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Fort Fringe – Bedroom
Tuesday, July 17th 9:00 p.m. Wednesday, July 18th 7:00 p.m. Saturday, July 21st 6:15 p.m. Sunday, July 29th 2:15 p.m.
They say: “We’re spoofing the Fringe! See: Stream of consciousness storytelling! Gratuitous partial nudity! Screaming! Exposure to gay stuff! Profanity! Simulated oral and anal sex! White people! No air conditioning! And…chickens! It’s a love letter to the Fringe!”
Brett’s Take: So it comes to this. Perhaps it’s a sign that the Capital Fringe has come of age, that at last it has built up enough of its own tropes, cliches and shibboleths to allow for a show devoted entirely to spoofing it. Perhaps now that a show like this, that folds back onto the Fringe like a beast eating itself, has occurred, the Fringe can evolve onwards into some new and higher form, sorta like the alien from Prometheus.
TEFSYWTSI1FSFS hangs its numerous Fringe-poking gags on an a meta plot: auditioning for a Fringe show! Joshua Dick (also the director) plays the audience surrogate within the wacky world of the play, a young actor trying out for the Fringe show being conceived by Mario Baldessari’s character (Baldessari also isthe co-playwright with composer/arranger Ethan Slater). Dick’s character gets Three-Stooges-style abused and dragged through a series of parody songs and scenes by the flirtatious Baldessari and Liz Dutton’s vituperative stage manager character, each bit saddling him with some Fringe-y humiliation or other (unnecessary nudity, inappropriate Shakespeare revision, puppet sex).
And… that’s about it, for 40 sweaty, hyperactive minutes.
And that’s all that we need. The audience of apparently Fringe-familiar folks took no prodding at all to join in for both the “Fringe dance” (comprised of cheesy sub-disco moves) and applauding to cajole Dick’s character into ‘masturbating.’ The targets are completely obvious and the jokes unchallenging – no one’s insulting Julienne’s honor here – and its clear this is a “we tease because we love” situation. But when we’ve all been engaged in this humid, occasionally pretentious, and highly idiosyncratic ballyhoo we call Fringe for so long, it’s pretty damn nice to have a communal space where we can just fuckiing laugh at the shared ridiculous experience.
As such, the company is at its sharpest and most effortlessly funny when keeping its targets DC- or Fringe-specific; a song about Dutton’s character being a stereotypical man-hating harpy falls flat for being a discredited general-theater cliche, for instance. (Dutton plays the hell out of it, though.) The quips and jibes come fast enough, and enough of them land (“You can say ‘Macbeth’ in here. It’s not a theater.”) that the missteps don’t matter in the end. And, besides, when the show is a parody of awkward and forced Fringe shows, it has the built-in excuse of being meta. Who’s to say the song melodies barely matching up with the underscore isn’t just a way of spoofing bad Fringe musicals? In fact, this show could have been very bad, and it still would have been a meta-parody. Neat trick. Luckily for us, though, it’s a refreshingly funny romp as well.
See it if: You’re seeing more than, oh, six shows this year, because dammit, you need the palate-cleanser.
Skip it if: You truly worship the Fringe, because you’ll be offended. Or if you truly despise the Fringe,because you’ll wish the show was crueler.