fauxklore (fauxklore) wrote,

On the Fringes of Putt Putt

Much of what has kept me occupied the past couple of weeks has been the Capital Fringe Festival. It makes sense to actually write about Fringe shows while they are still going on, so people can follow my recommendations (or not – there are critics I read specifically so I can do the opposite). In the interests of that, here are write-ups of a few fringe shows, but I am seeing more this weekend.

I did a couple of non-Fringe things, too. It was easier just to stick them in chronologically.

Celebrity Death Watch: Several people have noted the deaths of MIT Professor and acoustic researcher Amar Bose, anti-Semitic White House reporter Helen Thomas, and sex researcher Virginia Johnson. I have seen less mention of modeling agency founder (i.e. glorified pimp) John Casablancas or of Nixon attorney Leonard Garment.

Fringe – The Burlesque of Broadway: I love Broadway and this got good reviews. I had not quite grasped that the dancers performed to recorded music – and, for the most part, didn’t even lip synch. I did appreciate that they were not all rail thin. In fact, one of the best of them had an actual belly. But I still think burlesque is the sort of thing that would be more fun to do (uh, for a very carefully selected private audience) than to watch. In short, this was not really my sort of thing.

Fringe – Funny Stories 2: Two of the three stories James Judd told were funny. One of those involved a childhood book report and how it led to his discovery of soap operas, with a particularly amusing description of what he learned from them. The other had to do with a shark diving trip. The third story he told involved his obsession with a dermatologist, who turned out not to be what he seemed. While not funny, the story was interesting, but the gimmick of presenting several alternative endings didn’t work for me. Still, the show was well worth seeing and that third story is new, so I am sure he will polish it as he goes on telling it.

Fringe – Impossible to Translate but I’ll Try: My disclaimer here is that Noa Baum is a friend, so I am not an entirely objective reviewer. Still, I think it is fair to say that her collection of true life Israeli stories was well structured and well performed. I particularly like her story about how she met her husband. I also appreciated her framing of the stories, with the final piece echoing the first one. This was quiet, straight forward storytelling of the highest order and very enjoyable.

Ann Arbor Art Fair Do: As I have mentioned before, a Do is a flyertalk party. This one involved having a room in the downtown library for discussion of miles and points and such, plus a dinner and a brunch. I had a weather delay getting into Detroit, but it didn’t matter because it just resulted in a shorter wait for the Michigan Flyer bus from DTW to Ann Arbor. The bus runs several times a day and is only $15 each way, so is quite a good deal. I took advantage of the trip to shop my way through about 2/3 of the art fair, which is huge and varied. I even found a few odds and ends to buy, restraining myself largely via by having taken just a small backpack for the trip. I learned a couple of things and enjoyed seeing some folks I had not seen in a while (and meeting others). There was a lengthy delay getting home, which meant having to take a taxi from DCA home, since we arrived after the metro stopped running. I emailed US Airways for compensation and they only took a couple of days to send me a voucher for 50 bucks (which is about what my taxi fare was). That’s not fantastic, but it’s satisfactory. (United is generally more generous with compensation – e.g. I got a $325 voucher for the Denver fiasco, part of which addresses the hotel charge I incurred as a result of the late cancellation – but they also take longer. I’ve never succeeded in getting as much as an apology from American.)

Fringe – Old Time British Music Hall: Old jokes, bawdy songs – exactly my sort of thing. This was extremely entertaining, with my only quibble being a minor one about the ordering of the musical numbers. Since "Lost It at the Astor" and "Yo-yo" involve pretty much the same joke, it didn’t really benefit the show to put the two of them together. The funniest piece is "A Fowl Lament," which involves the dilemma of various people associated with the pheasant plucker. This is my favorite of what I’ve seen so far this year.

Miniature Golf at the Building Museum: The National Building Museum has miniature golf in the summer. Within minutes of finding that out, I sent an email to several friends (basically, techie women I don’t currently work with day to day) with the subject line "We Have to Do This." Fortunately, they agreed and a group of us went on Wednesday night. There are two courses and we did the Green Course. It was pretty entertaining, with the holes designed to address futuristic views of the city. We also ate at Hill Country’s Backyard Barbecue just outside the museum. I would definitely go back and do the Blue Course.

Fringe – Social Media Expert: This play involves a group of people who work for a burger chain, plus their friends and their twitter feed. There are some interesting questions about the meaning of social media and what kind of power people and companies do and don’t have as a result of using tools like twitter. I particularly liked the mockery of Powerpoint in a few of the scenes. But the script could be tighter, particularly in the final 20 minutes or so., where it got a bit preachy. I felt like I was eavesdropping on millennials. Sorry kids, but you are not as profound as you think you are.

Fringe - &Afterwards: This was another pure storytelling piece. Kevin Boggs grew up in Jonesborough, Tennessee (home of the National Storytelling Festival) and moved to the gay mecca of Dupont Circle in the 1990’s. This is essentially a coming of age story, about Boggs finding out who he wanted to be. The most interesting story mixed in with his own involved a Bosnian refugee waitress and how she got to "go home large." Overall, this was an interesting piece which I would have enjoyed more had it not been for the noise outside the theatre sometimes drowning out the soft-spoken performance inside.
Tags: celebrity death watch, fringe festival, museums, storytelling, theatre, travel

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