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2002 New York International Fringe Festival

by Les Gutman, David Lipfert, Jerry Weinstein and Brad Bradley

Update: August 26, 2002

EDITOR'S NOTE: For those of us who remember the very first Fringe Festival, it's hard to believe that a child born during that scrappy festival will be starting school next month. Yes, this is FringeNYC's 6th year and like those kids, it has grown up even if it hasn't matured. (Let's hope it never does.)

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 although there are a few with "stars" attached to them, and a few others that, for one reason or another, are likely to have a following. The festival runs from August 9-25, with starting times from noon to midnight. Further information, schedules and reservations are available by phoning 212-420-8877 or 1-888-FRINGENYC, on the web at: or or in person at Fringe Central, 185 Orchard Street (Houston/Stanton) from noon until 8 PM. Tickets are also available at the door at each venue, 15 minutes prior to the show. Prices: $12, reduced to $7 for kids 12 and under to FringeJR events, seniors and residents of zip code 10002. There are also passes: 5 shows for $50, 10 shows for $100 and the "Lunatic Pass," which entitles you to attend as many shows as possible for $400.

The last name of the author of each capsule review is indicated at the end of the review in brackets. The address of a venue is provided in its first instance only.

Click on Show Title or Scroll Down Page to Browse

Matt & Ben | Billy Nijinsky | Downsized | Sopranos! | Jump | The Welcoming Committee | Blind Date - Body Theater | Five Frozen Embryos and The Sleepers | Sajjil | Miss Julie | Giants Have Us In Their Books | Jack the Hack and Room to Swing an Axe | Josephine | The Black Box | Alice 2.0 | The Birth of Café Society | One - (the Other) | It's a Detective Agency (and everyone's English) | A Yellow Butterfly Called Sphinx | Flight Triptych | Metamorphosis | The Death of Frank | From Table Mountain to Teluk Intan | Reza Fantastiskt Mystisk | Espejo Blanco/White Mirror | The Way Out | Refugees | Body Maps | The Trill of the Thrush | Consumer Behavior | Centralia presents Generica | The Overcoat | Up Your Rabbit Hole | Dismiss All the Poets | Maria vai com as outras | edWARd2 | Persephone | Game Legs | Flam Chen
FringeNYC 2002 Awards


They're best friends, Matt & Ben. That's what their bios keep repeating. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck won an Oscar together for Goodwill Hunting. Now they're famous. And they're still best friends. Mindy Kaling and Brenda Withers tell their version of how that script came to life in Somerville Mass in 1996. Was it a miracle or just good old sweat of brow? Per Kaling and Withers, it might have been both. Their clever mix of fact and fantasy shows up the personality contrast in Affleck and Damon. Or at least how that part of their friendship comes out in People. Yea, yea, we all know that Damon is the brains and Affleck is the personality. Kaling and Withers buy into that one completely, but all in good fun. In fact their dialogue is hilarious. (Too bad they reverted to docudrama-style banter to set the scenes.) Sound and lighting are wonderful. No matter that we never learn the Oscar-winning script is semi-autobiographical (like Damon plays Affleck's real-life Harvard janitor/father). Or that-well, never mind. If you haven't noticed, these are two women playing the famous best friends. They must have studied these guys well, because their expressions and body language ape the real thing. Not only that, but Kaling is Black. See the show to get how well she captures Affleck gazing at the computer. And by the way, what does that phrase mean, best friends? At Mazer Theater, 197 East Broadway (@Jefferson). 1 hour. [Lipfert]

If you're the namesake of a famous person that went insane, does that mean your fate is sealed? Billy Nijinsky surely thinks so. Billy (Randall Jaynes) is so immersed in Vaslav Nijinsky's Diaries that he's sure he can just get the legendary dancer on the phone in Paris. Not there? He just leaves a message. Billy's shrink-by-phone (taped voice of Randy Danson) pushes reality on him to no avail. Billy is sure that the man with God's feathers is hovering in mid-air right now. That's the text, but this is a dance show as well. And Jaynes is a superb dancer. And choreographer. Dance interludes enhanced by Peter West's lighting design begin with Janyes's take on Nijinsky's frightening, almost spastic final public performance. Taut and angular movements make up this section. Later his muse arrives in the guise of Nijinsky's noted Spectre of the Rose character. Played by a woman (Edisa Weeks in Maiko Matsushima's too-scanty costume), this Spectre comforts and supports Jaynes transformed momentarily or forever into Nijinsky. Because Weeks is as substantial as Jaynes, they can trade lifting and carrying roles in several absorbing sequences. Kudos to choreographer Richard Colton for maintaining originality and never stooping to modern dance clichés. While the dance side could stand on its own, the text is weaker. Jaynes's great delivery isn't matched by Colton's direction, which denies credibility to the setup. Also there aren't quite enough biographical details in the script to bring the uninitiated up to speed on Nijinsky's tumultuous life. This is one time that program notes would greatly enhance the show. Go to see Jaynes -- he is marvelous. At Harry De Jur Playhouse at Henry Street Settlement, 466 Grand Street (@Pitt). 1 hour. [Lipfert]

Following last year's hilarious Loader #2, JoeSixCo brings quirky tragicomedy Downsized to Red Room. Writer/director Roberto Marinas shows C.E.O. Ted Canton (Michael Todd Wynn), who has invited his star sales duo for a Friday afternoon meeting. Of course this means they're fired, but Denny Cobb (Derek Stratt) and Candice Ashley Walden (Cynthia Segura) are going to make the best of it. What follows is an odd combination of situational humor, emotionally violent flashes and really gross stuff -- just like in your average company. Once the meeting starts, it's not clear where it's headed. Or when it will end. Taking their cue from Exterminating Angel, nobody can leave Ted's office now littered with emptied hooch bottles and stacks of take-out pizza boxes. As Denny and Candice fall asleep, Ted attempts to articulate the real reason for having them keep him company. But Ted never quite says with the Big problem is, because so many other issues get in the way. Take your pick -- frigid wife, porn obsession, feeling physically inadequate. Maybe it's simply male menopause. Or maybe he really does want to fire Denny and Candice but can't find the right moment because he wants to be loved as much as to be a hotshot exec. There is a lot of corporate satire packed into the script, but the overall mood is somber, just like in companies today. Characters, dialogue and setting are all too believable as miniature corporate units gone haywire. As director, Marinas can spin gesture and facial expression into nicely humorous moments with the help of his able cast. At Red Room, 85 East 4th Street (2nd/Bowery). 1 hour. [Lipfert]

