Entertainment, Special Events, The Daily Feed

Fringe 2010: The Rave Scenes

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courtesy of ‘erin m’

Imagine a group of friends (and some hangers-on) sitting around one night talking about the club scene they used to frequent. No matter the particular scene, if you were a crazy clubkid you’ve had the post-scene breakdown, the nostalgia and the arguments about what it really meant. AWoL Productions’ The Rave Scenes is exactly like one of those nights, except the friends have an audience they are trying to educate about the scene long gone.

All the usual suspects are represented (the dealer, the dancer, the wannabe) and are helpfully nametagged as if it’s a support group meeting. In a way it is. Each personality (they aren’t really characters) is dealing with the loss of the scene and what it meant to them. Each one tries to convince the audience their version is the authentic version, and most want you to discount the drug element, which became the media and political bugbear that eventually brought the original scene down.  Continue reading

Special Events, We Love Arts

Fringe 2010: Red Hood: once upon a wartime…

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Jenn has been doing our reviews for Capital Fringe 2010 in partnership with DC Theater Scene, but when scheduling and venue confusion prevented her from getting to this production I agreed to pitch in. As it turns out, this was my lucky break.

Red Hood just might be the perfect Fringe production. That’s not damning with faint praise – though most of us have different expectations from a Fringe show than we would more “traditionally” produced theater – that’s my way of saying that this is the height of what Fringe can be: an opportunity to develop and perform a fantastic work on a smaller scale, potentially as a step on the way to larger venues and audiences. It’s beyond a doubt that this production deserves a larger audience and longer run.

That’s not to say Red Hood is perfect. If I was asked to wield my red pen I’d have trimmed down a few aspects and extended a few others. This re-imagining of the Little Red Riding Hood – one of many through the years, including several in film – looks at the story through the lens of sexual assault and victimization and does so well. For myself the “wartime” component seemed tacked on, contributing little to the story other than a backdrop of a region in turmoil and a moment that drives Red to make a hasty decision, but perhaps it will work better for you.

It’s a minor quibble with the play that doesn’t detract anything from its other good qualities and the fantastic performances, directing, and stagecraft. The use of puppets in the show – who act as Little Red Riding Hood, her mother, and her grandmother – is wonderfully done, with the beautiful and expressive full-scale puppets creating another layer for the story and invoking the repeating cycle of victimization.

They’re well handled by everyone, but in particular Simona Curiurianu as Red seems to have been born to puppetry. The Wolf is just as brilliantly personified by John Robert Kenna, who exudes sex appeal and menace while moving through the set without seeming to be touched by gravity. Marietta Elaine Hedges gets her chance to shine as a sketchy pharmacist and Eli Sebley is the invaluable but never sufficiently appreciated utility player, picking up every other piece that needs to be precisely placed around the rest of the cast.

If my gushing has spilled over the edge of your monitor and gotten onto your desk, my apologies, but I can’t recommend this show enough. It’s the kind of thing that makes me wish I could go back and see it again for the first time. After asking myself multiple times over the last year “why does this need to be on stage?” it’s nice to have a show answer “because this is the only venue where all this could be accomplished.”

Red Hood: once upon a wartime
at The Shop at Fort Fringe,
607 New York Avenue NW

Remaining shows on Sunday July 18th at 8p and Sunday July 25th at 7p.

Entertainment, Special Events, The Daily Feed, We Love Arts

Fringe 2010: Chlamydia dell’Arte

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courtesy of ‘erin m’

I’m reviewing eight plays over eight days for the 2010 Capital Fringe Festival, in collaboration with DC Theatre Scene. Get your button and join me!

With a title like Chlamydia dell’Arte: A Sex-Ed Burlesque, I just couldn’t resist. The name alone represents all things Fringe! Risky titillation rubbing up against camp with a classy wink? I’m in. Not to mention the added benefit of watching people’s faces twist up in disgust as the title rolled off my tongue like the first line of Lolita.

Gigi Naglak and Meghann Williams bring their special brand of sexual education performance art to DC’s Fringe from Philadelphia, and there’s something very Philly to my mind about this show. It’s basically a raw and earthy variety act.  Continue reading

Entertainment, Special Events, The Daily Feed, We Love Arts

Fringe 2010: Do Not Kill Me, Killer Robots

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courtesy of ‘erin m’

I’m reviewing eight plays over eight days for the 2010 Capital Fringe Festival, in collaboration with DC Theatre Scene. Get your button and join me!

Actor Ben Egerman is the last human on earth. You the audience member are part of a horde of killer robots who’ve decimated the populace and are now clamouring for his blood, but you won’t kill him as long as he keeps you entertained.

That’s basically the premise of Egerman’s one-man show, Do Not Kill Me, Killer Robots – a quirky piece that reminded me of the elaborate pranks shy dorky boys used to pull to get your attention. That’s intentional on Egerman’s part. There’s not much substance here, just a string of vignettes ranging from truly funny to awkward. When he’s on and the delivery is strong, it’s hysterical. When the energy falls flat, it’s painful.

With the aid of hilariously drawn cardboard cut-outs, Egerman takes the audience (remember, you are killer robots!) through the events leading to (your) world domination, musing on (your) origins along the way. There’s a prolonged pitstop at space camp where Egerman does dead-on impressions of all the kooky characters you remember from any geek camp. Maybe too prolonged. Continue reading

Entertainment, Special Events, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: 2010 Fringe Week One

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‘DC Fringe Festival Button, 2010′
courtesy of ‘[F]oxymoron’

I’ve seen five plays over the first weekend of the 2010 Capital Fringe Festival. It’s my first time completely diving in to what’s on tap with the festival – in years past I just went to a show or two – and the results have been theatrical overdose. What’s crazy to me is that I ran into people who said they’d seen twenty shows already. That’s dedication to Fringe immersion!

