Winter Fringe 2019
January 10 to 13, 2019
The Orlando Shakespeare Theater
The “Winter Fringe” takes off again, this year it’s expanded to 49 shows from 22 production companies. Unlike the “Regular Fringe,” this this fest’s program derives from the shows that drew heavy sales from last summer’s festival, along with shows that have done well on the Fringe circuit out of town. It’s Fringe Lite, but parking can still be a challenge as the Orlando Shakes guys are running “Dolls House 2” and it draws a sizable amount of cars in the lot.
In the courtyard we find a bar with full liquor service as well as beer, ask for the “Bikini Katie Special” but don’t plan on driving afterwards. For food, they offer a rotating assortment of caterers offering a range of edibles from free range vegetarian to deep fried meat. But you’re not here for the fine dining; your here to see shows you missed or couldn’t get into last summer.
I’ve picked a few to see, and here are my thoughts:
Shakespeare’s Ghostbusters (Homicidal Orphan Productions) reprises a hit from last summer. The gags are all still there, overseen by Charles Dent in a feathery cape and cap. The Ghostbusters seek out spirits and destroy them with a strong sense of irony and lots of pop cultural references. The show is stripped down to only a single ninja stage hand and the gags seem sloppier and harder to hear than the last production. It helps if you’ve seen and loved the movie; without that grounding many of the gags will flitter over your head.
You Belong Here (Martin Dockery) brings back Fringe Favorite Martin Dockery and his elaborate retelling of his travel adventures. Self-appointed Ambassador to the World, he takes us to China’s Forbidden City, and while they let him I’m for a small fee, he’s stumped by the Audio Guide. But things can’t have been that bad; he ends up a few months later with a bounce baby girl. It’s the sort of eccentric story telling show that consistently sells out, and always for good reason.
An Excruciatingly Ordinary Toy Theater Show (Zach Dorn) takes the prize for complex tech with its involved camera work. Dorn retells the more exciting parts of his life with a series of small paintings and silhouettes cutouts, all filmed with a small camera and reproduced with a powerful projector. Lost loves, bad jobs, and life’s general clutter turn into an exciting and novel storytelling session.
Fruit Cake: 10 Commandments From The Psych Ward (Rob Gee) was one of Rob Gee’s first Orlando shows back in 2009. He’s a monologist with a degree in psychiatric medicine and a bushel basket of stories and poems about psychotic breaks. Over all, the show is a constant laugh riot as he mixes true life tales with poems and philosophy. While good hearted on the whole, there are some disturbing tales, such as the man who intentionally cut off his fingers and then his hand with power saw. It’s all in a days work for Rob and his medical buddies.
The Asylum of Dr. Moreau (Complicit Theater Company) reprises the shadow puppetry these two Atlanta natives did in a rain-soaked tent last summer. This production lacks the humid authenticity of the first show but replaces it with an increased professionalism and better lighting. The story is a classic about a man wrecked at sea who winds up involved in some horrible experiments that turn animals into half human creatures, all in the name of Victorian science. It’s creepy good.