Friday, September 3, 2010

NY International Fringe Festival, 2010

New York International Fringe Festival, August 2010

I managed to get to three offerings in this year's Fringe, Rites of Privacy, 3boys,  and Open Heart.

True to Fringe form, they were all very different, both in premise and quality.

Rites of Privacy, at the Here Arts Center, August 28, 2010

Written and performed by David Rhodes, this one-act series of confessions patches together a range of tales, personal to Mr. Rhodes and a number of seemingly created characters.  One isn't sure if the various tales are people Mr. Rhodes knew or not.  Among them are a Jew who escaped the Holocaust, a southern matron who allows her abusive husband to die and a particularly upsetting doctor who performs an abortion on herself.  Mr. Rhodes slides into each character easily enough and masters sufficient mannerisms to keep them from running together, but his own confession at the end didn't feel particularly revelatory.  I find his title misleading in that there were no tales of secret habits or practices.  All were tales of past events - - confessions.

Director Charles Loffredo keeps the pace up, but seems as unsure of the point as I was.  Greg Emetaz' projections add a bit of cinematic atmosphere, but it's not enough to carry the show.

3boys, at the 4th Street Theatre, August 28, 2010

I didn't really realize that this show was about dogs I arrived to find two of the actors tumbling about the stage like puppies.  Or at least one was tumbling about.  The other was more like a bored babysitter.  Zip (Patrick Horn) is the newest addition to the household, joining Lee (Alex Engquist and Comet (Matt Brown).  Who knew that creatures of the emotional equivalent of a 4 year old knew such worry?  Comet is sad and angry though I was never really clear as to why.  Maybe it was having been put out for stud.  Lee wants Comet to be happy again.  Zip just wants to play with the ball.

Becca Schollberg's script plumbs the depths of canine angst, going well beyond any anthropomorphizing ever attempted by Disney.  These are woeful pups.  Mr. Engquist comes off the strongest of the three, but it's a fairly low threshold.  Director Madeleine Rose M. Parsigan pulls emotion from the three on occasion, but it comes across like an acting exercise a la Viola Spolin.

Open Heart at LAMAMA, August 29, 2010

Crediting Anna Deveare Smith, playwright Joe Salvatore has continued his work in "the verbatim interview theatre process" with Open Heart, an exploration of monogamy among gay male couples.  This verbatim process, similar to the work of Moises Kaufman in The Laramie Project, and Doug Wright in I Am My Own Wife, pulls the text directly from recorded interviews.  The stories from these interviews get woven into an interesting picture of how gay men from small towns and big cities deal with the issue of monogamy in a committed relationship.  With all the political furor surrounding same sex marriage of late, Mr. Salvatore manages to present multiple perspectives without showing favor for any one.

Mr. Salvatore directs his work and has assembled quite the capable cast of five to create  the fifteen men sharing their views and experiences, including Chris Bresky, Stephen Donovan, Daryl Embry, Nick Lewis and Karl O'Brian Williams.  Mr. Bresky was excellent, moving smoothly from a 50ish man from Queens to a stammering Irishman.  Pace was brisk and the staging very clever, making excellent use of Blake McCarty's projections.

Of the three plays above, Open Heart was the one to have seen.  Mr. Salvatore would do well to contact David Drake about producing a run in Provincetown next summer.

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