A Biased Guide to Capital Fringe 2013

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Hi! I’m Brett, and I’m once again (again) writing an amateur, unofficial, one-man’s-opinion guide to the shows at this year’s Capital Fringe Festival. So that’s “a” guide as in “one dude’s guide, not THE Guide.”

This page is divided into two main sections. First, some general advice. Second, a categorization of every Fringe show – alphabetically and then by type.

Some things this guide does NOT do: repeat most of the information you can find and search better on the Capital Fringe show sorter itself or on the individual artists’ homepages. This guide is intended to help an indecisive or overwhelmed Fringegoer wade through the 129 shows available and make their selections.

GENERAL ADVICE

The number one piece of advice for enjoying Fringe is to treat the whole event like a smorgasbord of possibilities. If you’re coming with the idea that there are only going to be a couple “good” shows and that your job is to find them, you’re doing it wrong. If your approach is more “I could see anything, so how do I even pick at all?” that’s more like it. Even the hot mess shows, that you would never enjoy on their own, take on a certain awesome energy when part of the Fringe.

You’re probably best off picking a certain number of shows you can afford to see (prices can add up) and then filling that roster.

If you’re new to Fringe, you need to buy a $7 button as your general admission, and then $17 individual tickets to each show you want to see. (Like paying to get in the gate at a carnival and then, once inside, buying individual tickets to each ride.) Or, buy a pass, which gets you a certain number of tickets plus a button at an overall cost less than the individual price (the savings are listed here).

If you’re seeing only one or two shows, save yourself two bucks and buy your Fringe button now, as it’s discounted to $5 until July 10. If you’re seeing three shows or more, buy a pass; a 4-ticket pass is only $4 more than three individual tickets plus button.

If you buy a larger pass, do yourself a favor and keep a couple of your ticket slots open. Wait and listen for what shows come out of nowhere to start selling out, and then try and jump on those. Or wait and see which shows are getting good reviews but aren’t selling, and do them and yourself a favor and catch those hidden gems. You can even just go down to Fringe and ask the ticket counter attendant or a random passerby which shows that day you should see.

Drink lots of water and bring a fan.

CATEGORIES
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Below, every single Fringe show is categorized based upon how likely I think the show will be good.  It’s based on my prior knowledge of the artists and my interpretation of the available press materials – so: biased. If you’re looking at this and wondering why you should even consider my opinion, then I’ll give you some cred: I’ve been a reviewer for City Paper and DCist, and am reviewing with City Paper again this year; and I’ve been working in the local theatre community for years and know some of the people behind these shows. I’ve also seen over a hundred Fringe shows myself (131, to be exact, of which I’ve reviewed near three dozen) and been involved in the production of six.

Each show is placed into one “Guarantee of Quality” category, based mostly on “who” is putting it on.

RINGER shows are either already-great shows that are returning or companies with a proven track record for Fringe theatre, doing a new show that’s definitely in their wheelhouse. Essentially a total guarantee of quailty. jump to list
ESTABLISHED is for shows that have a specific, established team behind it that has a great record, but 1) is trying something too different from past Fringe success to be certain for “Ringer” designation, 2) has a middling record in the past, or 3) doesn’t have enough of a record for Fringe-y productions specifically.  Fringe is a particular kind of theatre festival, so even a great company can put on a show that doesn’t quite work at Fringe. jump to list
PROMISING is for shows that appear to have talented people behind them, but not an established team. They also probably have a uniquely intriguing or standout concept. jump to list
UNKNOWN is what the word means. Nothing in Fringe looks “bad” from the get-go, because if any wacky idea can be pulled off, it can be done at the Fringe. So the “worst” I can say ahead of time is “I don’t know.” jump to list

Additionally, there is a *special designation* that only some shows get, based on “what” is being put on.

FRINGEARRIFIC! These are shows that scream “Fringe!” In a field filled with offbeat and strange concepts, these go beyond the pale to jump a very high bar of oddball fantasticality. In a way, these sound so strange, it doesn’t matter if they “pull it off” because the spectacle alone would be worth the price of admission.  This category is thus independent of the “Guarantee of Quality” categorization. jump to list

Any show with an asterisk * on it is one that has a friend or colleague of mine working on it, to be clear about anywhere I might be biased.

Below, a list of every show alphabetically, with the categories I sorted it into next to it.
After the alphabetical list is a list by category, with explanations of why I sorted that show there.  (“Unknown” shows don’t need explanation, I hope; it simply means I could not glean enough information from the artists involved or the press materials to make any judgment.)
Plus – bonus listings groups of productions that happen to fit together.

Each show is listed with the title of show (linked to the show’s page on the Fringe site, with their ticket purchasing links within), the name of the producing company/artist, and the genre categories from the Fringe site.

