fauxklore (fauxklore) wrote,

Capital Fringe Report

First, a couple of quick celebrity deaths. Bel Kaufman wrote Up the Down Staircase, an amusing novel of public school life. She was also, of course, Sholem Aleichem’s granddaughter. Margot Adler was an NPR reporter and wrote Drawing Down the Moon, a work which documented and may have popularized modern paganism.

This isn’t very timely, since the Capital Fringe is over, but I haven’t had a lot of time for writing over the past couple of weeks. Due to various events out of town, I only went to 4 fringe shows this year.

The Hello Girls: Ellouise Schoettler is a friend and I have heard her talking over the past several months about her developing show about women who served as bilingual telephone operators in France during World War I. This is a bit of history I (and I venture to say most of the audience) knew pretty much nothing about and I found it intriguing. Ellouise focused in on three women, representing each by wearing a different pair of eyeglasses. Her telling was straightforward, but the material is strong enough that the audience gasped at particularly outrageous details. Well done.

The Goddess Diaries: A group of 11 women performed stories about women’s lives. These were not their own stories, but might well have been. The idea was to follow the seasons of a woman’s life, with the pieces linked by a musical interlude about the goddess, Persephone. As one would expect in a piece with this sort of structure, the stories varied in quality and tone. I have a certain bias towards humor, so particularly liked "Snake Girl," about a rebellious teenager, and "Meeting Mark" about a woman in her 30’s who finds love but faces conflict over registering for wedding presents. Overall, I thought the show was worth seeing. I want to particularly commend the performance of Alexandra Bunger-Pool, who sang the Persephone song and led each of the other women off the stage.

Feisty Old Jew: This was, essentially, a storytelling show, with Charlie Varon performing a short story about an elderly Jewish man named Bernie who ends up hitching a ride to Marin County with three 20-somethings. I thought Bernie was an appealing character and there were some funny lines. But this was very obviously a written piece and would have benefited from some thought about the differences between written and spoken language. I’d be interested in reading more of Varon’s work, but I wasn’t left with a desire to see more of it on stage.

The Fever: I went to see this one man play because I thought Pat O’Brien’s performance in Under the Lintel last year was extraordinary. This play was by Wallace Shawn, which should also have been a good mark. Unfortunately, I found the whole thing to be a humorless and incoherent political screed. O’Brien did a good job with what he was given, but the script itself had no appeal to me.

Overall, I'd say I did well with 2.5 out of the 4 shows I saw (the half being for Feisty Old Jew. That's good enough for my money.
Tags: celebrity death watch, fringe festival, theatre

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