2016 Fringe Encore Series, for NYC AND Edinburgh Fringe Shows You Missed

Below are the shows at the 11th anniversary of the Fringe Encore Series, from September 9h to October 29th, 2016 at the SoHo Playhouse (15 Vandam Street), selected from both the New York International Fringe Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe, listed chronologically by opening date.

FringeEncores2016

From the 2016 New York International Fringe Festival

MOTHER EMANUEL

Mother Emanuel

Mother Emanuel

Winner of  Fringe NYC Overall Excellence for a Musical

A celebration of the lives of the nine gunned down at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina on June 17, 2015.

September 9-17, 2016

PUCKER UP AND BLOW

Winner of Fringe NYC Overall Excellence for a Play

David, a young actor with only children’s theatre credits, is making his Broadway debut in a play by New York’s “most inflammatory” playwright—but it means nudity and performing a lewd sex act. What’s more important? Dignity or career?

September 11- October 16

 

THE CLEANING GUY

One man’s dealings with the dirty secrets of apt dwellers in NYC. A wild ride with original musical numbers that give you a voyeuristic view of what lies behind their doors.

September 16-29

DementiaAmericana16-4398DEMENTIA AMERICANA

Sex! Murder! Insanity! John Philip Sousa! All this and more in a darkly comic and appallingly relevant play that explores the upsetting and true events surrounding Evelyn Nesbit, Harry K Thaw, and the 1906 murder of famed architect Stanford White.

September 8 – 27

CHIPANDGUS

Two oddball acquaintances meet once a month over a ping pong table. But this night is different. This night there is something else in the room

September 19 – October 1

Rent Control

Rent Control

RENT CONTROL

Winner of  Fringe NYC Overall Excellence for a solo show

Evan Zes portrays 30 characters, including himself, a struggling actor turns an NYC rent-controlled apartment into a lucrative AIRBNB scheme in this wild-but-TRUE one-man show

September 24 – October 8

 

THE SECRET LIFE OF YOUR THIRD GRADE TEACHER

When you teach third grade, you can’t tell your students everything. A two-time Moth GrandSLAM champion comes clean about classroom disasters, falling in love and forging letters from an imaginary Queen.

October 1 – 14

 

ZAMBONI

Jamie has resurfaced the ice rink for decades – frozen in isolation, unnoticed by the world around him. On the brink of his mother’s death, he begins a high-stakes journey of self-discovery through darkly funny and morally risky encounters.

October 3 – 15

THE FALL

Ten years have gone by since 9/11, but life without Dad has not gotten any easier. In this memory play-meets-docudrama, six young women search for identity, understanding, and redemption in the wake of a national—and very personal—tragedy.

October 5 – 18

HomoSapiensInterruptus16-4370_2HOMOS INTERRUPTUS

Carlos Dengler he talks about heavy metal, human origins, and his road from pizza delivery to rockstardom with the band Interpol.

October 15 – 29

THE EXTRAORDINARY FALL OF THE FOUR LEGGED WOMAN

Oct 19-29

Glimpse underneath the Big Top with our a capella musical circus sideshow! In the dusty desert, Myrtle Corbin, the Four-Legged curiosity, meets her match. Can this veteran performer make a life outside the tent?

THE BOX SHOW

Winner of Fringe Overall Excellence for a solo show.

One woman. 25 characters. All inside a cupboard! The doors open to reveal: a drunken couple in Vegas, a lonely Giantess, the entire Greek Army inside the Trojan Horse, & more!

Oct 20-22

 

THE RADICALIZATION OF ROLFE

The Radicalization of Rolfe

The Radicalization of Rolfe

Winner of Fringe Overall Excellence for a Play

A look at The Sound of Music from the point of view of Rolfe (“I am 17 going on 18”), a Nazi who is also gay.

