A one-way ticket to Crazy Town

solo performance · the adventures of les kurkendaal · Ages 12+ · United States

family friendly one person show

Les has a problem . His mother has dementia and she has no idea who he is . He has 24 hours to get her to regain her memory . Come see a comedic look at something we all have in common . Our parents .

Here is a review of the show from THE MINNESOTA FRINGE FESTIVAL :

By Matthew A. Everett, Single White Fringe Geek
August 02, 2012

Les’ mother is suffering from dementia and doesn’t remember who he is. She remembers the rest of the family, just not him. So Les is going to tell his mother stories and hope they will jog her memory

Mom doesn’t really consider Les an out-of-towner, since every time she’s in town to visit me for the Fringe, Les is always here, too.

Les is blessed with some major Fringe Lottery good karma. The ping pong balls always seem to go his way. And I can’t complain. Both Mom and I love seeing Les perform, and just hanging out with him in general. In fact, when Les saw me after the show last night, his first thought was not of me but upon spying me he immediately asked, “Where’s Mom?!” Right behind me, of course, so they had a fun little reunion.

Oh, his show. You want to know about his show? It’s more vintage Les, which is to say the man has an enviable skill for taking his life and finding that key story around which to create a show. In this case, it’s Les dealing with the fact that his mother no longer knows who he is. My own mom is caretaker to my 99-year-old grandma (her mom) and so the family knows where Les is coming from. Grandma still knows who the key people in the family are, but the memory bank is shot for the day to day stuff. When people ask about grandma, Mom will joke, “She’ll be 100 in March, if I let her.” Given the daily challenges, I was wondering if this Les show would hit a little too close to home.

But it’s Les, which means the key ingredient in any survival recipe is humor. The guy just knows how to tell a story. With Les, you’re in good hands. We’re catching him in performance on Tuesday to help close out Mom’s last day of Fringing, but he has a performance today, Thursday 8/2 in the 5:30 kickoff slot. Les, now as ever, comes very highly recommended.


If Afros aren’t your thing, check out the locks on Les Kurkendaal. YES! I made it to his Crazy Town! This Fringe loves them some Les. Folks were chanting his name as the lights dimmed. Once the show began I wasn’t sure what the fuss was all about. Les took center stage in jeans, a shirt, and a fringe button. Not sure if it was a costume or just what he decided to wear that morning. Then he began to talk to us like we were sitting in his living room. It was very off the cuff, staggered, and halting as if he was creating it as he went. There was something a little unrehearsed about it. But I didn’t care. You know why? Cause Les is a bona fide griot. A teller of tales. My grandmother would say, “He could talk you till judgement day an’ hell or heaven you’d wanna go where he went.” He is nothing but himself as he tells a story of an unconditional and inexhaustible love between mother and son. It is Dark. Personal. Tragic. But you want more of it. We travel in time as he tells stories to jog his mother’s memory. Due to dementia, she has forgotten who he is. Les reminds her with stories from their life covering racism, abortion, homosexuality, porn, and coke a cola. With each endearing story you hope with him that something will click in her mind and bring her back. It’s a true life story, live onstage. It seems to be therapeutic for Les.
It was a wonderful ride. I felt like I watching from the outside and the inside. Weird right? But I’m not sure how to explain it. When Les shared a story about being the only black family in the neighborhood, I knew that feeling. I know the feeling. Shoot, as the only black man in the audience, I was having that feeling! I love that there was someone onstage who could understand that. Another artist. Another black artist. I don’t separate who I am from what I do. Because I use who I am to do what I do. I carry my color with me. Some would say I carry that “box” with me. I say to them…you damn right. There is an exercise I do with students in my art for social change workshops. I have them write down their class, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, and religion. Then I have them scratch off a category until only one thing is left to describe them. I ask them why? Try it yourself. See what you’re left with. See what you carry.
Fringe on my brothas and sistas!

Production Team

* Fringe Veteran