Normally with my theater reviews, I see a performance, let thoughts sift in my mind for a few days, and then write. But because Fringe shows have very limited runs, for this experience I’m posting as soon as I can and being as brief as possible. It’s definitely a challenge! With over one hundred productions to choose from and a rather chaotic schedule, Fringe can be overwhelming.

So let’s recap what I’ve seen so far, what I’m seeing next, and my recommendations for enjoying yourself.

Continue reading

Entertainment, Special Events, The Daily Feed, We Love Arts

Fringe 2010: Medea

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courtesy of ‘erin m’

I’m reviewing eight plays over eight days for the 2010 Capital Fringe Festival, in collaboration with DC Theatre Scene. Get your button and join me!

If you want to know why Greek tragedy is still vital to modern theater, go see paperStrangers Performance Group’s adaptation of Medea. Striking use of movement and multimedia combine to bring very intense moments of madness to life. Director Michael Burke has a fascinating vision, unified throughout all the major design elements he also helmed – lighting, video, sound and costumes – creating a sometimes strident but brutally beautiful work, like Medea herself.

“A woman’s likely to get emotional when her husband marries again,” understates Jason (of the Argonauts, if you are keeping mythological score). He owes a huge debt to Medea, who murdered her own brother and many others to assist Jason in his quest for the Golden Fleece. She bears him two children, and expects to reign as his queen despite her barbarian background. But love is a luxury for heroes – he puts her aside for a more royal bride, and more insults to follow, with the bride’s father wanting her banished.

This is where we meet them, at the moment the ultimate bridezilla is dumped in her swan feathered bridal gown, her voiceless screams of rage fracturing the space, a creepily twisted chorus shuffling in to reveal her inner turmoil. Continue reading

Entertainment, Special Events, The Daily Feed, We Love Arts

Fringe 2010: Handbook for Hosts

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courtesy of ‘erin m’

I’m reviewing eight plays over eight days for the 2010 Capital Fringe Festival, in collaboration with DC Theatre Scene. Get your button and join me!

There’s not much point to Happenstance Theater & Banished Productions’s Handbook for Hosts except to create an atmosphere. But what an atmosphere! From the moment the ensemble begins teasing audience members with spot-on film noir accents and prettily coiffed hair, you willingly enter the parlance of the 1930′s and ’40′s.

Bumbling Russian spies, dueling femme fatales, and even the Chattanooga-Choo-Choo all combine to resurrect the allure of an era lost. Ably created and helmed by Mark Jaster, Sabrina Mandell, Melissa Krodman and Michael Sazonov – this quartet shines whether singing, dancing, or miming old movies with clever shadowplay. Punctuated throughout are old style radio renditions advising gents how to be proper hosts, a java jingle, riffs on film noir classics (including a spectacularly funny bit of audience participation), and a moody poem on dames gone wrong. The quartet’s dedication to creating a naughty glamour is hypnotic.

Don’t go in expecting a heavy plot or political musings. This production’s like an old perfume bottle of attar of roses, with a little saucy kick. It’s playful and a bit perverse, like silk stockings all askew, a welcome escape from our drab world outside.

Entertainment, Special Events, The Daily Feed, We Love Arts

Fringe 2010: Secret Obscenities

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courtesy of ‘erin m’

I’m reviewing eight plays over the next eight days for the 2010 Capital Fringe Festival, in collaboration with DC Theatre Scene. Get your button and join me!

Two perverted men in raincoats. On a park bench. Outside a girls’ school. Think you know what’s going on? Just wait til they start calling each other Sigmund and Karl, claiming to have witnessed events from a hundred years ago – throw in some torture talk and vague references to Chilean dictators, and you have quite a puzzle. Oh, and lots of flashing.

Washington Shakespeare Company’s production of Secret Obscenities is the kind of play that requires you to pay attention or you’ll get lost in the twists. Written by Marco Antonio de la Parra and set in 1980′s Chile, the two protagonists dance around the truth of their situation until the very end. Starting out as hysterically funny “dirty old men,” Brian Crane as Sigmund and Christopher Herring as Karl display enough antics to keep you entertained before delving into deep philosophical and political issues. There’s frantic physical comedy punctuated by well, dick jokes. Clocking in at a rapid 70 minutes, it explores what happens when you lose your identity to the totalitarian state. Continue reading

Entertainment, Special Events, The Daily Feed

Get Ready to Fringe

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‘Frankie Goes to Washington…………’
courtesy of ‘LaTur’

The 2010 Capital Fringe Festival schedule is live, and as always it’s jam-packed with a rich mix of the serious and the seriously messed-up. Now in its fifth year, the festival is an incredible opportunity for artists to present work not normally seen on DC mainstream stages, and a chance for you to indulge in watching (and sometimes participating in!) some crazy theatrical risk-taking.

Tickets are on sale starting today, and the festival itself runs July 8-25 with about 130 different performances to choose from. Payment options range from tickets to individual shows ($15 each) or packages to multiple shows ($50 for four tickets, $75 for six, $110 for ten and $300 for all) – note you will also need the $5 Fringe Button to enter any Fringe venue. Show venues are mainly in the Mount Vernon Square area, with Fort Fringe & The Baldacchino Gypsy Tent Bar set up at 607 New York Avenue NW.

I’ve only ever made it to a show or two in Fringes past, but this year I’m intending to be more ambitious and see as many shows as I can for you! Watch for timely (within 24 hours of first night, yikes) reviews here as part of our collaboration with DC Theatre Scene.

So get ready for some fast furious theatrical fun!