4 Reviews From Fringe by Rose Desena

                    I Fringed this Weekend!

Reviews by Rose Desena

 

What is the Fringe Festival?

A Fringe Festival is an event that promotes new cutting edge performing artists, and it is usually hosted by a city.   The festival uses already existing artists and organizations, who work together to offer inexpensive venues for dance, comedy, poetry, music, and, my favorite theater.

Most of the performers have very little time to rehearse in their assigned space, and the stage set has to be packed up and completely removed after every performance, making it quite a challenge. As a participant, you literally go from event-to-event spending the whole day until you are a culturally spent. If fringing till you drop doesn’t appeal to you, just pick a few events and have a good time.

The most famous Fringe is in Edinburgh, Scotland, where the whole city participates, not only theaters but cafes, restaurants, basements, bars and etc.  We are still growing here in LA, but this year has been the best so far. There are hundreds of events spread over 20 or so venues.

There are inexpensive drinks and light snacks available at Central Station, a specific location dedicated to helping one navigate their way around or take a rest.  My advice is checking into Central Station early on the day you attend.

I was very impressed with the quality of the acting and the organization of the event. If you’re looking for an inexpensive day for the family or a good date night, this is it.  There are children’s shows and theatrical events that range from intellectually stimulating to comical. Saturdays and Sundays really rock so try spending most of the day there.   Get moving you couch potatoes and log on to http://www.hollywoodfringe.org/ for tickets!

I plan on seeing about seven plays at the Fringe, and here are the first few I checked out over the weekend. Check the site for times, dates and venues.

 

feaver-adThe Fever, written by Wallace Shawn

This is not a new piece; it was done originally in 1990. When asked why he wrote it, Shawn simply said, “Because its things I want to say.” Fever is a profound look at the cost of the life we live. It digs deep into your conscience making you feel guilty for the very seat you sit in.  Does anyone think about the people who suffer to make the clothes we put on our backs or the fruit we so easily grab from our bowls?

Brad C. Light (doing Shawn’s original monologue) misses nothing in this 80-minute monologue.  He describes his fears and amps-up his anger as he talks about having his head in the toilet trying to expel the pain around him.  Originally the piece was done by Shawn, in small venues, cafes and dinner parties, avoiding it as an entertainment piece and making it more of an intellectual statement, which this definitely is.

Light brings it to life at the Fringe. Brad does an excellent job spilling the words out as if they are coming from his gut. I hung onto every word waiting with enthusiasm for the next sentence. I highly recommend this interesting and well-produced production.

 

whitetrash-adWhite Trash Wedding and a Funeral. (LA comedy Sauce)

David Chrzanowski has his hands full directing this nine-person cast of zany characters. Connie is planning on marrying Josh but only for his money, which he will inherit when she kills off his aunt.  Just to give you a glimpse of the characters, there is a hilarious bartender, who looks like he is a boot camp left over, and an obnoxious overweight guy, who you would certainly want to kick in the rear, if you had a chance.

If that’s not enough, there is the drunken, hot pants sister, who could have been a poster child for white trash.  My only disappointment was she had teeth.  I have to admit it was paced well with good acting, and it seemed the cast really enjoyed themselves.   This funny well-directed comedy is a cross between Saturday Night Live and Monty Python, being offensive, crude, and at times ridiculous. It’s not really my thing, but it will make you laugh and I think it was well received by the audience.

 

cleanerCleaner than Blood, written by Jen Silver

This beautifully written piece is both intriguing and mysterious. Three damaged young people come together to deal with a family member, who thought it was acceptable to destroy the lives of innocent bystanders. The three people are stuck in a situation they didn’t ask for. This piece explores anger, hostility and the power authority figures have over those around them. To go into any more detail would be a spoiler.  The strong message is well delivered by all three actors. Good writing and passionate actors make it easy to watch. I recommend it, enough said.  Keep in mind I am a fan of simple staging and good spoken word.

 

hast#hashtag.  (Collaboration from the Mechanical Heart Theater Co.)

This was both comical and informative. Six young people bring to life the high-tech world that an older person like me is a bit confused by.  I had to go home and research the term Vining, but don’t be scared off; it’s really just a story about Love.    Finding it, keeping it, and knowing when you have it. All mixed in with living life in a world of computer screens and beeping phones. No matter how hip or high-tech you are the heart is just a heart. Endearing characters and a creative imagination make this a very pleasant package. This was very well done and well cast. A good choice if you’re looking for something entertaining and very “today”.

 

 

 

interviewThe Interview, written and directed by Michael Franco,

Visceral and kafkaesque, The Interview is an absurdist hour-long exploration of America’s descent into Torquemada’s domain.  This production does an excellent job enveloping and rendering the audience complicit in the interrogation room, accentuated by brilliant sound and light design.  Stylistic violence makes the unwatchable watchable but I found the improper handling of guns somewhat distracting.  The play examines the effects on all participants to an interrogation without straying into the didactic.  This is what live theater does best.

The Interview was reviewed by my friend Catherin Curtis, to help me out with a double booking. Thanks Catherin.

 

 

 

I really enjoyed the shows I saw and the energy. I am anxious to see how it will expand next year. This is what makes living in a major city so great. Enjoy where you live!

 

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