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ALPHABETICAL LIST
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1814! The War of 1812 Rock Opera – Rock 1814 Productions – musical theatre & opera, variety – ESTABLISHED
21 King – True Wit Productions – drama – PROMISING
43 and a 1/2: The Greatest Deaths of Shakespeare’s Tragedies – Nu Sass Productions* – comedy, variety – ESTABLISHED
A Commedia Romeo and Juliet – Faction of Fools* – comedy, romance – RINGER
A Day in the Life of Miss Hiccup – Shoshinz – comedy, clowning – RINGER
& Afterwards – Kevin Boggs – comedy, storytelling – ESTABLISHED
A Guide to Dancing Naked – Brynn Tucker – dance & physical theatre, solo performance- PROMISING
A Killing Game – dog & pony dc* – comedy, improv – RINGER FRINGEARRIFIC!
Almost Together – Mary Leaphart – musical theatre & opera, solo performance – PROMISING
Apotheosis – Avalanche Theatre Company* – drama, variety – ESTABLISHED
Apples & Oranges – MO2 Productions – comedy, romance – UNKNOWN
Arlington National Cemetery: My Forever Home – Ellouise Schoettler – drama, solo performance – ESTABLISHED
Bayou Blues – Shaina Lynn – drama, solo performance – UNKNOWN
Bedroom Mirrors – Fortune Cookie Collective – drama, romance – UNKNOWN
BenchMARKS – Project E/C – drama, storytelling – UNKNOWN
Big River (and Other Wayfaring Ballets) – MOVEiUS Contemporary Ballet – dance & physical theatre – ESTABLISHED
Body Armor – Unstrung Harpist Productions* – drama – ESTABLISHED
Bowen McCauley Dance presents: From the Ground Up – Bowen McCauley Dance – dance & physical theatre – ESTABLISHED
Bully – Lee J. Kaplan – drama, solo performance – UNKNOWN
Cabaret XXXY: Who Do You Think You Are? – Pinky Swear Productions* – musical theatre & opera, variety – RINGER
Carry a Big Stick – Bull Moose Theatre – comedy, storytelling – PROMISING
Crime Buster Blast-Off 3000 – The Bradford Guild – comedy, variety – UNKNOWNFRINGEARRIFIC!
Dance of the Wasp and the Spider – Out-Side the Box Theatre – drama – UNKNOWN
Dark House – Tarpley Long – drama, storytelling – UNKNOWN
Dementia Melodies: “It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over” – Steve Little Events – musical theatre & opera, solo performance – UNKNOWN
Detective Pimbley and the Case of the Rich Dead Lady – The Impressionable Players – comedy – ESTABLISHED
Disco Jesus and the Apostles of Funk – Disco Jesus Productions – musical theatre & opera – PROMISINGFRINGEARRIFIC!
Double Freakquency – AVAdventure Productions – dance & physical theatre, storytelling – ESTABLISHEDFRINGEARRIFIC!
Everything I Do – MK Productions – musical theatre & opera, romance –  UNKNOWN
Eve’s Big Fat Family Reunion – LoNotes Music* – musical theatre & opera, storytelling – UNKNOWN
Fallbeil – Field Trip Theatre* – drama – PROMISING
Fireball XL – Lumina Studio Theatre – comedy – ESTABLISHED FRINGEARRIFIC!
Fish Outta Water – Ron Litman – comedy, solo performance – ESTABLISHED
Four Women – Wild Women Theatre – drama, variety – UNKNOWN
Funny Stories 2 – James Judd – comedy, solo performance – RINGER
Godiva Dates & One Night Stands – Doorway Arts Ensemble – drama, solo performance – ESTABLISHED
Haute Mess – Landless Theatre Company* – comedy – ESTABLISHED
heady collectibles – Deep Vision Dance Company – dance & physical theatre, storytelling – PROMISING
Hello, You Assholes! – Dan Sperling – musical theatre & opera – UNKNOWN
How to be a terrorist – Jimmy Grzelak – comedy, solo performance – UNKNOWN
How To Have It All: The Musical – Fully Charged Productions – comedy – PROMISING
H Street Housewives – A Jenny Splitter Production* – comedy – PROMISING
iLust for G-Love: An Auto-Ethnography – City Lights – comedy, romance – UNKNOWN
Impossible to Translate but I’ll Try–True-Life Israeli Stories – Noa Baum – comedy, solo performance – PROMISING
In Search of the Perfect G-String – G String Productions – drama, solo performance – UNKNOWN
I tried to be normal once, it didn’t take. – Stephanie Svec – comedy, solo performance – PROMISING
Jonah Dove – Freedom of Information Actors – drama, storytelling – PROMISING
Kids in Space – Kaleidoscope Theatre Company – comedy, variety – PROMISING
Kubrilesque – Cherry Kiss Productions – dance & physical theatre, burlesque – ESTABLISHED FRINGEARRIFIC!
Last Train to Nibroc – Homeward Theatre – drama, romance – UNKNOWN
La Voce To Me – Pace Productions – drama, storytelling – UNKNOWN
Legal Tender – Sanctuary Theatre’s Performing Knowledge Project – comedy, storytelling – PROMISING
Lore – Washington Improv Theater* – comedy, improv – RINGER
LOVE, NY – La-Ti-Do DC – musical theatre & opera, romance – PROMISING
Lysistrata 1969 – The Rude Mechanicals* – comedy, improv – UNKNOWN
Madam Ambassador – Duke Ryan – comedy – UNKNOWN
Mark Twain’s Riverboat Extravaganza! – Pointless Theatre* – dance & physical theatre, puppetry – RINGER
Married Sex – Laura Zam Enterprises* – comedy, solo performance – RINGER
Marsha – Alan Harris – drama, solo performance – PROMISING
McPherson Madness – Rabble Crew Productions* – drama – PROMISING
Mirabilia – Eclectic Mayhem Productions* – comedy, variety – UNKNOWN
Misconception: The Lost Gospel of Christmas – Le Chat Noir – musical theatre & opera, storytelling – PROMISING
Mme. Macbeth – King’s Players – drama – PROMISING
MOTHS – Stephen Notes – comedy, romance – UNKNOWN
Murder on the Bare Stage – SiGiLPAL (Sui Generis Literary Performing Arts Lab)* – drama, solo performance – PROMISING
My Civil War – Michael Vitaly Sazonov* – musical theatre & opera – UNKNOWN
Nephrectomy – Staunch Theatre Company – comedy – UNKNOWN