Basking in the glow of the HBO action series is Sopranos! Billed as "opera for the new generation", it features five versatile young women with well-trained operatic voices and great diction. Writer/directors David Sisco and Lorene Phillips clearly know their opera but their collection of skits would be funnier as cabaret acts rather than as a full-blown, two-act musical. One of the issues is tone. The numbers in Sopranos! vary from insiders' humor (parody) to caricature. The trouble with such a broad-brush approach is that it leaves varying segments of the audience wondering what the point is. Another issue is timing and sequence. It seems the original opening walk-on number to introduce the five women got bumped. In its place is a not-always-funny take on a Public TV fundraiser offering a hair-raising bevy of crossover opera/jazz numbers as a bonus gift CD. Unfortunately the singers named aren't yet household names, so for example just why the Debbie Voigt track would be hilarious might escape many. JB Becton's announcer suffers from inadequate direction and a script that doesn't match the broader kind of humor on view at other moments in the show. Comic rhythm sags between scenes rather than building. This was opening night, but it appeared that an overall vision of the piece was still missing. Individual moments, such as a Florence Foster Jenkins recital, had wittiness bogged down by too much historical detail for the "new generation" that seemed to make up most of the audience. The (HBO) Sopranos with arias set to music from Bizet's Carmen became as long-winded as that opera. No complaints about the sopranos themselves. Rebecca Todd Bixler, Rebecca Comeford, Lisa Neubauer, Ilya Speranza and Jennifer Winn are assured performers that deserve to find success. Jill Brunelle is the able accompanist. At 14th Street Y Theatre, 344 E. 14th Street (@ First). 1 hour 45 minutes. [Lipfert]

Rod Serling wove so many tales of fractured reality, one might think they've all been told. Yet a group of recent Northwestern grads doing business as Delicious Theater Group have found yet another iteration. In Jess Lacher's Jump, Paul (Jordon Eliot) chooses to end his life by jumping from a bridge, but when his death comes from crashing through the roof onto Jane's (Laura Grey)) floor, he seemingly becomes a part of her lonely life. Paul's estranged wife (Julie Benner) and her boyfriend (Frank Smith) -- who gives new meaning to the expression "blind drunk" -- also figure in the mix as the story wobbles between reality and imagination, truth and lies. It's a clever setup but the execution is surprisingly labored, unrevealing and overlong. Notwithstanding, the staging is first-rate, the sound effects are outstanding and Ms. Grey is a delight as the goofy telecommuting telemarketer. At Mazer Theater. 1 hour 30 minutes. [Gutman]

All the way from Beijing, we get Compass Theatre's excellent staging of Melissa Rayworth's The Welcoming Committee. The play may be the Fringe Festival's most timely, focusing in parallel fashion on the notion of civil liberties for foreigners in post-9/11 America and in China. Jess (Ms. Rayworth) is a rambunctious American writer living in China when she is detained for some suspicious activity. She may seem like a caged animal when dealing with her police-handler, Gao (Tony Cheng), but she's downright appalled by the "new" attitude of the representative of the U.S. Embassy, Miller (Greg Skura). In counterpoint, Guan (Michael Carroll) is a Chinese student living in New Jersey with two professors, Maggie (Heather Grayson) and Peter (Tony Finn), when his angst-inducing behavior leads Peter to call the INS. This is pure political theater that makes its point succinctly and effectively. It can be faulted for a bit of heavy-handedness (but what political theater can't?), and some of the dialogue is too glib especially in its humor, but overall this is a fine, maybe even important, addition to this festival, and one well worth the visit. At Downtown Variety Lounge at Present Company, 198 Stanton Street (Ridge/Attorney). 40 minutes. [Gutman]

Fringe 2002 has numerous dance events, but surely none will achieve the cool perfection of Blind Date - Body Theater. Choreographer Mario Heinemann's mesmerizing work uses a mathematical theme, the irrational number Phi. A couple (Florian Eckhardt and Anne Poncet-Staab) explore their relationship with angular movement that never becomes mechanical. Watching them is as niftily absorbing as manipulating a tricky puzzle of interlocking forms. Alternating with them are Hélène Chevrier and Berit Jentzsch in scenes ranging from listing the qualities of their ideal man to geometric-style movements like slicing through space with half-bent arms. Jentzsch twists herself and a double-jointed doorframe into odd configurations that have a veneer of logic. Heinemann's longer sequences superficially resemble gymnastics-style combinations, parallel but never identical for the two women. His primary aim is to reach sensual perfection, just like the math concept. Phi finds many echoes in nature, and Sophie Jalliet's sepia-toned videos projected on the back wall take up this aspect. Scenes of people running through a field or scavenging in the dirt contrast with the dancers' studied angularity onstage. Precision lighting and a score of mechanical plus natural sounds complement Blind Date. While not exactly gratuitous, a nude scene is extraneous and distracting. How to end a piece like this? As the hundreds of digits of the never-ending Phi appear at the back, Eckhardt and Poncet-Staab on the white flooring engage in their own version of perpetual motion-geometric of course. At CSV - La Tea Theater, 107 Suffolk Street (Rivington/Stanton). 80 minutes. [Lipfert]

Singularity, a young New York theater company that got its start at Fringe 1999 and which presented a fine production of Christmas on Mars that we reviewed this past season, returns to its point of origin to give us two one acts by well-known names. First we get "Five Frozen Embryos" by David Greenspan (better known as an actor we've reviewed often and favorably but equally adept as a playwright). Two women (Ilka Saddler Pinheiro and Ellen Shanman), cloaked in white Victorian garb, sit on a love seat parsing and rationalizing court rulings on a woman's right to use embryos frozen during marriage without her husband's consent. Can it be that it is a woman's decision alone to terminate a pregnancy, but that her ex-husband's complicity in the creation of these embryos gives him a say in whether one can be commenced? These women are remarkably agile of tongue, navigating the landscape of legal linguistics as if it were common speech and then combining to speak in unison as the voice of the woman in question (her name is Diane). All of this is achieved with near-perfect comic timing, achieving a result which is hilarious to witness and still manages to make its point most effectively. In the companion piece, "The Sleepers" by Christopher Shinn (best known in New York for his play Four), two gay men, Silas (Russel Taylor) and Deane (Paul H. Juhn), the subject is masturbation. Guided by a narrator (Laura Marks, who is so engaging she somehow manages to upstage the (simulated) sex), we watch as the two young meet in a public place and repair to Silas' apartment. Silas can't get his ex-boyfriend off his mind; Deane is thinking about his dying father. The piece is well-written and often funny, but it is largely repetitive and pointless, until it reaches a rather poetic conclusion about how beautiful love looks when the lovers are asleep. At The Kraine, 85 East 4th Street (2d/Bowery). 1 hour. [Gutman]

