Welcome to Day 1 of Fringe, where every show looks great and you haven’t yet memorized the pre-show announcements! This is the first in a long series of posts between now and August 11, so keep checking back as we see more and more shows.
I don’t like to intentionally theme my Fringe viewing experience, but by chance, the two plays I saw tonight ended up being all about the ways that love seems like it won’t work out – until weirdly, it does.
DIRTY MESSY LOVE (which is printed in all caps, and sometimes also performed that way) is a two-person storytelling act about strange romances at the New Century Theatre. Les Kurkendaal, the show’s creator, tells about his discovery of his parents’ strange marital arrangements, while Allison Broeren tells the bizarre tale of a stalker from the 1950’s. Although Kurkendaal’s story is the personal one, Broeren’s performance has a deeper emotional core and a more nuanced sense of pace. Kurkendaal’s high energy, high-stakes delivery, though very engaging, sometimes lacks the control necessary for the high-tension moments and snappy punchlines that he has written into his text. An interesting choice of stories that would be stronger with just a few tweaks to the timing.
Many-time Fringe favorite Transatlantic Love Affair has set a high bar for itself with so many richly conceived and well executed company-created productions. These Old Shoes, performed at the Music Box Theatre, definitely lives up to its predecessors when it comes to its ensemble: the seven-person cast, who have all performed together before, looks comfortable both as individuals and as a unit. Using both vocal and physical changes, they transition smoothly from a group of elderly retirees to a set of furniture, creating a strong atmosphere with no other props except an electric guitar (Dustin Tessier) to help set the mood. I admit being slightly disappointed in the plot, which is the very sweet but predictable story of an older man’s reminiscences as he packs up his house to move to a retirement home. It is a lovely show, though, one which makes a lot out of its fairly modest themes.
Sophie, Liz, and Melanie will be posting their thoughts throughout Fringe (August 1-11). Be sure to check back as we update with more shows!