No Sex, Please – Derek Hills – comedy, storytelling – PROMISING
OK Stupid’s Secret Math Lab – Erin Bylander – comedy – UNKNOWN
Old Time British Music Hall – The British Players – musical theatre & opera, variety – PROMISING
One Night in New York! – Belle Epoque Productions and the New Musical Foundation – musical theatre & opera, variety – PROMISING
Our Boys – The Victorian Lyric Opera Company – comedy – PROMISING
Outside the Wire – Jimi Stanton and Daniel Marcum – drama, storytelling – PROMISING
Patterns: A Numbers & Symbols Show – Astonishing Productions – drama, solo performance – ESTABLISHED
Pitchin’ the Tent: Tia Nina Live at Baldacchino – Tia Nina – dance & physical theatre – ESTABLISHEDFRINGEARRIFIC!
Polaroid Stories by Naomi Iizuka – Blind Pug Arts Collective – musical theatre & opera, storytelling – UNKNOWN
Random Access Memory – Joseph Price – drama, storytelling – UNKNOWN
Recovery – Lorette Michael Productions* – drama, storytelling – PROMISING
RFK – New City Stage Company – drama, solo performance – ESTABLISHED
Romeo and Juliet – We Happy Few Productions* – drama, romance – PROMISING
Rosemary with Ginger – Tiger’s Blood Theater – drama – UNKNOWN
R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) – Naked Theatre Company – drama – UNKNOWN
Sanka, Ya Dead Mon? – Wild Rumpus Productions – comedy, solo performance – UNKNOWN
Sapphire – O & B Productions – drama, improv – UNKNOWN
Sesquicentennial — The Civil War Remembered – Storyteller “County Joe” Rosier – drama, solo performance – PROMISING
Smellin’ Up the Den – Red Knight Productions – comedy – PROMISING
Social Media Expert – John Krizel – drama – UNKNOWN
Someone to Watch Over Me – Federal Theatre Project* – drama – PROMISING
Songs From An Unmade Bed – The Obscure Little Musical Theatre Company – musical theatre & opera, solo performance – PROMISING
STATUS – A Social Media Experiment – Kathryn Elizabeth Kelly – comedy, solo performance – PROMISING
Tea in the Slammer: A True Story – Geraldine Buckley – drama, storytelling – ESTABLISHED
Tell-Tale – Grain of Sand Theatre* – drama – ESTABLISHED
Thank You for Staring – Patrice Gerideau – drama, solo performance – UNKNOWN
The Actual Dance – The Actual Dance LLC – drama, solo performance – UNKNOWN
The Afflicted – The Wandering Theatre Company – dance & physical theatre, storytelling – UNKNOWN
The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs: The Musical – Junesong – musical theatre & opera, storytelling – PROMISING
The Beheading of Sister Mary Jasmine – The Shadow’s Breath Theatre Company – comedy, solo performance – UNKNOWN
The Black-Jew Dialogues – Mabel and Esther Productions – comedy, improv – ESTABLISHED
The Burlesque of Broadway – Burlesque Classique – dance & physical theatre, burlesque – UNKNOWN
The Chronic Single’s Handbook – Randy Ross – comedy, solo performance – PROMISING
The Clocks – Not A Robot Theatre Co – drama, puppetry – PROMISINGFRINGEARRIFIC!
The Continuing Adventures of John Blade, Super Spy – Live Action Theatre* – comedy – PROMISING
The Conversion of Thais the Whore – Farmatic Productions – drama, romance – UNKNOWN
The Crayon King, or Learning to Share – DC Character Coalition – musical theatre & opera – UNKNOWN
The D.C. State Players present Agamemnon – D.C. State Players – comedy, storytelling – EVALUATION CANCELLED DUE TO COMMITTED SATIRE
The Deadly Seven – Ten14 Productions – drama – UNKNOWN
The Elephant in My Closet – David Lee Nelson – comedy, solo performance – PROMISING
The Encyclopedia Show DC – The Encyclopedia Show DC – comedy, variety – ESTABLISHED
The Goddess Diaries – Befana Factory – comedy, storytelling – PROMISING
The Human Algorithm – Eating an Elephant Productions – comedy, stand up – UNKNOWN
The Politician – John Feffer* – drama – RINGER
the Sensational Sans Sullivan Radio Hour – Beat on the Bard Theatre Company – musical theatre & opera, variety – UNKNOWN
The Shirt of Happiness – InterAct Story Theatre* – musical theatre & opera – ESTABLISHED
The Snuff Musical – Muse Theatre Co. and Jay Lavely – musical theatre & opera – UNKNOWN
The Tragical Mirth of Marriage & Love: Short Scenes by Anton Chekhov – Pallas Theatre Collective – comedy, romance – PROMISING
They Call Me Q! an award-winning one woman play – Qurrat Ann Kadwani – comedy, solo performance – PROMISING
The Yellow Boat – Yellow Boat Productions* – dance & physical theatre, storytelling – UNKNOWN
The Young Olympians and the Most Amazingly Awesome Adventure Ever – Maryland Ensemble Theatre – musical theatre & opera, storytelling – ESTABLISHED
The Young Wife, by Katarzyna Brochocka – Unmanned Stagecraft Productions – musical theatre & opera, solo performance – UNKNOWN
Tickets to an Event – Borealis Theatre* – comedy, clowning – ESTABLISHEDFRINGEARRIFIC!
To Know a Veil – Emma Crane Jaster* – dance & physical theatre – ESTABLISHED
Tragedy Averted – Ad Hoc Players – comedy – UNKNOWN
Underneath the Lintel – Patrick O’Brien – drama, solo performance – RINGER
Urban Legends – Beyond the Page Theatre Company of West Potomac High School – drama, storytelling – UNKNOWN
Violent Delights: A Shakespearean Brawl-esque Sideshow – Off the Quill – dance & physical theatre, clowning – UNKNOWN
Waiting for Orson – Instinct Theatre – drama, romance – UNKNOWN
What It’s Like? One Veteran’s Tale of Addiction, Survival and PTSD – MIANBA Productions – drama, solo performance – UNKNOWN
What’s in the BOX?! – Burlesque & Belly Laughs* – comedy, burlesque – ESTABLISHED
WIGGERLOVER [whiteboy+blackdad=greyareas] – James Anthony Zoccoli – comedy, solo performance – PROMISING

