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A CurtainUp Report

2012 New York International Fringe Festival

Updated August 27, 2012

For a list of awards, click here.

Kevin Kash in Dark Hollow: An Appalachian Woyzeck (Photo: Louis Chan) Hannah Beck in Pulp Shakespeare (Photo: Richard Clark) Lucia Brizzi, Adam La Faci and Parker Leventer in Snow White Zombie: Apocalypse (Photo: Brian Hashimoto) Katie Hartman in The Underdeveloped and Overexposed Life and Death of Deena Domino (Photo: Beau Allulli) Amy Ziolkowski in GRIMM: A New Musical (Photo: Jon Randhawa) Gail Shalan and two of the puppets in The Dick and the Rose (Photo: Jeff Goodman)

Click on Show Title Below, or Scroll Down Page to Browse

EDITOR'S NOTE: Now in its sixteenth year, FringeNYC runs August 10-26, 2012. This year's festival has scheduled 187 shows at twenty venues. We will report on a healthy dose of this year's offerings in the reviews below.

Many people do their show-picking on the fly, but readers are advised to consider making reservations for popular shows they don't want to miss. What shows are those? We don't like to predict. Further information, schedules and tickets at least 24 hours prior to the show time are available by phoning 866.468.7619 (9 AM-7PM, credit cards only, convenience charge applies); on the web at: (24 hours a day, credit cards only, convenience charge applies) or in person at Fringe Central at 1 East 8th Street (@5th Av) (Noon-8PM, cash or credit card). Day-of-performance tickets are available (cash only) at the door at each venue, 15 minutes prior to the show. Prices: $15 for advance purchase, $18 at the door, reduced (only at Fringe Central or at the door) to $10 for kids under 12 to FringeJR events and for seniors. There are also passes: 5 shows for $70, 10 shows for $120 and the "Lunatic Pass," which entitles you to attend as many shows as possible, for $500.

A complete list of venues (with addresses) can be found at the end of this page or by clicking here.

The last name of the author of each capsule review is indicated at the end of the review in brackets.


Help Jane Austen Write The Next Big Young Adult Novel!
I'm not sure that most literary agents would be overly wild about the way they're portrayed in Danielle Staubitz's play/focus group /improv show, but then I'm not sure if Jane Austen would feel totally comfortable with the version of the famous author Staubitz presents either -- a version in which Austen, who's "lost touch" with the modern reader, is trying to figure out what that reader likes through the use of a focus group (the audience). Her agent, who seems much more well-versed in television shows and movies than books, is mostly interested in "sellability," and uses a marker, pad of paper, and a goofy disarming charm to help create the perfect book, which Austen and her agent then act out in the second part of the show. Like all improv shows, this is a bit of a high wire act; we had a small and friendly audience which immediately got into the spirit of the show. (For the record, my contribution to the time travel/romance/seaside town narrative we put together was Renaissance England), and as a consequence everything went off without a hitch. How a larger or less active audience would have affected the show is an open question, and takes much of the onus of the production off of the performers--it's entirely possible things won't work at all on the particular night you go see it. But Staubitz and her fellow actor are funny and have good chemistry, and it's all good-natured enough that the experience is pretty likely to be an enjoyable one. This is the perfect kind of show for the Fringe, and if you like Jane Austen, books, or humor, it's absolutely worth seeing. At Cherry Lane - Studio. 45 minutes. [Wilson]

