The New York International Fringe Festival: A Roundup Review

Aussies, Romanians, and singing yeasts

Should Iacoban ever return with a one-man show, he'll have stiff competition, as that remains an enduringly popular category. This year's entries include Em O'Loughlin Was a Big Fatty Boombah!, at the Players Theatre, a comedy routine by a formerly plus-sized Aussie. O'Loughlin's a charmer, but her script, mostly a litany of fat jokes, is very much on the thin side. Her countrywoman Ali Kennedy Scott offers a far more sober piece in The Day the Sky Turned Black (IATI), a study of the 2009 brushfires that killed and injured hundreds. A young performer, Scott still struggles to differentiate her characters and move among them, but she effectively conveys the experience and implications of this disaster.

This contrasts with Nancy Eng's perversely lighthearted The Women of Tu-Na House, at Manhattan Theatre Source, which centers on the ladies (and one castrato) who all choose to work, without any sort of force or coercion, in an East Side massage parlor/brothel. Eng seems deeply committed to this project, but she strains to convey character through speech (rhymed prologues don't help) and includes far more accents than she can manage. Like Yeast Nation, here's another show with a happy ending. Several of them.

The Urinetown team returns with Yeast Nation
Dixie Sheridan
The Urinetown team returns with Yeast Nation
Nils' Fucked Up Day
Cristina Soiman
Nils' Fucked Up Day


The New York International Fringe Festival
Various venues
Through August 28

And then there's Moshe Feldstein: Icon of Self-Realization, at the Studio at Cherry Lane, an unclassifiable solo show co-written and performed by Alexander Nemser, who apparently filled a blender with the complete works of Sholem Aleichem, a book of Buddhist koans, a bottle of Jäger, and performed the result. I'm certain that, like me, most of the audience had no idea what we were seeing, no desire to see it again, and no longing to be anywhere else but in this theater together. How Fringe is that?

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