Tactile Dinner Car

Fort Fringe – The Baldacchino Gypsy Tent Bar

Remaining Performances:
Saturday, July 9, 3 p.m.
Thursday, July 21, 7 p.m.
Friday, July 22, 7:15 p.m.
Saturday, July 23, 7 p.m.
Sunday, July 24, 2:30 p.m.

They say: The ’09 Fringe Festival gastro-performance HIT is back! and MOBILE! and dishing up bite-sized portions of our “daringly interactive meal-like extravaganza” (WashPost)! Get tickets now to enter this hybrid-art experience, and order from a menu of futuristically reckless, playfully audacious “food.” Book a reservation slot at 15 minute intervals during dinner car operating hours & determine your own run time. Tickets are $12 with Fringe Button.

Aaron’s take: Fringe is a festival of firsts, and on the sixth annual Capital Fringe Festival’s opening night, I experienced my first four-course meal that saw me bound, blindfolded, and noseplugged. This was, of course, to be expected. The menu handed to me with my ten meal tickets explained that Futurist cuisine seeks to separate the experiential art of food from its more prosaic nutritional and satiating elements. Moreover, I’d been here before, at banished? Productions’ suspiciously similar 2009 Fringe show, A Tactile Dinner. So what separates Tactile Dinner Car from its predecessor? In a word, the car — a retro-futuristic pseudo-vehicle out of which the food was (mostly) served, an apparent symptom of the city’s food truck fever. Also quite a bit of added chaos, as the tables were ditched in favor of a gather-round-and-shout-out-your-orders approach.

My meal began with an aperitif of a high-decibel heavy metal song that could only have been called “My Vagina” (coming from the stage next door, through no fault of the tacticians, but not entirely out of place), followed by a first course served via a violent pounce on the floor by one of my two doting (if mostly mute) servertrons, and a second injected directly into my mouth with a syringe by the other. (I won’t reveal which menu item is which, as that would kill the surprise, and the surprise is three-quarters of the fun. The other quarter? Watching the nose-scrunching squeamishness of some of the diners, and I suppose the food itself.) As you’re being subjected to cruel and unusual treatments, it’s hard to escape the sense that the show’s being aggressively avant-garde just for avant-garde’s sake. But it’s just as hard to escape having a good time in the process.

See it if: You’ve always thought you suffered from inadequate prelabial workouts.

Skip it if: You prefer a dinner that includes tables, chairs, and dinner.