Gindick before, as a member of the Cirque du Fringe ensemble. Now he has his own show at the Spiegeltent, “Late & Live.” And he came out singing. Bellowing even, like a forgotten member of the Rat Pack.

“I’M GOING TO LIVE UNTIL I DIE!”

Truer words never sung, as the lights went out and Gindick hit the floor like he’d been shot.

A simple, stupid gag. But pretty damn funny.

Gindick survived, continuing on as the host of this variety hour that recruits talent from other Rochester Fringe shows. Serious jazz dance synchronicity from a duo presenting a piece of the Biodance show at The Theater at Innovation Square. Magician Jordan Rooks and a hilarious conversation with the all-knowing phone sage Siri, and confusion over the words “bandana” and “banana,” something that surely happens all of the time.

There were break-dancers, the drag queen Golden Delicious, Gindick doing a striptease to “Fever.”

Thomas Warfield, recalling the day Paul McCartney called him to ask about a song Warfield had recorded. Do you believe the guy on the other end of the phone if he says he’s Paul McCartney?

And Gindick brought out Connie Fredericks-Malone, offering vibrant vocal standards, “Dancing Cheek to Cheek” and “All of Me.” Although she did wisely turn down a request from Gidnick: Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.”

“Late & Live” returns 9:15 p.m. Saturday at the Spiegeltent, with more talent plucked from the ranks of Rochester Fringe.

Jeff Spevak is WXXI’s Arts & Life editor and reporter. He can be reached at (585) 258-0343 or  jspevak@wxxi.org.
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