Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Staff Picks for the 2013 Capital Fringe Festival

By • Jul 12th, 2013 • Category: Reviews

A few of ShowBizRadio’s writers have picked the shows they’d like to see at the 2013 Capital Fringe Festival if they had the time to get into DC this summer. With 130 shows over 18 days, there is a show for everyone.

Betsy Marks Delaney

The Capital Fringe Festival is, by definition, taking a walk on the wild side. You really never know what you’re going to get. And, with so many original works to choose from, picking shows out of the guide can be the ultimate in judging a book by its cover.

Even if they’re premieres, some shows come via veteran talent. While this isn’t an absolute guarantee of excellence at all, knowing they’ve been there before can help eliminate some of the risk. While I’ve seen a few duds, most of my picks represented time well spent. Your mileage may vary. What I like most about theatre might be the exact opposite of what you’re looking for in a show. Ultimately, it’s worth it to look at the show descriptions as guides for where to invest your time and money.

When I choose the shows I want to see, I look at the titles, descriptions, and (if I can find them) write-ups and press releases. These will generally tell me what each show has to offer. Sometimes there are shows opposite each other and just no way to reconcile seeing both because of distance between venues or an inflexible personal schedule, so it becomes important to prioritize. What do you want to see most, where is it located, and can you make it from venue to venue without being late? These are the questions I ask myself when I look at the options. I missed a few really hot properties in the past because I ran late, couldn’t get a ticket in advance, or just couldn’t get from one end of DC to the other in time.

In addition to my Preview picks, I would also recommend the following:

  • 43 and a 1/2: The Greatest Deaths of Shakespeare’s Tragedies Nu Sass Productions has staying power and a creative take on the material they choose. There are at least three This is likely to be a reliable hit.
  • A Commedia Romeo and Juliet Faction of Fools Theatre Company’s classical training and high-energy guarantees 60 minutes well spent. If you’ve never seen Commedia, now’s your chance!
  • A Day in the Life of Miss Hiccup Shoshinz returns from last year’s Fringe. Her sweet clown style will appeal to all members of the family.
  • Lysistrata 1969 The original anti-war play! I saw this production while it was at the Greenbelt Arts Center and I nearly hurt myself laughing. Tightening the show up to fit in a 60-minute slot should rocket this show into orbit.
  • OK Stupid’s Secret Math Lab Sometimes, it’s the title. Sometimes it’s the logo. Sometimes it’s the premise. This one has all three.
  • The Black-Jew Dialogues This one’s got some fabulous exposure in advance of CapFringe and it looks like a major winner to me.
  • Mme. Macbeth Intriguing gender-switched production likely to call the question of violence and greed. Looks like it’s going to be bloody amazing. I’m not a fan of Shakespearean tragedies but I’d see this.
  • Old Time British Music Hall Based on my experience with The British Players’ winter Pantomimes, I imagine this show to be an equivalent and fabulous romp through British humor. With actual Brits!

Some of the best pieces I’ve seen at Fringe are solo performances where we get a glimpse into a life outside our own frame of reference. These look truly promising:

Amy Berlin

Jacob Kresloff

  • 43 and a 1/2: The Greatest Deaths of Shakespeare’s Tragedies What’s not to love about a play that centers around death in Shakespeare’s oeuvre? It promises guts, glory, and laughs — an ideal experience for those with a penchant for the macabre.
  • & Afterwards Based on a true story, this play celebrates DC’s multicultural roots. It promises to be a play best suited every DC inhabitant — whether a newcomer or native Washingtonian — as it speaks to everyone’s first experiences in this historical city.
  • Urban Legends Urban legends and the paranormal have always been fascinating to me. As a form of theatre, it’s a wonderful way to pass down stories from generation to generation. My interest in the subject matter aside, seeing this play is a wonderful way to support and celebrate high school students as they break into the DC theatre scene.
  • Violent Delights: A Shakespearean Brawl-esque Sideshow The name alone piques my interest. Set in a “Circus of Violent Delights,” the play explores various high-stake situations from Shakespeare’s body of work in a way that blends stage combat, clowning, and tradition. The first word that comes to mind is “delicious!”
  • What’s in the BOX?! When American burlesque was at its peak, it was not uncommon for performers to pay homage to Greek mythology in their routines. This particular production applies a modern twist to the tradition while using the seven deadly sins as its grounding. As each performance is dedicated to one sin apiece, I would personally want to attend every evening show to see how the company approaches each deadly sin.
  • I tried to be normal once, it didn’t take. Using a variety of theatre traditions such as song, stand up, and conversation, this one-woman piece explores the feelings some (myself included) encounter when facing the age-old question: “Am I normal?”
  • La Voce To Me Merging the gay experience with a touch of fantasy has always been a sure-fire way to attract attention. Using The Little Mermaid as it’s framework, La Voce to Me explores love, death, and rebirth as it relates to the gay experience throughout history. The play promises to be a poignant and beautiful experience.
  • The Tragical Mirth of Marriage & Love: Short Scenes by Anton Chekhov Chekhov graces the Fringe Festival with his presence this year! This play explores our tendencies to create drama out of trivial matters, something to which I am sure most people can relate. With the addition of romance and the arrival of in-laws, the show is sure to be a Fringe favorite.
  • Almost Together Almost Together tells the tale of one woman’s struggle with mental illness. While the play’s subject matter is painfully immediate, it also explores the humor, happiness, and feelings of triumph that come into play when grappling with bipolar disorder. Using a combination of song and story to tell its tale, the play will be at the top of my “must see” list.
  • The Afflicted Using dance and physical theatre to tell the story of the girls affected by the Salem witch trials, the play explores the psychological effects that breeds from hysteria, female oppression, and religious extremism. It is not often that the Salem girls’ stories are told honestly, which makes this play a treat to experience.

Mike Clark

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