Oct 23- 29

From the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

 

WE LIVE BY THE SEA

We Live By The Sea Logo

September 3 – September 17, 2016
When Ryan moves from the city to Katie’s coastal town, they make a connection that will shake their worlds forever. Playful visual storytelling with a live electronic score about autism, friendship and a very big wave.

All Quiet

ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT

Sep 13-24, 2016

Eric Maria Remarque’s classic vision of the First World War from the German viewpoint receives a first rate production and performance from Incognito Theatre

5 guys chillin
5 GUYS CHILLIN’ VIP

Award-winning graphic, gripping, funny and frank verbatim drama exposing the gay chemsex chill-out scene. From surgeons to students, couples to kink; guys that love it and lost guys longing to be loved. Made from interviews with guys found on Grindr, 5 Guys Chillin’ is an original look into a drug-fuelled, hedonistic, highly secret world of chemsex, Grindr and the search for intimacy and instant gratification. (“Chemsex” is defined as men using specific drugs to have sex with other men.)
September 27 – October 9

Piaf and Brel

PIAF AND BREL (THE IMPOSSIBLE CONCERT)
Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel: Two French musical icons. They sang songs of romance, heartbreak, hope and love. They lived lives of drama and passion. This impossible concert, featuring internationally acclaimed vocalist Melanie Gall, relives the adventure and inspiration of their lives and music. With Amsterdam, Milord, La Vie en Rose and other French classics.

October 4 – 14

Yokes Night

YOKES NIGHT
Dublin, 11th March 2015. A slip-up loophole in the law declares all drugs legal for 24 hours. On this night of rebellion, Harry finds himself under the influence of Saoirse. Bound by the ecstasy of their union, secrets are shared, and the stench of bloodshed is looming. Stay Up Late and Bear Trap Theatre fuse cut-throat dialect with stylized movement, forging a fresh, progressive theatre experience.

October 13-23

Opera Mouse

And for the Children
OPERA MOUSE
Tilly Mouse lives under an opera house, and she just loves to sing! Her dream is to perform on stage. But whenever anybody sees her, they scream and run away. With determination, imagination, and help from her friends, Tilly proves that even a mouse can be a star! Featuring songs and arias from several operas, including Gianni Schicchi, Carmen and The Magic Flute.

Oct 1-9

2016 FringeNYC Overall Excellence Awards


“Mother Emanuel,” a celebration of the lives of the nine gunned down in a South Carolina church, and “The Radicalization of Rolfe,” which looks at the  Sound of Music from the point of view of a gay Nazi, were two of the winners of the 2016 FringeNYC Overall Excellence Awards.

Complete list:

Overall Play:
Pucker Up and Blow
The Radicalization of Rolfe
Black Magic

Overall Musical:
Mother Emanuel

Direction:
Kristin Skye Hoffmann – Dream Ticket
Leslie Kincaid Burby – Zamboni
Jessi D. Hill – Brewed

Ensemble:
The Gorges Motel
Colorblind’d
The Further Adventures of…
ChipandGus

Solo Performance:
The Box Show
Honour: Confessions of a Mumbai Courtesan
At The Flash
Pryor Truth
Rent Control

Playwrighting:
Kevin R. Free – Night of the Living N-Word!!
Dahn Hiuni – Murmurs & Incantations
Meghan Gambling – Bonnie’s Future Sisters
Louis Aquiler & Chris D’Amato – Dementia Americana

Acting:
Taylor Turner – The Illusory Adventures of a Dreamer
Nadia Brown – Hysterical!
Meg Kelly – Kerrmoor
Dave Droxler – Walken on Sunshine

Choreography:
Tom Gold – Joey Variations

Scenic Design:
Jason Lee Courson – Cyrano: a love letter to a friendship

Music/Lyrics:
Aaron Michael Krueger – Super!