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BONUS LISTINGS!!!

The Social Media and Modern Technology Shows!
iLust for G-Love: An Auto-Ethnography – City Lights – comedy, romance – UNKNOWN
OK Stupid’s Secret Math Lab – Erin Bylander – comedy – UNKNOWN
Random Access Memory – Joseph Price – drama, storytelling – UNKNOWN
Social Media Expert – John Krizel – drama – UNKNOWN
STATUS – A Social Media Experiment – Kathryn Elizabeth Kelly – comedy, solo performance – PROMISING
The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs: The Musical – Junesong – musical theatre & opera, storytelling – PROMISING

The History Lesson Shows!
1814! The War of 1812 Rock Opera – Rock 1814 Productions – musical theatre & opera, variety – ESTABLISHED
Carry a Big Stick – Bull Moose Theatre – comedy, storytelling – PROMISING
My Civil War – Michael Vitaly Sazonov – musical theatre & opera – UNKNOWN
RFK – New City Stage Company – drama, solo performance – ESTABLISHED
Sesquicentennial — The Civil War Remembered – Storyteller “County Joe” Rosier – drama, solo performance – PROMISING

The Soldiers’ Experience Shows! (see also this Post article)
Arlington National Cemetery: My Forever Home – Ellouise Schoettler – drama, solo performance – ESTABLISHED
BenchMARKS – Project E/C – drama, storytelling – UNKNOWN
Body Armor – Unstrung Harpist Productions* – drama – ESTABLISHED
Outside the Wire – Jimi Stanton and Daniel Marcum – drama, storytelling – PROMISING
What It’s Like? One Veteran’s Tale of Addiction, Survival and PTSD – MIANBA Productions – drama, solo performance – UNKNOWN

The Riffing on Shakespeare Shows!
43 and a 1/2: The Greatest Deaths of Shakespeare’s Tragedies – Nu Sass Productions* – comedy, variety – ESTABLISHED
A Commedia Romeo and Juliet – Faction of Fools* – comedy, romance – RINGER
Mme. Macbeth – King’s Players – drama – PROMISING
Romeo and Juliet – We Happy Few Productions* – drama, romance – PROMISING
Tragedy Averted – Ad Hoc Players – comedy – UNKNOWN
Violent Delights: A Shakespearean Brawl-esque Sideshow – Off the Quill – dance & physical theatre, clowning – UNKNOWN

The Riffing on Religion Shows!
21 King – True Wit Productions – drama – PROMISING
Disco Jesus and the Apostles of Funk – Disco Jesus Productions – musical theatre & opera – PROMISINGFRINGEARRIFIC!
Eve’s Big Fat Family Reunion – LoNotes Music – musical theatre & opera, storytelling – UNKNOWN
Jonah Dove – Freedom of Information Actors – drama, storytelling – PROMISING
Misconception: The Lost Gospel of Christmas – Le Chat Noir – musical theatre & opera, storytelling – PROMISING
The Beheading of Sister Mary Jasmine – The Shadow’s Breath Theatre Company – comedy, solo performance – UNKNOWN
The Black-Jew Dialogues – Mabel and Esther Productions – comedy, improv – ESTABLISHED
The Conversion of Thais the Whore – Farmatic Productions – drama, romance – (by Hroswitha of Gandersheim, 10th century playwright) – UNKNOWN
The Goddess Diaries – Befana Factory – comedy, storytelling – PROMISING
To Know a Veil – Emma Crane Jaster* – dance & physical theatre – ESTABLISHED

The Adaptations Other Than Shakespeare and the Bible!
(note: shows “inspired by” or parodying an existing work not included; cabarets and burlesque shows featuring existing songs not included)
Dark HouseUNKNOWN (adapted from William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom)
Everything I DoUNKNOWN (adapted from Shaw’s Man and Superman)
Lysistrata 1969 – UNKNOWN (adapted from Aristophanes)
Murder on the Bare StagePROMISING (including some Dickens and Poe)
Our Boys –  PROMISING (an existing 19th-century show by H.J. Byron)
Polaroid Stories by Naomi Iizuka – UNKNOWN (a well-known existing play by Iizuka, as it says)
Rosemary with GingerUNKNOWN (an older play by Edward Allan Baker)
R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots)UNKNOWN (by Karel Capek, 1920’s originator of the word “robot”)
The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs: The MusicalPROMISING (adapted from Mike Daisey)
The Conversion of Thais the WhoreUNKNOWN (by Hroswitha of Gandersheim, 10th century playwright)
The D.C. State Players present Agamemnon EVALUATION CANCELLED (by Aeschylus, but only a little bit)
the Sensational Sans Sullivan Radio Hour – (partly by Gilbert but not Sullivan) – UNKNOWN
The Tragical Mirth of Marriage & Love: Short Scenes by Anton ChekhovPROMISING (by Chekhov, as it says)
The Young Wife, by Katarzyna BrochockaUNKNOWN (adapted from a novel by Gabriela Zapolska)

Almost every show this year is original, except the ones noted above.  (Depending on what threshold you consider for ‘original’ – is “RFK” wholly original?  Is a story inspired by the Bible?  However you slice it, this year’s fest is, as always, a treasure trove of new work.)
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Category List
First, the list of “Fringearrific”-designated shows.  Then, the “Guarantee of Quailty” categories (Ringer, Established, Promising, Unknown) with explanations.

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FRINGEARRIFIC! jump to explanation

A Killing Game – dog & pony dc* – comedy, improv – RINGER
Interactive death games! Live tweet to survive! Get up and tape down the actors!

Crime Buster Blast-Off 3000 – The Bradford Guild – comedy, variety – UNKNOWN
Spaceships and flying pigs! Possibly or not based on a poem written by a 9-year old! A total willingness to keep up their obtuse weirdness in all press materials so it’s impossible to figure out what, precisely, they’re doing!

Disco Jesus and the Apostles of Funk – Disco Jesus Productions – musical theatre & opera – PROMISING
Disco! Jesus! And the Apostles of Funk!

Double Freakquency – AVAdventure Productions – dance & physical theatre, storytelling – ESTABLISHED
Choose your own soundtrack! I mean… what more do you need? Probably the most experimental piece this year.

Fireball XL – Lumina Studio Theatre – comedy – ESTABLISHED
Sci-fi! Ninjas! Pirates! Iiiit’s… Lumina Studio Theatre!

Kubrilesque – Cherry Kiss Productions – dance & physical theatre, burlesque – ESTABLISHED
Kubrick!  Burlesque!  Kubrick Burlesque!

Pitchin’ the Tent: Tia Nina Live at Baldacchino – Tia Nina – dance & physical theatre – ESTABLISHED
I have watched the videos and still have no idea just where the rock show ends and the avant-garde theoretical movement piece begins.

The Clocks – Not A Robot Theatre Co – drama, puppetry – PROMISING
Puppets and clocks!  Possible meta-characters!  Listen to this weirdness!

Tickets to an Event – Borealis Theatre* – comedy, clowning – ESTABLISHED
On the street!  Flash mob weddings and more!  You might participate without knowing it!


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RINGERS jump to explanation

A Commedia Romeo and Juliet – Faction of Fools* – comedy, romance
The Helen Hayes-award winning local troupe of commedia dell’arte masters has been touring – and polishing – this beloved, stripped-down production of Romeo and Juliet long enough that it’s almost unfair for them to bring it to Fringe – but you can count it as a favor, if you haven’t seen it yet.