A made-to-order post-9/11 docudrama Sajjil (Recording) adds voice to the Arab-American community. Clearly the members of Nibras company have done their homework. They did extensive interviews with individuals ranging from resident intellectual Edward Saïd to a pair of rednecks in Palestine, Arkansas. Playing these varied people are six actors: James Asher, Kathryn Leila Buck, Omar Koury, Omar Metwally, Najla Saïd, and Afaf Shawwa. (Maha Chehlaoui is ensemble head for this self-directed show.) Lively Shawwa shows how long-term immigrants like Samia Halaby or Auntie Jaquie are essentially bystanders to the drama of Middle-east politics and their reflections in America. Koury is the most effective in suggesting highs and lows of the Arab experience in America. Metwally's Edward Saïd misses the academic's dour quality with a hint of condescension, but he more than makes up with archetypical overly earnest director of an Islamic Center (mosque) Ayman. Although Sajjil does include prejudice and anti-Arab politics, it is too feel-good to challenge preconceptions. There is a level of ignorance on the part of most Americans that I doubt a show like this can overcome. Luckily just as the script's words of wisdom turned preachy, the show ended. Docudrama is by now an overused format that, despite its name, lacks drama. It places a high premium on the actors' stage personalities and techniques. In the first category Nibras looks very good, but they have difficulty in suggesting the range of ages for the people they represented. At Cino Theater at Theater For the New City, 155 First Avenue (9/10 Streets). 1 hour 45 minutes. [Lipfert]

Strindberg's Miss Julie is a play many of us know well, but that doesn't relieve a director of the primary obligation of telling the story. Dana Edell has lots of interesting ideas -- a Britney Spears clone, a gaggle of girls wandering around, sometimes roller-skating and at other times dancing with hula hoops, to name a few -- but they are never applied to the service of the story. Consequently, this production never conveys much meaning and soon becomes tedious. It doesn't help that Nurit Monacelli works way too hard as Julie, or that Tommy Schrider eats a lot of Jean's lines as he races through their delivery. There was redemption, however, in Malinda Walford's performance as Christine which was, against all odds, outstanding. Otherwise, we are left with much sound and fury signifying nothing. At The Culture Project - Downstairs, 45 Bleecker (@Lafayette). 1 hour 30 minutes. [Gutman]

Fable, of the adult variety, is the stock in trade of Jose Rivera's Giants Have Us In Their Books, a trio of short plays that are quirky, perhaps supernatural, but ultimately possessed on simple, poignant and sometimes cautionary morals. In "Flowers," an adolescent girl's (Amanda Pekoe, who also directs and supplies original songs) zit problem blossoms into a bigger one when she starts to sprout flowers from her skin. It brings her closer to her brother (Christopher Lueck) and eventually to herself. In "A Tiger in Central Park," fear grips the city to the point that everyone's sex drive evaporates. When Oswald (Christopher Kromer) and Jennifer (Katie Hartke) think they've trapped and killed the tiger, things return to normal, even though they've mistakenly killed a scapegoat (Leila Lopez) while the tiger (superbly rendered by Mr. Lueck) runs free. In "The winged Man," Daysi (Hillary Sinn), makes love to a mortally wounded winged man (Mr. Lueck, again), the last of his breed. She gets pregnant and her decision (not popular with friends and family) to bear the child lets this ancient lineage continue. The production captures just the right tone of fanciful exuberance, and the actors, though not without a few rough spots, generally execute it well. At Present Company Theatorium. 50 minutes. {Gutman]

Bon Bock Productions has been a reliably successful Fringe participant before, and returns with a pair of one-acts, "Jack the Hack" and "Room to Swing an Axe," both written and directed by Alex Dawson, whose Deep In the Jeeps of Georgia we liked at the last Fringe Festival. Joseph Pacillo appears solo in the curtain-raiser as a man telling the story of his mentor Jack, a horse carriage driver in Central Park. It's a versatile and assured performance -- the speaker is as much a character as his subject -- and a well-written as well as compelling story. In "Room to Swing an Axe," Pacillo returns with Craig McNulty to vividly render a hack of a different sort. Here his Jack is a writer impaired more than fueled by alcohol. Told in parallel monologues that remind us of Conor McPherson, the two men (McNulty plays Jack's bar buddy Gaz, a salesman from New Jersey, who has developed a special friendship with him) are astutely limned by pitch perfect acting and keenly observed writing and direction. It's the sort of gritty story at which Dawson excels, and these actors are in perfect harmony with his writing. A rare Fringe treat. At Red Room (same location as The Kraine). 1 hour 15 minutes. [Gutman]

Exotic dancer, singer, actress, spy, humanitarian, stripper -- this was Josephine Baker (1906-1975), née Freda McDonald. She was many personalities wrapped into one, so Aja Jung has wisely conceived Josephine as an emotional rather than biographical portrait. It is clear that Jung has spent a long time researching her target. In this solo piece she successfully communicates Baker's successes and disappointments via her mime and dance. Jung bears more than a passing resemblance to her character, so it is easy to imagine Baker's apprehensions on leaving America for Paris. Audience adulation gets leavened by maternal preoccupation for her "Rainbow Tribe" dozen adopted children of various races, here represented by a single white doll. The scrappy production (Darko Nedeljkovic) in black and white from Yugoslavia's City Ballet is mostly door and window frames, but Jung weaves herself around the set elements to suggest Baker's travails but also her sensuality. Props are especially inventive. An upended table becomes a ballet barre from which Jung flashes Baker's confidence combined with insecurity. Thankfully Olga Mrdenovic keeps costuming to black top over shorts and avoided the stripper option. Spare lighting keeps the focus on Baker's emotional states. Marko Gutic's sound design uses a piano/orchestra score interspersed with Baker's songs and interviews. In this portrait, Jung concentrates on Baker's heyday in Paris before and after WWII. She leaves out the social activism thread that ran through St. Louis native's career but blossomed in later life, particularly back in America. This is among the most interesting dance events at Fringe 2002. We would be privileged to see Jung's other dance/bio portrayal, none other than Mata Hari. At Harry De Jur Playhouse. 1 hour. [Lipfert]