Quest for the West: Adventures On The Oregon Trail!
It seems that every person of a certain age remembers playing The Oregon Trail, a computer game meant to simulate a 19th century pioneer's journey along the famous trail of the same name. Given how wildly popular the game was and how much video game culture is making its way into live theater productions I probably shouldn't be surprised that this show finally emerged, a kind of live version of the game in which the audience helps guide the path of five pioneers along the trail -- from choosing the profession of Jebediah, the lead pioneer, to hunting game by throwing balls at cardboard cutouts of falcons, bison and bears held by the actors -- and gets a score at the end (we came in fourth out of all audiences to have seen the show thus far). It's also a story of love, revenge, redemption, and dysentery. If all that sounds a bit overwrought for a musical in which the audience has to tell the actors when to jump over a moving series of prickly cactus plants, don't worry; even if you haven't played the game, the energetic cast of five, particularly Haley Greenstein as the highly religious Hope and Maxwell Schneller as the busy Narrator, help carry the action past the occasional hokey joke or lame one-liner. And if you have played the game, you need to go see this as soon as possible for a great walk down memory lane. Either way, this is a fun show that works well in the Fringe environment, even if the top audience score seems way too high to beat. At Theatre 80. 90 minutes. [Wilson]

Nothing frustrates a critic more than seeing potential wasted, and Independents frustrated me a lot. The original Fringe description -- which says that "burnout crewmembers of an antique tallship become Revolutionary War re-enactors" with a "less-than-potent combination of Wikipedia and marijuana" -- certainly didn't suggest I was going to be seeing something with grand ambitions, but for the first thirty minutes I was more than pleasantly surprised at Stephen Feigenbaum's standout music, Mark Sonnenblick's clever lyrics and an energetic, talented cast, particularly Lilli Cooper as Grace, Corey Desjardins as Carl and Jacob Roa as Liam. In fact the combination of humor and thoughtful insight into the lives of twenty-somethings trying to make their way in a world which has largely abandoned them was so good I was getting ready to note this as a clear favorite to move Off-Broadway. And then the second half happened. Towards the end of the first act the musical takes a major left turn, shifting tonally into something moodier, darker, and bizarrely unfocused; the result is not only incoherent, it largely undercuts the balance which is so well maintained in the beginning of the production, and it causes the energy to flag substantially. It all leads to a thoroughly unsatisfying (even bewildering) ending which frankly seems unfinished, as if the story had been driven to a place within which it couldn't resolve. This is a real shame, as it wastes a terrific cast and some beautiful music; and given the compelling personal story of the show's creator. Marina Keegan, a magna cum laude graduate of Yale killed in a car accident not long after this show's premiere there, and the way this show reached the Fringe with a wildly successful Kickstarter appeal, I'm even more sorry that the show doesn't hold together better. In the program notes, Keegan's former teacher. Deb Margolin. notes that the playwright's "collaborators worked tirelessly to build upon it and to honor their imagined version of Marina's play." I can't say whether or not their changes are the reason for the musical's odd shift in tone and emphasis. All I can say is how frustrated I am that a show with such first act promise fades so badly from that point onward. At Theatre 80. 2 hours with intermission. [Wilson]

2 Households, 2 Assholes: Shakespeare's R&J
The Montagues and Capulets of fair Verona are the 2 households. Samuel Muñoz and Aaron Muñoz are the 2 assholes. The co-creators, performers and nimble self-directors share the same last name, but are no relation. They could hardly be more dissimilar: Samuel, tall and trim with long dark hair pulled back, plays opposite Aaron, whom one might call rotund, with lighter very short curly hair. The odd couple slip in and out of 20 well delineated and tightly edited roles. Impressive physicality, brilliant swordplay, and forward momentum mark the performance. Played straight and hyper-dramatic for the most part, but with their eye for wit, there's a reflex to exploiting comic moments. Actors so often, and so annoyingly, hyper-articulate Shakespeare - not the case here, thank goodness, but both volume and articulation actually could be jacked up. This R&J makes good use of the empty black box and 3 cushions, and a no-costume-change approach. Aaron wears a black and pink dress even when he's not Juliet, but Mercutio or the Friar or someone else. Be aware that a good working familiarity with Romeo and Juliet is assumed. In this night's audience many seemed well versed. With good use of music and silence, and a crazy-fast pace, the dynamic 2 Households entertains plenty. At Soho Playhouse. 1 hour. [Osenlund]

