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FringeNYC 2012: Playwrights Find New Plays For Us
August 17, 2012
A couple of weeks ago I asserted that the New York International Fringe Festival is an important source for rich, challenging, new American drama. And last week I told you about our team of reviewers who have set out to identify some of that for us in this year’s festival.
Well I am happy to report that they’ve been delivering, in spades! As expected, FringeNYC 2012 is offering dozens of interesting and surprising new plays to its audience. Many of nytheatre.com’s reviewers are playwrights, and most of them have been through the FringeNYC experience themselves, and so I thought I would begin my survey of this year’s festival with some of their recommendations.
Julia Lee Barclay is excited about three shows:
BUMBERSHOOT: The blurb promises a play about “weary drag queens, corporate irresponsibility, tea-party paranoia.” Julia says: “The writing is strong, especially [playwright Derek] Davidson’s ear for the inarticulate in contemporary dialogue….There are very interesting questions of identity, class and politics that emerge in the play and some moments of pure theatrical grace…” Read the entire review here.
FLIPSIDE: Julia writes: “Flipside is one of those rare theatrical experiences that is equal parts intelligent, funny, moving, important and innovative. The extraordinary company HartBeat, an ensemble out of Hartford, CT, created this piece in workshops, devising it as a group, working with a drug dealer to get his story. Equally compelling is the story the piece tells of the policeman who eventually arrests him.” Here’s the rest of her review.
WAKE UP: She’s even more enthusiastic, if possible, about this play about contemporary racial attitudes in America. “What a breath of fresh air is the must-see Wake Up! This Redbone Theatrical production written by Kim Fischer, directed by Travis Baird with Trevor Salter, Glenn Quentin, Max Carpenter, Max Bisantz and Baird in the ensemble is as good as it gets at FringeNYC. Seeing this show reminded me of when I first saw Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing, except with the more immediate and dangerous presence of live theater.” Read more…
Lynn Berg recommends PINK MILK: This play is inspired by the life of gay British mathematician Alan Turing. Says Lynn, “Alex Paul Young has written a poetic, magical story loosely spun from Turing’s life full of fantastic devices like talking daisies and hypodermic needles, robot boys and poison apples. Brandon Powers’ direction helps spin Young’s script into a magic spell. He gracefully composes the performers to interweave the often poetic dialogue with dance and movement. It all feels like a choreographed dream or fairy tale.” Go here for the full review.
Theresa Buchheister really likes Jeff Seabaugh’s solo WE CRAZY, RIGHT?: “Seabaugh IS an artist… and approaches his story with diligent technique and craftsmanship. He has a great awareness of the slippery nature of individuality and universality. His is a distinctly personal story. It is his life and experience translated into a one man show. At the same time, it is a show about parenting, childhood, milestones, perspective, struggle… Themes we all relate to (in varying ways) effortlessly.” Read the entire review.
Nat Cassidy (represented in FringeNYC ’12 with SONGS OF LOVE: A THEATRICAL MIXTAPE) finds lots to commend in CAUSE OF FAILURE: It’s the only show in FringeNYC with a human heart as one of its characters. Nat opines, “There are scenes here of, for want of a less on-the-nose descriptor, heartbreaking power, particularly for those who have had to deal with a loved one’s deteriorating condition.” See the complete review.
Edward Elefterion is a fan of BOXPLAY: “It’s Kaspar Hauser meets sci-fi meets reality TV (theatre in this case, thankfully) meets absurdism 101 and it never ceased to surprise and delight me during its 75-minute run time,” Ed enthused about this new work by Seattle-based Steven Ackley. “boxplay was such a wonderful start to my 2012 FringeNYC experience, I’m afraid it may have spoiled me.” Find out more here.
Jason S. Grossman was impressed by ALIEE AND BETTINA’S (SORT OF) GROWNUP SLEEPOVER: “The show is enjoyable, because [Aliee] Chan and [Bettina] Warshaw have a lot to say. They bound about the stage (and into the audience) role-playing and playing dress up. There is rarely a dull moment. The creative team here has every intention of making you feel like you are on a (sort of) psychoanalytical adult play date, and they succeed.” See the rest of the review.
David Hilder really likes SALAMANDER STARTS OVER by Armando Merlo: “[T]he script he has written… is immaculately structured. Tales of how friendships evolve and fade away intermix beautifully with very funny family conversations and wrestling matches (Merlo was a member of his high school’s NJ state championship wrestling squad for four years).” David’s entire review is here.
Richard Hinojosa enjoyed ENOUGH’S ENOUGH: Richard writes, “I really enjoyed this short dark comedy. [Michael Thomas] Cain’s script is sharp and subtle. At the top of the show you may think that this play is just another story about nameless, nobodies working in the corporate underbelly but it is far from that. The script unfolds gradually to reveal darker and darker revelations about the world of the play.” Learn more here.
Claire Kiechel reviewed INDEPENDENTS: This musical about Revolutionary War re-enactors has a tragic history, which Claire talks about in her review: “These are deeper concerns and questions than ones often addressed in musicals, which is why it is so heartbreaking that Independents’ very promising book writer Marina Keegan was killed only five days after graduating from Yale. There are no words to express what a loss this is.”
Ed Malin is high on YBW – YELLOW BRICK WALL: This two-woman comedy, in which Siho Elsmore and Marisa Marquez explore and explode a variety of stereotypes, earned this comment from Ed: “There’s not a dull moment in this show, nor will there likely be an empty seat.” Read more.
Montserrat Mendez has two top picks:
FORTUNATE DAUGHTER: This is a one-woman play by Thao Nguyen. “What Thao’s one-person masterpiece has that most one-person shows don’t,” says Montserrat, “is a cast of characters fully realized, all of whom have their own intentions and desires; and then she goes on to play them out, imagining what their reactions will be and then playing out their actual reactions. Because we’re not told what the characters are thinking, she manages to surprise us.” Here’s the review.
LINDA MEANS TO WAIT: Montserrat says about Linda Kuriloff’s solo show, “There are great lessons to be found in the play; there are also simple moments of recognition that it is our cultural differences that make us all the same in one way, and yet, each of us are wonderfully unique.” Read more.
Kim Wadsworth recommends THE 27 CLUB: “High and low culture race to the grave in this tragicomic deconstruction of fame from NC’s Fly-By-Night Theatre,” goes the show’s blurb. Kim says, “…throughout I was struck by the inventiveness and poetry of much of what everyone was saying. Even when he’s trying to write ‘badly’—in character as the pompous, overly-dense Howard—[playwright Tommy] Trull still has a lot of poetry in this script…” Check out the full review.
Amy E. Witting (whose own play FALLING is in this year’s festival too!) chooses THE EGG PLAY: “A story of one event but told from the perspective of each individual unfolds in this seventy minute drama of love, loss, and heartbreak…. The Egg Play by San Francisco-based playwright Candice Benge draws the audience in from the intrigue and mystery of the events and left me wanting more.” The Egg Play also received the endorsement of FringeNYC co-founder John Clancy (all over Facebook, plus in a phone call to yours truly.) Here’s Amy’s full review.