The New Orleans Fringe Festival begins tonight and runs through Sunday. There are 70 shows in the mix of alternative theater, comedy, circus arts, dance, puppetry and more. There’s a longer preview here, and there are video previews on the Fringe site for some of the shows. And there are a couple of recommendations I could make at this point. Los Angeles’ Freakshow Deluxe returns this year, and its shows drew consistently well last year. It’s got an entertaining mix of walking-on-broken-glass and bed-of-nails carny bits, geek stunts, S&M chic and more. It has two shows at Michalopoulos Studio (11 p.m. Fri.-Sat.).
La Concierge Solitaire (pictured) runs at Southern Rep at 11 p.m. all five days of the Fringe and there’s a 3 p.m. matinee on Saturday. Cecile Monteyne stars in the one-woman, one-hour comedy as a bored and lonely Walter Mitty-like concierge who amuses herself with imagined guests. She answers the phone and tells an inquirer that Cab Calloway is in town and owes her personal favor, so she can book him for a party. The absurdity picks up as she becomes the oddball characters who might cross paths in a hotel: a maid with a mid-western drawl and big dreams; a conniving Russian-accented figure (who may or may not work for the hotel); a disaffected wealthy socialite; a French actress; and an academic who’s mistakenly travelled to the wrong conference in the wrong city. Monteyne does a great job of swirling about, staging back-and-forth conversations between guests, and getting the most out of a single prop, a raised eyebrow or clever turn of phrase. It’s a bit vaudevillian and, although not the most unconventional theatrical piece, at 11 p.m. it’s a sure bet to end a night of Fringe shows on a funny note.