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If you've already seen some Fringe Festival shows, you might have noticed a recurring theme, in the stories and the telling: difference.

Many are about "outsiders," people condemned by traditional society to the margin and beyond. And the tales are told by non-traditional means: some dramatic acting, yes, but also cartooning, clowning, myriad dance forms, and whole vocabularies of physical movement.

Compared to "traditional" theater and its values, these multi-styles may seem different, even "other." But they are so by design - and encourage you to leave your expectations at the door, and open up to the artistic universe beyond "realistic" acting.

Like most of the Fringe shows, Unity Productions can load in their piece in 15 to 20 minutes. The company, from Cincinnati, Ohio, tours schools with it - and should bring it to every one in the country!

Written by Nic Balthazar, and based on his book Nothing Was All He Said, the solo-performance show is about bullying and its devastating effects.

It unfolds as a mystery. Reclusive Ben, wearing headphones and a brown hoodie, types and text-messages on a portable keyboard and replays videos of various people trying to explain what went wrong.

"Ben is special," says a woman, who may be his mother.

"They aren't bad boys," says a denial-choked school official.

As he watches and listens, and sometimes cowers from the screen, Ben speaks in rhymes. He glides in stream of consciousness pairing words in new combinations. "I'm the rhyme master," he tells us, "but I suck at human relations."

Ben is autistic. Any deviation from a strict routine brings instant chaos. Rhyming helps hold his world together.

At school, where bullies claim they're just "teasing," Ben's a constant target every day, but one in particular.

Nothing's as current as current can be. It raises awareness about autism, bullying, and suicide prevention not with a ruler-on-your-knuckles sermon but from the inside, looking out.

Jon Kovach gives a deeply felt, physical performance as Ben. As the mystery unfolds, each new piece of evidence intensifies his pain - and our understanding.


Tenth Avenue Theatre, Cabaret Theatre, 930 Tenth Avenue, downtown, Saturday, July 6 at 6:30 p.m., and Sunday, July 7 at 2:00 p.m.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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