For a crash course on what to expect from Fringe, you can’t do better than banished? productions’ mad avant-garde experience, Tactile Dinner Car. It’s a crazy sociological experiment playing by its own rules, smack dab in the middle of the Baldacchino Gypsy Tent.
Parts of the world have caught up with these ideas, first presented in Italian Futurist F.T. Marinetti’s 1932 book of culinary mayhem “La Cucina Futurista (The Futurist Cookbook),” but some have surpassed it.
Minibar this isn’t. Don’t go expecting amazing displays of molecular gastronomy, but you and your fellow “diners” will definitely be challenged and delighted by becoming part of the performance. I wouldn’t want to spoil the fun of discovery by describing anything in detail. You’ll just have to find out for yourself.
Served up by “chef” John Hibey and “servertron” Keira Hart, their complete zany dedication pulls you in quickly as you gather round the dinner car (and yes, it’s a car, polished gleaming white). You can reserve slots during performance times in fifteen minute increments, so you’ll easily be able to fit in a few “dishes” during your Fringing. Most of the items focus more on the theater of playful presentation than of taste, though most strive to engage as many of the five senses as possible. Out of the four that I tried, two were actually quite deliciously provocative in taste. All tickled my surrealism bone.
Not only are you experiencing strangely delightful tidbits of food, expect to be part of the performance. The dinner car’s location in the center of the tent puts the audience on display as Hibey and Hart’s antics draw the attention of nearby bar-goers – the anarchic weaving of actors, audience and others as order after order is taken and served becomes a merry-go-round of sensory overload.
It really does become a sociological experiment as well – watch as your fellow diners grapple with conflicting emotions about what they are eating, and whether they are comfortable following the actors’ lead into surreal dialogue.
It might just be the best Fringe date ever – you’ll know within minutes if your potential mate is an adventurous keeper or a squeamish clinger by their reaction to such dishes as Anosmia Stix or The Sushi Injecture. Just let go of preconceptions and ego, and enjoy!
Tactile Dinner Car has 17 more servings at the Baldacchino Tent, 607 New York Ave NW, Washington, DC.
Jenn gives this our top rating, making it a Pick of the Fringe.