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The Bedroom at Fort Fringe
Just the one: Wednesday, July 15 at 8:00 p.m.
They Say: “The fifth century meets the twenty-first when Lance-Corporal Pellinore is shipped off to Baghdad. It’s Arthur’s story…as you’ve never heard it before.”
Glen’s Take: Well, that doesn’t really cover it. No, if you want to know what to expect, there’s a few lines from the program that’ll do the job better.
I’m not talking the extensive bibliographic exegesis of source texts, or the quotes from Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Sir Thomas Malory and Dennis (“You can’t expect to weild supreme executive power just ’cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!”) the Peasant.
No, it’s this bit, from the cover: “The Rise of General Arthur, an original presentation of stories from a theatrical work-in-progress by phillip andrew bennett low”.
Got that? Here’s the take-home: 1. Stories. 2. Work-in-Progress. (And okay, 3. Name in lowercase. Pretension threat level: orange.)
What Low is up to here is a staged reading of his original prose poem. It’s never anything less than interesting, but neither is it theater — not quite, not yet. Theatricality, yes: There’s some props, and Low does step away from the reading stand now and again to give particular scenes some added dimension.
He’s also brought some serious scholarship to bear on this Gulf War iteration of the Arthur myth. (Technically the Pellinore myth, I suppose, as Arthur and Merlin don’t really show up for a while.) Maybe you’ll feel, as I did, the dead weight of all that scholarship pressing down on the evening, but you likely won’t mind, as Low has a hell of an ear for language. Those are some downright beautiful sentences he’s uttering up there, and if they sound too written, and inextricably bound to those pages he’s turning so carefully, well, big deal: the guy gives good aural.
He seems to know this, and can’t help a bit of preciousness from leaking in to his delivery — he clearly loves this work, these words. Once he begins to love them enough to stop reading them and start really performing them, I daresay we’ll love them too.
See it if: The whole go-for-broke, slapped-together nature of Fringe has begun to pall, and you’re in the mood for something that has clearly been wrought — carefully, meticulously (and, yeah, okay, a little over-) wrought.
Skip it if: You used to chafe at storytime.