A Day in the Life of Miss Hiccup – Shoshinz – comedy, clowning
Another almost-unfairly road-tested show; as advertised, Shoshinz won the prestigious Director’s Award already for this well-received piece.

A Killing Game – dog & pony dc* – comedy, improv – FRINGEARRIFIC!
It’s this show, but refurbished and punched up.  It was good in its original incarnation, and given dog & pony dc’s sterling reputation, it’s doubtless even better this time around.

Cabaret XXXY: Who Do You Think You Are? – Pinky Swear Productions* – musical theatre & opera, variety
I may be a touch extra-biased on this one, but given that it’s the third iteration of a successful series – the first edition won the audience award, and last year’s (which I stage managed) consistently sold out – I think it’s fair at this point to say that the Pinky Swear ladies have a lock as long as they keep up the crowd-pleasing work with this run of rock shows.

Detective Pimbley and the Case of the Rich Dead Lady – The Impressionable Players – comedy
I happen to think Ann and Shawn Fraistat are the best young playwrights in town, superbly supported by the Impressionable Players, having seen their previous hit Romeo and Juliet: Choose Your Own Adventure and its equally spectacular follow-up, Pandora: A Tragicomic Greek Romp.

Funny Stories 2 – James Judd – comedy, solo performance
Judd has been doing his comedy thing and winning praise for it in show after show for quite a while and in a number of prestigious places, and there’s no reason to believe this sequel to last year’s hit won’t deliver more of the same quality.

Lore – Washington Improv Theater* – comedy, improv
WIT sets the bar for improv in the DC area; it’s that simple.

Mark Twain’s Riverboat Extravaganza! – Pointless Theatre* – dance & physical theatre, puppetry
Three times previously at the Fringe.  Three “Best of” Fringe awards.  Pointless Theatre gets it.  You see their show.

Married Sex – Laura Zam Enterprises* – comedy, solo performance
Zam is probably DC’s premier solo-show artist (and mentor for other soloists).  See here.

The Politician – John Feffer* – drama
The fifth in an unbroken string of popular, acclaimed Fringe shows, albeit the first not to feature the charismatic Feffer in person.

Underneath the Lintel – Patrick O’Brien – drama, solo performance
This sure seems to be a case of a genuine, critic’s-darling, traveling Fringe hit blessing us with its arrival in DC.


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ESTABLISHED jump to explanation

1814! The War of 1812 Rock Opera
– Rock 1814 Productions – musical theatre & opera, variety
Various members of the esteemed and popular Baltimore Rock Opera Society are bringing this well-reviewed show to DC.  I’d almost call this Fringearrific, but just putting on a cheeky musical about an unlikely subject isn’t off-the-wall enough to clear that bar anymore.  (No guff on this show for that, as it sure seems they know precisely the kind of fun show they have.)

43 and a 1/2: The Greatest Deaths of Shakespeare’s Tragedies – Nu Sass Productions* – comedy, variety
Nu Sass has built themselves a fine reputation at Fringe with past shows such as the sell-out Tent of Dreams: An Occuplay last year and the Audience Award Winner for Best Comedy the year before, Priscilla Dreams the Answer.

& Afterwards – Kevin Boggs – comedy, storytelling
Boggs is one of the leaders of SpeakeasyDC, who have a long, long list of Fringe hits in addition to being reliable seat-fillers of local spaces, catering to those looking for something between straight scripted theatre and loose improv comedy.

Apotheosis – Avalanche Theatre Company* – drama, variety
Avalanche has established themselves, in their previous two Fringe productions, as the theatre to go to if you seek something darker, more cathartic and more expressionist than your typical wacky-fun Fringe piece.

Arlington National Cemetery: My Forever Home – Ellouise Schoettler – drama, solo performance
Schoettler has a roster of well-received Fringe shows under her belt and is another participant in SpeakeasyDC.  You can get an impression of her work for yourself.

Big River (and Other Wayfaring Ballets) – MOVEiUS Contemporary Ballet – dance & physical theatre
MOVEiUS brought us last year’s highly appreciated Flights of Fancy steampunk ballet piece, which won the audience award for dance, and they have an array of other accolades to their name if that’s not enough.

Body Armor – Unstrung Harpist Productions* – drama
Unstrung Harpist are yet another frequenter of our Fringe festival, and, like most who have managed to stick around, they have some impressive credits in their history, in particular their 2010 Best Drama audience award winner, Genesis.

Bowen McCauley Dance presents: From the Ground Up – Bowen McCauley Dance – dance & physical theatre
We’re spoiled in DC for master-quality dance companies.  This is another case of see for yourself.

Double Freakquency – AVAdventure Productions – dance & physical theatre, storytelling – FRINGEARRIFIC!
This is why I do the research!  This duo has a host of awards and history of snazzy and exciting shows.  It’s pretty clear they will deliver.

Fireball XL – Lumina Studio Theatre – comedy – FRINGEARRIFIC!
Known for their spirit and amateur attitude (in the best, original, sense of the word – out of love for the art), Lumina has been doing that thing they do for quite a while now.

Fish Outta Water – Ron Litman – comedy, solo performance
It’s the prequel to his very well-received Fringe show of last year, DC Trash.

Godiva Dates & One Night Stands – Doorway Arts Ensemble – drama, solo performance
Regie Cabico is one of the best emcees I’ve ever seen, and in some ways emceeing successfully requires a greater grasp of material then putting on a show.  And even if that’s not true, Cabico has got the solo-show cred to make this a very safe bet.

Haute Mess – Landless Theatre Company* – comedy
Landless is Fringe year-round during their normal season, and they’ve been a Fringe Ringer in the past; but they seem to fare better at Fringe when developing their own oddball work (like Diamond Dead) rather than bringing in existing work as they seem to be doing this year.  Which is like saying, “I am only slightly less than 100% sure that this will be great.”

Kubrilesque – Cherry Kiss Productions – dance & physical theatre, burlesque – FRINGEARRIFIC!
I mean, come on.

Patterns: A Numbers & Symbols Show – Astonishing Productions – drama, solo performance
A multi-Fringe success in Colorado, magician Gregg Tobo is an exquisite performer.

Pitchin’ the Tent: Tia Nina Live at Baldacchino – Tia Nina – dance & physical theatre – FRINGEARRIFIC!
All three ‘rock stars’ are experienced artist-agitators and dancers, and the show has been road-tested.

