We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
As of today, Day Whatever This is Is of Capital Fringe, Part the Ninth, the somewhat-trained, highly motivated agents of the Fringeworthy Action News and Commentary Squad have reviewed 70 of this year’s Fringe shows, or roughly 55 percent. Add to that the shows we’ve previewed or discussed on the FringeCasting Couch, and that number climbs to around sixty. Which leaves a lot of known unknowns! Too many, if you’re the actuarial sort.
We can’t shield you from all risk, but we can offer some assurances. Here’re a half-dozen shows playing today that our operatives have thoroughly vetted and can certify as… Fringeworthy. Or we can for five of them, anyway.
Call Steve Guttenberg (Fort Fringe: The Shop, 6 p.m.) — Okay, this is not an endorsement so much as it is a reminder there’s a show in the festival this year with Steve Guttenberg in its name, one I’d intended to review but couldn’t because the simultaneous D.J. set in the Gypsy Tent made the Saturday night performance I attended effectively inaudible, as Alex Dahms noted in his unenthusiastic DC Theatre Scene review. (The D.J. set, featuring FORMA, Nitemoves, and Protect-U was excellent.) What I was able to discern seemed pretty thin, though, something about three young filmmakers/housemates who are hired to shoot a car commercial at their own expense (?) and steal some kind of precious stone from a girl who may actually be a supernatural being to help them do it. The scattered references to the writings of H.P. Lovecraft feel like an afterthought, but again, it was impossible to hear most of the dialogue. Hey, remember when we were all obsessed with True Detective for a few weeks last winter? DC Metro Theater Arts only gave Steve Guttenberg four stars, so you have to wonder what went wrong. Anyway. Here it is!
The Tournament (Atlas: Sprenger, 7 p.m.) — This is an endorsement. Live Action Theatre’s hilarious follow-up to The Continuing Adventures of John Blade, Super Spy sends up headband-wearing 80s fight flicks like Bloodsport and, uh, Kickboxer, but the jokes — so many jokes — in Kyle Encinas’ whip-smart script don’t require any prior immersion in this sort of thing. And the stage fights are truly impressive; athletic and bracing but also communicating discovery, pathos, and humor as the story requires. Here, listen to this crew talk about it on The FringeCasting Couch.
Bethesda (Goethe: Gallery, 8 p.m.) — Veteran Fringeworthier Greg Benson was much more “Aha!” than “meh” on this dark comedy about malaise in DC’s prosperous inner suburb from writer-director Jennie Berman Eng. “Bethesda is a member of that increasingly rare species at Fringe,” he wrote. “A straightforward drama with no movement pieces or multi-media intrusions or odd surrealist elements where one of the characters turns out to be a puppet or an alien or something by the end.”
Mandarin Orange (Caos on F, 8 p.m.) — An expat herself, Cara Lea Shockley appreciated Kate Robards’ solo show about the culture shock she experienced moving from Orange, TX to Shanghai.
Cabaret XXX: Everying F*cking Dies (sic) (Baldacchino Gypsy Tent, 8 p.m.) — Killing off its central bad-girl trio turns out to be just the shot in the arm Pinky Swear Productions’ Cabaret XXX franchise — one that it seems will be retired after this festival along with the gypsy tent that always housed it — needed. Senoir Agent Camila Domonoske’s admiring review warns the show none of the advertised nudity save for “a well-dressed dildo.” But it’s a very well-dressed dildo. Really nattily put together. Casual, yet elegant. Also: large.
Love Letter Lost (Gearbox, 8:30 p.m.) — Tenacious rooke Agent Marshall Bradshaw did not mask (see what I did there?) his approbation for Tut’Zanni Theatre Company’s Capital Fringe deubt, a commedia dell’arte piece that incorporates a heavy element of improv, but still appears “polished to a shine.”
If you see these shows or others and you like ’em or you don’t, Tweet us @Fringeworthy to let us know what you thought of our recommendations.
Photo from The Tournament © 2014 Paul Gillis Photography