New York Magazine

Arts

theater
Postcards from the Fringe

The New York International Fringe Festival is back, with more than 1,000 performances, hundreds of puppets, a gaggle of performance artists, and a motley range of high-concept yet lowbrow musicals, each emboldened by the Broadway success of Fringe alumnus Urinetown. Veterans of Fringes past should should expect more bold company names (Faggot Force, Crafty Beavers Productions), more shameless erotic pandering (The Boob Movie), and some dubious post-9/11 pondering. Check back daily for the latest reviews.

• When: August 9th through August 25th
• Tickets and schedules:
Check www.fringenyc.com or call 212-420-887. Tickets are $12; all outdoor performances are free.


Updated August 23
Him & Her
G3 Productions
Don't be fooled by the ampersand. Him & Her is not one but actually two separate musicals.

Updated August 22
Perfect
Cino Theater
Perfection is elusive if not impossible when shows can visit their performance space only once before their debut, as is often the case at Fringe.

Death of Frank
Sum of Us Theatre Company
Stephen Belber wants everyone to know that he wrote Death of Frank in 1997, before he wrote Tape, before The Laramie Project, before fame could allow him to be ashamed of his early work.

Before the Fire
Johnny Belle Productions
Sadly, Before the Fire suffers from a problem it cannot control: a cramped, non-air-conditioned venue.

Laura McKenzie Feels Like Makin' Love
Micelings Productions
There is no lovemaking in Laura McKenzie's one-woman show, but people who come on account of the saucy title will not be disappointed-McKenzie's talent, energy, and comic sensibility make for a fun night of theater.

Updated August 20
Binoculars
Untimely Ripped Entertainment
If Springsteen's The Rising brought hope of a post-9/11 culture that has more to offer than Alan Jackson songs, this decidedly amateurish deconstruction of our paranoia just killed it.

We're From the Fifties
Liberal fifties rockers the Extra-Ordinaries were obliterated when the plane containing Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper crashed on them.

Matt & Ben
Chase Murray Brawl
If any show this year embodies the spirit of Fringe, it's this giddily inspired comedy starring ballsy girls (one of them Indian) as Matt Damon and Ben Affleck on the fateful evening when they're living off Pringles and Good Will Hunting literally falls in their laps.

The Joys of Sex
Lemonade Productions
Boasting a seasoned cast from Rent and Bat Boy and clever lyrics like "Thrill your fella / Spread him with Nutella" from lyricist Melissa Levis (Wendy Wasserstein's niece), this is the one Fringe musical that is likely to draw a matinee crowd.

Resa Fantastiskt Mystisk
Burglars of Hamm and the Ghost Road Company
If you buy director Todd Merrill's impassioned curtain speech, nineteenth-century Swedish playwright Lars Mattsun (Whether Wind Wither You and The Toothless Otter) was the real genius behind the work of "the great corrupter," August Strindberg.

Still
Live Bait Theater and Her Kind Productions
It's a heart-wrenching story-at a routine check-up months into her first pregnancy, Susan McLaughlin Karp learns that the daughter inside her is dead.

Project C: Is This a Dream?
The Collection Agency
It's quite uncommon for someone to say a Fringe show should be longer, but we're going to suggest just that.

Beat: A Play on Words Based on the life and Writings of Allen Ginsberg and the Beat Generation
Jug o' Wine Productions and S.D. Wagner
Watch out, parents: With his intelligent historical play, Kelly Groves is making Allen Ginsberg appealing and accessible to yet another generation.

Starfuckers!
Daniel J. Kells Productions
John Kuntz is annoying, not to mention disgusting, disturbing, and repulsive. But he's also hilarious.

Updated August 16
Jump
Delicious Theater Group
A man takes a suicidal leap off a bridge and falls through the roof of Jane's house while she's preparing breakfast. ("It was a pretty strange morning," Jane tells the newspaper.)

Updated August 14
Radio Radio
Old School Theater Company
Two Golden Age radio plays are freed from their audio-only captivity. While it's a decent idea, both were better off before.

Updated August 13
Five Frozen Embryos and The Sleepers
Singularity
Two accomplished playwrights team up to give audiences two splendid one-acts. The first, by David Greenspan, looks at female body rights.

I Kissed Dash Riprock!
Planet Girl
It's the dream you always wished would come true: A movie star falls in love with you, and on top of being gorgeous on-screen, he's smart, funny, and chivalrous.

Second Amendment Club
WAVE Productions
The program warns you: this performance contains material that some may find objectionable, and Martin, the suburban teenager in Morris's thought-provoking play about the anger that motivates school violence, is racist, sexist, and full of hate.

It's Not My Fault, It Was on Fire When I Got There
The Bird Circuit
A confusing not-really-there plot, so-so acting and continuous technical difficulties make this two-person, 23-character show a displeasing theatrical experience.

The Last Nickel
Lori Brigantino and Living Room Arts
This spare, surprising portrait of sisterhood in tragedy may at first seem better suited for Oprah than for Fringe, but the emotional revelations it serves up are biting and raw.

Naked Girls Drinking!
Bon Bock Productions
Sadly, there's no nudity and a whole lot of dumb, drunken men in this unsatisfying comedic riff on downtown theater.

Out to Lunch: Kill the Campers
BrokenArm Productions
The kind of torturous, pointless venture in absurdity that makes one wish Samuel Beckett had never been born, Out to Lunch trudges through a brunch from hell.

Pick-Up 6
Theater et al/Sage Entertainment
They're advertised as "short plays for summer's short attention span," but Pick-Up 6's one-acts aren't short enough.

6 Story Building
The Brain Collection
This collection of seven one-acts is like a roller coaster--it starts out slow, maybe even dull, but then it builds and builds, and by the end, it's a good ride.


Updated August 5

The Bizarro Bologna Show
Bizarro Productions
Dan Piraro, creator of the comic strip "Bizarro," emerges from the funny pages to speak honestly about his life. Since this is Fringe, he will do so with puppets.

Death of Frank
Sum of Us
Farmers in love: The salt of the earth is shaken in the latest drama by the busy Stephen Belber (Tape, The Laramie Project).

Man of Infinite Desire
4Panel Productions
In Christina Nicosia's solo drama, translated and mangled by Web-based language software, an absent-minded Beelzebub lectures about alchemy and Faust.

Con$umer Behavior
Co-dependent Productions
An aspiring Urinetown and modern Ballad of Reading Gaol: Two jingle-writing admen get trapped in an evil "consumer test mall" and sing! Sing! Sing!

Sajjil (Record)
Nibras
The year-old troupe, comprising Arab-American stage veterans, riffs on Arab life in the U.S. since the September 11 attacks.

Liz Estrada
Dramatic Women
You guessed it: a modern adaptation of the Aristophanes comedy. This time it's 2045, the world is about to end (again), and only an abstinent glam-rocker can save us all.

Men Do Not Go to War Over Women
act tc
Letting Helen of Troy off the hook, Gina Landor's adaptation of an Andrew Rissik radioplay made London's The Guardian critic rave that the script "makes you catch your breath."


More Theater