Alice and the Bunny Hole
Sounds like fun and starts out very promising as Grace Slick and "White Rabbit" top the playlist before the show begins. Turns out to be a self conscious little sex comedy with kinky talk and few laughs, over-layered with posture and artificiality. The Bunny Hole club, despite cute inhabitants, drinks and drugs, Mad Hatter, Shakespearean and mock-Shakespearean ravings, is no fantastic wonderland. Sexual encounters are few and primly modest. The most successful moments are darker ones that happen when characters communicate about their lives, about sex that's grown stale, and about their regrets and desires. Storm warnings, weather-wise and metaphorical, surface throughout as the play tinkers with layers of reality and sobriety that don't integrate. It shifts focus, and lesser relationships take on too much importance too long and too late. Credit where credit is due, these actors do their best with it, but million dollar actors couldn't make this work. It begins to fall apart even before it starts to lose some artifice and get interesting. Two or three plays are struggling to grow up and get out. That said, tickets for Alice and the Bunny Hole are sold out. At La MaMa. 2 hours with intermission. [Osenlund]

Dark Hollow: An Appalachian Woyzeck
Soldier Woyzeck, a coil ready to spring, suffers apocalyptic hallucinations, abuse by his doctor and his army superior, and infidelity by the mother of his child. The play's adaptor (also producer, scenic/lighting designer and sometimes librettist) Elizabeth Chaney, hews tight to Büchner's original plotline, but moves the story from a German town in the 1800s to the Appalachian mountains during the Depression. Weighed down in tatters and poverty, provincial religion, and military irrational authority, Dark Hollow adds a Southern Appalachian twang and an infusion of traditional mountain music performed by supremely skilled musicians. Unlike a traditional Broadway musical, the many songs aren't belted out, but sung simply and well, as befits a rural story. Directed by Alkis Papoutsis with music direction by Christopher Peifer and performed by a disciplined and talented cast, the sure, deliberate pace accretes the palpable inevitability of a classic tragedy of grave consequence. It's a stunning and serious pleasure. At Theatre 80. 1 hour, 45 minutes. [Osenlund]

Pulp Shakespeare
A delicious experience for Pulp Fiction fans like myself. Unless you're already a hardcore Tarantino fanatic, it's advisable to look at the movie again, refresh your memory, then rush to see this. It plays close to the movie's gesture, action, and especially conversation, which becomes mashup Elizabethan. The kick is in the details, and here are just a few previews: The Buddy Holly waiter is Richard III, and Fox Force Five becomes The Five Fearsome Vixens. I'll refrain from disclosing more. Dan White is a particularly fine Julius Winfield, and Aaron Lyons' Vincent de la Vega and Liza de Weerd's Meadsweet (Honey Bunny) rock. Jordan Monsell does great Christopher Walken in the passing down of the clock scene. But everyone's really good. Written by Tallen, Greer, Watson-Jones, Monsell with contributions from Brian Weiss and members of the Pulp Bard Wiki. It's a forger's work of art. At Cherry Lane - Mainstage. 1 hour, 30 minutes. [Osenlund]

Snow White Zombie: Apocalypse
Prince Charming and Rapunzel have something going, but he has a history with other princesses, Cinderella, for one. Now he's awakened Snow White with a true love's kiss, which doesn't sit well with Rapunzel, queen of the ironic glance. Snow White Zombie, a neatly intertwined bloody fairytale with well-timed smartass remarks and loads of zombie combat, eventually goes into long narrative sequences to fill everyone in. Once a scant 10 minutes long, the production was expanded to 90 minutes. Now it needs to lose 25 of those minutes and move along. Some neat stuff: Enzombie (a bad fairy) to Snow White: "You're just a whole pile of indoctrination, aren't you?" In the role of the woodsman, Simon Feil is exceptional, and Brian Prather's versatile minimal scenic design is ingenious. Small stuff: Costume staff could spruce up the 2 princes' wrinkled dingy shirts. Shouldn't they be charmingly, dazzlingly smooth and white? Overall, this is a pretty darn cute show that bogs down in over-written dialogue. At Living Theatre. 1 hour, 40 minutes. [Osenlund]