Music Composition:
Matthew Lowy – Fallen Skies
Ben Singer – At the Crossroads: Music for Faust

TheaterMania Audience Favorite:
Walken on Sunshine

The winners were selected by an independent panel of more than 30 theater professionals

 

Sondheim Progressing. Babs Panned. Jennifer Holliday Purpled. Melissa Errico Purified. Week in New York Theater

Yes, the summer is winding down, but the theater season is gearing up. Witness the news below of new casts on Broadway, new shows Off-Broadway, and some tantalizing maybes.

It’s not too early to check out how the 2016-17 Broadway season is shaping up.

Broadway2016_17 logos

 

Week in New York Theater Reviews

Chase Burnett) as a cop and Ty Gailloux as a Black Lives Matter participant whose cousin was shot by a police officer. In background, Emma Tracy Moore and Mildred Victoria as their respective wives.

Chase Burnett) as a cop and Ty Gailloux as a Black Lives Matter participant whose cousin was shot by a police officer. In background, Emma Tracy Moore and Mildred Victoria as their respective wives.

Black and Blue

tn-500_EevinHartsough_PhotobyIsaiahTanenbaum

Night of the Living N Word

Mother Emanuel

Mother Emanuel

Week in New York Theater News

JenniferHolliday

Jennifer Holliday (“Dreamgirls” on Broadway) joining The Color Purple as Shug Avery starting October 4.

Sweeney Todd in pie shop

A  production of Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd” that opened in Harringtons Pie Shop (an actual pie shop in UK.) is now set to open at Barrow Street Theatre March 1, 2017.

TheatreFestNYC

Meet 20 of the best non-profit theaters in NYC at Signature Theater,  Tuesday, August 30th, from noon-4. FREE. The event is designed for students new to New York to become acquainted with the rich theatrical offerings in the city. But it’d surely be fun for anyone interested in theater to meet representatives (and get goodies) from:

Ars Nova, Atlantic Theater Company / Atlantic Acting School,
BAM, The Barrow Group Theatre Company & School,
Classic Stage Company, Lincoln Center Theater,
MCC Theater, The New Group, New York Theatre Workshop,
The Pearl Theatre Company, Performance Space 122, Playbill
Playwrights Horizons, Primary Stages, Rattlestick Playwrights Second Stage Theatre, Signature, Soho Rep, St. Ann’s Warehouse, The Vineyard Theatre.

Life According To Saki

Winner of Best of Edinburgh Fringe, “Life According to Saki” by Katherine Rundell, will be produced at the New York Theatre Workshop February 9-March 5 2017. The play imagines Saki, born Hector Hugh Munro, entertaining his fellow troops during World War I with his stories. He died in the trenches in 1916.

Indecent 2 The cast of Indecent photo by Carol Rosegg

Producers Daryl Roth and Elizabeth McCann are trying to bring Paula Vogel’s “Indecent” to Broadway.

small_mouth_sounds for Calendar

“Small Mouth Sounds” has been extended to October 9

MissedConnections a Craigslist musical

“Missed Connections: A Craigslist Musical,” a hit in Canada based on actual ads on Craigslist, opens at New Ohio Theatre September 15.

CBS Sunday Morning interview with her:

Fringe Review: Mother Emanuel

 

Mother Emanuel“Mother Emanuel” is an earnest, lively play filled with rousing music that celebrates the lives of the nine people who were shot dead at the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, 2015. It is a sad story but it’s told in a deeply entertaining way, with the four supremely talented members of the cast singing some dozen gospel songs well enough to explain why so many people still get up on Sunday mornings.

Each of the four actors portrays several characters – not just the members of the Bible study group on the day they were gunned down, but also their family and friends, their students and co-workers, in flashbacks that go back as far as 40 years earlier.

We see Christian Lee Branch — who co-wrote the play with director and choreographer Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj and Adam Mace – as 74-year-old Daniel L. Simmons, telling an Army buddy after serving in Vietnam, and getting a Purple Heart, that he was going to become a preacher (“the family business.”) We also see him as 26-year-old Tywanza Sanders, who was planning on graduate school and aiming to open up a barber shop.

