Wild swings for me at the Cincinnati Fringe Festival on Sunday! Mary and I started out at 2 p m with Nevermore, at Gabriel’s Corner. The power and the mystery of Poe come shining through in this incredible re-thinking of our great American writer, and in the life of a contemporary writer fascinated by him. It is terrific theater, terrific writing, terrific interweaving of history. The Raven is present.
Then at 4 p m, with a suitable break for excellent munchies at Iris BookCafe (on Main Street, right on the way from Gabriel’s Corner to the Below Zero Lounge), we were wowed by Salem: The Musical. I was glad I had called the Know box office for reservations – if not, only one of us would have gotten in! 5 actors, all women, lots of absolutely hilarious riffs on entitlement (men), reading = witchcraft (women), history (the pee cake), a dancing skeleton – and really great tunes. The staging – and making use of that funky space – also excellent!
Then home for an hour, and I went back down by myself to the Art Academy to see 2 creations by talented folk I know. The Water Draft, video by Barbara Wolf, and the story, written by both, and acted by the master Michael Burnham, is overtly about the City of Cincinnati’s interest in creating a Regional Water District – and how that might work out. It is also about who makes decisions in Over-the-Rhine (where The Fringe is held), Fountain Square, life, politics, homeless people, how things work. Much of it is timeless statements of truth to power. And all swear words are deleted – instead, Michael says 3CDC whenever such words are called for. It also includes a great reading of the final scene of Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. Excellent theater, and Michael’s acting is – as always – true and powerful.
Then – I would have had to see it anyway, just because of the title – I had gotten an email from Nathan Singer that he and the rest of the Performance Gallery had created a play called The Council. About how City Council – here and everywhere – works. Absolutely hysterical. We could easily create a list of Council Members over the years who would fit the roles – earnest and dedicated and often trapped by various machinations (Council votes to change the gender, thus putting the earnest one into a homosexual illegal marriage); the casual with power member who reads Guns & Ammo while tossing aside all that paperwork, but knows when his issues are threatened; the innocent true believer who ends up with the gong; the rule reminder who gloats at small victories; the ideologue who commits hari-kari; the Mayor who txts and calls on his cell and has beautiful hair.
What a night at The Fringe! This is probably my favorite part of Cincinnati. When we give up being right and righteous, and just have outrageous fun.