Pardon Our Fringe

Fringe Fest roundup: Featuring Poe, the Olsens, and the disembodied head of Sam Walton

Some Kind of Pink Breakfast
The Flea, 41 White Street
Through Friday

An excellent, charismatic storyteller, playwright-performer Chris Harcum dives into his one-hour journey back to high school with warmth, humor, and loads of fun '80s references. Trying to decide whether or not he should go to his 20-year reunion, he recalls his most awkward moments, from being bullied as a five-foot, 98-pound sophomore to his first sexual experiences with an emotionally unstable 17-year-old girl. His only prop is a chair that, among other ingenious uses, cleverly stands in for his girlfriend during sex. A.A.

The Tell-Tale Heart
The Studio at Cherry Lane Theatre
Through Saturday

The mirror has two faces: Heather Riordan and David Kodeski in Letter Purloined
photo: Sa Schloff
The mirror has two faces: Heather Riordan and David Kodeski in Letter Purloined

Edgar Allan Poe's classic tale of homicidal paranoia is set to an imaginative score in this self-proclaimed "musicabre." The adaptation rarely deviates from the original text, but the overall production suffers from a number of setbacks, primarily a lack of engaging directorial choices and hoarse vocal cords from an overextended actor (Danny Ashkenasi, who wrote and produced the show, also stars). The story is brought to life through the aid of three cellists who prove to be the highlight of the performance. Ella Toovy, Tara Chambers, and Maria Bella Jeffers invoke the spirit of the macabre and their contribution effectively resurrects the corpse onstage. Elizabeth Coen

Henry Street Settlement

Wisconsinite creators Catherine Capellaro and Andrew Rohn take on the discount conglomerate, exposing its underbelly and giving it a good poke, resulting in a musical that is genuine Fringe fun. The production is at times campy and bizarre, with choreography that rivals the best of Christopher Guest's Waiting for Guffman, but the concerns of heroine Vicki Latrell, single mother and overworked Wal-Mart employee, are addressed with sensitivity and care. The diverse cast of 17 embraces the duality of the satire and sings with dedication and clarity throughout. Anna Jayne Marquardt, who plays Vicki, gives an especially gorgeous vocal performance. E.C.

The Yellow Wallpaper
13th Street Repertory, 50 West 13th Street
Through Friday

In Brian Madden's adaptation of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's most famous short story, history repeats itself. In 1892, a woman suffers from postpartum depression and goes mad as she stares at the yellow wallpaper that adorns her room. In the present, a woman suffering from the loss of her daughter appears to be haunted by the same room adorned with the same yellow wallpaper. The hypnotic power of the walls appears to render both women immobile and that is precisely why this production can get tedious. Neither of the women do anything but act depressed, and the plot point that connects the two is never made quite clear. Scenes from the past are woven in with the present, causing clunky transitions for the actors that are never mollified by the director. E.C.

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