Mother Emanuel 9

Mother Emanuel 9

We see Lauren Shaye as 59-year-old Myra Thompson in her classroom, teaching James Baldwin to her fidgety students. “Poets like Mr. Baldwin, Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, Nicki Giovanni, and Amiri Baraka used their words not only to express themselves but to speak truths about our society…(about) things that needed to change in our world.” (Langston Hughes is quoted as much as the Bible in “Mother Emanuel.”) Shaye also portrays 87-year-old singer Susie Jackson and 45-year-old Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, who was a pastor, speech therapist and track coach. Shaye’s pipes bring down the house.

Nicole Stacie plays six characters, including three of the professional women (49-year-old pastor and college admissions coordinator Depayne Middleton-Doctor, 54-year-old librarian Cynthia Hurd, 70-year-old sexton Ethel Lee Lance) killed that day. With an impressively pliable face, she provides much of the humor in the play.

Marquis D. Gibson portrays the 41-year-old Clementa Pinckey, the pastor of Mother Emanuel and a South Carolina State Senator. Gibson is also President Obama delivering the moving eulogy for the nine.

That such a show as “Mother Emanuel” could hold its own in a festival known for campy hits with silly titles is a testament not just to the power of the show, but to the growing maturity of the New York International Fringe Festival on its 20th anniversary.

“Mother Emanuel”

Fringe Review: Night of the Living N Word

Barbra is a mother with a mission in Kevin R. Free’s cartoonish, cleverly convoluted and uncomfortable comedy, “Night of the Living N Word.” A daughter of the Confederacy who grew up on an island plantation off the coast of Georgia, Barbra refuses to allow her 17-year-old mixed-race son Channing to use the racial epithet, the N word. She also forbids it for her black servants and for her African-American husband Ben; indeed, on her urging, Ben quit a TV series in which he starred because the scripts included the word, and he hasn’t worked much since. Barbra wants to bury the N-word once and for all. “Bad things happen when you say the N-Word,” Barbra says. But she seems to be the one to make the bad things happen on the particular day in which “The Night of the Living N Word” takes place; she has brought her family for the first time to the old plantation mansion where she grew up, in order to celebrate Channing’s 17th birthday.

Playwright Kevin R. Free also has a mission – actually, three missions. Free wants to make us laugh. In this he succeeds, helped along by a production, directed by Nicole A. Watson, that brings out the humor in actor and inanimate object alike (i.e. Joshua Coakley’s cartoon-like cardboard cutout props and sets.)

Free also wants to keep us surprised. For this, the show employs a spot-on six-member cast (including Free himself in the role of Ben) to take us for a dizzying 90-minute ride full of unexpected swerves and reversals. The vertigo is induced not just because of the play’s over-the-top plot but because of its switches in tone – from sketch comedy to campy horror movie spoof to black comedy (in two senses of that phrase.)

Finally, Free wants to make a serious statement about the complex and contradictory attitudes about race in America. He in effect asks us to consider why black and white Americans view that one word so differently. (It’s a word that is uttered dozens of times in the play, but which I do not feel comfortable repeating here.) He also seems to be asking why white people find racist language more troublesome than racist action. If that were not enough, thanks to several of his plot twists, he also questions our attitudes towards LGBT people.

It is a tall order for any entertainment, especially such a giddy one, to place these contentious matters before us.

Such pointed commentary amid the comic mayhem is sure to register more clearly and convincingly with some audience members than with others. What, for example, do you make of this exchange involving 17-year-old biracial Channing, his father Ben, and Clayton, who is Ben’s father and Channing’s grandfather, about Barbra’s ban on the N-word?

Channing: Why do you let her control you? You’re black. WE are black. She’s white. We can say whatever we want.
Ben: No YOU
 can’t. I can. But I won’t.
Clayton: Because he’s scared. We should all be scared.
Ben: There is nothing scarier than a white woman bent on saving a race.

