While only five of the 205 shows playing at the 18th annual New York International Fringe Festival have Australian passports, at least two merit a trip “down under” 14th Street, where NYFF’s 18 venues are located. You can check out some rocking homegrown shows as well. Here are four of the best plays we saw during our visit to this year’s festival.
“2014 – When We Were Idiots” is actually a walking tour of the 21st century Lower East Side from the perspective of a supposedly 22nd century Australian. Dressed as a penguin (or a chicken if his penguin suit is at the cleaners), comedian/writer Xavier Toby doles out local trivia (some probably true and some highly suspect) and points out local color. Both his scripted recitations and non-threatening audience interaction are rich with wit and silliness.
“Joel Creasey in Rock God” is, per Creasey, “just an hour of laughs and a man with a very limp wrist.” Not having achieved divinity himself, Creasey examines his own personal rock gods. He dissects them, sometimes with gentle affection and sometimes not, but always with cutting humor. Master of the throwaway line, he’s also not afraid to take a stab at himself.
In “Seven Seductions of Taylor Swift,” seven playwrights have a comic romp with the littered love life of the singer/actress. What’s not to like? Thaddeus Shafer is a very funny chameleon who morphs from Joe Jonas to Jake Gyllenhaal and five other Swift heartthrobs. Rudimentary knowledge of Swift’s boyfriend rotation is recommended, but not absolutely necessary.
Despite its preachy ending, “Kunstler” packs a wallop as the notorious civil rights attorney looks back on his flamboyant career. And what a career it was, including the Chicago 7, the Catonsville 9 and many other legendary clients. As Kunstler, Nick Wyman is galvanizing. He’s fiery, subtle, fiercely intelligent – absolutely amazing. There’s not a moment you don’t believe Kunstler himself is right in front of you.
Bonus picks from Fringe Fest 2014
“Vestments of the Gods.” With Lin-Manuel Miranda (of “In the Heights” fame) as a producer, this show comes with built-in cred. The play pits students against faculty at the Thebes Street Elementary School.
“Dust Can’t Kill Me.” Set in the Dust Bowl, this show promises to deliver “a quasi-apocalyptic parable” — and whiskey to boot. How can you do better than that?