All My Children by Courtenay Raia
Synopsis: Dr. Courtenay Grean (Courtenay Raia) gives an impromptu presentation on the latest development in reproduction: cryo-babies! Just cryogenically freeze your fertilized eggs and become a mother without all the hassles of motherhood (like y’know, actually having a live baby). It’s self-described as a TED Talk colliding with the Hindenburg.
Why Go?: I fricking hate TED Talks, and to see one self-destruct makes me very happy.
Stand-Out Bits: While the premise is wonderfully eccentric, this one-woman show fell a bit flat for me. Most of the laughs were cheesy and predictable. The slideshow accompanying Raia’s performance was effective in supplementing her character’s show, but in all, everything felt a little forced, especially towards the end when a blackout causes some technical difficulties for the cryo-babies. I could see the show developing a more nuanced approach to Dr. Grean’s biological tickings, her unorthodox approach to motherhood, and how this reflects on contemporary parenting styles.
All My Children plays at 440 Lafayette St. 8/19 at 7pm, 8/20 at 2pm, 8/22 at 9:15pm, 8/24 at 12pm.
Bedroom Secrets by Thomas and Judy Heath
Synopsis: Robin, a therapist (Ashlie Atkinson) meets with several patients (Stephen Wallem) to discuss issues of sexuality while navigating through her own newly budding relationship.
Why Go?: Thomas and Judy Heath has a proven track record– this is their third Fringe show in three years. Stephen Wallem is probably the most well-known actor of the festival. And bedroom kinks get an audience no matter what.
Stand-Out Bits: This play is much more nuanced than its title suggests. Each of the patients has an intriguing backstory and tackle quite genuine, tangible problems in their sessions. This is truly Stephen Wallem’s show. His characters transitions are effortless and completely believable, which is saying something when you’ve got a 6ft 3in 46 year old actor playing a 26yr old Valley Girl or a elderly prima donna. Robin’s backstory, while less interesting than the sessions, is important to understanding her character and add some depth to the play. I would like to see it evolve into a more integral part of the show.
Bedroom Secrets plays at The Players Theater 8/14 at 2:30pm, 8/16 at 5:15pm.
Joel Creasey: Rock God
Synopsis: Stand-up routine by up-and-coming Australian comedian Joel Creasey.
Why Go?: As Creasey says at the start, if stand-up makes you uncomfortable, just call it ‘storytelling.’
Stand-Out Bits: The youngest crowd I’ve seen at a Fringe show (like, literally tweens), which shouldn’t be too surprising since Creasey himself is only 23 years old. 23 YEARS OLD! Joel is charming and energetic. He’s thrilling to watch, especially when his stories veer off on seemingly natural and hilarious tangents. I can see why his fanbase is growing so healthily. Creasey puts on a front of a self-effacing, giddy millenial, but no doubt his powerhouse talent and incredible ambition is the cause of his success. Whether or not stand-up belongs in a theater festival is a discussion for another day, but while he’s here in the US, catch him before he breaks big.
Joel Creasey: Rock God plays at the Players Theater on 8/12 at 3pm, 8/13 at 5pm, 8/14 at 7pm, 8/15 at 3pm
Gary Busey’s One-Man Hamlet by David Carl
Synopsis: Comedian David Carl plays Gary Busey, in all his eccentric glory, as he plays all the roles in a condensed and totally liberal production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
Why Go?: This show has garnered the most buzz from the festival and is likely to please attract folks who don’t usually go to the theater out of sheer curiosity.
Stand-Out Bits: If you caught a glimpse of me at Sunday night’s show, chances are I had my mouth gaping open in wonder at what was going on in front of me. Or I was doing this. But of course I can’t just be over-joyed, I also have to analyze every little bit of what I see. And here’s my fantabulous interpretation of David Carl’s wonderful piece:
You know how Hamlet pretends to be crazy so that he can get away with being a) a total asshole to everyone around him and b) testing his uncle’s patience and wits while accusing him of murder? Sort of? I mean, Hamlet can just act out any way he wants under the guise of madness. It gives him the freedom to bend the rules, to act without regard to manners or structure, and puts him in a position of control.
Same goes for Gary Busey. In adopting the Gary Busey persona, David Carl can do WHATEVER THE HELL HE WANTS to Shakespeare’s canonical masterpiece. This includes substituting entire soliloquys with famous movie quotations, battling himself on camera, going on tangents about his career and famous friends, using makeshift puppets propped up by plastic forks to enact scenes with multiple characters, and SO MUCH MORE. This shtick never grows tired. Essentially, in making this Gary Busey’s Hamlet, Carl expels any expectations or theatrical standards and is in complete artistic control of the play and his audience for an hour and a half of brilliant comedy. “Madness in great ones should not unwatched go”
Gary Busey’s One-Man Hamlet is at Celebration of Whimsy 8/14 at 7pm, 8/15 at 2pm, 8/17 at 2:15pm, and 8/23 at 4:45pm