For The Black Box, Canadian playwright and director Amiel Gladstone started with a bizarre airplane incident where Vaughn, a young man gone berserk, was subdued and killed by his fellow passengers. Using free association, Gladstone interweaves this story with three others. The Wright brothers experiment with a propeller-driven glider (cleverly done up as a plank over two folding chairs) to develop the first airplane. Icarus prepares to fly with the wings his father Daedalus made and repeats the instructions not to go too high or too low. Finally there is a peek into Vaughn's budding relationship with his photographer girlfriend, a deep-rooted but unemotive sort. How these all interact takes us from the realm of thinking to one of feeling. And that is exactly where theater is most powerful. What sets Vaughn (Lucas Myers) off that day in the plane, why he lunges for the exit door handle we will never exactly know. Is it his conversation with the oddball (Matthew Payne) sitting next to him? Or does flying simply make him panic? Rationality clearly is not his forte. So scientific explanations by the Wrights (Myers and Payne) wouldn't convince him he is safe in the air. Gladstone offers cool reason as an alternative. After the incident, Vaughn's girlfriend (Karen Turner) seeks cover in her photography and its rationality to cancel her feeling of loss. On the other hand, Icarus (Turner) begins on a rational level and then, as we know, lets emotions take over. Ultimately we will never completely know what happened, so Gladstone's picture -- packed with lots of wry Canadian humor -- is the closest we can get to an understanding. It's nice to encounter such thorough preparation by the actors, and Andrew Tugwell's effective sound design anchors the action with realistic plane and propeller noises. 1 hour. At University Settlement, 184 Eldridge (Rivington/Delancey). [Lipfert]

Alice in Wonderland has been a quintessential children’s favorite since the opus was first published in 1865. One hundred years later, it was co-opted by the rock group Jefferson Airplane whose "Go Ask Alice" became a drug anthem for the Sixties. In Alice 2.0, the Denver-based theater collaborative, the LIDA Project, has re-imagined Alice once again, by finding a connection between the Victorian setting of Alice with the digital worlds of cyberspace. While the production is adventurous and has more word play than a conference of linguists, it does become pedantic, offering more dissertation than drama. That said, I can easily imagine this homage to Lewis Carroll gaining a berth at P.S. 122, once it has been properly "beta-tested" and rehearsed. Fittingly, LIDA hosts an ongoing bulletin board at At the CSV - Milagro Theater. 1 hour 45 minutes. [Weinstein]

What's in a cup of coffee? In Iqbal Barkat's monologue The Birth of Café Society, it could be love, revenge, subjugation or happiness. Alejandra Canales is the talented actress portraying an involved tale of a woman that marries way above her status only to find herself betrayed. Quite naturally she laces the coffee for her rival with poisonous chengkian bean. As Canales begins, her ratty-haired character is dressed in coffee sacks and spouts what seems to be a madwoman's nonsense. Backtracking to her custom-filled but ominous wedding, she describes her life as housewife to a powerful Nordic-type man. Between various episodes come narratives on the dark history of coffee. Arriving in Europe from Arabia, it was regarded as an aphrodisiac, but Brazilian production necessitated waves of African slaves to satisfy demand. It was a recipe for discontent that plays itself out in this story. There is a strong possibility that Barkat's script is not as poetic as he intended. That coupled with his second-rate direction leaves it to Canales to rescue the evening. Her gestures are telling, but Barkat did not give her the best guidelines for timing and delivery. At the beginning when locale and story are still vague, Canales seems to sport your average Eastern Europe/gypsy accent. Only later does her South American twang begin to jibe with the setting. Accent aside, a language coach needs to bring Canales up to standard English pronunciation in the chengkian description. Since she is of large frame, gowns and robes do her more justice than the skimpy nightie Tito Shmidt and Alsah Bibi saddle her with for most of the show. Better material and direction would allow Canales to give more than occasional glimpses of her vivid stage personality. At Downtown Variety Lounge. 1 hour. [Lipfert]

We've all found ourselves as outsiders: if not by traveling or living alone in a mysterious foreign land, then perhaps in a new job, or just in the budding moments of a new relationship. All of us have been on the dispensing side of this fulcrum as well, confronted with visitors in our not-always welcoming world. In One -(the Other), Britain's Perpetual Motion Theatre assays this otherness from the perspective of a young man (Toby Hughes) who is seeking to discover, as it were, an oasis in the desert of a city. Told through words, movement and multimedia sounds and images, the show is compelling, clear and thought-provoking. This is a pragmatic work, sidestepping existential notions and largely using gestural expression to convey its ideas. (My one quibble with the production is that acoustics makes much of the speaking, which is multi-lingual anyway, difficult to decipher.) The company, including the four performers (the local denizens are played effectively by Karin Heberlein, Laticia Santa Fe and Phillippe Spall) finds a way, under Emi Slater's sharp direction, to negotiate everything from the mundane (like a jostling ride on the Underground or a dart through a sudden rain shower) to the more sophisticated nuances conjuring up the core feelings of being one and the other. The show's ending, the need for which I didn't quite understand, surely left the stage clean for the show that followed it. Let's hope it left the audience a bit cleaner as well. At Cino Theater. 1 hour 15 minutes. [Gutman]

If there is an award for the silliest show at this year's Fringe, It's a Detective Agency (and everyone's English) has to be a strong contender. Silly, in this case, is not a bad thing but indeed a very, very good one. Confronted with imminent dismissal if it doesn't solve a case by 5 P.M. (it has been 97 days since their last success), this most inept cadre of sleuths appears incapable of seeing the forest for the trees and at least as unlikely even to notice the trees. One of them, Detective Devon St. Ponce (Mike Rock), is blind enough that even the London Fog would go unobserved, and the rest (including Andrea Rosen, who is responsible for the zany concept and whose character has the precious name June Bride, Victor Verhaeghe, Mark Hervey (who is also the director) and Dan Berrett) are, shall we say, intuition-challenged. The crux of the problem is that Quigley (David Blumenfeld), their file clerk, has been missing, coincidentally, for 97 days, and he is the key to their past successes. It's not giving anything away to let you know that enough cases are solved within a hair-breadth of the witching hour to avoid their demise, or that Quigley turns up right about then. A spate of narcoleptic attacks (the cause of which is obvious to everyone other than those onstage) peppers the show with hysterical dream sequences, and a most joyous, utterly goofy and monumentally appreciated finale. At Mazer Theater. 50 minutes. [Gutman]

The listing in the Fringe Festival Guide for A Yellow Butterfly Called Sphinx caught our attention: "sleeper hit of the French festival circuit," it said. Well, perhaps it's just one of those things that doesn't translate effectively, but this epistolary play is just a sleeper. The cast of six, a teacher and five of her students (one of whom has a secret crush on her that is the subject of most of the letters), might have enhanced the experience had it attached anything more than cold line readings to the text, and the direction might have helped had it avoided banal attempts at artsy movement that came off looking like acting class exercises. The only thing I can say remotely positive about this undertaking is that someone had the kindness to include the number of letters to be read (33) in the program, and each letter was preceded by an announcement of its number. At least we were able to keep track of how many more we would have to endure. At CSV - La Tea Theater. 1 hour 20 minutes. [Gutman]

