What to See at the 2012 Capital Fringe Festival

We trawled through the 130-plus shows in the lineup and picked out a few favorites.

By: Sophie Gilbert

In many ways (well, in one way, at least), the Capital Fringe Festival is a bit like a giant Rorschach test: Whichever shows you choose to see out of the 130-plus on offer probably say more about you than about the festival. So far be it from us to try to influence you. Instead, allow us to present some of the shows we think are the most compelling, and then feel free to psychoanalyze the hell out of why we chose them.

3rd Annual “Fool for All”: Tales of Marriage and Mozzarella

July 14, 17, 21, 25, and 28 at Studio Theatre

Why See It: Because it’s an ode to romance done commedia dell’arte style.

Who’s In It: Faction of Fools, DC’s own commedia company, recently honored as Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company at this year’s Helen Hayes Awards.

Oddness Rating: 2/5

A Night In (Or the Night My Wife Left)

July 12, 17, 21, 15, and 28 at the Goethe-Institut Gallery

Why See It: Because it’s a puppet show about a man whose departing wife accuses him of having multiple personalities, which prompts said man to get high and hang out with said personalities (in puppet form).

Who’s In It: It’s the brainchild of local writer and performer Dannie Snyder, who’s performed with the GMU Players, Theater for the First Amendment, and more. Read about her here.

Oddness Rating: 4/5

Arlen and Berlin Occupy the Fringe

July 14, 15, 21, 22, and 24 at Source

Why See It: Because everyone loves cabaret, and this review of songs by Harold Arlen and Irving Berlin was described as “poignant, patriotic, and oddly compelling” by the Washington Times when it ran at the Atlas Arts center late last year.

Who’s In It: It’s directed by the fantastic Abel Lopez and Angelisa Gillyard, and features Stanley Thurston at the piano and Lew Freeman and Pam Ward on vocals.

Oddness Rating: 0/5


July 12 through 22 at Woolly Mammoth Rehearsal Hall

Why See It: Beertown, an interactive performance piece, makes the audience part of the, well, audience. Set in a fictional small town in the Midwest, the show takes the form of a meeting in which the actors and various audience members converse with the mayor about various items from Beertown’s past. And there’s dessert (you’re encouraged to contribute, potluck-style).

Who’s In It: The show is the work of widely praised local devised theater company Dog & Pony DC.

Oddness Rating: 3/5


July 12 through 29 departing from Fort Fringe Box Office

Why See It: Because it stars Brian Feldman and you. That’s it. During the two-hour “friend building” experience with Feldman, he’ll do pretty much anything you want (as long as it’s family-friendly, we’re guessing).

Who’s In It: Brian Feldman, and you’ll get to know him pretty well.

Oddness Rating: 5/5

Blanche: The Bittersweet Life of a Wild Prairie Dame

July 20, 22, 24, 25, and 26 at Warehouse

Why See It: Because it was described as “delicate, penetrating, [and] captivating” by the Huffington Post when it ran at the New York Musical Theatre Festival last year.

Who’s In It: The show is performer Onalea Gilbertson’s musical tribute to her grandmother, Blanche, and her experiences living through the Great Depression, World War II, and heartbreak.

Oddness Rating: 2/5

The Brontes

July 12, 14, 17, 21, 22, and 29 at Fort Fringe—Baldacchino Gypsy Tent Bar

Why See It: Because you read Jane Eyre in high school and never got over it. And because the promised fusion of repressed Victorian writers and rock-and-roll is too good to resist.

Who’s In It: The show comes courtesy of Dizzy Miss Lizzie’s Roadside Revue, Washington’s very own theater/vaudeville/rock/bluegrass fusion company.

Oddness Rating: 4/5

DC Trash

July 12, 14, 22, and 28 at Fort Fringe—Bedroom

Why See It: Because it’s one performer’s recollections of working as a trash collector in DC. And because it mentions Michaele Salahi, if you must know.

Who’s In It: Ron Litman, a 62-year-old stage and screen actor who was forced to find new work when the parts dried up.

Oddness Rating: 2/5

Domino’s Pizza Saved My Life 

July 12, 15, 18, 21, and 22 at Goethe-Institut’s Main Stage

Why See It: Because it isn’t really about pizza. And it had a sold-out run at the Minnesota Fringe in 2011.

Who’s In It: Dylan Fresco, and he uses the show to tell stories and sing songs about everything from the 2008 Republican National Committee convention to his experiences at an American-Soviet summer camp.

Oddness Rating: 3/5


July 13 through 28 at Flashpoint’s Mead Theatre Lab

Why See It: Because it’s Hamlet, only darker. And Hamlet is pretty dark anyway. And it’s 90 minutes instead of four hours.

Who’s In It: Chris Genebach, who recently appeared at Studio Theatre in The Big Meal and at Woolly Mammoth in Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play. The show was created by We Happy Few Productions, a new local theater company that aims to present pared-down productions of classics.

Oddness Rating: 1/5

Mein Kampf

Playing July 12 through 20 at H Street Playhouse.

Why See It: Because it’s a surrealist black comedy about Hitler, which sounds delightfully inappropriate. And it’s by George Tabori.

Who’s In It: Scena Theatre, a solid local company now in its 25th season. The tagline for the show is “This is the play that Scena would only dare stage in Washington,” which we’re not sure we understand, but never mind.

Oddness Rating: 2/5

President Harding Is a Rock Star

July 13, 15, 17, 21, 26, and 28 at Fort Fringe—Baldacchino Gypsy Tent Bar

Why See It: Because this whole “Presidents as rock stars” thing seems to be getting some traction at the moment, between this show and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson at Studio Theatre. And because this show was described as “a POTUS-themed lampoon with a refreshingly retrospective bent” by the Post when in debuted in 2008.

Who’s In It: The show comes from Landless Theatre Company and is written by Obie winner Kyle Jarrow (A Very Merry Unauthorized Scientology Pageant).

Oddness Rating: 2/5

The Pundit

July 13, 15, 20, 28, and 29 at Goethe-Institut’s Main Stage

Why See It: Because this is Washington—do you need another reason?

Who’s In It: The show is written by John Feffer, an actual pundit at the Institute for Policy Studies, and it stars a host of local performers including Feffer, Peter Orvetti, and Matthew Ancarrow.

Oddness Rating: 3/5

Superhero Celebrity Rehab: The Musical 

July 13, 14, 19, and 22 at Gala Hispanic Theatre

Why See It: Because you’re disillusioned with Dr. Drew now that you know he’s a shill for Big Pharma. And because the Hancock-like plot featuring superheroes with addiction issues sounds fun.

Who’s In It: Bill Coyne stars, along with No Rules Theatre Company’s Joshua Morgan. The show is written by Washington residents William Segal and Brendan Snow and directed by No Rules’ Brian Sutow.

Oddness Rating: 3/5

Young Republicans 

July 12, 20, 21, 22, and 24 at Goethe-Institut’s Main Stage

Why See It: Because it’s an election year, and because it’s probably a depressingly accurate parody.

Who’s In It: The show is written by Alexandra Petri, the Washington Post’s 24-year-old humor columnist. Her father is Wisconsin congressman Tom Petri (yes, a Republican), so it’s fair to say she’s got firsthand experience.

Oddness Rating: 1/5

Now we want to know which shows you’re planning on seeing at this year’s Fringe. Browse through the 130-plus productions at capitalfringe.org and let us know in the comments.