The Underdeveloped and Overexposed Life and Death of Deena Domino
It grows on you like a rash or an ill-advised idea. Hartman and Rudick suck you in to their nutty, naughty construct of a world, presented in person and on video, where babies, dragged by their moms, compete in sexy pageants, religion freaks go bad, and fame for fame's sake sours for some reason. Their secret weapon may be that although they haul you through unseemly experiences, these megatalented comediennes seem, underneath, to be nice people you'd want to have over for coffee, or maybe a couple of pitchers of martinis with a morphine chaser. In the audience, local vocal comedy circuit followers cheer on their heroines' rakish, dirty and ridiculously funny vision. At Kraine Theater. 1 hour. [Osenlund]

Arlene Hutton's new play is the kind that makes you wonder how it ever got out of development. Chock-full of logical holes, preposterously uninformed on matters scientific and legal, and with stereotypical characters so markedly one-dimensional, Vacuum ultimately sucks the life from itself. Grayson Campbell (Chris Stack), a young scientist, has discovered nothing less than the cure for cancer, yet he fears that no university in the country will give him tenure because...he's currently only an adjunct! Those fears and others are exploited by the evil Jonathan Hemminger (David Arrow), whom Ms. Hutton, without a trace of irony, describes as "the kind of man who really runs the country," but who, in fact, operates a cheesy infomercial empire that wants to get its greedy hands on Grayson's patents; his discovery, you see, a kind of vacuum which shrinks the spaces between cells (don't ask) has the added benefit of tightening skin without the need for a facelift! So, the diabolical Hemminger flies Grayson and his brain injured wife to a creepy resort in an undisclosed desert location without (you may have already guessed) phone or internet service or legal counsel with one goal in mind...sign the papers, Grayson! With the exception of Mr. Stack, the acting is mostly artificial and stilted; Ms. Hutton has made the evil characters so unlikable and robotic that they have no room to range. Unfortunately, Vacuum insults its audience, and supports the old adage that playwrights should not attempt to write authoritatively about things they know little about. At Cherry Lane - Mainstage. 90 minutes. [Coyle]

GRIMM: A New Musical
The enthusiastically performed skit feels like a school play that belongs in the school auditorium. Listed as a FringeJr selection, GRIMM is recommended for children and families. Unfortunately at this particular performance no children are in attendance. Featuring pleasing and varied tunes by writer/composer Ken Kruper, I'd like to say that the lyrics are fantastic. However, they're hard to decipher for two reasons: first, the generally unprofessional level of articulation. Performers in the ensemble know the words, but they're not sharing them with us. (Serious musical theater hopefuls need formal voice training.) The second problem, more quickly fixable, is the too-loud accompanying recorded music -- a shame because this original music sounds like it might be very good. Over amplified for such a small space, it often drowns out the singing. As a consequence, explanations embedded in songs are often lost, resulting in confusing action. Musical theater logic is hardly worth the name even in top Broadway shows, but this musical's logic seems very mixed up. Maybe it's in there somewhere just trying to be heard. "They'll Never Know," a catchy little song and dance number, is the highpoint. To single out one cast member, Jake Bridges' talent shines in his Rumpelstiltskin role as well as in his ensemble roles. Earnest efforts like this production should be rewarded by being seen by the audience for whom they're intended. Hope they turn down the volume. Bring the kids. At HERE - Manistage Theater. 50 Minutes. [Osenlund]