Michelle Horacek's nonverbal solo Flight Triptych appears to be an extended version of a workshop exercise. It would take more than Linnea Happonen's coaching to bring meaning and substance to this piece. Horacek in black may be some sort of female animal that gradually awakes, explores self and props, and occasionally hisses/growls. These actions can be the elements of physical theater, but that form has special requirements. The most important of these is not technique or conviction but ability to communicate significant life experience. An audience can quickly perceive whether a performer has it or not. In Horacek's case, it is premature to say. As Horacek completes her training, she should seek out the very best directors so that she can develop all sides of herself as a performer. At Cabaret Theater at Theater For the New City. 30 minutes. [Lipfert]

In Kafka's Metamorphosis Gregor Samsa awakes one day to find he has become a large insect. That morning he refuses to see anyone until extensively pressed. He does the right thing, because the sight of his transformation frightens everyone and elicits a series of bizarre if understandable reactions. Director/adapter René Migliaccio sets Franz Kafka's all-too-vivid novella of the same name using three performer/mimes that interact with a film (co-directed with Vinz Feller) projected at the back to extend the action onstage. In finest horror/noir style, the black-and-white film shows the other characters in the story, Gregor's parents and sister plus his boss and three boarders. It's classic Kafka as things go from bad to worse for poor Gregor until his inevitable demise. Dario Tangelson in creepy white and brown makeup (Nadia Fadeeva) and grubby clothes (Roxana Ramseur) is the hypersensitive bug in a tour-de-force of facial expressions and telling movement. He emotes, cringes and scampers while shifting attention between audience and film. As Gregor's mother, Celeste Hastings two brief onstage appearances are masterful. In the film she is nearly alone in avoiding those oh-so-outré glances that mar an otherwise excellent take on silent-film acting. Pre-recorded voices are mostly unintelligible because of too much reverb. Too bad, because then only the initiated can appreciate plot details. Stage and movie sets (Venantius Pinto) capture a Dr. Caligari atmosphere with a touch of Cocteau. In a post-show discussion, Migliaccio spoke about Kafka's paradox of dehumanization to escape from a world you can't control. At Collective Unconscious, 145 Ludlow Street (Stanton/Rivington). 1 hour 5 minutes. [Lipfert]

Stephen Belber's The Death of Frank is a compelling, intense and, despite its subject matter, quite funny exploration of a brother and sister, Peter (Raymond James Hill) and Natalie (Alexa Dubreuil), and their sometime lovers, Lynn (Tessa Gibbons) and Frank (Paul Keany). The sibling relationship is a close one and, especially from Peter's end, over the line of healthy familial love. But the real edge in Belber's work has to do with their predisposition to violence as a way of expressing, and receiving, love. It's a pathology that plays out chillingly and with stark emotional contours, with Peter, an otherwise sensitive do-gooder, at its fulcrum. His foil is the tough guy Frank, but ultimately his victim is Natalie who shares with Lynn a quality Belber aptly calls "spunky" (though it is manifested quite differently in the two women). Lynn is complicit in what goes on, but enough of a bystander to function as an observer as well, and her background as a linguist gives Belber ample support for some clever wordplay. The script occasionally leans too heavily to the poetic, and is a teensy bit bloated, but the characters speak honestly and the performances here render them beautifully. The irony and metaphor-filled script is executed with remarkable restraint: the cast, without exception, is pitch-perfect. And even though I am not a big fan of heavily narrated material, it works here exceedingly well. Nancy Chu's direction is harmonious, slick and yet quite playful. The use of an on-stage Stage Manager (Melissa Carroll), who hands props to the characters, also serves to lift the play's tone inventively. There may not be sufficient explication of the roots of behavior to satisfy the hyper-analytical Lynn, but Belber's juxtaposition of the notions of (again in his words) "control and fear" were most satisfyingly revealing to me. I'd rank this as a highlight of this year's festival. At P.S. 122 (Upstairs), 150 1st Avenue (@9th). 2 hours with intermission. [Gutman]

From Malaysia, we get a stunning one-person show called From Table Mountain to Teluk Intan. In it, we are introduced to a phenomenal performer, Jo Kukathas, who, portraying a myriad of characters, tells the story of Alia, a mixed race girl from Apartheid South Africa, who emigrates to Australia, meets and marries a Malaysian man and subsequently moves with him (and their two children) to Malaysia. It's out of the kettle and into the fire as she must endure the shaky race relations of her husband's native land. Attacked one day while on her way to her car, Alia is crippled though, with the support of friends, resolved to walk again. The script unfolds quite non-linearly, and could afford a little trimming, but with Ms. Kukathas's astonishing performance (very reminiscent of that in last year's off-Broadway hit, The Syringa Tree), it exceeds expectations in limning not only a very personal story but also the fabric of three very different cultures, all in astoundingly fine detail. Table Mountain adds a much-needed international richness to the Fringe Festival, appealing as much to traditional Fringe audiences as to those with cultural connections to its subject matter. At 14th Street Y. 1 hour, 40 minutes. [Gutman]

Maybe somewhere out there a Swedish playwright named Lars Mattsun (hypothetical Strindberg contemporary) really existed and his masterpiece script Reza Fantastiskt Mystisk truly was discovered in an attic sale. At least that is what Burglars of Hamm company from Los Angeles would have us believe. For a solid hour they bang away at this drama of sentiment and symbolism. Perhaps if the actors didn't get so carried with their delivery of their embroidered lines, it could be even funnier. There is running commentary as well. Via personal headsets, director Todd Merrill offers NPR-style lit-crit observations that are hilarious in their banality. The play even has a plot. Finally freed to practice his art after feeding a poisoned apple to his betrothed, artistic-minded son Philip takes a bite himself and joins her in death. And where would we be without a dream sequence? At Philip's mock trial, Color and the Composition twins testify either for or against him as a painter. It's hard to tell because Merrill's remarks start to take over the show. The spoof continues in the post-performance encounter with the audience. Actors' personalities collide with the persnickety director's ego in a seemingly improvised mayhem of accusations. There's not much substance but it's all in good fun. Unfortunately not also parodied were those truly terrible mushy actor bios with Oscar-length lists of thanks. Present Company Theatorium. 1 hour 30 minutes. [Lipfert]

Espejo Blanco/White Mirror is a portrait of Mexico City told in performance art combination of movement, text and sound. Even people that have been there might not grasp the full extent of the world's most polluted metropolis, economically and politically ruined but also culturally vibrant and full of human values. Choreographer Meredith Nadler supplements her wide-ranging modern dance vocabulary by miming everyday actions. Sergio Navarro Ochoa joins Nadler to explore various contradictory meanings for Mexico City. A sound track assaults with city noises while the two performers offer visual depictions of the struggle and uncertainty that permeates life there. Throughout Nadler speaks about her reactions upon arriving in Mexico City from New York and her continuing explorations of her new base. (Sometimes she is inaudible against the tape, but that can be corrected in later shows.) Above all Nadler wants to involve the audience. During a discussion of cocina pobre she throws tortillas at them. Later there is a participatory exercise in the University Settlement performance space to play out the idea of solidarity that life in Mexico City has fostered to counter the less-than-ideal conditions. To emphasize continuity with the past, Navarro Ochoa enters several times as a traditional giant figure from popular processions. All this happens at a leisurely pace, allowing the audience to reflect on multiple messages. To end, both Nadler and Navarro Ochoa peacefully invade the audience seating area to dramatize the lack of private space in Mexico City. The piece is based on good ideas but it needs more development to convey the meanings that Nadler intends. Her rigorously modern dance movements, interesting by themselves, need to be tied more closely to the various themes. Most of all, the nudity she introduces is out of place and seriously distracts. A larger cast would add interest. 1 hour 20 minutes. At University Settlement, 184 Eldridge (Rivington/Delancey). [Lipfert]

