1 — No non-bionic reviewer can cover everything. Maybe not even a team of pundits, since each day has nine time-slots and usually five shows on at once. That’s 45 shows per day, with over 80 entrants for the less than two week run.
2 — The Fringe moves fast. Five of the most popular shows thus far – Beau and Aero; Riddle, Ronstadt, & Robyn; Will Work For; Jon Bennett’s manic Pretending Things Are A C–k; and Tin Shed Theatre’s whacko Dr. Frankenstein’s Traveling Freak Show — are gone. Others have one performance remaining.
(Even the Fringe’s deadline for submissions moved too fast for many a local performer, much to their chagrin.)
3 — For reviewers and audiences alike, there’s also that itchy, Edinburgh Fringe feeling: you’re watching a performance that doesn’t grab you and know that, somewhere in that auld gray, stone-walled “toon” a magical hour’s surely at hand, and everyone is overjoyed to have made the pilgrimage and hit the lottery.
The Edinburgh Fringe packs an estimated 3000 acts into three weeks in August. The logistics of reviewing the festival boggle the brainpan: not just going to venues all over the city, but somehow writing a clear-eyed, cogent review — not often the case — in the interim.
Even with “stringer” reviewers hired for the event, the paper of record, The Scotsman, can cover 20% max. of the festival.
Ergo: quality versus quantity. And getting the word out fast. Word of mouth in San Diego isn’t slow, necessarily, but acting on it often is, since other options always abound.
The San Diego International Fringe Festival closes this Sunday, July 13.
To expand the Reader’s coverage, and since many publications have neither next-day or even same-week service, I solicited the opinions of some trusted theater people (Welton Jones, D.J. Sullivan, Kathi Diamant, Pam Kragen, Pat Launer, Jim Hebert, among others) to identify shows they liked. These aren’t the Greatest Hits of the Festival, per se, but they have caught the eye of more than one member of the ad hoc panel.
Most Mentioned Shows
Nothing With Nobody. Three characters, Greek-like tragedy, spoken in operatic Italian. Spreckels Theatre, Off Broadway, 923 First Avenue, downtown, Saturday, July 12 at 9:30 p.m., Sunday July 13 at 6:30 p.m.
The Hideout. Haste Theatre’s gifted sprites retell the tale of Theseus and the Minotaur (played by two tap-dancing women). Spreckels Off Broadway, 923 First Avenue, downtown, Thursday, July 10 at 8:00 p.m., Friday, July 11 at 2:00 p.m., Saturday, July 12 at 5:00 p.m.
Red, White, and Blacklisted. Kent Brisby’s humble tour de force about Lee Hayes, bass singer for the Weavers, closes after tonight’s performance. Spreckels Theatre, RAW Space, 923 First Avenue, downtown, tonight at 8:00 p.m.
Victor Charlie. Several panelists highly recommend this “full-length, dance-theater” production about the Vietnam War (“Victor Charlie” was the Viet Cong). Spreckels Theatre, RAW Space, 923 First Avenue, downtown, Saturday, July 12 at 2:00 p.m.
Heartquakes: A California Love Story. Panelists enjoyed this piece, by Becijos productions, in which Zoe and Axel face each other “like tectonic plates.” Tenth Avenue Arts Center, 930 Tenth Avenue, downtown, Wednesday, July 9 at 9:30 p.m., Friday, July 11 at 8:00 p.m., Saturday, July 12 at 6:30 p.m.
7 Deadly Sins. Kurt Weill/Bertolt Brecht “sung ballet” about Anna’s harrowing journey through the Valley of the Shadow of Capitalism. Lyceum Theatre, 79 Horton Plaza, downtown, Wednesday, July 9 at 8:00 p.m., Thursday, July 10 at 6:30 p.m., Sunday, July 13 at 12:30 p.m.
Other Multiple Mentions
Ceremony. Tenth Avenue Arts Center, 930 Tenth Avenue, downtown, Wednesday, July 9 at 3:30 p.m., Thursday, July 10 at 9:30 p.m., Sunday, July 13 at 6:30 p.m.
The 146 Point Flame. Spreckels Off-Broadway, 923 First Avenue, downtown, Wednesday, July 9 at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, July 10 at 2:00 p.m., Friday, July 11 at 11:00 p.m.
The Mending Monologues, Spreckels RAW Space, 923 First Avenue, downtown, Friday, July 11 at 9:30 p.m., Saturday July 12 at 8:00 p.m., Sunday, July 13 at 11:00 a.m..
Solo y Juntos – Al Camino del Alma. Lyceum Theatre, 79 Horton Plaza, downtown, Wednesday, July 9 at 9:30 p.m., Saturday, July 12 at 5:00 p.m.
Nightbird. Spreckels Off Broadway, 923 First Avenue, downtown, Wednesday, July 9 at 8:00 p.m., Thursday, July 10 at 5:00 p.m., Saturday, July 12 at 2:00 p.m.
The Wave. Last year, Cincinnati’s Unity Productions knocked one out of the park with Nothing. Jon Kovach played Ben, a physically and emotionally challenged young man (who cued the technical effects on a keyboard). Unity production’s new piece, based on a true story about a high school teacher warning students against the evils of totalitarianism, opens Thursday night, for three performances only.