Remaining Performances: Sunday, 7/13, 3pm Wednesday, 7/16, 6:30pm Saturday, 7/19, 9pm Saturday, 7/26, 5pm Sunday, 7/27, 4pm
They say: “Revenge… uses conversational storytelling as a vehicle for exploring 5 unique viewpoints on life and death. Ride along as we regale you with tales of war, procreation, chainsaws, telenovelas, and of course the Cat-Headed Baby. This program follows in the fine footsteps of last year’s smash, Chocolate Jesus.”
Glen’s take: The SpeakeasyDC folks know their marketing. “Washington’s premier storytelling organization” has two shows in Fringe this year, and one of them — the returning Chocolate Jesus at Chief Ike’s — already looks to be selling out all over again. But before there was word of mouth, there was that kickass title, which you can bet put more than a few curious asses in seats.
We may be looking at Jesus Redux here, if the crowd packed into the teensy Borderstan artist’s studio for Cat-Headed Baby is anything to go by. More than a few of my fellow fringegoers owned up to being drawn there by the name, and if the show doesn’t exactly deliver on its fanciful titular promise, it does supply a healthy dose of more prosaic — as in factual — pleasures.
Five performers, five true autobiographical tales, told well. No, not simply told — shaped. And that’s the key: as each story unfolds, you find yourself noting how well each storyteller directs the flow of the narrative, wrasslin’ it into submission with a gesture, callback, or well-timed pause. The particular subjects in question (in order: girlhood, war, boyhood, cancer, girlhood again, and birth control) don’t do the experience justice, because the performers aren’t interested in such abstractions — they just wanna tell you a story. Does the fact that these tales have been so carefully molded occasionally cause them to come off a bit … well, canned? Is the “my parents say crazy things in funny accents!” school of comedy represented? And do the performers, in the interest of investing their stories with “heart”, occasionally stray into the decidedly un-Fringey territory of Moral Uplift? Yes, yes and yes. But you’ll forgive ’em.
See it if: Even four years after his death, your heart still bears a Spalding Gray-shaped hole.
Skip it if: You prefer your Fringe fare more in the nihilist/deconstructionist/vivisectionist vein, thank you very much.