It's crazy that InFringe is already half way over! Last night was the second night of InFringe Theatre Festival 2019 and the streets were filled with audience members and artists running from show to show! The Marigny was buzzing with "I just came from this show you have to see it!""What show are you coming from?" "what show are you going to?" " Sorry I can't talk I have to run to this venue, the next show is starting soon" It was a cold night but the excitement for new work was keeping us warm!
As you know, NOBO has recruited some local writers to hit the street and see as many shows as possible, early in the festival. Each show we see will get a short review so our audiences know what they should expect and what they shouldn't miss this year at the InFringe.
Everyday we will post reviews on different shows so check back! Also let us know what you are seeing. Head to our Facebook page and leave a comment with your own inFringe recommendation or hot take!
INFRINGE NIGHT #2:
PERSONAL SPACE (Ben Fox, New Orleans)
An absolute delight! Quirky and funny and heartwarming, this sci-fi musical written by New Orleans local Ben Fox, was a great way to start off day two at the InFringe Fest!
PERSONAL SPACE is Douglas Addams meets book musical meets British gay sitcom, with catchy lyrics, jazz hands, and big dance numbers, extreme pessimism, a decapitated ghost, falling meteorites, has-been pop stars, gay bars, the drag dimension, and an impending supernova of the entire universe. The musical talents onstage are amazing and are accompanied by a live upright bass setting the perfect mood and tone for this eerie and campy show.
The characters are endearing and at the end you may even tear up (if not from feelings, from giggles... how could you not with lines like. “If being a gay man were an art form, anal expression would be my medium”)
$10, Performing at Art Garage
ALL 100 FIRES (Donna Oblongata, Philadephia, PA)
Comedy, Solo Show
Donna Oblongata draws on traditions of clowning and military history (hailing from Philly feels important to note) to create All 100 Fires, a one-person show depicting a revolutionary fighter at the end of his rope, mourning the loss of his brother and struggling to find meaning in the senseless fight as he trains new recruits (the audience) through exercises like “pass the sponge,” a hilarious maneuver I’ll let you experience for yourself.
All audience participation balances on the thrilling precipice of pleasure and danger, as the revolutionary character is simultaneously aggressive and compassionate towards the plight of his comrades. After all, the rules of the revolution as stated are, “no insubordination, desertion, or being defeatist,” creating a militaristic Lord of the Flies-esque atmosphere that is both hilarious, poking fun at its own absurdity, and deeply sincere, envisioning a better world. As the unnamed character tells us, “You can’t win [the war] without some delusion,” and fantastical elements like delicate bird puppetry, Mozart wafting from a boombox, and shadow puppetry on an overhead projector (à la Manual Cinema) lend softness and idealism to the otherwise grisly, apocalyptic world of the play.
Tongue-in-cheek and deadly serious, this gripping work makes you question both what is worth fighting for, and just how little you know about ornithology.
$10, Performing at the Art Garage
OUT OF SYNC (CC Falcon, New Orleans)
Out of Sync breaks the drag rules by giving us not just singular song performances but a narrative to lace them together with a well coiffed bow.
We follow a diverse group of queens that immediately push our expectations. We watch the performers get drugged and cursed, left to speak only in an inner voice they’ve never shown the world. I wanted more at the jump to establish who these queens were pre-curse/drug so I could feel a bit more attached to their dramatic changes. Even missing that bit of backstory I felt we had reached a new destination by the last two numbers.
You leave feeling endeared to the cast’s journey to self-acceptance and with more than one song stuck in your head. For the drag and theatre fan alike, check out Out of Sync.
$10, Performing at the Art Klub
Mary Full of Gray (Brittany N Williams, New Orleans)
Drama, Solo Show
The best thing I have seen at the InFringe so far! Stunning and captivating.
Brittany N. Williams’ solo show is masterful, in only one hour she takes the audience on a journey through the complicated life of Mary Jane Richards: born a slave, given “freedom,” sent to Libera, brought back, married off, asked to spy for the union, and finally sees liberation. Williams is a brilliant performer switching between characters seamlessly, an endearing and cunning Mary, the reserved and proper Miss Van Lew, an intimidating and terrifying police officer, the manic and threatening Davis. From physicality, to her voice, her characterizations were impeccable.
The Wonderland was the perfect venue, you automatically feel like you are transported to another time, the audience comes in to this beautiful big southern home, sit on lavish couches in a warm living room and then they hear Williams beautiful voice carry the gospel “Down By The Riverside.” From beginning to end I was hooked. Prepare to fall in love with an incredible woman and her unbelievable story.
$10, Performing at Wonderland
HOW TO EAT A BEAR (Luke Balagia and Mack Stine, Orlando, FL)
How to Eat a Bear is the bro-comedy-satire-musical we didn't know we all needed.
Mark and Dave are best friends with something to prove, that everyone's version of adulting isn't all that fun. If they could just kill and eat a bear everyone will know they have their shit together. Their persistent chemistry through their misadventures and over-the-top hyper-masculinity is the tie that binds this show together, their comedy is unrelenting and perfectly timed.
As an audience there is hardly anything that beats, people on stage having just as much fun as you. The entire show the audience is in on their inside joke: the incredible ability to laugh at not only themselves but the expectations that external narratives pressed on our lives by some script no one asked for. By their words "one song makes it a musical," and considering this one has three it's essentially broadway bound. The songs are surprising and mostly unnecessary but I'm not mad about it considering the level of performance this cast pumps into every second of this show.
How to Eat a Bear is great, I'd definitely seek out anything these guys write again. Go see this show if you want to laugh and eat free gummy bears.
$10, Performing at the Allways Lounge and Cabaret
CANDY COTTON (Daiquiri Rene Jones, New Orleans)
Beautiful Daiquiri Rene Jones and his banjo do not disappoint in this poetic, mellifluous, meandering, anecdotal personal history of blackness, identity, and dreams.
Reckoning with New Orleans’ history of slavery and gently exploring Afrofuturistic themes (both through subaquatic comic book magic and a trip to space), Daiquiri delicately intertwines threads of deeply intimate experience with systemic realities (psychology, algorithms, racial profiling, etc.), and original music on the harp, banjo, and various foley instruments, making good use of a loop pedal.
In Friday’s performance, Lolly Mariah/Natalie Tolbert acted as a female counterpart to Daiquiri’s narration, singing exquisitely and expressively moving to embody the storytelling. In an off-the-cuff remark Friday night, Daiquiri said, “It’s funny, but it’s also sad,” which perfectly summarizes the experience of Candy Cotton: it’s just as easy to get swept up in the delight as the tragedy.
$10, Performing at Art Klub
Thursday night Reviews: https://www.theneworleansboxoffice.com/post/thursday-night-at-infringe