How do you take that last line? It got a laugh, in part I suspect because of the delivery. But is this just a cheap laugh at the character’s expense, with sexist overtones? Or is this meant to show up white hypocrisy? How is Barbra a hypocrite? Is it because her plantation-owner parents were racist? But she’s rejected her parents’ values. Is it because she can’t help but be a hypocrite in a white-privileged society? Is her behavior another example of the patronizing attitude of even well-meaning white people towards people of color — the liberal version of white supremacy?

Now, is it possible your attitude towards this line depends on your race, gender, generation or sexual orientation?  Is it indelicate even to ask such a question? That I AM asking – that “Night of the Living N Word” has inspired such questions – is proof of the show’s effectiveness as something more than silly entertainment, even for those who have qualms about it.

Night of the Living N Word

Players Theater

Remaining show time

FRI 26 @ 4:30

Fringe Review: Black and Blue, NYPD vs. Black Lives Matter

Former New York City Mayor David Dinkins used to refer to the city as a gorgeous mosaic. That phrase came to mind for a couple of reasons while I watched “Black and Blue,” an ultimately compelling, up-to-the-minute play about the current tensions between African-Americans and police officers.
“Black and Blue” itself seems pieced together like something of a makeshift mosaic, initially. The 90-minute play begins with sirens and a woman officer sitting on the ground stunned; she has just shot a black man. Passersby, circling the cop in a theatrical way, react with contradictory accounts ( “He didn’t do nothin’”/”He was about to attack that cop”)
The shooting is the catalyst for much of the first half of the play, with scenes of police investigation, public reaction, and a TV reporter’s continuing reports on developments.  The scenes are interspersed with Katherine George’s spoken-word poetry recited by individual members of the nine-member cast — 13 poems in all, with titles like “Black IN Blue” (recited by a police officer), “A Panthers Commandments” (recited by a Black Panther),“Black Vs. Blue in 140 Characters or Less,” in which the battle of social media posts by ensemble members holding up picture frames culminates in a cacophony of hectoring voices.
Kevin Demoan Edwards’ script eventually more or less drops the shooting to focus in on two couples. Kristen (Emma Tracy Moore) and Maya (Mildred Victoria) work together as nurses and have become good friends. They would like to bring their husbands together into the friendship. But Kristen’s husband Mike (Chase Burnett) is a (white) cop. Maya’s husband Mark (Ty Gailloux) has joined the Black Lives Matter movement; it was his cousin who was shot dead by the woman police officer. The second half of the play revolves around the wariness of the two men, their evolving relationship, and their complex and contentious interaction with each other’s circle of acquaintances.
Their friendship has its ups and downs. At one point they confront one another, Mike the cop telling Mark that he puts himself in danger every day that he works. “I’m sorry your cousin’s dead. But that officer thought her life was in danger so she pulled the trigger, plain and simple. Now we all have targets on our backs.”
Mark replies: “I was born with a target on my back…At the end of the day, you get to come home and take (your uniform) off….I have no choice whether or not I want to deal with the consequences of being black in white America.”
The story takes a melodramatic turn that comes out of nowhere and feels imposed by the authors. Then they tack on a hopeful ending – which is the second way that this play recalls the “gorgeous mosaic”; some felt the positive implication of the slogan was wishful thinking during a time of violence and racial tension.
Still, “Black and Blue” has two strengths that make it worthwhile. First, there is a real effort to give voice to the various, conflicting points of view. The police aren’t stick figures. Second, the four principal actors, under the direction of Arielle Sosland, make their characters credible. There is a terrific scene filled with awkward silences when the wives leave the two men alone for the first time. At another point, after Maya tells Kristen that she’s pregnant, showing her the pregnancy stick, Kristen takes a picture of it with her cell phone. There is more than one way that “Black and Blue” effectively captures current events.

