Campo Maldito by Bennett Fisher

Summary: A start-up entrepreneur (Walker Hare) believes that his digital venture is cursed by a paranormal spirit. He hires a local santero (Luis Vega) to cast out the spirit, though neither gets what they expect from their encounter with the supernatural.

Why Go?: The show listing promises a critique of the negligent business practices in Silicon Valley that have gentrified and displaced much of the area. Social justice themes wrapped in a fun, unique premise? I’m in.
Thoughts: With only an hour performance time, Campo Maldito wastes too much time in banal and repetitious dialogue that varies on the following: “Dude! What are you doing?!” “I’m here to help you!” “Why are you doing that?” “Do you want me to help you or not?” We don’t really get into the meat of the story until halfway in, when the spirit reveals itself as an old resident of the building, driven out by the flux of digital entrepreneurs in the city. We’re never given much time to reflect on the nature of this upheaval, and I think that a few added/replaced scenes can truly bring out the nuances of the ghost’s relationship to her surroundings, to the santero, and to the start-up, which sets to make a profit on giving loans to the financially unstable. While the play has a muddled perspective on these key issues, it does reflect powerfully on the nature of addiction and how it manifests itself in the lives of each of the characters. This is truly a riveting premise and I would definitely keep an eye out for further post-Fringe productions at their website.

The Internet!: A Complete History by Kristyn Pomeranz and Katherine Steinberg

Summary: The history of the internet, as told by Al Gore (Benjamin Drew Thompson) and an enthusiastic crew of avatar aficionados and tumblrheads.

Why Go?: Lord knows I didn’t learn anything from that mandatory computer science class…
Thoughts: …and I didn’t. This show felt like an inside joke that left the audience out of everything. It was incredibly unfocused, perhaps mimicking the way today’s internet user operate with 20 tabs open and switch back and forth, but the show lost perspective quickly and became messy and unfunny. I’m not sure why Al Gore was given narrator status here. He provided no unique point of view– it could have just as easily been anyone with a basic textbook knowledge of internet history. Having knowledge of current recent internet history is a prerequisite to understanding most of the show, but even if you already do, the show does very little to augment it or cleverly play off of it. The best bits of the show were a compilation of internet memes set to a re-worded “We Didn’t Start the Fire” and a party scene in which the cast played different social media platforms. These two skits were witty and entertaining, presenting popular internet trends in a unique satire. I think that if this show were to evolve, this satirical skit approach would be a smart way to go.

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The Three Faces of Doctor Crippen by Emily Schwartz

Summary: This musical, based on the life of the infamous turn-of-the-century murderer H.H. Crippen, recounts the story of his crimes using three different actors to portray the distinct personas, or ‘faces’, that comprise us all: the public persona, the private persona, and the fantasy or ideal persona.

Why Go?: Um. Did you read that summary?
Thoughts: What a way to end the Fringe festival! This is definitely one of my favorite productions of the festival! Inventive, clever, and wonderfully satisfying, “Doctor Crippen” maintains a consistently high quality of storytelling that sets it apart from other productions. Using Brechtian ensemble techniques to portray and expand its gothic world, the show is simultaneously fun, chilling, and endearing. I really hope Doctor Crippen continues to grow as a production, my only complaint being that I wished it lasted longer!