The Mirror Show
Episode 1: Pilot The Understudy Escapes
A coastal storm sweeps up a girl, last seen sunning herself on the beach at St. Tropez, and drops her into the sea? No, into a mirror, which is "full of people like you. White trash. "according to The Svengali who seems to hold her captive. Like a barker, he announces segments of 'action' on a megaphone. A formal pattern emerges of brief dialogue between the Lost Girl and Svengali, then a forward sort of song by the Actress regarding the surface reflection of things, followed by a somber ballad sung by the Understudy concerning the inner side. No gestures accompany these songs about girls, drugs, nightclubs; the glamorous life of a cocaine housewife; and lost and missed love in a false, false world. In this static staging (most of the time each participant is completely still), sound takes precedence over the minimal and marginal visuals. Insistent house music with its muscular hurling beats alternates with haunting melodies with odd, intimate little elements. The female personas are wonderfully complementary: the statuesque and empty-eyed Actress with the remarkably strong and bright voice; the Understudy, who sings intimately and plaintively while sitting at an unplayed keyboard; and the Lost Girl, an appealing and marvelously girly Alice-type who has fallen down this particular reflective glass hole. Despite the potentially dated element of club music, this mystifying and magical experience is the only musical fringe performance I've seen in the last 13 years whose approach to the genre emerges from the last century to begin to inhabit the 21st century. At 440 Studios - Moss Theater. 1 hour, 15 minutes. [Osenlund]

When the lights rise on this play promising a puppet amongst its cast members, we quickly discover we are in for one of the naughty Avenue Q/Hand to God variety rather than the type we learned about in kindergarten. Mallory, who started life as a therapy puppet for Valerie (Alice Chan) has now become her alter ego. The duo are living in a particularly unpleasant hovel, thanks at least in part to a crack addiction that's fed by Pierce (David Marconi), who is more than willing to trade drugs for oral sex. For reasons that aren't too fully explained, he also provides them with a hymn-singing roommate, Paula (Sarah Grodsky, also the playwright), who notwithstanding ends up bonding with the duo. Along comes Paula's (also Christian) boyfriend, James (Brendan Hahn), which leads to various sorts of problems. The acting is actually quite good, as is Allison Andresini's direction, but the script never quite figures out where it's going. Along the way we get sex (of various sorts), drugs, religion, child molestation and a dead body. There's a song in Avenue Q Ms. Grodsky might want to revisit; it's called "Purpose." Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find the one here. At Living Theatre. 1 hour, 10 minutes. [Gutman]

The Dick and the Rose
Making its way against traffic from the Berkshires, Outcast Café Theatrix brings us this show that not only seems tailor-made for the Fringe, but an example of what more Fringe shows ought to aspire to. Obviously the brainchild of Robert Biggs, who serves as the show's writer, director, and composer and also as one of its nine actors, it combines songs, performance, puppets (by Jim Day, who is also the mask and costume designer), an ingenious set fashioned out of little more than bedsheets (by Emily Justice Dunn), some quite astonishing props (including the ones in the title) and a wealth of creativity. I confess I can't quite describe what all it's about -- I think I'll call it a meditation on the life cycle, played out over nine scenes introduced by Biggs -- his character is named "ME" -- and easily maintaining our attention over its short span. The cast is led by Caley Millikin (portraying a "Circus Girl" and a "Crone", both exceptionally well) and Ron Botting (his character, for reasons I haven't quite deciphered, is known as "Sleeper" and he is also terrific). The are supported by five "Ministering Angels" who sing, play a multiplicity of instruments, and man and voice the puppets, among other chores, and the band leader, Ian Milliken, who also arranged the music. Go, relax and enjoy. At Cherry Lane - Mainstage. 55 minutes. [Gutman]

Paper Plane
The product of a group aptly called 3 Sticks, this musical, with a budget that probably wouldn't cover the cost of gaff tape for a Broadway musical, reminds us again of the charm of clever inventions of necessity. They abound here: umbrellas can become a bicycle, a ladder turned on its side is transformed into the wing of a plane, a rolling scaffold can serve as (among other things) a train and a bridge and I lost count of the uses of a lowly milk crate. So collaborative are these folks in devising this clever show that the ensemble of performers are identified by name but not otherwise. The fine direction is by Eric Powell Holm and Katie Melby (also a performer), the music (pop-ish but very attuned to its purpose) is by Andrew Lynch (who I assume is also the show's virtually one-man band) and the text is by Nick Ryan. The other performers are John Egan, Jonas Goslow and Elizabeth Stahlmann. Paper Plane is about an eleven year old boy, Joseph (played by one of the women) in the Dust Bowl during the depression. The paper planes, entitled to equal billing with the actors, symbolize his search for his mother. We learn at the beginning that she died when he was a baby; he must follow the paper plane to find out about her. As he is told, once set aloft, its not easy to catch up with a paper plane. His search, however, has him train hopping, barnstorming, fending off carnies and overnighting in a hobo camp. It's an enjoyable hour, well lubricated by some very nice songs. A bit stronger narrative early on might be in order, but that's really a minor quibble. At New Ohio Theatre. 1 hour. [Gutman]