RFK – New City Stage Company – drama, solo performance
Very near a Ringer from the Philadelphia theatre establishment, with sellout performances already under its belt.

Tea in the Slammer: A True Story – Geraldine Buckley – drama, storytelling
Like Schoettler above,  Buckley is a practiced Speakeasy storyteller, and you can preview this very show here.

Tell-Tale – Grain of Sand Theatre* – drama
This is where the bias comes into play given my acquaintance with most of the folks working on this show – but Grain of Sand won their Fringe award two years past with Hamlet: Reframed and got good response to last year’s Raising Cane, so I think it’s fair to say they’re an Established Fringe troupe at this point.

The Black-Jew Dialogues – Mabel and Esther Productions – comedy, improv
This show’s got cred; it’s been performed everywhere, and reviewed favorably.

The Encyclopedia Show DC – The Encyclopedia Show DC – comedy, variety
Another Regie Cabico show, with a host of other talented performers, working in a tried-and-true format.

The Shirt of Happiness – InterAct Story Theatre* – musical theatre & opera
If children’s theatre can be Fringey, this might be the show that works in both worlds, and InterAct is the kind of top-notch company that could pull it off.

The Young Olympians and the Most Amazingly Awesome Adventure Ever – Maryland Ensemble Theatre – musical theatre & opera, storytelling
The redoubtable MET is little-seen and little-discussed in Washington, being waaaay waaaay out in Frederick (note: sarcasm), so it’s a treat to have their children’s and young-audience company trek down into DC to bring us a show.

Tickets to an Event – Borealis Theatre* – comedy, clowning
Borealis’ Cloudism Project, in 2011 and 2012, did receive mixed reviews, but was definitely weird.  Their Crosswalk Weddings and other happenings over the past year or so have been decidedly successful, in that they happened and they were also weird.  Without an entry from the exquisite banished? company this year, Borealis is essentially our sole ambassador to the weird and the totally-out-of-the-box (literally) – which is a good thing.  (Note: I may be somehow involved in some of these shows.)

To Know a Veil – Emma Crane Jaster* – dance & physical theatre
The formidable Jaster has already performed previous iterations of this evolving show with her talented company; I’d call this a Ringer if there was more of a history with Fringe in particular.

What’s in the BOX?! – Burlesque & Belly Laughs* – comedy, burlesque
A recurrent show, featuring the improv talents of WIT and elsewhere and the burlesque talents of some local performers you probably haven’t heard of unless you’re into burlesque, in which case you probably have.

.

~
PROMISING jump to explanation

21 King – True Wit Productions – drama
Produced by a new ensemble of University of Maryland grad students, who presumably know what they’re doing at least a little bit, having made it into the program. (Admittedly, UMD is my alma mater.)

A Guide to Dancing Naked – Brynn Tucker – dance & physical theatre, solo performance
Tucker is a fine and talented local actor, though this appears to be her first foray into solo show.

Almost Together – Mary Leaphart – musical theatre & opera, solo performance
Leaphart’s also new to it, it seems, but is working under a talented local director, and you can judge for yourself.

Carry a Big Stick – Bull Moose Theatre – comedy, storytelling
Writer Paul Handy is responsible for, among other things, the well-received Cry for the Gods two years ago.

Disco Jesus and the Apostles of Funk – Disco Jesus Productions – musical theatre & opera – FRINGEARRIFIC!
As promising as a new company can be, given the talent of the performers alone.  Looks like (particularly with Felicia Curry onboard) this may be the closest thing to Dizzy Miss Lizzie we’ll get this year.

Fallbeil – Field Trip Theatre* – drama
The company is young but talented.  I also happen to be familiar with, and a fan of, the script itself.

heady collectibles – Deep Vision Dance Company – dance & physical theatre, storytelling
Another younger (and talented-looking) company, but this one of dancers.  The show’s concept alone is compelling.

How To Have It All: The Musical – Fully Charged Productions – comedy
The previous iteration of Fully Charged had some success with shows like An Adult Evening with Shel Silverstein, but this appears to be a new step into original work for them.

H Street Housewives – A Jenny Splitter Production* – comedy
This is a simple case of take-my-word-for-it, as the company has no history, but I am personally familiar with the script and several of the artists involved.  (As a purely biased recommendation with no external references, I won’t put it any higher than Promising.)

Impossible to Translate but I’ll Try–True-Life Israeli Stories – Noa Baum – comedy, solo performance
She’s got some credentials, but if you’re not sure, judge for yourself.

I tried to be normal once, it didn’t take. – Stephanie Svec – comedy, solo performance
A capable local actor doing a first-time solo show, plus a highly talented local director.

Jonah Dove – Freedom of Information Actors – drama, storytelling
The company’s GS-14 was a theoretically interesting sellout hit three years in a row: it was largely attended by government workers and largely ignored by ‘typical’ Fringe theatregoers.  Let’s see how they do with a non-local interest story.

Kids in Space – Kaleidoscope Theatre Company – comedy, variety
The company has been doing this for a while, though seemingly never before at Fringe – “this” being children’s theatre, an unfortunate rarity at the festival.

Legal Tender – Sanctuary Theatre’s Performing Knowledge Project – comedy, storytelling
The company and project seem very well put together, and were responsible for generally well-received Embodying Poe at Fringe past, but this still seems to be a new direction for them.

LOVE, NY – La-Ti-Do DC – musical theatre & opera, romance
There’s ridiculous amounts of talent involved with La-Ti-Do DC, but this seems to be their first stab at a new show or a Fringe production, after cutting their teeth on local cabarets.

Marsha – Alan Harris – drama, solo performance
Harris and his collaborators appear to have built up quite a body of work across the pond.

McPherson Madness – Rabble Crew Productions* – drama
This new company has a way-inside perspective on the Occupy Movement, with lots of talent behind it.

Misconception: The Lost Gospel of Christmas – Le Chat Noir – musical theatre & opera, storytelling
The show appears to have done quite well in its debut, in Georgia.

Mme. Macbeth – King’s Players – drama
The company fared pretty well last year with In the Company of de Sade, although the “female Macbeth/male Lady Macbeth” concept isn’t as out-there as they may believe (I myself saw a female Macbeth not two months ago).

