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The life-sucking humidity has subsided, but the Capital Fringe Festival endures. Tonight’s offerings, as recommended by trusted agents of the Fringe & Purge Action News and Commentary Squad—-and, disproportionately this time, by me—-are heavy on the Shakespeare. I’m of the opinion you can’t go wrong with any of these.
Tragedy Averted (Fort Fringe – The Shop, 6 p.m.)—-Playwright and Washington Post humor blogger Alexandra Petri’s third Captial Fringe play is built around a comic premise so ingenious you wonder why it took four centuries for someone to dream it up: Cordelia from King Lear, Desdemona from Othello, Ophelia from Hamlet, and Juliet from Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter or whatever all go off to summer camp together and figure out a way to escape the dreary fates that we know, and they seem to suspect, await them. Petri’s characterization is spot-on: Desdemona is confident, successful, and kind in that way that reads as horribly condescending, at least to Cordelia, who’s soulful and, by necessity, independent. Ophelia is flaky; Juliet is insufferable. Oh, and the camp is run by some creepy, haunted lady who’s obsessed with keeping her hands clean. (Hear playwrights Petri, Evan Crump, and Liz Maestri on the Fringe & PurgeCast here.)
43 ½: The Greatest Deaths of Shakespeare’s Tragedies (Fort Fringe – Redrum, 8 p.m.)—-A working knowledge of Shakespeare helps but is not a prerequisite for enjoying Nu Sass Productions’ fast-forward romp through the Bard’s stage body count, writes our Lindsey Boyle. I concur. Starting with the conclusion of Hamlet and working backwards to Titus Andronicus, the early revenge play that’s so cruel it’s almost unwatchable, this fast, wickedly funny celebration of theatrical nerdery features an appealing cast with chemistry to burn. Combine it with Violent Delights: A Shakespearean Brawl-esque Sideshow and Tragedy Averted for a compelling triptych of Shakespeare channeled through a modern sensibility.
iLust for G-Love: An Auto Ethnography (Goethe Institut – Main Stage, 8:30 p.m.)—-Our critic, Ben Cattel Noll, was unmoved by this (mostly) comic anthology of scenes exploring how the ever-accelerating spread of technology into the most intimate corners of our lives is altering the way we pursue love and/or sex. But I liked it plenty. From an astronaut’s increasing attachment to the sophisticated computer programmed to keep him company on his long, solitary mission, to a couple’s Google-Glass-enabled infidelity, to a clever illustration of how talking on the phone differs from texting, the vignettes, written by Kristine Quinio, Emily Crockett (who also performs in the show) and others, consistently amuse and provoke. So it’s a critical split. See it and decide for yourself. Cabaret XXXY: Who Do You Think You Are? (Baldacchino Gypsy Tent, 9 p.m.)—-This bawdy cabaret isn’t all the ladies (and gentlemen, now; hence the “Y”) of Pinky Swear Productions do, but sweating along with them in the tent and enduring Allyson Harkey’s withering verbal abuse has become a beloved CapFringe tradition. The third installment in their Cabaret XXX series features a bit more narrative (courtesy of playwright Stephen Spotswood, one of the company’s associate members) and some new faces and voices in Laura Esti Miller and Maureen Boman. And Chris Herring, who is, for the record, the only member of the cast who actually shows some skin. (Listen to my PurgeCast episode with Pinky Swear for a taste of what they sound like in full flight.)
Body Armor (Gearbox, 10 p.m.)—-Evan Crump’s drama about three U.S. soldiers whose plane is shot down in Afghanistan won over Sarah Kaplan with its strong performances and serious tone. Crump has pledged to donate profits from the show to benefit the families of the crewmen of NCR Flight 102, which crashed upon takeoff from Bagram Airfield last April.
Dismissed. Happy Fringing!
43 ½ photo by Paul GIllis, courtesy Capital Fringe.