With a young cast composed mainly of Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University students and recent grads, the world of the Thousand and One Nights unfolded at this edition of New York Fringe Festival. Aida Peerzada's script set out all the familiar characters: a jealous vindictive king, a too-loyal courtier and his daughter that hopes to redeem the king's soul meanwhile saving her own life. But the lively production depended mostly on Priscila Garcia's direction. Opening scenes with synchronized movements from both chorus and main characters promised much, but the presentation of the tales themselves (three stand in for the remaining ones) did not match the wild inventiveness and sensuality of the stories. Part of the problem was the one-size-fits-all directorial approach that is applied to all Shakespeare and classic theater irrespective of the material. The other was that the actors' liveliness became a substitute for depth. At that point costume elements that changed as the players traded roles were not enough to give insight to the audience. The tales themselves are stories with morals told with the subversive intent to reform the king, but this aspect got swept aside in all the stage movement. It was still a worthy effort and maybe the production will spark interest in the originals. At New School for Drama Theatre. 45 minutes. [Lipfert]

Anyone coming to this show and expecting an evening of belly dancing and orientalism will be disappointed. Instead they can look to Nejla Y. Yatkin's multimedia presentation for hot-button contemporary themes bracketed by the timeless format of question and answer. Shown in projected silhouettes, a young girl Ayse asks wise elder Haji Dede why people torture each other and what is freedom? He replies with the wisdom of the Islamic world to show that humans can aspire to the highest levels or choose to sink to the lowest ones. Dance segments are many and substantial. The first lands us in the middle of the tale of young lover Majnoon who tries to gain the unattainable Leila and goes crazy in the process. In flesh color tights looking rather like Adam and Eve, they are oddly bindfolded even as they undulate while intertwined. This morphs into a shadowy scene with the man being beaten and tortured while voiceovers announce waterboarding. Large black cloths to cover head and upper body transform three men torturers into women who carry off the body. Another sequence uses dance to show extreme though non-violent coercion and domination to Shamou's clever mix of popular middle eastern music from perhaps 1950s/1960s. Haji Dede explains that freedom is a miraj, an oasis that appears and disappears. The nine dancer ensemble uses opened books of human rights to symbolize this quest, perching them on their heads to add religious overtones. In a final sequence Yatkin merges rhythmic oriental dance with modern to give a lively if not necessarily happy conclusion as indicated by the blindfolds. Here Ursula Verduzco and Yatkin use notions of middle eastern dance costumes with a nod toward contemporary dress. At Theatre 80. 75 minutes. [Lipfert]

Fresh from Toronto Fringe, award-winning Mahmoud is Tara Grammy's attempt to make sense out of one of Canada's many immigrant communities. In quick succession she presents three highly varied representatives from the small world of Iranian-Canadians, but just how small becomes apparent only at the end of the engaging solo show. Under co-author Tom Arthur Davis's direction, she first introduces expansive taxi driver Mahmoud, memorable for his pride in his native Iranian cultural heritage that he explains to anyone that will listen. Aspiring young actress Tara, presumably semi-autobiographically, vents her frustrations at never being a serious contender in social life at her school. Spanish cologne salesman Emanuelos is part of this mix only via an Iranian boyfriend, although Grammy made him seem less like a gay man than a ditzy Hispanic woman. Delving into each character's life we learn a lot about Persian manners and customs but also get very hungry as Grammy works into the text everyone's favorite dishes including heavenly fesenjoon. Naturally family ties loom large. Mahmoud decided to emigrate to escape the fanaticism of the early Iran-Iraq War years that most affected his wife. Emanuelos gets left out in the cold when his boyfriend is compelled to get married. Tara's love-hate approach to her family finally finds expression in political activism, although of the distressingly predictable variety. She briefly finds herself in Mahmoud's cab while going to an impromptu demo against defeat of the left in the 2009 Iranian elections. (And there are more interconnections among the characters.) Precocious Tara joins in the fearful excitement of the demo to wrap up this portrait of the Iranian community in Canada. Some knowledge of Iranian culture and contemporary history is necessary to get the most enjoyment from this piece. At Jimmy's No. 43. 1 hour. [Lipfert]

