A Very Modern Marriage at the Lounge Theatre
Where to begin a feast? With breakfast naturally, and so it was that I kicked off my 2015 fringe experience at the ungodly hour of 11.45 a.m. (okay, that's more brunch than breakfast) but I'm happy to report a good house at Scott Marden's Will Play production of A Very Modern Marriage at the Lounge Theatre, and that's no surprise with such a lively and dynamic production on show. I should also point out that Saturday's performance was the only early start - all other dates and times are PM slots and as with all the shows reviewed here you can check out full details at the Hollywood Fringe Festival website at www.hollywoodfringe.org
Marden and his actors navigate more the twists and turns than Magic Mountain's Twisted Colossus in Arthur M. Jolly's contemporary farce. The production is a wickedly funny ménage à trois that doesn't pause for breath. The 90 minute show, performed without an intermission, feels more like 60, the action changes gear effortlessly, the transitions between scenes are never clunky, and three excellent actors squeeze every ounce of drama out the script.
This is not what I'd call a "fringey" fringe production (no actor defecating in a bucket while another performs a naked handstand reciting the words of Doctor Faustus backwards) but what exactly does "fringey" mean? Isn't that the great joy of a festival like this - that we get exposed to the kind of fringe diversity that encompasses and array of performance styles and genres?!
The bottom lines is this: a tight and well-oiled production with great acting. Estaban Andres Cruz is vibrant and deliciously conniving as Christopher; Donal Thoms-Cappello as Matthew displays a manliness that cleverly belies the vulnerability of his character as the plot unfolds; and Deborah Jensen is superb as the wife-with-trust-issues who is part-tiger-part-kitten.
Amelia's Going Down at the Elephant Theatre
Okay, next on this fringe feast menu comes lunch: The tasty, and delectable Amelia's Going Down at the Elephant Theatre, directed by Mark Hein.
It is a poignant and tender production that imagines Amelia Earhart's fated last journey ending on a desert island with her navigator Fred Noonan.
The story is told uniquely, embracing radio drama as a backdrop to the action onstage. As such, this is a production that draws the audience in, demanding their attention. This is not so much InYerFace theatre as InYerEars theatre: a subtle, thought-provoking and well-crafted piece with solid performances from the likes of Lara Lihiya and Jason Britt in the roles of Earhart and Noonan, supported by a diverse cast that includes Ramona Creel, Charlotte Plummer, David MacDowell Blue, and Elissa Anne Polansky.
Smile, Baby at the Dorie Theatre
And so we come to the Main Course. I caught the late night show of Kate Motzenbacker's production and having feasted on theatre all day long thought my appetite had been sated - until I saw this fantastic production with the extraordinary talents of Madison Shepard, Sonia Jackson, Jessica DeBruin, Linda Serrato-Ybarra, and Molly Wixson. Between them they bring 16 superbly well-crafted characters to life in a devastatingly funny tale of womanhood in the world today.
The parade of characters, costumes and different settings is anchored by the simple through line of two women waiting for a bus but you won't believe where the journey takes you!
Smile, Baby is an excellent show, a comedy that packs a punch and a 2015 Hollywood Fringe MUST SEE.