Taking its title from Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower," ("There must be some way out of here"), the Hendrix cover of which is heard as the show opens, The Way Out is Timothy Nolan's new play about the overturning of Rubin Carter's murder conviction. But whereas the recent movie on this case (The Hurricane) dealt with the mechanics, The Way Out is more about the interior story. It is set mostly in Carter's mind, as he sits in the court hearing his habeas corpus petition, hoping for justice but not really having faith he will receive it, flashing back to the transformative moments in his life that brought him, mentally and physically, to where he is. What makes The Way Out exceptional is Shiek Mahmud-Bey's performance. He inhabits Carter's character (at various stages of his life) so effectively, the effect is almost environmental. It's doubtful anyone can truly know vicariously what spending over twenty years in prison is like without having endured it, but Mahmud-Bey comes damn close to conveying the feeling. Some of the storytelling gets away from Mr. Nolan (who collaborated with Mahmud-Bey in its development), but the actor's portrayal is sufficiently mesmerizing we are willing to overlook the lapses. Vincent Marano's direction is tight and expressive, and Tod Engle is particularly effective as he nimbly segues between a handful of characters -- very different white men, mostly in positions of authority -- with whom Carter comes in contact. This is one of those Fringe productions that could easily return for a longer engagement somewhere, especially after a little tweaking: Mr. Mahmud-Bey seems to have made an acquaintance he's not quite ready to cast aside. At La Tea Theater. 1 hour, 20 minutes. [Gutman]

Stephanie Satie brings her New York hysteria to a California ESL classroom for Refugees. Satie is the teacher and her foreign-born students are a lively bunch, but it seems they learn more about their teacher than about American English. For each student's personal revelation Satie counters with several of her own until she nearly overwhelms the succession of classes into which the monologue is organized. One-person shows are vehicles to command a stage for an audience using personal material, but Satie throws in her own politics as well via the students. From the innocuous (Russians like home remedies) to the downright dangerous (Iran is a nation of wife beaters), she lays on her personal prejudices with the hopes of converting the audience. Uzbeks are louts? No problem. Under Anita Khanzadian's direction Satie distinguishes the various students via movement quite effectively. In her machine-gun delivery the different accents collapse into your generic Rooshian, and for the Iranians she isn't even close. There was a glimpse of how entertaining this schema could be at the very end when one student reports her bewilderment at the overwhelming variety of salt for sale at the grocery store. At Arthur's Dress Shop, 141 Ridge Street (Houston/Stanton). 1 hour 20 minutes. [Lipfert]

Body Maps is a multi-arts presentation combining movement, music and text to portray realities and dreams of the down and out. The one-hour show is billed as a collaborative effort among Oana Botez-Ban (design), Saviana Stanescu (text) and Kara Dean (research), but the elements never quite coalesce. Barbara Barese alternates between reading related word groups from a thesaurus and voicing statements a social worker garnered from victims of disease and violence. Deliberately in "street" tone, her delivery contrasts with the delicacy of Natasa Trifan's choreography, meant to convey these people's aspirations. That is the point of the piece, of course, but the impression is that words and movement were conceived separately and later combined arbitrarily. Taken by itself, Trifan's contribution is the most interesting. Five dancers in varied white costumes gradually emerge from tunnels of white stretch fabric and slowly exit and enter throughout the piece. But they, too, are operating almost individually, even though there is occasional partnering. A final element, Lucian Ban's music on tape which soprano Annie Ricci's vocalises, also appears unrelated to text and movement. The connection between the show's creative segments might have been clear at inception, but the final product lacks a unified message. Also, it should be said that the theme is not so original. 1 hour. At The Culture Project - Downstairs. [Lipfert]

Oscar Wilde's two volumes of fairy tales are relatively unknown, so The Trill of the Thrush should make for an interesting discovery for most Fringe attendees. Zoe Mackler's adaptation of Wilde's "The Nightingale and the Rose" distills the story's characters and elements for six performers in early 19th century costumes (Martin T. Lopez). Nightingale (Courtney King) sacrifices her blood (and life) to make the red rose that Young Student (Thomas Kovac) requires to win his beloved. Alas, it is all in vain, because Girl (Brandy Tipton) prefers another suitor's expensive jewelry. Dancers King and Kovac nicely utilize repeated movements to convey the iconic quality of the story, even if their voices are less authoritative. Mackler makes a coffee-colored trio in out of Tipton, Islean Kirker and Perri Yaniv to act as foil to the Student/Nightingale interaction, carefully lit by Chris Hudacs. As Yellow Rose (friendship), Yaniv has the only role exempt from the unfulfilled yearning that permeates the others. One entrancing moment among many others happens when Nightingale flutters among the branches of Oak Tree (Tsuyoshi Konco). Throughout Wilde's text is segmented and repeated to evoke the way a child might remember it. Mackler achieves a neo-Anthony Tudor, quasi-psychological atmosphere that dovetails nicely with today's interpretations of fairy tales. At University Settlement, 184 Eldridge (Rivington/Delancey). 45 minutes. [Lipfert]

Consumer Behavior, this spirited, high-energy satirical musical by Gary Kupper (with Lynda Crawford co-billed on book), brings New York jingle writers and would-be pop songwriters George Fine (Mark Hattan) and Lenny Strange (Neal Young) on an trip to an archetypical middle-American community devoted to test marketing, where everything of note apparently happens at the mall. Residents are perpetually wired for product feedback, and when they are not in a scene, they sit on the edge of the stage as if continuing their assignment on a marketing research focus group. Promoters get excited about plans for "a virus that makes you want to shop," leading our heroes to push forward on their mission to create the perfect musical signature for a product that doubles in its functions as air freshener and feminine hygiene spray, only to have their contract cancelled in the wake of yet another corporate merger. Leading men Hattan and Young are attractive yet average guys at the same time, talented centerpieces that make an odd couple team suggesting a pairing of Mike Myers and Garrison Keillor. Smartly staged by Victoria Pero, the show's substantial humor is led by Denise Nolan as a Sally Jessy-inspired talk show host and Wayne Scherzer as both a consumer research scientist and vaudeville-influenced relative; both, however, could benefit the show by having more musical material tailored to them. Armond D. Francone's clever minimalist flexible set designs feature rolling garment racks that define spaces without distraction, and add to the piece's comic flair. While Consumer Behavior at times is too frantic for its own good, it nevertheless is very audience pleasing. Tearing away from its best satirical instincts are an implausible romance and an unconvincing bow to soul music, but a bit of sharpening of style in both the music and the book could pay off substantially. In its present form, this show seems less comfortable when its characters get into realistic situations. Perhaps the writers should add some edge to the stage population's cartooned elements and save extraneous matter for another show. Their breezy satire deserves to go to the next level of development and production. At 14th Street Y. 2 hours with intermission. [Bradley]