The Medea Project
Sandra Brunell Neace's concept of presenting the Medea story in a murder trial setting quickly transcended the potentially staid format to become a vivid, highly emotional explication of the strong-willed if flawed figure. As Medea, Jamie Woodham Plunkett effectively communicated deep feelings as well as logic to her actions in description and in short flashbacks. The remainder of the all-female cast alternated between specific characters such as court lawyers or the legend's protagonists and a highly-integrated chorus that for once did not seem like a quaint sidebar. Neace gave an unexpected pleasure in her script by avoiding modern psychology in favor of action-based portrayals that were the norm in ancient dramas. Medea's trajectory from betrayal to revenge derived its power from how she formulated and executed her plans rather than as a clinical study, irrelevant to a Greek schema. Most of the complement of eight were mature, experienced actresses that facilitated Neace's deep reading. Also impressive were details such as the silver cloaks (himation), each different from the other, that firmly evoked Greek dress in designs by Moira Bengochea and Artistic Director Mary Bennett. But it was the committed delivery and precision movement by all onstage that made this piece so memorable. At Living Theatre. 50 minutes. [Lipfert]

Prelude to Memories, and a Broken Love Song
Susana Fuentes enters with a lantern and pointedly surveys her domain. The bags and objects spread over the playing are are her repository of memories, which she regales us with over the next hour. She has a vaguely Maria Callas look-all the better to add drama and expressiveness to her often sad story of a lover/circus colleague Ramon that left her to go back to Switzerland. Remaining in Brazil, Fuentes can afford to be philosophical because her life has been full. Out of one bag pops a puppet that becomes her dance partner. As an accomplished flautist she offers a lilting melody; as expert accordionist she easily recalls her circus days (with perhaps a nod to Fellini). As suggestive as her sparse text is, the dance and movement interludes give even greater emotional insight. A sequence with spotlight on her super expressive hands enthralls. Surprisingly, Fuentes's character (Filomena in her Circus days) evokes not delusion but endearment. In the end it's her reliable friend Rodinha, a rod puppet Fuentes manipulates with fearful mastery, that in effect pulls all the pieces together in this wonderfully magical world she has been gracious enough to share. At Frankel Theatre. 75 minutes. [Lipfert]

HartBeat Ensemble's latest offering is a gem of a production that will hopefully enjoy a long and fruitful post-Fringe life. The ensemble focuses its theatrical work on pressing social and political topics. Flipside takes on nothing less weighty than the failure of our nation's drug control policy, arguing that its current logic and implementation destroy far more lives than they help; remarkably, the production accomplishes this without lapsing into sermonizing or sentimentality. Flipside manages to be poignant, heartbreaking, funny, musical, thought-provoking and thoroughly entertaining in 80 minutes. It examines the failed drug war through a microcosmic world shared by "Bo" (Chinaza Uche), a young African American heroin dealer trying to escape poverty and the crushing effects of his mother's mental illness, and Nick (Brian Jennings), a hardened and wizened undercover police officer who now questions the very work to which he has sacrificed his entire life. Both characters are pawns - of politicians, an overzealous and robotic police hierarchy, and a general public appeased by sensational drug busts that, in reality, do little to change the landscape. Flipside's authenticity is admirable: to shape this convincing portrait of ruined lives, the ensemble spent three years working on Julia B. Rosenblatt's script and its creators (the entire ensemble had a hand in bringing it to life) conducted interviews and public forums with individuals on all sides of the drug war. Originally directed in HartBeat's home base of Hartford by Gregory R. Tate (who passed away in June of this year), this remounted production is incisively directed by Steven Ginsburg, who had worked closely with Mr. Tate for many years. Against the backdrop of a Fringe festival that, more and more, seems to present so many predictable and gratuitous productions, my hope is that smart, piercing works like Flipside receive the attention they deserve. At HERE-Mainstage Theater. 80 minutes. [Coyle]

