We write to you from our recovery caves, where we’re attempting to cure our Fringe-related exhaustion by reliving some of the highs of the festival so far.
Fringe runs until July 29, but many productions only have a few performances. Prevent eternal regret from either a) missing a winner or b) checking your watch through a bummer. Check out our thoughts on this past week of shows.
Recapped: The Last Flapper, The City of God, The Every Fringe Show You Want To See in One Fringe Show Fringe Show, McGoddess, Beertown, iConfess, Where In the World? The Untold Story of Camilla San Francisco, Planet Egg, 3rd Annual “Fool for All”: Tales of Marriage and Mozzarella, Apocalypse Picnic, Thomas is Titanic.
The Last Flapper
You can call Zelda Fitzgerald a lot of things: free-spirited, crazy, abused, misunderstood. But since The Last Flapper was taken directly from her writings, they probably have it at least partially right. Kate Erin Gibson plays the famous wife of writer F. Scott in this one woman show.
I’m certain of two things after seeing her performance: 1: she’s a great actress; and 2: Scotty was a jerkface. The show didn’t answer every question I have about the artistic and wild Zelda, but it did make me want to learn a lot more about her – as an individual rather than half of a more-famous whole.
Fun fact: Today (Tuesday) is Zelda’s birthday, and the show has a performance tonight. If there’s ever a time to go, it would be now.
The City of God
Let’s talk about how hard it is to launch an actual opera at the Fringe Festival. That’s what The City of God is, and more: it also delves into the controversial fall of the Branch Davidians in Waco, TX. While you have to commend the cast and crew for attempting such a feat, the show falls short in vocal depth, acting chops, and story structure. Opera desperately needs all three elements; and in an intimate space the problems stand out even more. Young composer Josh Armenta shows a lot of promise with this piece. Producing an opera, it turns out, is just very hard to do well.
The Every Fringe Show You Want To See in One Fringe Show Fringe Show
Patrick acknowledges this show stays true to its title. The profanity laced romp is raunchy, punchy, and honest about its goals: tell jokes about performing at Fringe while shamelessly asking for audience best-of votes. But while theatre vets and hardened Fringers will chuckle at the one-liners targeted at the lacking performance space, low pay, and questionable artistic integrity, the show probably won’t connect with anyone new to Fringe or outside the theater circle.
Funny and flirty, Vijai Nathan makes you laugh so hard you almost don’t realize you’re contemplating questions of God, family, and mortality. She uncovers every stone possible as she explores the meaning of faith and patriotism from the context of her own McDonald’s-eating-Indian-American childhood. To hear her stories is to go somewhere special – and no, I don’t just mean McDonald’s.
Who wouldn’t love a show that woos you with a dessert potluck beforehand? Apparently no one. This beloved DC production is back, with new artifacts to debate. If you haven’t seen Beertown yet, you’re missing out. Arrive early for the free cookies and stay late for the democratic infighting over collective memory. It’s a full evening of unpredictable charm that gives you major bang for your buck.
Performing improv is gutsy enough, but musical improv? That takes insane gumption. Washington Improv Theatre raises the stakes even further by using secrets from the audience to craft a new musical every show, with results ranging from groan-inducing to hysterical, shifting by the second. No two performances are alike, except for the hilarious courage and talent displayed by the ensemble. The night Jenn witnessed involved a keyed-up Mercedes and a war between the classes waged with sex and money across continents. Expect show-stopping double entendres and wacky rhymes for a fun night out, guaranteed.
Where In the World? The Untold Story of Camilla San Francisco
In the interest of full disclosure, I know the composer of this production; but no offense to him, I was certain this was the dumbest premise I’d ever heard. I loved Carmen San Diego growing up, but a whole musical about her deepest motivations?
Color me embarrassed: the dang thing is good. Really good. It might not explore an epic premise, but the cast and crew have managed to make a retro, fun-filled musical out of what was once just a humble computer game. Please, I implore CrimeTime Productions: do Oregon Trail next.
It may take a while to prepare each scene in Planet Egg, but the results are genius. This show takes place on a tiny set with tiny puppets controlled by a very talented team that is also quite tiny, at only 3 people. A camera then projects the set onto a screen for all to view, silent film style. Inanimate objects take front and center in this one. Expect tragedy and triumph, laughter and tears, and a lot of anthropomorphized vegetables. Also, just because it says puppets doesn’t mean bring the kids: rest assured there’s no nudity; but the puppetry can take some patience, and youngsters may get bored.
3rd Annual “Fool for All”: Tales of Marriage and Mozzarella
Twitter followers may have been surprised to hear that Faction of Fools – the acclaimed Commedia dell’Arte company – provided the most moving theater experience I’d ever had, but it’s the truth: the Saturday performance I enjoyed included a wedding. In sign language. With a first dance. And cupcakes. This stoic bawled her eyes out, I admit it. Somewhere between raunchy jokes about the marriage bed and hilarious mix-ups over fake ceremonies (all presented in American Sign Language), a real wedding happened. Theater met actual life, and the gods smiled.
That being said, I’m sure all of their other performances will be very funny as well. They may not leave you crying happily in the back corner until a Fringe staffer comes and removes you, but laugh you will.
Pop culture junkies might like this variety show production about the inability of humans to let go of their creature comforts in a post-catastrophe world. A series of skits highlighting people’s shallow denials play for common denominator laughs. The enthusiastic cast has a good time, but overall it’s a disjointed viewing experience with jokes that just seem stale and fall flat. Best bit? Jesus and L. Ron Hubbard on a subversive spirit quest.
Thomas is Titanic
The world is a better place now that Thomas Choinacky has chosen to share his Titanic obsession with us all. Not only can he exorcise his demons, but we get an hour to wonder at his strange, stalker-ish love for Kate Winslet – all the while pretending we don’t know anything about having a shrine for our middle school crushes and making out with our hands. In the end, Thomas is Titanic is a coming of age story that could only be made better with even deeper reflection on what it means to grow up, face our fears, and become who we’re meant to be.
The Capital Fringe Festival runs through July 29 at venues around the city. Festival buttons and tickets can be purchased at the venue or at the main box office. Box office located at 607 NY Avenue NW. Nearest Metro: Mt. Vernon (Green/Yellow Lines) & Gallery Pl/Chinatown (Green/Yellow/Red Lines).