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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.