At the Minnesota Fringe Festival, “Ministry of Ideas” could use a few more

At the Minnesota Fringe Festival, “Ministry of Ideas” could use a few more

It takes a while to get good at Fringe. Four of the nine members of the Ministry of Ideas creative team make a point in their bios of disclosing that this is their first foray into the Minnesota Fringe Festival, and while they may do great things in the future, unfortunately they’re not there yet.

The premise of the show, which feels drowned on the spacious Illusion Theater stage, is that there are dueling corps of forces who exist outside of time and are competing to advance and halt, respectively, the fortunes of humanity. Aristots (Merwin Gomes) is a time-traveler on the side of the angels, seeking to instill world-changing ideas in some of history’s potential greats; his nemesis is Raquel (Alison Anderson), who tries to undercut Aristots by soaking his subjects in despair.

The actual historical figure who we spend most time with as we watch Aristots and Raquel do their thing is—wait for it—Mick Jagger. It’s a choice that’s inexplicable except for the fact that it allows Mitchel Vosejpka to show off his very respectable moves-like-Jagger, as Gomes awkwardly boogies along. We then visit Roxey (Danielle Krivinchuk), who invents the corset and thereby demonstrates that not all big ideas are good ones.

The whole show, written by Ellie Schmidt and directed by Erik Peters, feels kind of like the performers are making it up as they go along. It never really owns its own absurdity, though some performers—like Krivinchuk and, as Aristots’s supervisor, Tawnee Rebhuhn—find the right note for this amiably weird material.

By the end of Ministry of Ideas, Aristots is charged with the task of inspiring himself. Better luck next time.

Jay Gabler