Centralia presents Generica begins with skits related to the Pennsylvania town of Centralia in, of course, the central part of the state. There an underground coalmine fire has been smoldering since before most of the people in the audience or on stage at the Theatorium were born. Throw in the heroic rescue of the miners out in southwestern PA and you have a workable and somewhat original theme to build on. Only that after a few scenes, the trio of Matt Higgins, Jay Rhoderick and Kevin Scott exhaust that material and begin throwing in other skits they developed together. The humor (writers Joe Sciappa and Megan Neuringer) is a combination of Americana, drag and slapstick, all given standard musical treatment by Joshua Sitron, who holds forth at the upright on the side. Two Russian Housepainters numbers are the most overtly funny. Wayward son Pothead is based on Scott's diminutive stature and hoarse singing voice. Larry Grimm's direction and Joseph McDonnell's choreography make Generica a tidy package. At Present Company Theatorium. 1 hour 20 minutes. [Lipfert]

The Overcoat follows every good rule in the how-to-make-a-musical book, but there's not much room left for sympathy for the main character. Nicolai Gogol's touching story about one Akaky Akakievich and his quest for a new coat gets an airtight musical treatment that can't be faulted. From John Gregor's book and lyrics to Robert Rival's tunes to Nick Corley's direction, The Overcoat is superbly engineered for the kids' market. Still beyond the laughs there's not much below this quality veneer. Shorn of Gogol's irony the plot wears thin, like the Russian clerk's tattered winter coat. As Akakievich, Steven Goldstein keeps up with the format's quick mood changes and garners pity for his character with plaintive facial expressions. Anna Stone is a deadweight, both for her gravelly voice and unfunny approach. Tim Shew is marginally more acceptable, but he turned croaky less than half way through the forty-five minute show. Corley saves the cleverest staging for actor Jared Zeus and above all for dancer/mime Hiromi Naruse. Both fill out the action (doors, snowflakes and the like) with the light touch missing in the rest of the show. At 14th Street Y. 45 minutes. [Lipfert]

The second of two Fringe events inspired by the Lewis Carroll evergreen Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is presented by Queen Mab's Theatre Company as Up Your Rabbit Hole, in which (I quote from the company's own promotional card) "Carroll meets John Waters in a sexy, funny, and irreverent adaptation." The youthful Queen Mab effort is clearly borne from improvisation (nearly the entire cast is credited with the script), and quite remarkably adapts the classic to a contemporary, sometimes lightly pornographic sensibility while never losing sight of the original material. All the principal players undertake multiple roles except Laura Mannino as Alice, who has about as thankless a task as any previous performer in the part, even current acting divas Meryl Streep and Kate Burton included. Mannino's Alice is a particularly liberated, even gutsy take on the part, first introduced as an advertising executive trying to pull herself to the top of the Madison Avenue heap. But even this added zest fails to make the character really compelling, so the audience, as usual, is eager to be distracted by the likes of the Cheshire Cat (here an irresistible Slavic playboy), the White Rabbit (providing the production's sweetest moments), and the unavoidable pair of pranksters here known as "The Tweedles," a cockney ultra-protest-punk-rock-folk-whatever musical duo on the brink of infamy. These essential supporting roles all are played by two very effective performers, Peter Kennedy (White Rabbit and Tweedledum, as well as Matt [sic] Hatter) and Eoin Cahill (Cheshire Cat, Tweedledee, a doped D Mouse, and others). Both actors have a wonderful childish sense of authenticity and humor in their characters, as well as the expected subversive energy that the concept demands. Some other characters become annoyingly shrill and one-note, especially Matt Sergi's unbilled turn as a hirsute Red Queen, who does the role in as a one-note East Village drag act which may have been cutting-edge humor in 1976. While Sergi is effective as Alice's Walter Mitty-like boss, his Queen is persistently shrill and annoying, making Harvey Fierstein's uptown Waters-inspired cross-dressing routine (in Hairspray, in case you've been under a rock lately) seem like an elegant tone poem in comparison. Director Betsy Hooper keeps the story moving at a brisk pace, and the story nearly coherent (not an insignificant task), yet has failed to give the work enough lightness of spirit, instead seemingly encouraging her actors that loud is good, and louder is better. More gentle understatement here would go a long way to giving the production both balance and resonance. At P.S.122 Upstairs. 1 hour 20 minutes. [Bradley]

In their strongest collaboration to date, playwright Adrian Rodriguez and director Arian Blanco use the story of Cuban poet Herberto Padilla (here renamed Roberto Arias) as paradigm for artists' and intellectuals' irrepressible desire for freedom. Revolutionary turned dissident, Arias (actor Jose Antonio) is idealist and naive enough to believe that he could speak his mind and get away with it in 1960s Russia and Cuba. Independence comes at a high price for the acclaimed poet, whose fiery verse can now be safely recast so not to upset status quo after a public recanting and consequent rejection by his peers. Antonio gives an intense reading of this equally intense character. The poet's Russian friend Yuri Namchenko and his bewitching daughter (also Arias's lover) are handily played by Emilio Delgado and Angelica Osborne. John C. Cunningham is the interchangeable Bureaucrat, as much at home in Russia as Cuba. Zany Liche Ariza nearly steals the show in several brief character roles. In moving beyond autobiographical material to realistic fiction, Rodriguez has found more freedom of language and tone. The story is grim, but there is more natural comedy than in his previous work so the tragic trajectory of Arias is underscored. Blanco in turn elicits more nuance from Antonio than in two previous HexTC productions at NYFringe. Blanco has aided the other players to follow the script's quick mood and scene changes. I hope the ironic equation of Arias held incommunicado for months without clear charges in totalitarian Cuba with the 9-11 detainees in the US this past year is not lost on the audiences for Dismiss All the Poets. At Cino Theater at Theater For the New City. 1 hour 30 minutes. [Lipfert]

