Starts at Fringe Box Office

Remaining Performances: Friday, July 13th 4:30 PM, Friday, July 13th 6:40 PM, Saturday, July 14th 12:10 PM, Saturday, July 14th 2:20 PM, Saturday, July 14th 4:30 PM, Saturday, July 14th 6:40 PM, Sunday, July 15th 12:10 PM, Sunday, July 15th 2:20 PM, Sunday, July 15th 4:30 PM, Sunday, July 15th 6:40 PM, Tuesday, July 17th 4:30 PM, Tuesday, July 17th 6:40 PM, Wednesday, July 18th 6:40 PM, Thursday, July 19th 4:30 PM, Thursday, July 19th 6:40 PM,Thursday, July 19th 8:50 PM, Thursday, Jul 19th 11:00 PM, Friday, July 20th 4:30 PM, Friday, July 20th 6:40 PM, Saturday, July 21st 12:10 PM, Saturday, Jul 21st 2:20 PM, Saturday, Jul 21st 4:30 PM, Saturday, Jul 21st 6:40 PM, Sunday, July 22nd 12:10 PM, Sunday, July 22nd 2:20 PM, Sunday, Jul 22nd 4:30 PM, Sunday, July 22nd 6:40 PM, Tuesday, July 24th 4:30 PM, Tuesday, July 24th 6:40 PM, Wednesday, July 25th 4:30 PM, Wednesday, July 25th 6:40 PM, Wednesday, July 25th 8:50 PM, Wednesday, July 25th 11:00 PM, Thursday, July 26th 4:30 PM, Thursday, July 26th 6:40 PM, Thursday, Jul 26th 8:50 PM, Thursday, July 26th 11:00 PM, Friday, July 27th 4:30 PM, Saturday, July 28th 12:10 PM, Saturday, July 28th 2:20 PM, Saturday, July 28th 4:30 PM, Saturday, July 28th 6:40 PM, Sunday, July 29th 12:10 PM, Sunday, July 29th 2:20 PM, Sunday, July 29th 4:30 PM

They say: “It could change your life. Perhaps the most conceptual offering in Capital Fringe history, BFF explores friendship through two hour ‘friend building’ excursions. Only 50 people can attend these one-on-one experiences, hanging out with one of DC’s top performance artists.”

Rachel’s TakeBrian Feldman and I went bowling and drank juice last night. We wandered as Chinatown closed down, talking about our dreams. Like a good first date, it was low-key and relaxed, and I had purchased two hours of the gentleman’s company on the Internet.

BFF is a doozy of a Fringe concept, something you probably won’t get anywhere else: Spend two  hours as the lone audience member of Feldman’s one-man show/excursion/whatever you like. Is it art? Well, it calls itself art, like Marcel Duchamp‘s urinal. But it’s also stripped down of most artifice. So…it’s Fringe.

But as far as I could tell, Feldman wasn’t in any way performing and he had no expectations for what I, the audience, would take away from it. Hence, the two most frightening/thrilling aspects of the show’s program blurb, “friend building” and “performance artist,” were pretty misleading. I expected, I guess, trust falls, sharing secrets, oddness, or confrontation—-a challenge to forge immediate BFF-style intimacy.

I was his fourth BFF of the evening. It sounded like all so far had been women, including his ex-girlfriend, which was apparently not weird. His 50 one-ticket shows are, he told me, about half sold out for the entire festival. He won’t see any other shows unless a BFF wants to see one with him, but he already has a button, in case. He’s new in town and wants to meet people and do things and make it, somehow, theater. Who’s to say it’s not? Well, any of us. But I don’t think it matters.

Feldman says he’s more of a conceptual artist in reality theater—-previous shows have included his family eating dinner, him smiling for three straight hours in an art museum, and Brian Feldman Marries Anybody—-so don’t be put off or lured in by the “performance art” label. His power is that he is not performing, at all. There was no underlying desperation to be liked or to entertain, and there was no steely barrier, the kind performers tend to put up when they’re “on.” I made him laugh, but not every time I made a joke. He got embarrassed when I asked what he does for money, since the bowling cost more than my ticket price. He was a person, and it embarrasses me as a performer to admit how rare and difficult such a thing is.

In fact, what made it such a good first date is that there were no attendant anxieties about the other person’s perceptions and what might happen from there. I hung out with a person for two hours, a person who had no motives or wants but to hang out with me for two hours. You might have someone like that already in your life; if so, you’re lucky, and I bet it took more than $17 to get there.

See It If: You want a new conceptual artist friend to hang out with in real life.
Skip It If: You’d rather sit in the dark and watch.