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FringeNYC best bets: Crazy tourists, dangerous ambition, subjective reality

We’ve rounded up the plays from FringeNYC that raise questions about this crazy thing called living in New York, how social media makes fake stories out of real drama and the Wild West that is cruising.

Even here, in the global capital of theater, the New York International Fringe Festival still manages to show us something new.

From Aug. 14-30, you can see dozens of new avant-garde plays, musicals, sketch comedy and more productions unlike anything on- or off-Broadway – and for the low price of $18 per show. (Or, because Metro is the official newspaper partner of the festival, sign up for Club Metro for a chance at a VIP pass.) FringeNYC is simply the best way for theatergoers to keep up with the new ideas and top performers shaking up the art world.

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With over 200 shows, there’s something for everyone — but also impossible to see them all. We scoped out the productions ourselves, then put an ear to the ground for the latest buzz. Based on our intel, here are five can’t-miss plays from the 19th annual FringeNYC.

‘Schooled’

You don’t need to be in NYC more than 10 minutes to realize that unbridled greed is all you need to succeed – intelligence, experience and talent be damned. Lisa Lewis’ newest play explores the dangers of blind ambition when two students compete for a prestigious grant given out by a less-than-moral professor. When sex, money and human dignity are just the start of what’s on barter, this dark new play forces all of us to take a long look at ourselves and ask what we’d give to get what we want.

‘Naked Hamilton’

No, it’s not that “Hamilton” —this play is named for the city outside of Toronto. The story kicks off when a washed-up sex worker and her ex-lover get kicked out of their favorite dive bar. A battle between the new patrons and the neighborhood’s longtime residents takes shape. Will locals allow gentrification to win out? They might as well be talking about NYC. Best of all, “Naked Hamilton” actually takes place in a bar (the East Village’s DROM), so you can drink right along with the characters.

‘A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again’

David Foster Wallace’s essay of the same name has been adapted for the stage by Christopher Duva, who also stars in this one-man show. The story follows the author’s downward spiral on a weeklong luxury cruise, handling his encounters with crazy tourists, sexy stewardesses and an arch-nemesis ship’s captain. Like a caressing slap, this hilarious story about overindulgence on the high seas transforms into an insightful critique of pampered Americans behaving badly – but by then, you can’t look away.

‘Stockholm Savings’

A bank robbery turns into a hostage situation and then gets even worse when the media circus descends and begins twisting the event into a sellable storyline, complete with debates over LGBT rights, racism and police brutality. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when social media gets involved. Will the real story break through the pandemonium? The Polemic Theater Co. offers a probing play based on real events in 1972 that inspired Frank Pierson’s “Dog Day Afternoon.” Unfortunately, it’s still as topical today.

‘I Want to Kill Lena Dunham’

So what happens when you move to Brooklyn thinking your life’s going to be just like “Girls,” and instead you face the realness of living broke and alone in NYC? When Nora finds herself in this predicament, she knows who to blame: Lena Dunham, who seems to be personally mocking her. We’re going to go ahead and assume Sergio Catillo’s title employs a bit of hyperbole, but there’s definitely enough controversy surrounding the HBO superstar to thrust the sentiment into the realm of juicy possibility.

 

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