Fringe 2010: Handbook for Hosts

Photo courtesy of

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.

As one of the founding editors of We Love DC, Jenn’s passions are theater and cocktails. After two decades in the city, she’s loved every quirky, mundane, elegant, rude minute of her DC life. A proud advocate for DC’s talented drinks scene, she’s judged the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s ARTINI contest, the DC Rickey Month contest, the Jefferson Hotel’s Quill Cocktail competition, and is a founding member of LUPEC DC. A graduate of Catholic University’s drama program, she toured the country as a member of National Players, and has been both an actor and a costume designer before jumping the aisle to theater criticism. Writing for We Love DC restored her happiness after a life-threatening illness, and she’s grateful to you, dear readers. Send your suggestions to jenn (at) welovedc (dot) com and follow her on Twitter.

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