The chaotic collaborative wonder that is the 2012 Capital Fringe Festival is well underway. Joanna, Patrick and Jenn have been busy seeing shows, tweeting micro-reviews, and hanging out at the Gypsy Tent. Miss the primer? No problem, there’s still plenty of time. Despite being drenched by sweat and rain, audiences are enjoying some excellent experimental productions through July 29. The three of us sat down over some fried pickles and rehashed our first week of fringing. We’ll keep the reviews quick and dirty.
Recapped: Colony, Girls Who Think They’re Hot, Hysterical Blindness, The Webcam Play, Bareback Ink, He HEE! Or “What It’s Not Glee?”, The Brontes, My Princess Bride.
Joanna was enthralled by Colony’s dancing duet – dressed in stripes like worker bees, frenetically running and interacting with the audience in an almost body-slam atmosphere of fifty minutes of non-stop tension.
Patrick: “On a scale of 1 to Synetic?”
Joanna: “It was like a NYC basement show, except good.”
Girls Who Think They’re Hot
Girls Who Think They’re Hot struck Patrick as a Reefer Madness caution tale meets Pleasantville, with free thinkers and surrealists battling the status quo. The very young cast does a good job with material that’s cute, funny, and entertaining, but not terribly earth-shattering.
Jenn fell hard for Hysterical Blindness, an honest and truthful look at one man’s coming to terms with his inevitable loss of sight. It’s an all-improv show manned by the talented Justin Purvis, who deftly steers the audience from laughter to tears.
Jenn: “Plus, you get to share his mystery treats.”
Joanna: “Were there seats at yours? You got to sit down, right?”
The Webcam Play
Patrick was so personally affected by the message of The Webcam Play that he actually CALLED his startled editor Jenn instead of the usual texting. A genuine phone conversation ensued between Generations X and Y! That’s the power of theater. This “real, raw, authentic” piece resonated with him as it explored the idea of a love that grows without physicality. Two potential lovers meet online and conduct their relationship via Skype, from awkward flirting to falling asleep on webcam, just to be near each other. But are their feelings real without physical interaction?
Patrick: “This is the perfect example of a new play that should be picked up by a larger company post-Fringe.”
Bareback Ink had a concept that intrigued Jenn – a modern riff of the Zeus/Ganymede abduction myth set in a seedy tattoo parlor – but the production itself needs more cohesion between the disparate acting styles of the two leads, and the transitions need a better flow. But the interesting ambiguity inherent in its plot (who is that mysterious tattoo artist really? a cast-off lover? the god Vulcan?) and the poetic charge of the language give it a real bite.
He HEE! Or “What It’s Not Glee?”
It’s always tough to criticize productions that aren’t quite developed enough, especially with young actors, as Patrick found with He HEE! Or “What It’s Not Glee?” The premise and the concept are well thought out but overall it needs more work. It’s a great idea for an after-school special, just not a theatrical experience yet.
Jenn: “Well, my last two shows were knock-outs.”
Dizzy Miss Lizzie’s Roadside Revue delivers a rock powerhouse with The Brontes. Seriously? Yes, this musical on the lives of the four literary siblings was unexpectedly touching with clever in-jokes for the English major crew and heartfelt belting by a truly talented cast. Jenn clapped so hard the sweat splattered off her palms.
My Princess Bride
My Princess Bride is more than just a one man rendition of the beloved film. Joe Brack intersperses this tale of love and adventure with wry, devastating vignettes from his own life as a sick South Boston kid. It unfolds at a gentle, authentic pace with a beautifully simple theatricality.
Joanna, Patrick and Jenn will keep on trucking and tweeting through week two. Oh, our top tip right now? Bring cash for last-minute tickets and buttons. See something that dazzled (or disgusted) you? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter. Above all, hang out at the Tent between shows and have fun!