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Hip Shot: 70 Million Tons

Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, 545 7th St. SE

Remaining Performances:

Saturday, July 23 at 8 p.m.

They say: “God has had it. We’ve spent centuries desecrating Her favorite planet and She’s ready to bring another Great Flood. Can an extravagant director and clueless bunch of classical actors produce an eco-friendly farce in an hour and save the world???”

Ali’s Take: Tough week at work? You probably don’t have it as tough as Billie, the theater director called “Broadway’s Barracuda” and the surprise protagonist of Terri McKinstry’s new play 70 Million Tons. We first meet Billie as she storms into a rehearsal for her Off-Off-Broadway production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. While it’s unclear exactly why Broadway’s most feared director is stuck directing a low-budget production in Brooklyn, it’s very clear she means business. Billie, played with agile anger by Tracy Jones, immediately starts ordering everyone around. The unruly actors start cooperating, the bumbling stage manager scrambles to bring her a bottle of water, and it seems like things might be going Billie’s way.

That is until time suddenly freezes and Billie gets a surprise visit from the Big Guy himself, or rather the Big Gal, and boy is she pissed. God, simply referred to as “G” by her sidekick Ozie, appears as a big-haired, tall-heeled, sexy woman played with deft comic timing by Stephanie Williams. Ozie is a human manifestation of the Earth’s ozone layer, complete with oxygen mask and ailing body. While God rages at Billie over her wasteful ways, Ozie laughs lovingly from the sideline, kind of how an old lady with emphysema might smile at someone smoking a cigarette right next to her. God gives Billie an ultimatum: Either she drop her production of The Tempest to produce the biblical farce Not Even Noah (penned by God herself) or incur her wrath, otherwise known as an epic flood that will wipe out humanity. Here’s the kicker: The production must be good for the environment and ready to go in just one hour. Billie will earn five points for every Earth-friendly deed she completes, and must reach 100 points before the clock stops ticking.

Admittedly, it’s a ridiculous concept. But it’s ridiculous, heartfelt, and funny—-perfectly calibrated for Fringe, and well-executed by the Capital City Players. Director Christopher Tully keeps the pace up and highlights the clever parts of McKinstry’s script. The environmental theme, surprisingly, doesn’t grate: Lessons about composting and energy-saving light bulbs are served with a dose of irony. These are actors after all, and they’re more than a little reluctant to change their indulgent ways to save Mother Earth. It’s the rare play to benefit this week from Washington’s record-breaking temperatures.

See it if: Your idea of fun includes composting, time travel, and game-show antics.

Skip it if: You don’t want to spend one of your last precious Fringe days trekking over to Capitol Hill.