Venue Addresses

440 Studios - Moss Theater, 440 Lafayette, 3rd Fl (Astor Pl/E. 4th St)
440 Studios - White Box, 440 Lafayette, 3rd Fl (Astor Pl/E. 4th St)
Cherry Lane - Mainstage, 38 Commerce Street (Bedford/Barrow)
Cherry Lane - Studio, 38 Commerce Street (Bedford/Barrow)
Connelly Theater, 220 E. 4th St (Avs A/B)
Frankel Theatre, 24 Bond (Lafayette/Bowery)
HERE - Mainstage Theater, 145 Sixth Avenue - entrance on Dominick (6th Av/Varick)
HERE - Williams Theater, 145 Sixth Avenue - entrance on Dominick (6th Av/Varick)
Huron Club, 15 Vandam (6th Av/Varick)
Jimmy's No. 43, 43 E. 7th St (2/3 Avs)
Kraine Theater, 85 East 4th St (2nd Av/Bowery)
La MaMa, 74A East 4th St (2nd Av/Bowery)
Living Theatre, 21 Clinton (Houston/Stanton)
New Ohio Theatre, 154 Christopher (Greenwich St/Washington)
New School for Drama Theatre, 151 Bank (West/Washington)
Players Theatre, 115 MacDougal (W. 3rd/Bleecker)
Sgouros Theatre, 115 MacDougal, 3rd Fl (W. 3rd/Bleecker)
Soho Playhouse, 15 Vandam (6th Av/Varick)
Theatre 80, 80 St. Marks Pl (1/2 Avs)

Overall Production:
Edward Gant's Amazing Feats of Loneliness!
5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche

Francisco De Jesus III (Outside Providence)
Mary Jane Gibson (Fantasy Artists)
Rebecca White (Hadrian's Wall)
Brennan Lee Mulligan (...And Then She Dies at the End)
Brian Silliman (The Particulars)
Brandon Reilly (SleepOver)

Playwriting: Chris Phillips (Pieces)
Maggie Cino (Decompression)
David Marx (Would)

Music Composition:
PartyFolk (Panoramania; or The Adventures of John Banvard)

Gay Camp
The Apocalypse of John

Hanafuda Denki
Our Lady
Kelly Bailey (Pulp Shakespeare, costumes)
Lotte Marie Allen (<the invisible draft>, video/projections)
Sheryl Liu (Bite the Apple, scenic design)

Cara Phipps (The Egg Play)
Jacob Titus (Falling)
Kristin Skye Hoffman (Animals)
Illana Stein (Or What She Will)
Casey McClellan (Twelfth Night)

Solo Performance:
Salamander Starts Over
The List
The Women of Spoon River: Their Voices from the Hill
The Zebra Shirt of Lonely Children

Nejla Yatkin (Oasis)
Malini Srinivasan (Being Becoming)

TheaterMania Audience Favorite Award:
Have I Got A Girl For You

1998 Fringe Report
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2003 Fringe Report
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Book Of Mormon MP4 Book of Mormon -CD
Our review of the show

Slings & Arrows  cover of  new Blu-Ray cover
Slings & Arrows-the complete set

You don't have to be a Shakespeare aficionado to love all 21 episodes of this hilarious and moving Canadian TV series about a fictional Shakespeare Company


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