“Black and Blue”
The Steve & Marie Sgouros Theatre

Remaining show time

 

Final Fringe Binge. Harry Potter and Hamilton vs. Ticket Resellers. Week in New York Theater

“The Sound of Music” told from the point of view of a gay Nazi; biographies of three African-American men — W.E.B. Du Bois, Stokely Carmichael, and Richard Pryor. These are among the most intriguing shows I’ve seen at the Fringe, which runs for one more week, until Sunday, August 28th.

The Week in New York Theater Reviews

RadicalizationofRolfe2_DixieSheridan

The Radicalization of Rolfe

Cabtivist

Cabtivist

Honour 2a

Honour: Confessions of a Mumbai Courtesan

W.E.B. Du Bois: A Man For All Times

W.E.B. Du Bois: A Man For All Times

Meshaun Labrone as Stokely Carmichael

Meshaun Labrone as Stokely Carmichael

Power! Stokely Carmichael

PryorTruth1_RebeccaBrillhart

Pryor Truth

Murielreviewingcollage

If a five-year-old can review plays, why not a 95-year-old? On her 95th birthday, Muriel Mandell reviews Hamilton etc.

The Week in New York Theater News

ComefromAway

“Come From Away,” a musical about planes landing in a small town in Newfoundland during September 11, 2001, is set to open on Broadway on March 12, 2017.

turturro-shalhoub-hecht

John Turturro, Tony Shalhoub and Jessica Hecht will star in the Roundabout’s revival of Arthur Miller’s The Price, February 16-May 7 2017

Groundhog Day the musical in UK

Flush from good reviews for Groundhog Day, the musical in UK created by the Matilda team (composer Tim Minchin, director Matthew Warchus) and starring Andy Karl (Rocky), its producers re-announce plans to transfer to Broadway, though they don’t say when.

 

Fall 2016 Irish Rep:

Melissa Errico  in Finians Rainbow

Afterplay by Brian Friel

Pigeon in the Taj Majal by Laoisa Sexton

Ex-theater agent Roland Scahill is charged with raising $165,000 for fake Broadway play  (Shades of The Producer?)

Second Stage Theatre has less than two years to repay a $16.5 million mortgage on its new Broadway home.

laura benanti

Laura Benanti is writing a book of essays entitled “I Stole Your Boyfriend, and Other Monster Acts on My Way to Becoming a Human Woman,” aiming for publication in 2017.

30-second Hairspray Live promotional video

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory turns the Big Apple into the Big Candy Apple

 
The arts are missing from the political debate

Tickets for the Harry Potter play are fetching as much as $6,400 for ticket resellers; the New York resellers have gotten as much as $8,000 for “Hamilton.”  The producers of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” and “Hamilton” are battling these ticket resellers in very different ways.

“The secondary-ticket market is an industry-wide plague,” Harry Potter producer Sonia Friedman says, “and one which we as producers take very seriously.”

Reviewing Hamilton on her 95th birthday

On her 95th birthday, Muriel Mandell reviews Hamilton and other Broadway shows.

“I understand a five-year-old has been reviewing theater, and so I thought, well, why can’t I?”

Reviewed in the video:
Familiar
The Golden Bride
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center of New York City

Fiddler on the Roof

Hamilton

Fringe Review: Pryor Truth

In his solo show about comedian Richard Pryor,  Khalil Muhammad has figured out a novel way both of presenting the man’s life and giving a taste of his comic approach. Muhammad doesn’t portray Pryor, but rather one of Pryor’s best-known characters, Mudbone, a drunken native of Tupelo, Mississippi. In the first half of the 90-minute show, Mudbone tells an elaborate tall tale (that includes a bawdy encounter with fiery abolitionist John Brown) that is supposed to be about how he moved to Peoria, Illinois, which is where Pryor was born. Mudbone speaks in the style of mid-period Pryor – full of explicit sexual humor and profanity. “If the words fuck, shit, pussy, n….r or bitch offends you in any kind of way, just get up and go ‘cause there’s gonna be a whole lot of that tonight…”