Choreographer Regina Nejman bursts with ideas in Maria vai com as outras (roughly meaning Maria Copies Everyone Else). In her first evening-length work, Nejman demonstrates mastery of multiple dance styles in single and group moments. So who are the Marias? For starters it's all six mini-skirted women in the cast (plus lone male Dixon Mena). As one sheds her heels and plays with her bare feet, the next does the same in Pina Bausch style but minus angst and self-deprecation. A silent scream or a rolling movement will ripple through the ensemble in rising tempo to create a whirlwind of energy. Timing is everything, and Nejman seems to know just when to shift from dance movement to comedy. Dancers cry, "Where's the bathroom?" while desperately trying to postpone nature's call. This scene seamlessly morphs into slapping the back wall at University Settlement in calculated anarchy. From this gradually grows a camaraderie tinged with competition that Nejman portrays in dance to samba rhythms. Brazilian vivaciousness reigns, so Mena's top-notch capoeira-inspired solo at the head of the final section fits perfectly. Tap movements and real tap plus jitterbug seated on the floor merge with contemporary and traditional Brazilian traditions to create a unique combination. Equally varied is the music, from techno-driven sound sampling to pop songs. Even if none of the other dancers matches Nejman's whimsical detachment, their liveliness makes for one of the best shows in NY Fringe 2002. 1 hour 45 minutes. At University Settlement. [Lipfert]

Christopher Marlowe's classic drama about an English king of wayward preference is reworked as edWARd2. It's roughly half Marlowe, half Anton Dudley, who has added verse-like speeches that reflect today's concerns (anti-homophobia and anti-war). Even though stylistic flow is there, the mixture of 17th century and contemporary themes is jarring. Having the king's lover Gaveston (Trevor Oswalt) hitting the clubs or King Edward (Drew Cortese) mouthing Oscar Wilde's "art for art's sake" dictum is more Cliff Notes than updating. As director Dudley seems out to show he has mastered every staging technique that is now in vogue. Puppets show up as vicious courtiers (three potted plants) and as Queen Isabela (Erin Mallon) manipulating a 20-inch version of herself (to show she is diminished in the King's eyes -- get it?). Covering all theatrical bases inevitably means there must be a few dancer/mimes in black and a techno sound score (Lucas Xarwell). Individually the elements are often clever, but an eclectic production like this one needs the unifying vision of choice. Nonetheless, the stark drama of a ruler whose desires are out of control and simultaneously becomes unjustly victimized comes through clearly. This is due mainly to the few bright spots in the cast. Drew Cortese as King Edward has all the makings of a fine classical actor. Jeremy Stuart gives a strong performance as strongman Mortimor, while Trevor Oswalt imbues Gaveston with all the knowing qualities lacking in Edward. A sense of ensemble most likely made this a satisfying experience for the participants. At The Culture Project - Downstairs. 1 hour 15 minutes. [Lipfert]

The Greek mythological explanation for our four seasons is the basis for Messenger Theater Company's Persephone. On a whim the young maiden (Katrina Toshiko) allows herself to be whisked off to the underworld as bride of Hades (John Capalbo). Her inconsolable mother Demeter (Bethany Burgess-Smith) quickly neglected her duty to maintain balmy temperatures and abundant crops on earth. These changes soon became apparent, even to insensible Zeus (Matt Gordon), who finally provided that Persephone would spend six months on earth (spring and summer) and another six with Hades (fall and winter). Writer/director Emily Davis creatively uses bust-length rod puppets (Shannon Harvey) with stick arms for Hades's numerous comic helpers, all ably voiced and manipulated by puppeteers Courtney Cunningham and Jeff Grow. Mortals and gods cavort among spare but telling set elements (Mark Shieh, Anthony Ogg). Aside from Persephone, the mortals include a sprightly Orpheus (Brian Stockton) with his cool rock-serenade to melt Hades's heart and Amanda Melson as a superb quartet of Zeus's earthly lovers. Davis's witty writing and inventive staging turn a mite droll for the gods, all in masks, with the exception of supersonic Hermes (Andy Neiman). Perhaps the finest part of the show is Roxana Ramseur's two-toned silken costumes with an antique feel. At Harry De Jur Playhouse. 1 hour 45 minutes. [Lipfert]

This year marks the tenth year of the American Disabilities Act (ADA), and it’s fitting that Gregg Mozgala’s play Gamelegs is a reminder of how far society has yet to go before the disabled are truly accepted as " differently abled ". Gamelegs is the story of Mozgala’s life. The piece offers a unique perspective from a tenacious actor who has refused to allow his cerebral palsy to hold him back. While as a young playwright Mozgala is still tentative and unwilling to parse the pain that has made him a frequent outsider in the everyday world, as a performer he is charismatic and assured. It is in this way, as an actor, that Mozgala succeeds – showing us that he is as qualified as any actor to play whatever a role demands. At University Settlement. 90 minutes. [Weinstein]

Before Joseph Papp made a home for Shakespeare at Central Park’s Delacorte Theater, back in 1956 there was a season of the Bard outdoors at the East River Amphitheater. After many years of inattention, the Amphitheater has been renovated and is again alive with theater and performance. On this moonlit night the Fringe hosted Tucson’s Flam Chen, a self-described pyrotechnic theater troupe that uses fire as a medium. Flam Chen, more Cirque du Soleil than traditional theater company, mesmerized the crowd with endless permutations of fireplay. With evocative costuming and a translucent, fragile set that looked as though it might be consumed by flames at any moment, it’s almost inconceivable that these fire-breathers could have mounted a production anywhere else but the great outdoors. At East River Amphitheater, East River Drive(Jack/Cherry, between Rivington and Delancey .1 hour. [Weinstein]
And the winners are...

Overall Production
Billy Nijinsky
Matt & Ben
Five Frozen Embryos
and The Sleepers
6 Story Building

Solo Show
The Bizarro Baloney Show
I Kissed Dash Riprock

Kelly Groves, Beat
Jeremy Dobrish, The Joys of Sex
Arian Blanco, Dismiss All the Poets

Tonya Canada, It's All About Me
Liz Larsen, Him & Her
Shiek Mahmud-Bey, The Way Out
Matthew Swan, On the Clock

Clare Byrne, Wet Blue & Friends
Mario Heineman, Blind Date

Stephen Belber, The Death of Frank
Kirk Wood Bromley, The American Revolution
Herman Daniel Farrell III, Portrait of a President
Kelly McAllister, Last Call

Ensemble Performance
Resa Fantastiskt Mystisk
Sajjil (Record)

Scenic Design
Andromache Chalfant, Two

Costume Design
Karen Krolak and Ameila O'Dowd, Aspic

1998 Fringe Report
1999 Fringe Report
2000 Fringe Report
2001 Fringe Report

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