So have you seen this in a Fringe show? The protagonist, a gay man (you know this because the opening song is “Everyone I Know is Gay”), after the obligatory “Men are Pigs” song (presumptively: heterosexual men are pigs, of whatever orientation), is reciting Macbeth without vowels in his mother’s womb.
Finally, he is born (“Get out of my vagina!” his mother screams) and commences on his gay life, losing his gay virginity to a man who looks suspiciously like the playwright, on the middle of the stage.
Thereafter, everyone strips to his underwear and sings and dances, and the poor actor is paid roughly the cost of a Metro ticket to the theater, minus the Fringe festival’s take.
Well, neither have I – at least not until last night, when I saw Mario Baldessari and Ethan Slater’s The Every Fringe Show You Want to See in One Fringe Show Fringe Show. The DC Fringe Festival, now in its seventh year, has reached the stage to which all institutions aspire – it can be parodied. Some of the parody is spot-on. (“Why don’t they turn on the fucking air conditioning?” screams the dyspeptic stage manager [Liz Dutton]. “It is on,” the playwright [Baldessari] replies, as we swelter in the air-conditioned heat of the Fort Fringe Bedroom.) Some of the material merely parodies what we imagine a Fringe Festival to be (the DC Fringe Festival is, on the whole, quite tame and subdued) but it is all very funny, in a satisfyingly sick way.
The setup is that Davey (Joshua Dick, who also directs), an earnest young actor seeking employment, falls into a largely-improvised play created by Reese (Baldessari), an outrageous bully with an anal fixation. (“You can’t spell ‘harassment’ without the ‘ass,’” he points out.) Reese immediately drafts Davey, a tall, handsome man, to play Reese (who looks, um, a lot like Mario Baldessari) in a play about Reese. He puts Davey in the hands of Lydia [Dutton], a brutalist whose body is festooned with bandages and whose favorite sport is home surgery a la Lorena Bobbitt. They then do forty minutes or so of nonsense, which in addition to the foregoing includes sock puppets and chickens which appear to have Tourette’s Syndrome.
This is all very amusing and extraordinarily well performed. (Although Reese’s play is improvised, Baldessari and Slater’s is obviously quite polished). Slater’s music is catchy and hummable, and Baldessari’s lyrics surprise as they land. Dick, Dutton and Baldessari are better known as actors than as singers, but their choral numbers are beautiful, and their sweaty dances are terrific.
Go see The Every Fringe Show You Want to See In One Fringe Show Fringe Show. But even though it promises to give you the effect of seeing one hundred shows for the price of one show, go see some more anyway.
You have 5 chances to see Every Fringe Show … thru July 29, 2012 at The Bedroom at Fort Fringe610 L St NW, Washington, DC.
Details and tickets
Tim rates this 5 out of 5, making it a Pick of the Fringe!