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Review: ‘The Big Thank You’ at Charm City Fringe Festival

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“and I mean,
though often forget,
to give thanks,
to faint down by the kitchen table
in a prayer of rejoicing”

— Anne Sexton, “Welcome Morning”

Every day for a year, playwright Alan Kreizenbeck posted a thank you on Facebook. Sometimes to an individual, sometimes to an intangible (for instance, thanking traffic for being the worst), it was an exercise in gratitude, and getting out of one’s own way.

Because, it turns out, those early “thank yous” were more about the performance of a thank you — a way to exercise cleverness and wit and snark rather than something more heartfelt, something genuine, something true. As the year progressed, and as Kreizenbeck connected more and more with the purpose of gratitude and thankfulness, the thank-yous became more focused on the recipient.

The Big Thank you is a dramatization of Kreizenbeck’s year of gratitude, performed as a monologue, delivered by Kreizenbeck, and punctuated by delightfully absurd and heartbreakingly poignant scenes brought to life by a cadre of five talented actors: Chad Short, Jessica Welch, Michaela Jessie Gilson, Ramon Burris, and Keri Eastridge.

Every member of the cast is enthusiastically terrific, bringing life, energy, and wit to all of their scenes, which can be helpful when the script itself sort of loses its way. Wonderful absurd moments – like synchronized swimming, and an ode to Dangerously Delicious Pies – give the cast the opportunity to shine bright, as does a stirring rap montage, but the through-line for theses vignettes isn’t a strong one, and the Kreizenbeck’s piece as a whole can feel pointillistic rather than coherent. It’s still highly enjoyable to watch these actors, regardless.

Running Time: 45 minutes, with no intermission.

The Big Thank You plays through November 11, 2017, at the 322 Stage – 322 North Howard Street in Baltimore, MD. Tickets and Charm City Fringe Festival buttons may be purchased at Fringe HQ (Le Mondo, 406 N Howard Street), the venue, or online.

Baltimore’s historic Lexington Market is joining DC Metro Theater Arts in support of our coverage of the Charm City Fringe Festival. The Market closes at 6 PM on weekdays and is closed Sundays, but we recommend that Fringe-goers stop by on Saturday to grab lunch and take a look around, in addition to checking out the local bands which play from 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM.

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