I'm setting up this page to list my notes of what's hot and not, as well as links to reviews, buzz, etc. So far, I've seen ten shows and hope to get many more in soon. The plays are grouped together by different categories (Shows I've seen, shows I hope to see, other reviews and plays that sold out early). Within each category, I am sorting them roughly by how interested I am in them. I've been trying to update this page regularly as new reviews come out, but this is far from an authoritative list of all the reviews. If you have notes or comments, please let me know.
Updated 8/17 1 PM
By far, the best performance of the New York Fringe Festival so far has been When Katherine Met Kimleigh, or My Dad's T-O-T-A-L-L-Y Crazier Than Your Dad. The performance was not listed in the official schedule but is the epitome of what FringeNYC is really about. I had the privilege of having a bit part in the beginning of the performance and watching the show as a whole.
Setting: Entrance Way to Venue #1 Dixon Place
Time: Saturday afternoon, soon after Katherine finished her show, My Dad's Crazier Than Your Dad: A Scientific Inquiry.
Synopsis: Two online drama critics are comparing notes after watching Katherine's show. While it is still early in the second day of the festival, this is the fourth show that Aldon Hynes, Internet Raconteur for the Orient Lodge Theatre Review has attended. For Markus Paminger, who reviewed Katherine's show on Theatre is Easy, it was his second show of the festival. The two have different approaches to viewing performances and different writing styles.
Enter Kimleigh Smith, star of T-O-T-A-L-L-Y!. She is in her cheerleading outfit after having just performed at the Fringe Preview. Her show is scheduled to open Wednesday evening at Dixon Place and she is stopping by check out the venue. The discussion moves to a comparison of different fringe festivals. Aldon has been going to Fringe Festivals since attending the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1983. This is Kimleigh's first year of festivals. She has already attended several and has her sights on Edinburgh.
Markus leaves and Katherine and her director enter. What ensues is a lively improv between two great actresses talking about their shows, festivals and the connections they have made along the way, such as a year earlier when Kimleigh and Katherine's director Nell Balaban randomly met on an F train. A passion for their craft, for connecting with one another and connecting with their audiences is discussed.
As the actresses part, they consider collaborating at some point in the future, seemingly unaware of the powerful performance they have just put on.
While this is a highly self-referential work still in progress, we can only hope that Kimleigh and Katherine do follow through with their plans for a great show, perhaps at FringeNYC 2011. Until then, your best option is to try and get a chance to see Katherine and Kimleigh in their individual shows this year.
My second day at FringeNYC started off with My Dad's Crazier Than Your Dad: A Scientific Inquiry. I suspected that my daughters might be skeptical of Katharine Heller's hypothesis and I thought this would be a fun show to see. I sent emails to my two older daughters but they couldn't join me for the show. To a certain extent, like Katherine's dad, I'm a bit competitive, and I savor the craziness that I bring to my family.
Early on in the show, Katherine talks about going to folk music festivals as a kid. Yeah, I can compete pretty well in that category. She spoke about her parent's divorce. Been there, done that. But then the show started getting weirder. My ex-wife and I sent lots of time in mediation trying to find a way that we could both be as involved as possible in our daughter's lives. We may have different ideas about acceptable forms of craziness and had reached the conclusion that our styles of madness were incompatible, but we both held on to our belief in each of us providing the best of our eccentricities to our children.
Katherine's dad seems to have missed that. Instead, he didn't stick around to pick up the kids if they were late, and then there's the story about the dead rat in the sick bed on Block Island. I won't go into the details. You need to go see the show yourself.
I just about didn't go. The description in the Fringe program said:
Think your dad's bizarre? Sit in on an interactive, multimedia experiment that dissects the relationship between a diet-guru-turned-Disney-fanatic and his bewildered family. You'll laugh, and cringe, as Katharine attempts to prove her hypothesis.
It didn't sound as interesting as it turned out to be. This 'diet-guru-turned-Disney-fanatic' lacked verisimilitude. Katherine's comparison between Disney and strip joints was funny, well delivered, yet perhaps too kind to Disney. The idea of Katherine's dad and his new wife wearing matching clothes seemed a little strange. The list of books by Katherine's Dad needed verification, as did his website. I won't even go into the Rosie O'Donnell show.
Okay, reluctantly, I will grant that Katherine's dad is stranger than my daughter's dad. It seems like we have different views of what it means to be a good father. Yet through all of his eccentricities, Katherine's dad has given her something very important. A lot of great material to use for her shows, and she does a great job of it.
She ends up with a monologue that reminds me of the great scene Woody Allen's Annie Hall as he tries to make sense of the messed up relationship he had been in
Well, I guess that's pretty much now how I feel about relationships; y'know, they're totally irrational, and crazy, and absurd, and... but, uh, I guess we keep goin' through it because, uh, most of us... need the eggs.
As final note, Katherine does look really sexy in her lab coat, but my wife knows that I've always had a weakness for smart, witty, self-possessed women in lab coats.
Art is created within contexts. These words provide a framework to discuss my first day of FringeNYC. The context isn’t always the most interesting part, but it is important. Over the past seventeen hours, I’ve spent about two hours walking in New York from one theatre to the next, three hours on trains to and from New York, four hours watching plays, and five hours sleeping,
Eternity in an Hour
The first play I attended was Eternity in an Hour. If I wanted to be snide I could say it only seemed like an eternity. When I moved to New York thirty years ago after dropping out of college, I arrived with hopes of making a living as a writer. The only living I’ve really made by my writing has been writing computer programs. Poetry, to me, is the queen of the literary arts, and William Blake was one of the masters. When my eldest daughters were young, I often read William Blake to them at bedtime.
Plays about poets have always had a special attraction to me, so I was excited to see this play. I’ve seen such plays about Wilfred Owens, Edna St. Vincent Millay, H.D., and various Scottish poets at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and I looked forward to what this play had to offer.
@TheLostTheatre @LTCMargarita @bullettrun @personalwar @newexroom @revbillandbetty @MISSKIMTHEPLAY @commandopj @PicIncomplete @marydimino
Over the past several days, I’ve been reading through more of the descriptions of plays that will be part of the FringeNYC as I try to determine which plays I will go to when. In doing so, I’ve noted the twitter pages for several of these plays.
@TheLostTheatre is high on my list and I’m planning on being at their opening night, and perhaps their party afterwards.
@LTCMargarita is another one of the top shows on my list. If I have the energy on Saturday evening after @TheLostTheatre pary after and several other shows on Friday and Saturday, I’ll try to make it.
@bullettrun has been doing some good tweeting about their upcoming show which is another one high on my list. I just haven’t figured out when they fit in my schedule.
Also in that category is @personalwar. After I catch my breath from the first round of plays, I hope to figure out when I can catch @bulletrun and @personalwar.
@newexroom wasn’t even on my radar since they are only around during the second week of the festival when I won’t be around. However, @TheLostTheatre mentioned them, and they are worth looking into.
@revbillandbetty @MISSKIMTHEPLAY @commandopj @PicIncomplete and @marydimino round out the list of plays that I’ve followed with my fringenyc list.
Check out all of these as a chance to get a good feel for some of what will be happening at FringeNYC over the next two weeks.