Sex, politics, and social media invites make for a very “official DC” finish to our week two round up of the Capital Fringe Festival. Ok, there are also puppets and Shakespeare. Work with it! Soldier through our previous reviews with Patrick, Joanna, Kristin, and Jenn, and look for our final thoughts on the whole mad business next week.
Recapped: The Clocks, STATUS – A Social Media Experiment, Romeo & Juliet, Married Sex, The Politician
Not A Robot Theatre Company’s mission is to “explore the possibilities and conflicts that arise from human and object interactions.” That pretty much sold me on attending their performance of The Clocks. It’s a shame that the venue they’ve been slotted into is the very traditional Studio 4, because this mash-up of sound, projection, and puppetry really ought to be in a challenging industrial space that disorients the viewer into a dreamlike state. But, don’t let that be a block to your suspension of disbelief. Jacy Barber and Jason Patrick Wells have created something unique, a delicately quirky exploration of memory that’s performed with the straightforward naivete of children’s purposeful games of make-believe. And it is challenging. At first I didn’t know what to make of the poker-faced duo and their cardboard cutouts, the repetitive movements, the sad puppet who slowly became more real than anything else. By the time the two slow-dance with all the awkward charm of youth, you realize that you’ve accepted their world of childlike simplicity. Despite having to work against the space to create the intended immersive world of magic and pain, The Clocks is a very interesting theatrical experiment.
STATUS – A Social Media Experiment
Dancer Kathryn Elizabeth Kelly is the kind of Facebook friend you would constantly be jealous of when she pops into your news feed: endless photos of her at lavish parties, status updates humble bragging about her latest exploits (limo rides, yacht parties, skydiving), a friend list full of people you know and many others you don’t (but wish you did). How did this Alexandria local go from nobody to DC socialite? By simply saying yes. Kelly walks us through a year where she decided to live life by one rule: when presented with an invite, just say yes. The words “social media” in the title mainly apply to the Facebook-themed presentation that makes up the visuals as she tells us story after story of charity balls, lounge parties, and other things beautiful and/or rich and powerful people do. A bell is rung whenever she decides to “say yes” and the audience will pick up valuable socialite tips such as befriending bouncers and avoiding red wine at a white party. On the surface the show is a gab session full of amazing stories that sound pulled out of a Bravo reality show. However Kelly hints that her year of yes wasn’t all roses. While it’s exciting to become a member of DC high society, what does it all mean without deep and meaningful friendships? Yes, Kelly leads an amazing life that is always on-the-go, but this show is best left for the type of person who enjoys hearing about high society adventures…which isn’t always my cup of tea.
Romeo & Juliet
Verona my be a fair city, but it’s still a man’s world! Young Juliet’s life has been planned out for her while she’s locked away in her bedroom waiting for it to begin. To bring this point home, Juliet is the only female in We Happy Few Productions’ Romeo and Juliet. The cast is phenomenal. The sets are minimal. The story flies by at ninety minutes traffic on the stage. I admit I spent portions of the play wondering what, if anything was missing. The fast pace heightens Juliet’s desperation to break free. The play explodes when her father, mother and nurse make it clear she is to marry Paris in three days. The scene is terrifying, violent and brilliantly acted. It is easy to believe the only way out of Juliet’s balconied prison is to feign death. Easily the most polished production I’ve seen at Fringe.
Laura Zam headlines a one-woman show about her real-life (for the most part) story of getting married in her middle age years and struggling to be intimate with her husband after suffering from sexual abuse as a child. From therapists of all kinds to brunches with other women, Zam searches everywhere for the answer. The topic is endearing and the resolution touching, however, this is a show that hits best with a certain audience, one that perhaps isn’t 29 and single. Zam delivers with great energy and enthusiasm, yet her positive gloss felt a bit off when talking about darker subjects in the first half. You can tell from the get-go that Zam loves to talk in accents – almost every character in her show gets a different ethnic/regional accent, giving the audience the impression that she must be friends with the entire UN Delegation. The show feels like it wants to be Eat, Pray, Love with descriptions of elaborate travels to Italy and elsewhere, but it’s missing the food (as well as other things) to make this a complete package.
Pundit Peter Peters makes his living in the vague generalities of sound-bites. His verbal prowess has made him a regular in the world of the 24-hour news cycle and helped short list him to a political post that he is hungry for, yet in a matter of hours his life comes undone. The Politician is a tight-paced geopolitical thriller. Writer John Feffer understands Washington and foreign policy from experience, and he skewers the world he knows well. Feffer sucks the audience in with satire as we get to know his self absorbed protagonist. He then keeps them with a finely plotted story. Though it doesn’t break any new ground, it’s good theater that I’d recommend.
See you next week for our final thoughts…