Fringe 2013: Week Two in Review (Part 2)

Continuing on with our coverage of the Capital Fringe Festival‘s second week with Patrick, Joanna, Kristin, and Jenn getting splattered by blood and learning how to dance naked under hot sweaty lights. It’s Fringe, people, what else do you expect?

Recapped: Dementia Melodies: “It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over,” Polaroid Stories, 43 and a 1/2: The Greatest Deaths of Shakespeare’s Tragedies, I tried to be normal once, it didn’t take., A Guide to Dancing Naked, Social Media Expert

Dementia Melodies: “It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over” 
Reviewer: Joanna

Solo performer Steve Little presents some of the lessons he’s learned from playing music in the dementia ward of an elder care home. I may be biased because of my own experience singing in the geriatric psychiatric ward of a hospital, but I found his stories incredibly touching. While comedic moments poke fun at aging and our own fear of death, more serious tales question the connection between music and mortality.Little confuses some of his accents, and the musical interludes don’t serve the larger narrative. Still, this piece offers a unique perspective on a universal experience and helps us understand better what is lost and kept when our minds start to fail us.

Polaroid Stories
Reviewer: Jenn

It’s The Warriors meets Metamorphoses in Blind Pug Arts Collective’s production of Naomi Iizuka’s exquisitely written riff on Ovid’s tales. You might be put off by the length, at roughly 105 minutes in the stuffy confines of The Shop, but the urban poetry of the language and the committed cast is worth it. The Greek myths mingle well with the hard lives of homeless street kids. The old stories never feel forced into the new construct, as it’s entirely believable how desperately legends are needed when your life is so dark. There’s a lot of raw talent here guided by director/actor Jonelle Walker, with several young performers to be on the lookout for in the future – especially notable are Chris Carillo as a preening yet damaged Narcissus and Sheen Mercado as a quietly dangerous Dionysus. Both are strongly rooted in an easy naturalism that was very appealing. There’s some teetering into melodrama but overall it’s a very promising piece by a young company whose work I’m interested in following further.

43 and a 1/2: The Greatest Deaths of Shakespeare’s Tragedies
Reviewer: Kristin

This production has it all: British sock puppets, Rick Astley, death, death, and 41 and a half more deaths. That Shakespeare was pretty gruesome. The title effectively sums up this comedy from Nu Sass Productions. The ensemble cast works hard and they deliver the goods. There are puns, word play, parodies, a few sword fights, and a lot of funny Shakespearean death scenes. I don’t know who had more fun, the cast or the audience.  The show goes eighty minutes and they still don’t have enough time to get to King Lear or some of the lesser known tragedies. If you sit in the front row you get a nifty button for braving the last ten minutes watching Titus Andronicus from under a plastic tarp to protect you from blood splatter. Probably important to note, Titus Andronicus was an extremely bloody play.

I tried to be normal once, it didn’t take.
Reviewer: Patrick

Actor Stephanie Svec examines her journey into the performing arts world starting with the discovery of her comedic skills in the 7th grade. From there Stephanie has gone through summers of theater camp, living in New York at 16, and getting divorced before turning 27. All along the way she struggles with the pressure to live a more stable, “normal” life. Fellow actors can relate when I say that the life of a performer is anything but stable or normal. Svec’s performance is cute, entertaining and heartwarming and delivers a message that will resonate with all the busybodies out there.

A Guide to Dancing Naked
Reviewer: Jenn

Brynn Tucker is determined to spread the gospel of dancing naked (solo! alone in your room! what did you think she meant?), and her adorable energy is so irresistible she might just convert any shy wallflowers out there to try it. Her fierce rendition of Beyoncé’s Freakum Dress certainly convinced me. As an admirer of Tucker’s performances with Synetic Theater, I was expecting at the least some beautiful dancing in her one-woman show, but what I didn’t expect was to be moved by her very personal stories about body image. Tucker fearlessly relays her battle with dysmorphia after thoroughly entertaining the audience with tales of her cheerleading days and love of Singin’ in the Rain – the switch from joy to sorrow is heartrending. The night I saw it, there were two young girls in the audience, and I thought how important it was to see Tucker’s performance at their age. It’s really just a simple monologue about her life mixed with dancing and audience participation, but it’s a lovely and inspiring piece.

Social Media Expert
Reviewer: Patrick

From the mind of John Krizel, Social Media Expert is a fresh comedy that is amazingly polished for Fringe piece. Backed through a Kickstarter campaign, it is one of the best prospects I’d like to see developed for a larger DC audience out of all the Fringe shows I’ve seen so far. The show focuses on the marketing department of burger chain Jingleburger where their social media guy David (Nathan Wolfson) is challenged to manage the restaurant’s presence amongst a number of PR nightmares (ripped from the headlines stuff, like horse meat.) David also has a lot on his plate outside of work: feelings for the new Intern, a roommate who is afraid of technology and his girlfriend who thinks social media is a scam. The ensemble delivers laughs and what could have been a heavy handed commentary on the digital age takes keeps thing delightful and light. If you work anywhere near Twitter (like me) then you will surely love this play.

Still more to come today…

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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