It’s always fun to try and seek out the fringe of the Fringe—the unclassifiable shows with vague program blurbs and clever concepts that are even harder to find outside the context of Fringe than within it. A trio of inventive plays caught my attention over the past few days and will hopefully catch yours during the next.
Looking to satiate my geek streak, I stumbled across Theatre of the Arcade (Venue 14, Bleecker Street Theatre), a series of five short plays each set in a different video game world as if written by a famous playwright. Opening with an homage to both Frogger and Samuel Beckett entitled “Monologue for a Single Player,” a bowler-hatted character (Timothy McCown Reynolds) navigates the absurdity of only three directions in which to step, and the persistence of death moving along with him. The next play, The Alabaster Nymph, proves the strongest of the bunch, setting Donkey Kong in a desperate, Tennessee Williams-influenced drama where Josh Mertz’ Joe and Shelley Ray’s Pauline, a wilted southern belle with a limp and dishpan hands, are locked together in irreconcilable conflict. Also strong is the final vignette, a Sam Shepard-inspired Super Mario Brothers installment starring Steven Heskett and Mertz as temperamentally-disparate brothers camping in the desert while taking hallucinogenic mushrooms together in a misguided attempt to bond. The show could end after three pieces and no-one would feel cheated: as it is, the show lasts two hours, which is pretty long for a Fringe show. Read more