Fort Fringe—-The Bedroom
Saturday, July 20, 11:45p.m.
Friday, July 26, 7:45p.m.
Saturday, July 27, 12:30p.m.
They Say: “Dreams, ambitions and secrets of trailblazers and conformists in bed together. A radical’s affair with a soldier. An artist’s unexpected rendezvous with her corporate ex-lover. A queer trans woman’s quest for intimacy beyond identity. Who will get what they want?”
Greg’s Take: It seems to be a thing at Fringe this year to insinuate that your show has nudity and then not deliver. Not to sound like a voyeur or anything, it’s just nice to know what you’re getting into sometimes when you buy a ticket. When you see, for example, that a play centers around bedroom discussions between ideologically opposed partners, you expect a certain amount of risk from the artists, and come in as a viewer with a generous dose of open-mindedness. And if said play turns out to not only contain almost no discussion of sex, but also to deal exclusively in topics that wouldn’t even be considered risqué on the six o’clock news, well, it’s only natural to feel a little disappointed.
The play I’m talking about is Bedroom Mirrors, a collection of three vignettes by The Fortune Cookie Collective which all take place in, you guessed it, the bedroom. Two of the plays begin with sex and one of them ends with it, but that’s pretty much the extent to which these sketches are concerned with the naughty stuff. Otherwise they’re semi-collegiate debates on various hot-button topics—-queer-trans identity, family trauma, PTSD—-and all in terms that nobody hasn’t heard before already.
The three stories are all well-acted and mostly well-written, but what’s missing here is a sense of danger, the threat that we as an audience might experience something new. The first of the three vignettes comes the closest. Written by Chinita L. Anderson, it centers around a brief love affair between one of those enlightened academic types and a soldier who may not have as tight a lid on his trauma as it seems. As Ron, a former Marine, Paolo Santayana deserves credit for being one of the few performers to take this show in unexpected directions.
But after the fateful, and admittedly quite surprising conclusion of Anderson’s playlet, Bedroom Mirrors settles back into a comfortable groove of rehashing old discussions about identity, love, dreams, and the rest of the usual stuff without a single jolt or unexpected turn in sight. It’s not that these are bad plays by any means, it’s just that in a show about the sex life of a post-op transsexual, the most unexpected moment shouldn’t be when she takes off her wig.
To do that, to have that opportunity and squander it misses out on what’s truly special about Fringe. What you sacrifice in production value you gain back double in the ability to say and do whatever the hell you want in front of an audience for an hour. And that’s where Bedroom Mirrors truly disappoints. The writers chose to have polite, civil discussions in a play that could have plumbed the depths of the human id and brought some truly weird stuff back to the surface. That’s a Fringe festival show I would have loved to see, even if nobody got naked.
See it if: You want a relatively pleasant evening of inoffensive theatre.
Skip it if: You crave more of the weird stuff from your Fringe experience.