I was EXHAUSTED after last weekend...in four days I saw six plays and attended two concerts. While the concerts weren't really part of the schedule (one was Tim Minchin, the other was William Elliott Whitmore, and both were wonderful in different ways), they were still fun, but it was also brutally hot, with record-setting temperatures, and it left me flat. And work has kept me hoppin'.
But I promised myself a breakdown of what else I'd seen at the Fringe Festival, so here goes.
DC Film Alliance, was a lot of fun. It was the old game show resurrected with local celebs, including some chefs, a drag queen, and a former football player. The humor was ribald, and one of the chefs kept wanting to take off his pants. He never did, much to my disappointment.
Opera Alterna (a group I need to check out), it's a soap opera parody that's an actual freakin' opera. The singing was top-notch, and the plot included commercial breaks (for soap and floor wax), a sexy nurse, and an aria sung by a fellow in a hospital gown with his ass hanging out. In other words, perfection.
Victorian Lyric Opera Company, but it wasn't an opera or operetta. Rather, it was a straight play by W. S. Gilbert (of "& Sullivan" fame), an amusing farce about a man whose impending marriage is threatened by a relationship from his past. Wishing to his guardian fairy that it had never come about, he suddenly wakes to find his past has been altered...but so has his present, and not for the better. It's stuff that we're used to these days, but it seems it was a challenging concept for the 1880s, as the play did not do well back then. It has aged very well.
Ben Egerman's "The Beasts" was my least favorite. It's got a very intriguing premise that's muddled at first but becomes clearer as the show goes on...mankind has retreated underground, presumably after a nuclear war, and has existed in underground bunkers for generations. Now they're wondering whether it's safe to go out now, and worried about the animals that present threats to them. Meanwhile the animals are wondering what to do if and when the humans emerge. It's a one-man show (something I normally avoid) presented with puppets for the animals, and goes on and on but never really gets anywhere. But the folks around me loved it, so maybe it was just me and there was something I didn't get.
7 Sopranos was a delight. A program of songs from opera, operetta, musical theater, and traditional tunes, the singing was flawless and these ladies have an undeniable presence and chemistry. They work well together and have fun clowning and shouldering each other out of the way, and then switching gears and flirting with the audience (me, quite often). I want to see those gals again!
Sanctuary Theatre, I found it a bit of a mixed bag. It was a narrative of Poe's life, with readings, all done by actor Robert Michael Oliver. While it didn't have much new to say, it swing the focus from the usual Poe stuff to his more cosmic and mystical work, and at the very least avoided the usual one-man reading of "The Tell-Tale Heart," which I never want to experience again. The readings were very well-done, but for some reason it didn't grab me as much, and I can't help but wonder if it was because I was tired or there was too much noise from outside the venue. Still, it was at least different and a halfway refreshing take on Poe, so it deserves credit.
So, that's pretty much it. There were several shows I wanted to catch, but didn't, and others that were maybes. I had an informal rules of no one-man shows (broken) and no "feminist takes" on classics (kept); not that I'm anti-feminist but I've seen a few too many "feminist takes" on classic plays and stories that left even my strongly feminist friends rolling their eyes and checking their watches. I didn't do too much overtly gay-themed stuff this year, either; the gayest stuff was either one-man shows (avoided) or one play that had a ridiculous title ("Caught in Dante's Fifth: The Naked Truth of Kindred Spirits") and which was universally dismissed (at least, as far as I could see) as a pretentious mess, of interest only for the male nudity.
I did do something different; I picked up a ten-show pass, which saved me a bit a of money, and I'm wondering if I want to pick up a universal pass for next year. We'll see.
But I had fun this year, not only seeing shows but meeting new people and connecting with some of my theater-world friends. Yes, it seems I have a certain amount of popularity in the local theater community...it's always a pleasant surprise to find myself being popular, probably a holdover from my younger days of extreme unpopularity, and even as an adult having spells of pariahdom. But at least now I know where to go when I'm down...