Murder on the Bare Stage – SiGiLPAL (Sui Generis Literary Performing Arts Lab)* – drama, solo performance
Some serious talent onboard, although it’s hard to find responses to their past collaborations.

No Sex, Please – Derek Hills – comedy, storytelling
A local storytelling veteran with some powerful support behind what appears to be his first Fringe solo show.

Old Time British Music Hall – The British Players – musical theatre & opera, variety
Who better to perform some of the titular music than this venerable community theatre institution?

One Night in New York! – Belle Epoque Productions and the New Musical Foundation – musical theatre & opera, variety
The New Musical Foundation is responsible for the likes of Who’s Your Baghdaddy? and other Fringe winners in years past.

Our Boys – The Victorian Lyric Opera Company – comedy
Another venerable community theatre instituion, with Fringe experience under their belts, performing an old chestnut.

Outside the Wire – Jimi Stanton and Daniel Marcum – drama, storytelling
The show appears to have been well-received in New England.

Recovery – Lorette Michael Productions* – drama, storytelling
I almost want to put this under “Established” given the great reception the play received in other Fringe festivals recently, plus the talent of the local actors involved in this incarnation – but the fact that it is local actors in an out-of-towner’s show, and thus not an ‘established’ company, seemed reason to put it under ‘just’ Promising.

Romeo and Juliet – We Happy Few Productions* – drama, romance
After last year’s debut version of Hamlet, We Happy Few is already on their way to Established status as quality purveyors of clever takes on the Bard.

Sesquicentennial — The Civil War Remembered – Storyteller “County Joe” Rosier – drama, solo performance
Another case of see for yourself – even if the material appears to be a bit dry for Fringe, Rosier seems to handle it adeptly.

Smellin’ Up the Den – Red Knight Productions – comedy
Their sole previous show, Medieval Story Land, was great, though this appears to be something completely different.

Someone to Watch Over Me – Federal Theatre Project* – drama
A host of local talents are involved in this new company’s debut.

Songs From An Unmade Bed – The Obscure Little Musical Theatre Company – musical theatre & opera, solo performance
The song cycle has an impressive pedigree and was well-reviewed when it originated in New York.

STATUS – A Social Media Experiment – Kathryn Elizabeth Kelly – comedy, solo performance
A similar situation as “A Guide to Dancing Naked” – talented performer, first time solo-performer (it seems).

The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs: The Musical – Junesong – musical theatre & opera, storytelling
The intriguing concept of musicalizing Mike Daisey’s mega-controversial masterwork is reason enough for Promising status.

The Chronic Single’s Handbook – Randy Ross – comedy, solo performance
This interesting solo show has gotten some good press.

The Clocks – Not A Robot Theatre Co – drama, puppetry – FRINGEARRIFIC!
A pair of creators with serious chops (that you can see through their website), but who appear to be new to the Fringe-show game together.

The Continuing Adventures of John Blade, Super Spy – Live Action Theatre* – comedy
A simple case of a new company with a lot of talented participants.

The Elephant in My Closet – David Lee Nelson – comedy, solo performance
Some verifiably good reviews for the ongoing tour of this show.

The Goddess Diaries – Befana Factory – comedy, storytelling
Mixed reviews for this returning series of monologues in the past, but since it’s constantly changing, and you can see the best it has to offer yourself, there’s some promise here.

The Tragical Mirth of Marriage & Love: Short Scenes by Anton Chekhov – Pallas Theatre Collective – comedy, romance
Pallas is a fairly young theatre company that has not quiet yet made their mark, though they have a couple well-received shows in their past and talent in their crew.

They Call Me Q! an award-winning one woman play – Qurrat Ann Kadwani – comedy, solo performance
Perhaps not as award-winning as you’d hope given that it says so in the title, but the show, and Kadwani as a performer, have racked up some serious praise so far.

WIGGERLOVER [whiteboy+blackdad=greyareas] – James Anthony Zoccoli – comedy, solo performance
Another touring solo show with some serious praise racked up, but nothing wildly conclusive as of yet.


~
UNKNOWN jump to explanation

Apples & Oranges – MO2 Productions – comedy, romance
Bayou Blues – Shaina Lynn – drama, solo performance
Bedroom Mirrors – Fortune Cookie Collective – drama, romance
BenchMARKS – Project E/C – drama, storytelling
Bully – Lee J. Kaplan – drama, solo performance
Crime Buster Blast-Off 3000 – The Bradford Guild – comedy, varietyFRINGEARRIFIC!
Dance of the Wasp and the Spider – Out-Side the Box Theatre – drama
Dark House – Tarpley Long – drama, storytelling
Dementia Melodies: “It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over” – Steve Little Events – musical theatre & opera, solo performance
Everything I Do – MK Productions – musical theatre & opera, romance
Eve’s Big Fat Family Reunion – LoNotes Music* – musical theatre & opera, storytelling
Four Women – Wild Women Theatre – drama, variety
Hello, You Assholes! – Dan Sperling – musical theatre & opera
How to be a terrorist – Jimmy Grzelak – comedy, solo performance
iLust for G-Love: An Auto-Ethnography – City Lights – comedy, romance
In Search of the Perfect G-String – G String Productions – drama, solo performance
Last Train to Nibroc – Homeward Theatre – drama, romance
La Voce To Me – Pace Productions – drama, storytelling
Lysistrata 1969 – The Rude Mechanicals* – comedy, improv
Madam Ambassador – Duke Ryan – comedy
Mirabilia – Eclectic Mayhem Productions* – comedy, variety
MOTHS – Stephen Notes – comedy, romance
My Civil War – Michael Vitaly Sazonov* – musical theatre & opera
Nephrectomy – Staunch Theatre Company – comedy
OK Stupid’s Secret Math Lab – Erin Bylander – comedy
Polaroid Stories by Naomi Iizuka – Blind Pug Arts Collective – musical theatre & opera, storytelling
Random Access Memory – Joseph Price – drama, storytelling
Rosemary with Ginger – Tiger’s Blood Theater – drama
R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) – Naked Theatre Company – drama
Sanka, Ya Dead Mon? – Wild Rumpus Productions – comedy, solo performance
Sapphire – O & B Productions – drama, improv
Social Media Expert – John Krizel – drama
Thank You for Staring – Patrice Gerideau – drama, solo performance
The Actual Dance – The Actual Dance LLC – drama, solo performance
The Afflicted – The Wandering Theatre Company – dance & physical theatre, storytelling
The Beheading of Sister Mary Jasmine – The Shadow’s Breath Theatre Company – comedy, solo performance
The Burlesque of Broadway – Burlesque Classique – dance & physical theatre, burlesque
The Conversion of Thais the Whore – Farmatic Productions – drama, romance
The Crayon King, or Learning to Share – DC Character Coalition – musical theatre & opera
The Deadly Seven – Ten14 Productions – drama
The Human Algorithm – Eating an Elephant Productions – comedy, stand up
the Sensational Sans Sullivan Radio Hour – Beat on the Bard Theatre Company – musical theatre & opera, variety
The Snuff Musical – Muse Theatre Co. and Jay Lavely – musical theatre & opera
The Yellow Boat – Yellow Boat Productions* – dance & physical theatre, storytelling
The Young Wife, by Katarzyna Brochocka – Unmanned Stagecraft Productions – musical theatre & opera, solo performance
Tragedy Averted – Ad Hoc Players – comedy
Urban Legends – Beyond the Page Theatre Company of West Potomac High School – drama, storytelling
Violent Delights: A Shakespearean Brawl-esque Sideshow – Off the Quill – dance & physical theatre, clowning
Waiting for Orson – Instinct Theatre – drama, romance
What It’s Like? One Veteran’s Tale of Addiction, Survival and PTSD – MIANBA Productions – drama, solo performance
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~
EVALUATION CANCELLED DUE TO COMMITTED SATIRE
The D.C. State Players present Agamemnon
– D.C. State Players – comedy, storytelling


