InFringe Fest New Orleans featured more than 30 alternative theater productions at venues in Bywater and Faubourg Marigny. Here are reviews of several productions.
In Starlite Starbrite Productions' Frank at Happyland Theater, Izzy (Audrey Marie Wagner) is pregnant and alone. She is waiting at a bus stop when a tall, green fellow with bolts in his neck sits down next to her. Izzy has been shunned by her parents for getting pregnant and can't stand her ex-boyfriend. Franklin Stein (Jacob Bianchini) — yes, Frankenstein — also feels like an outcast after being chased by pitchfork-wielding townspeople. After a few awkward beats, the two strike up a friendship that becomes something more.
Wagner is tough, foul-mouthed and ultimately delightful. She sells the character's goth-girl attitude. Bianchini is charming in his own way, with some sincerity and without overdoing the monster conceit. Written and directed by Ace Denison, Frank is clever and fun.
In Splash Sponge Dark and Hidden Away at Fortress of Lushington, three bodies lie in white bathtubs. Two are naked and submerged in water, while the other is dressed in a business suit and dry. The three slowly come into the world and into awareness.
It is not clear if the three characters (Christopher Givens, Timothy Adams and Justin Rolling) have just been born or transported from another dimension. They also try to figure out where they are and how they can function, attempting to define themselves while splashing water at each other.
Adams wrote the experimental piece and gave a solid performance. Dialogue recalls modernist poets, such as Gertrude Stein, and the wordplay made Sponge strange but evocative.
If Arnie DiCicco's train from New Jersey hadn't been delayed on Sept. 11, 2001, the financial analyst likely would have died in the terrorist attack that brought down the World Trade Center's twin towers. Now, he rarely leaves his apartment and spends his time blogging about politics in @jerseyarnie42, presented at Paradise NOLA.
Arnie has lived in seclusion but as Hurricane Sandy approaches, he must choose whether to venture out and seek safety. The show is written by and stars Joseph Furnari, whose intensity is compelling, and directed by Garrett Prejean. The show has the potential to look at the effects of trauma, but the monologue gets jumbled. Arnie's curse-laden diatribes about baseball and an ex-girlfriend don't offer much insight. The character doesn't develop and the show's finish feels forced.
In Logan Faust's Out, two strangers are confronted with two doors. One door leads to a "very, very, good" place and the other to a "very, very bad" place. Only one man can walk through each door. Friday (Kyle Woods) has spent a long time trying to figure out which door is good. Sunday (Levi Hood) has a more fatalistic view that everything is predestined.
Friday is aggressive and rough, and Sunday is subdued and intellectual. The two play off each other well and build to a tense moment when they must make the decision. The dialogue is overwrought in a few places, but there's tension throughout and narrative punches at the end.
Overall, InFringe Fest offered a good mix of intriguing and satisfying shows.