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SD Fringe Top Pick: ‘Shelter’

Renee Westbrook’s one-woman show is worth seeing

We are hitting the halfway point of the seventh annual San Diego International Fringe Festival and some shows are rising to the top like Tangata Circus Company's "Real[ise]" and Renee Westbrook's "Shelter."

These two shows could not be more radically different and that is the wonderful thing about Fringe. You can walk out of a circus show where you laughed at the clowning and "oohed" and "aahed" at the crazy physical skills of the performers and then you can see a single person onstage delivering a monologue that holds you as equally rapt.

The other great thing about Fringe is that it allows artists to test material and experiment with form at a relatively low cost. Westbrook's one-woman show "Shelter" is exactly what makes Fringe such a great experience.

Westbrook has transformed her experiences, including being homeless, into a show that explores what shelter means to different people. Although she described herself as "not an actress" she took on multiple characters over the course of her opening night and convincingly conveyed each one's story. She premiered the show at the 2017 Fringe (sadly I missed it at that busier Fringe year) and has brought it back this year.

This is the kind of no-frills show that simply highlights a solo performer onstage using words to move us, enlighten us and most importantly see the world through different eyes. I urge you to come out and support a show like this because it is deeply personal and achingly honest, and the artist needs to have her story heard by an audience.

There are only two more performances of "Shelter:" at 7:30 p.m., June 12 and 6 p.m., June 15. Both are at WorldBeat Cultural Center, which is the only Fringe venue serving actual meals and the food is great.

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