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jump back to topjump back to alphabetical listjump back to list by category

Thanks for reading, I hope this has been helpful. I welcome any comments, responses, concurrences, arguments, complaints, debates, questions, requests for recommendations, or corrections. In particular, I would be delighted to know which specific shows you may have been inspired to attend based upon this guide.

25 comments

  1. that’s a lot of work you put in there… well done.

    1. Thank you! It all comes out of me wanting to go through everything, anyways, when picking my own Fringe schedule… it’s just a matter of sharing what I learn.

  2. Wow, you really did your homework on this one!! I appreciate all the work you put into creating this. Thanks for the nod to my production, Almost Together! I would add that it is directed by the Helen Hayes award winner – Steven Cupo! :)

    Thanks again…

    1. Thanks for the additional info – noted. :)

  3. Wow. What a great list. THANK YOU for putting this together. It’s really, really appreciated. See you at Fringe!!

    1. Thank you, I do hope it’s helpful! See you there!

  4. Thanks, Brett — I really appreciate the shout out! And the suggestions for what else I need to see….

    1. Please let me know if any of my suggestions lead you to seeing any shows! That’d be the most helpful thing for me, for the future, knowing what works.

  5. Missy Spears · · Reply

    Tickets just bought for The D.C. State Players Present Agamemnon. I don’t know what “Evaluation Cancelled Due to Committed Satire” means exactly, but I’m more than willing to find out.

    1. It means it’s a show-within-a-show, and all their materials are written from within the show so it’s hard to figure out what it’s all about so both in the spirit of the show itself, and because I feel that I’d like to include one weird off-the-scale rating each year, I gave it… that. :)

    2. That makes sense in some sort of weird Meta-esque way. Hope you enjoy the shows, Brett. I’m sure I’m going to :)

  6. Snuff Musical and The D.C. State Players Present Agamemnon are supposed to be two of the best shows this year from what I’ve heard. But you always gotta love Landless!

    1. I haven’t heard much about Snuff Musical – thanks for relaying that! I strongly encourage anyone who’s got any scuttlebutt or opinions, particularly on the shows that I put under “Unknown,” to share here for everyone’s benefit.

  7. Definitely going to MET’s show, Carry a Big Stick, and Snuff Musical (biased on the last one–I know the director). And I probably wouldn’t have gone to The D.C. State Players Present Agamemnon, but their videos are so darn funny!!! Have you seen them? You probably have, but if not you should def youtube it. That is def some “committed satire”

    1. I certainly have, that’s partly why I categorized them as I did. I look forward to seeing this one for sure.

  8. Thank you for this as always, incredibly helpful!! A biased comment, in case this makes a difference: I was the playwright of Nu Sass’s “Tent of Dreams: An Occuplay” last year, and I also wrote large portions of iLust for G-Love.

    1. Oh, I’m sorry I didn’t see this sooner! I liked Tent of Dreams, so I probably would have put iLust down as Promising given that. (Why aren’t you listed as writer on the capfringe site?) I’m not sure if there’s a point in changing my categorizations now that everything is open and reviews are coming in; the Guide is most useful before the Fringe revs up, I believe.

  9. From your post, I’ve now seen 1814, Snuff Musical, How to Have it All, The DC State Players…., The Clocks, and Carry a Big Stick.

    1814 = Awesome sauce!
    Snuff = Definitely good
    How to Have it All = That was a rough experience
    DC State Players = DAMN. FUNNY. SHOW.
    The Clocks = Could take it, could leave it.
    Carry a Big Stick = Good enough to sit through

    1. Thanks so much for sharing! That’s a lot of thumbs up I’ve seen for Snuff Musical and DC State Players, now.

  10. Well done, Brett. Lemme know if you’d like comps for Underneath the Lintel.

    1. Gosh, thank you. I don’t think I want to go down the (or appear to go down the) ‘giving good ratings in order to get comps to shows for myself’ road, so I’ll politely decline. I think I’m all booked up during your showtimes, anyways.

  11. Hi Brett! If you’re free on Saturday at 8:00 pm or Sunday at 2:00 pm, please consider seeing The Beheading of Sister Mary Jasmine. Learning my lesson from Pat, I won’t offer you comps, but…the venue is air-conditioned!!!

    Pat: I’m looking forward to seeing Lintel this Friday!

    1. Thanks for the invitation, Brian, but alas, I am all booked up for this Fringe. Break legs, though!

      1. Anonymous · · Reply

        Exactly how is this guide of your biased?

  12. […] also reviewed a few dozen shows over several years for the City Paper and dcist, written a Biased Guide to Fringe three times, and I’ve seen over 150 Fringe performances, many produced by friends who shared […]

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