There’s this wonderful thing where if you missed the Fringe festival because, let’s say, you were having an awesome scuba-diving vacation or you chose to spend your days so as to avoid tourists at any means possible, you can still catch some of the festival’s most popular and highly-rated shows. Some of our favorites have ended up in this year’s Encore Series, performed at Soho Playhouse and Baruch College’s Performing Arts Center, so catch them before they’re gone for good!
This one-man show about Holocaust deniers had so many enjoyable and provocative twists and ideas that left us in its grips for days. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a one-person show that was as thrilling and absorbing as this. Final Encores performance plays at Baruch PAC on 9/24 at 7:30pm
This focused and realistic new play draws on Ballen’s work with undocumented public high school students in New York City as they look towards college, citizenship, and bettering their families’ lives. It’s striking and intimate, the kind of work that could open people’s eyes to the everyday challenges of immigration in the city. Opens at Soho Playhouse on 9/26.
This dark comedy imagines the iconic Peanuts characters as adults gathering for their friend’s funeral. But it’s also so much more than that. Brendan Hunt gives the festival’s most acclaimed performance, and its simple yet ambitious message of growing up and taking charge of your decisions is stunning to watch unfold. Opens at Soho Playhouse on 10/3
This one-women show about Brecht’s lovers and their influences on his most famous works expertly blends biography and entertainment, making it one of the festival’s surprise hits. It’s a must-see for anyone remotely familiar with Brecht or interested in theater*cough* you *cough* Final performance at Baruch PAC on 9/28
David Carl is the writer and star of Gary Busey’s One-Man Hamlet, one of Fringe’s hottest tickets this year! After reviewing/fangirling about the show last week, I was excited to ask for an interview. We talked about how the show got on its feet, what it’s like to get in a Busey mindframe, and geeked out a bunch about Hamlet!
LMezz: How did the Gary Busey obsession start up and how did it get tied into Hamlet?
David Carl: I do different impressions and one of the impressions I do is Nick Nolte. Four years ago, my friend Boris Khaykin heard that his friend Whitney Meers was making a Gary Busey commercial parody called 1-800 GET BUSEY and he recommended me. I think he confused Nick Nolte with Gary Busey, but I like to think he was believing in me. I had three days to learn the Busey impression before shooting for a live show at the UCB. So I just geeked out in front of Youtube like I usually do when learning a new character. My roommate at the time was from Arkansas and he was very critical and a playwright and way too young to be a misanthrope but he is. He hates everything. And he was like, “you got it. You got it. That’s it.” Continue reading “LMezz Interviews: David Carl (Gary Busey’s One-Man Hamlet)”→
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”