Monday, July 30, 2007

Fringe Experience: Part 2

My friend J and I went to see another Fringe Festival play on Sunday – a production of Ben Jonson’s Volpone. Ben Jonson was a contemporary of Shakespeare and since we had seen so many Shakespeare plays this season, we decided it might be interesting to see something else written in this time period.

The production was quite disappointing – they cut out what must have been large chucks of the original play, they “updated” the language – supposedly to make it easier for the audience to understand, the set was much too small for the size of the stage, and the acting was quite dreadful. This play did last the entire two hours allotted, with a 15 minute intermission, so there was no reprieve to be found as the play dragged on.

There were, however, two unexpected bright spots from the experience . . .

The first was the theater itself. The theater is nestled almost storefront-like in the middle of a decaying block in the middle of Northeast DC. Once you walk inside, you see how spacious the interior actually is. The main theater is rather big, with stadium seating and moderately plush seats. It is a great venue since there doesn’t seem to be a bad seat in the house. I’ll have to keep a look out for future productions in this area.

The second? Oh my, that would have to be the chatty gentleman who sat in the row in front of us at the theater. This pale, balding man cornered the poor gentleman sitting next to him with his dissection of many of the plays he had seen in the past few weeks and what he had been expecting, how the scripts didn’t work, how the scripts would have been made better, etc . . . in a rather loud voice. It was like the scene in Annie Hall, where Woody and Diane Keaton are standing in the movie line in front of a blowhard fellow who is regaling his friend with his dissection of media theories and obviously didn’t know what he was talking about, so Woody grabbed Marshall McLuren himself to tell the guy to please shut up. So our guy kept talking and J kept laughing and I kept trying to distract J to keep from laughing too loudly, which would cause the guy to turn around. It turns out that this guy is actually a visual arts critic who also teaches . . . and we could tell from the way he seemed to enjoy lecturing to anyone he was speaking. He stopped when the play started, thankfully . . . or not, depending how you felt about the play itself . . .

So that was our brief sojourn into the Fringe for this year . . . J is actually thinking about doing a one person show next year – I mean, given what we saw this year, ANYBODY can do a show – so after the play was over we started looking into what needed to happen to sign up for next time. The information won’t be available for a little while, so we’ll keep checking back every so often. I think it would be AWESOME beyond words if J could do one, and I think J would be a smashing success. I tried to talk J into it last year, but after our experiences this year, it cemented J’s resolve.

Maybe next year I’ll have more stories about the whole process of putting on a show . . . wouldn’t that be cool, huh?!?

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