Today, we review four shows: That Old Black Magic, Confessions of a Cat Lady, Anaconda and First Love/Worst Love:
by Joel Elkins~
Jacquetta Szathmari wrote and stars in this one-person show about two black women who become improbable friends as they try to make it in show business in 1950′s Las Vegas: Anna Mae who dances historically-themed burlesque under the stage name Sweet Bojanski Brown, and Esther who performs magic as “The Amazing Daisy.”
Anna Mae is talkative, vivacious and upbeat, while Esther is more introverted and morose. While it is utterly believable that a cock-eyed optimist with little talent could imagine herself a star, the same is not true for her more cynical but equally talentless counterpart. All the same, Szathmari lovingly and laughably captures the essence of each character, embodying their starkly varied demeanor as she alternates dramatically between them.
The one-hour one-act play opens auspiciously as the women first meet on a bus to Las Vegas. However, once they arrive, Szathmari does not know what to do with her characters, other than to dramatize the hardships faced by blacks in the 1950′s, from separate seating and drinking fountains to diminished opportunities for employment. As such, the second half lags a bit, despite Anna Mae’s amusing burlesque dance number as Harriet Tubman. But here and there, Szathmari still manages to display a bit of “that old black magic.”
That Old Black Magic plays at Theatre Asylum Lab June 21 at 7 pm, June 23 at 11:30 pm and June 24 at 4 pm, and at the Open Fist on June 22 at 11 pm.
by Tony Bartolone~
Confession #36: I totally love Confessions of a Cat Lady! Prepare to drink an awesome cocktail of wonderful weirdness, loveable liveliness and all around feline fun.
Confession#17: This show is irresistible! Sitting in the audience listening to Tiffany Anne Price launch into her confessions, I found myself wanting to hate it. Perhaps it is because I’ve had bad experiences with people reminiscent of her or perhaps because it was too peppy for my taste or perhaps because I’m allergic to cats. Despite my instinctual aversions, I ended up having a great time. Price throws so much energy at the audience it is nearly impossible to not enjoy yourself during this bubbly, electrifying one-woman tour de force.
Confession # 22: I am afraid of everything. The most relatable theme in this show is fear. Specifically, there is the fear of doing stand up, fear of being humiliated and fear that her children will be ugly. Price also often talks about jealousy, and what is jealousy if not a manifestation of fear? The chief wonder of this show is that while fear is prevalent, Tiffany Anne Price not only faces that fear, but she completely obliterates it. Confessions of a Cat Lady is a triumph of her spirit and celebration of her perky perspective.
Confessions of a Cat Lady plays June 23 at 7:30pm.
by Marcus Kaye ~
Inspired by the events of a real bullying tragedy in Australia, no other Fringe show carries as much relevance as Sarah Doyle’s Anaconda. An intensely personal look at the aftermath of tragedy, the topical drama begins years after the event in question. A successful lawyer, Matty Buttiker (Martin Wall) takes on a pro bono case defending Phil Becker (Jonathan Roumie). Becker, the victim of unspeakable bullying as a kid, killed one of his old bullies and Matty, seeking redemption for standing by and doing nothing, takes his case. As it unravels, however, so too does Matty’s relationship with his cold and stunning wife, Bivva Bray (played phenomenally by Jordan Ballard). As he gets more and more invested in the case- horrible truths come out about Matty’s involvement and the guilt that accompanies that.
The dark drama has strong performances throughout. The pain felt by every single character is piercing. Whether its Ballard’s drunken melt down or Jeremy Glazer (playing Matty’s gay friend) honest revelations, no moment on stage is wasted.
The play, while told from the point of view of the bully, is clearly intended for the bullied. It’s therapeutic and cathartic to watch your tormentor plagued by guilt, but is it accurate? If anything, this haunting story too perfectly quells the anguish of the bullied by torturing the bully, making it little more than a revenge fantasy. Life outside Anaconda, unfortunately, isn’t that simple.
Anaconda has remaining shows on June 21st @ 10PM, June 22nd @ 8PM and June 23rd @ 11PM at The Fringe Blackbox at NOTE.
by Tony Bartolone~
First Love/Worst Love is a brief journey into the missteps made in the ways of love. It is part monologue anthology and part sound and movement.
This is why Fringe is so wonderful. There are these great, little pieces that have no life (hardly) anywhere else. It gives a platform for interesting theatre like music videos gave platform to video art. And while First Love/Worst Love may not completely satiate your hunger, it definitely is a light, scrumptious snack. It is a well-put-together exploration of love gone by.
The show is accented by a mysterious, tremendous guitar player. He takes us by the hand as we tiptoe along for the ride, pondering how love fell to pieces. The central question employed throughout seems to be, “How will you stay in love next time?” While the stories are mostly about broken hearts, there is a great deal of hope in the air. To ask “How will you stay in love next time?” is a hopeful statement, as it assumes there will be a next time and makes a positive effort toward improvement. It is a bittersweet lullaby of play.
First Love/Worst Love plays June 23 at 2:30pm.