#fringenyc Heron and Crane, William and Aldon, Fiona and Kimleigh

Wednesday, I headed into New York to see a couple more FringeNYC plays, the way I have a few other days during the festival, with one difference. My eight year old daughter, Fiona, has been fascinated by the idea that going to see plays and write about them could be a job. She's had her internet radio show for over two years and is thinking about adding play reviews to her lineup of interviews with politicians, musicians, friends and family.

The train from Milford, CT takes about an hour and a half. We started the train ride talking about the day. Fiona read for a little bit, and then got bored. I decided a good game to play would be looking at the different people on the train and making up stories about them. Are they going to New York to go shopping? See a play? Attend a meeting? Fiona really got into this game, and before we knew it, we were approaching Grand Central Terminal. We did not see any men in gabardine suits.

Heron and Crane

The first play we saw was Heron and Crane. This is a FringeJR show. The program said it was aimed at an 8-10 year old audience, but Fiona was one of the older kids there. They nearly filled up the house with about a fifty-fifty mix of adults and kids.

It was a highly interactive play with Jude Hickey, starring as Heron, no, as Crane, and Lisa del Rosario, who really did star as Heron. Jude bounced around the stage with high energy encouraging kids to make sounds of the swamp and seemingly mixing up lines which Lisa then corrected.

Fiona commented that Jude seemed really nervous. Later, I asked her if she thought the actor was nervous or the character seemed nervous. She quickly let me know that she thought the character was nervous, but that some of the younger kids might not understand the difference.

At some point I will talk with her about the willing suspension of disbelief. This kids show was good enough so that even some parents appeared willing to suspend disbelief and enter the swamp where Heron and Crane learned about making friends.

After the show there was a brief chance to talk with the actors. I asked Kirk German, the playwright and co-director if I could do a quick interview with Fiona on the stage while they were striking the set. They were in a rush, since soon the stage would be transformed into the setting for a different play. Yet there was a little time to record Fiona's observations.

Unfortunately, the noise inside the theatre as well as some internet connection problems made the recording useless. I tried again outside without much better luck. We did get into a few discussions about good shows to see with kids as well as about kids having their own internet radio shows.

Swaha: Rituals of Union

One play I recommended was Swaha: Rituals of Union. I had seen this show on Sunday. It is a beautiful dance production although at an hour and ten minutes, younger kids might get distracted after a while. As I watched Swaha, I thought about how wonderful it is when rituals and religious beliefs create art instead of war.

However, Fiona was very hungry, so we gave up on recording an insta-review, finished our discussions and headed off for a burger.

After lunch we walked to Washington Square Park and then to Fringe Central. As I headed off to the bathroom, Fiona found Kirk and entered into a lively discussion with him. We talked the props used in Heron and Crane. If you see the show, keep an eye on the suitcase that Crane carries as well as the magazine he reads. It is attention to small details like this that add to a show. We talked about other shows. Uba Dance sounds promising, especially for younger aspiring critics. I spoke about The Battle of Spanktown, which is a wonderful whimsical play well suited for kids, providing the adult humor goes over their heads.

William and the Tradesmen

Our next stop was La Mama where we were to see William and the Tradesmen. We arrived early to find Eli James sitting outside warming up.

This play was panned by Backstage a little over a year ago and the house was nearly empty. Fiona was the only kid there.

This is not a play that most parents would want to bring most kids to. However, Fiona, with her Kiss T-shirt and knee high black leather boots managed to fit in. There were plenty of adult themes that fortunately went right over Fiona's head. There was a reference to iCarly, which Fiona appreciated, and the contrast of the struggling punk rocker to the Disney portrayals of musicians was striking, and I believe very important.

Yes, there was a bit of tedium listening to a struggling artist try to make it. The Fringe is full of struggling artists trying to make it. In fact, I had just gotten a text message about a writing job I had bid on that fell through right before the show. I had enough of my own struggles going on. I didn't really want to deal with William's.

Yet William and the Tradesmen is an enjoyable show and Fiona enjoyed it as much as I did. It is a play that should appeal to a younger audience that is trying to make sense of the art, music, and theatre scene. However, the adult themes will prevent many parents from taking their kids to see it, so the best audience might be older kids sneaking out to see a play they shouldn't see.

However, this gives me an idea for an interesting mashup. It would be great to see a contrast between the life of William and that of Hannah Montana. A PG-13 version of this could be a great FringeHigh hit.

With two plays under our belts and Fiona getting a bit tired, it was time to head home. I would have loved to stick around and see Kimleigh in T-O-T-A-L-L-Y!. Kimleigh is a powerful woman and seems like the perfect contrast or perhaps antidote to Eli James' play.

It was a different day at the Fringe for me, but it was a wonderful day and I hope people get out and seem some shows, especially shows that stretch their viewing experiences.

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