Eventually, Mudbone starts talking about Pryor, whom he says he first met when Pryor was a child hanging out in his father’s pool hall in Peoria. Without dropping his wino character, he offers a Cook’s tour of Pryor’s life and career – how he dropped out of school at 14, got kicked out of the army for stabbing a white officer who had called him a racist epithet, began his stand-up career as a family-friendly comic in the Bill Cosby mode, But then…

“Richard booked his biggest gig yet, headlining in Las Vegas. Folks, the who’s who of Hollywood, who’s who of Shit flew into Sin City just to see him perform. They filled the room to capacity, the boy got on stage and just minutes into his act the motherfucker stands there in a daze, blurts “what the fuck am I doing here?” and walks off the stage.”

He spent the next two years in Berkeley, California and emerged “in tuned with the real Richard Pryor.”

The “real”, raw Richard Pryor was an immense success, but after a trip to Africa, he changed again. “From that moment he vowed not to call another black person a N…r ever again.”

“Pryor Truth” doesn’t end with the comedian’s death (he died in 2005 at age 65), but it makes clear his self-destruction. The frame of the piece is that we are in Peoria waiting for him to perform, but he’s a no-show, so Mudbone steps in.

Khalil Muhammad’s impersonation of a Richard Pryor character as performed by Richard Pryor is uncanny, sure to appeal to prior Pryor fans. But the choice to focus in this way, while justifiable, does not make us feel the full force of Pryor’s comic gifts and his charisma. Maybe that wouldn’t be possible. It says something that the most compelling moment in “Pryor Truth” for me was the video of the actual Richard Pryor singing the blues song “Nobody Wants You When You’re Down and Out.” It’s not even funny.

 

Pryor Truth

Under St. Marks

Remaining show times

  MON 22 @ 4:45  ||  THU 25 @ 4:45  || SAT 27 @ 8

 

Fringe Review: Cabtivist

John McDonagh calls his solo show “Cabtivist” because he’s been driving a New York City taxicab for 35 years, and because he’s been a political activist for almost as long. Maybe he’s named it as well after a more recent vocation of his, which one might label a celebritist – a pursuer of celebrity.
McDonagh is an amusing storyteller, and he’s in prime form at the beginning of his hour-long monologue when he explains how after military service, he thought he would become a cabbie for at most five years until he figured out what else to do with his life. He then projects his hack licenses over the years, showing how the heavily bearded Irish-American youth from Queens turned bit by bit into the clean-shaven, pleasantly jowly family man in front of us (at one point introducing his wife and daughter seated at the nearest table.) He goes into a comic riff explaining how much worse off cabdrivers are than the “unionized horses” in Central Park; muses on how absurd the gentrifiers’ habit of renaming neighborhoods has become when he recalls a passenger asking to be taken to “SoBro” (which turned out to be the South Bronx); and recounts how he dealt with a homeless woman who refused to leave his cab.
Then we are off to the activist stories, and there are a couple of funny ones, such as the time during the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York he offered a free cab ride to the airport to any delegate who wanted to fly to Iraq to join the fighting. He projects a video of his making the offer on a Cable TV news show.
The activist stories tend to share this kind of publicity component, but the two longest stories by far in “Cabtivist” leave the activism behind and launch fully into his experiences as an almost-celebrity – when he brought Stephen Fry to a Queens clubhouse full of Goodfellas for a segment on British television; and how he almost became a contestant on “The Amazing Race.”
McDonagh has a gift for finding the humor in any experience he’s had, but I would have preferred that “Cabtivist”  tell us more about his life as a cabbie, which is far less humdrum than the would-be celebrities we hear from every day.

Cabtivist
The Huron Club

Remaining show times

 

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