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Tape

The Clinic, 1006 Sixth St, NW.

Remaining Performances: Saturday, July 17 at 9:30 p.m. Friday, July 22 at 6:00 p.m. Saturday, July 25 at 4:15 p.m.

They say: “Media can influence ideas, opinions, and perceptions. A plan is conceived to revisit the past. Someone understands the power of pressing record; others learn playback can be a memory distorted.”

Sheffy’s take: Truth can be a slippery thing… unless it’s caught on tape (just ask Rod Blagojevich, or George Allen, or Bill Clinton, or Paris Hilton).  But who benefits when painful, long-buried truths are exhumed?  In this tight one act (run-time shaved to a lean 60 minutes), characters must come to grips with confronting an old truth and how they dealt with it.  Ten years out of high school, Vince corners his old buddy Jon and former girlfriend Amy in a room (at the Motel 6) and forces them to rehash the fateful event that changed their relationships and their lives.  Without spoiling it too much, would it surprise you that we are talking about sex, violence, jealousy, betrayal, and revenge?

Piercing drama can be hard to pull off at Fringe venues, particularly overheated ones where action is staged on the motel, uh, bedroll (springing for a prop bed would have made it easier to see for those of us not sitting in the front row).  The first ten shaky minutes made me worry that I was in for a heavy dose of college theater with contrived dialogue and stereotyped roles: Vince (Brendan Sokler) “the underachiever” snorts coke in his boxers, while “idealist” Jon (Tyler Herman) harangues him.  However, the plot grabbed hold and wouldn’t let go after some incriminating admissions flip the power dynamic.  Enter Carly Stocking’s stunning and convincing Amy and all of a sudden their situation gets uncomfortably awkward.  Tape was turned into an excellent film in 2001 starring Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman (in her only good dramatic movie role) yet I thought at the time that the psychological passion would be more palpable on the stage.  The script is very strong and the Fringe actors do an admirable job executing it.

See it if: You CAN handle the truth.

Skip it if:It pains you to see three perfectly good (real) beers opened on stage and then untouched by the so-called alcoholic. If you’re not gonna drink that…