San Diego Fringe Final Day
Last Chance To Catch Amazing Shows
Sunday, July 13, 2014
This is the last day of the second annual San Diego International Fringe and if you haven't gone there are final performances of some great, fun shows.
This is the eleventh day of Fringe and I've lost count of how many plays I've seen. It has been a fabulous experience and I just want to quickly highlight some shows that you need to check out before they are gone.
Top of the list for today would be Lady Grew's "Sweet Pang" Off Fringe at 8:00 pm at Les Girls. This is a spectacular show and kudos to Fringe for coming up with this clever off site venue. Entering Les Girls -- which I don't think has changed anything since the 70s except for some new paint here and there -- is like entering a different world. You get to pass a sign above the entrance that warns: "Les Girls is a living theater. Like a nudist club nudity is everywhere. Do not enter if nudity offends you." But do enter if you want to be supremely entertained by Lady Grew.
I have to confess that I sometimes stay away from shows that promote themselves as "feminist" because that can mean you are in for something self-consciously message driven and many times humorless. (Perhaps I'm stereotyping but it is based on experience.) Lady Grew, however, has something to say but says it with a wit, cleverness, and exuberant style that dazzles you. I have found that humor coupled with a sharp sense of social commentary is far more effective in making a point than anything else. Lady Grew attacks the stage like a force of nature and performs songs and displays killer pole dancing skills. (She's a petite woman but a physical powerhouse.) She makes full use of Les Girls' gaudy red stage, employing props and costumes in surprising ways -- a monkey mask may be the best. She suggests that alternative lifestyles and not conforming to ridiculous conventions is a choice to be respected and applauded. She delivers a show that's sexy, funny, and smart. See this show before she heads back to Ireland.
Earlier in the evening you can catch another of the Fringe's best, "Nocturnicon," at the Off Fringe site of the Ocean Beach Playhouse. Like Les Girls, this is a great venue to expand the Fringe's campus. And Ocean Beach, like Les Girls, is a bit like traveling back in time. The Playhouse has murals of 60s rock stars lining the hall as you enter and there's what I call Harem seating on the sides of the theater where you can lie amongst silky, beaded pillows. "Nocturnicon" is a dance piece inspired by Anna Yanushkevich's passion for what she calls "the medical arts." You can read more of my interview with her. The show is made up of a number of different dance pieces, some incorporating aerial circus arts, and four of them are breathtakingly brilliant. Check it out.
Also noteworthy on this last day is "Doctor Schmoctor," which does what a Fringe show is supposed to do and that is take risks. A lot of what I saw at Fringe was good but it was also just shorter versions of what you can find in any theater. The best of Fringe (which this year was hands down "Dr. Frankenstein's Travelling Freak Show") is about doing something that pushes creative boundaries and tries something new.
There are shows starting at 11:00 am and running till 8:00 pm. I have not been able to see even a quarter of the 80 productions so I also suggest just taking a chance on something, anything just so long as you get yourself a taste of Fringe before it closes its second year. Shows are just $10 and run under an hour each.