Rogue 2022 mini-reviews: Guest critic (and big Rogue fan) Jackie Ryle gives her take on the festival

You’ve seen her on the streets of the Tower District, traipsing from one Rogue show to the next, her bright hair and even brighter personality spreading the excitement of the Rogue Festival. Jackie Ryle has been busy enjoying Rogue’s 20th anniversary.

As the festival enters its second and final weekend, here are some capsule reviews from Jackie to help in your planning.

Pictured above: William Saroyan wrote ‘The Hungerers.’

You can also find Rogue reviews by our friends at Kings River Life and on the Rogue website.

‘The Hungerers’

I absolutely love this show. The old curmudgeon, our own William Saroyan himself, dressed in his ubiquitous fedora, worn coat and tie, seated in front of his working upright, greets us by deigning to acknowledge the presence of the audience. He rises and tells a little about this odd little tale, and leave us to our own choice as to whether we’ll like it or not. The quirky players deliver up some simple but quite profound observations on the subject of hunger as a metaphor and conclude with an entirely unexpected ending. It is both endearing and a little mystical. I’ll see this one again. This is a particularly short show, and they pack a lot into it. (7 p.m. March 10, 8:30 p.m. March 11, 2 p.m. March 12, Dianna’s Studio of Dance) [Rogue program]

— Jackie Ryle


‘Jaguar Is a Liar: What I Saw During the Fight for the Tower Theatre’

Jaguar Bennett qualifies up front that he advertises that his show will be funny, but that it really isn’t; that it is more a rant (my word). It kind of is a rant, but it still has a lot of funny because that’s Jaguar. He manages to take a topic about which he feels very strongly, including a lot of anger, and is very complex, and distill it into a story that informs the listener, makes sense, and incorporates his quirky and highly sarcastic brand of humor. I know the story so I didn’t learn anything, but I enjoyed the show because of how he presents it. I highly admire his ability to manage deep emotions by conveying them honestly without being caught up in and consumed by them. I definitely recommend it. (7 p.m. March 10, 7 p.m. March 11, Veni Vidi Vici) [Rogue program]

— Jackie Ryle

‘Brother Love’s Good Time Gospel Hour’

Although he does keep his audience well engaged, it feels like Brother Love tries a bit too hard. The entire show is a parody of the evangelistic fervor where Brother Love confesses all manner of sins and derelict behavior, including ladies of the evening, overnights in the brothel and cocaine. It’s all in the name of and for Jesus. Everyone is issued a tambourine and two one-hundred-dollar “bills” upon arrival to support the main theme of the show, which is reflected in the large lighted dollar sign that hangs overhead. He explains how it contains several crosses. His too tight seersucker suit, dark rimmed glasses, and slicked back hair give him the ‘look” to go with the act. He brings audience members up, then confesses his own sins, the truths to the rumors, all in the name of Jesus. The audience is pretty enthusiastic with their tambourines and responding to calls to get on your feet. For this show, once is enough. (5:30 p.m. March 11, 6:30 p.m. March 12, Goldstein’s Mortuary & Delicatessen) [Rogue program]

— Jackie Ryle

‘The Real Black Swann: Confessions of America’s First Black Drag Queen’

We can always count on Les Kurkendaal-Barrett. He never lets us down. He’s a great storyteller and makes the audience feel that he’s not just repeating some facts, but that he actually was there and is sharing his own experience. In this case, he tells the true story of America’s first black drag Queen in the late 1800s, William Dorsey Swann, Les takes us right there. By simply stepping behind a screen while keeping up a continuous and engaging stream of the story, he steps out in a simple long dress and wide and floppy-brimmed garden hat and becomes the character. He makes us think, leads us to reflect, and exudes his ever-present charm and charisma. I did learn a lot from this show. Les is always a must see. I always come away glad that I was there. (7 p.m. March 10, 8:30 p.m. March 11, 2 p.m. March 12, VISTA Theater) [Rogue program]

— Jackie Ryle

‘Thinking Out Loud’

I totally loved this unexpected, eccentric little show. Dana Merwin is both charming and completely unexpected. She sneaks up on the audience with her sweet and attractive appearance, soft voice, and cute little puppet, who turns out to be a maggot enthusiastically professing his preference for certain body parts. Then she proceeds to take us to a place for final resting. Her inclusion of an audience member brings the message right home to each of us, and the heavy gravity of the situation is offset by the offbeat humor. This one touches the soul. I’d see it again. (7 p.m. March 10, 7 p.m. March 11, Spectrum Art Gallery) [Rogue program]

— Jackie Ryle

The Munro Review has no paywall but is financially supported by readers who believe in its non-profit mission of bringing professional arts journalism to the central San Joaquin Valley. You can help by signing up for a monthly recurring paid membership or make a one-time donation of as little as $3. All memberships and donations are tax-deductible.

Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

Comments (2)

  • Steph

    Jackie Ryle is a Fresno Treasure. We’ve named a street after Audra. It might be time to rename the Fresno Art Museum the Ryle Museum of the Arts.

  • Jackie Ryle

    Thanks for the opportunity to share a few of my thoughts, Donald. I DO love Rogue and it’s so good to have it back! I’m so grateful to all the volunteers who make it happen, including the board and designers and technicians and ticket takers and announcers – everyone! . I’m looking forward to catching a few more shows this weekend, and hope everyone will come out to support and enjoy these fine performers. There is literally something for every taste.


Leave a Reply