If the purpose of Fringe is to directly connect art to people and to find the sublime things that slip through the cracks of the establishment, Wombat Drool may just be the quintessential Fringe show. It’s personal, quirky, produced with nary but one actor, one slideshow, and a couple stuffed animals, and – most significantly – the debut show of David S. Kessler, Fringegoer extraordinaire.
Melded from Kessler’s life as a zookeeper at the National Zoo, his “fevered imagination,” the guiding hand of dramaturg Scott Sedar, and the engaged spirit of the audience packed into the triangular upstairs space at The Argonaut, Wombat Drool is as much about spending time swimming around together in that happy stew as it is about any specific plot. Kessler plays “K,” a zookeeper like himself in many ways but not like him in others (e.g. K has a daughter while Kessler has a son) who has one mission: to convince us, and the world, to appreciate the lowly wombat.
But it’s about more than the wombat. It’s about what the wombat represents, and what the love of the wombat represents, and what the sharing of the love of the wombat represents. “Wombat is just wombat,” says Kessler emphatically, positively broiling with sincere appreciation for the animal.
Written and performed by David S. Kessler
Directed by Jane Beard
Details and tickets
“If you look at anything carefully enough, it’s fascinating,” he says in the middle of one of his digressions on biology or his family life or zookeeper politics, and that quote may as well be the motto for Capital Fringe. Using animals as an excuse to dispense wisdom, or the telling of his character’s life story as an excuse to talk about taxonomy and mammalogy (“good science is good art,” he reminds us), or the chance to produce at Fringe as an excuse to extend his and our community, Kessler steps up, let us in, and then lets us go back out into the world a bit richer.