THE 12TH ANNUAL SEATTLE FRINGE FESTIVAL

322-2018 or www.seattlefringe.org

various times, days, and venues on Capitol Hill, ends Sun., Sept. 29

BY SEATTLE WEEKLY REVIEWERS

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To Fringe and Back

Well, OK—we liked some stuff. Here's a user's guide to a few of the festival's remaining triumphs and traumas.

THE 12TH ANNUAL SEATTLE FRINGE FESTIVAL

322-2018 or www.seattlefringe.org

various times, days, and venues on Capitol Hill, ends Sun., Sept. 29

BY SEATTLE WEEKLY REVIEWERS

ABORTION 360, A SURVEY IN FATHERHOOD

Her gynecologist's exhortations to "respect the power of the blood" ought to inspire teenage Agatha to seek a new doctor. Instead, her quest for a worthy father for the precious 360 eggs she will produce turns up a remarkable streak of cads waving checkbooks to make her feigned pregnancies vanish. Men can be pigs, but this lying tramp deserves them. Even nice moments collapse under playwright Catherine Johnston's rigging. Odd Duck Studio, 1214 10th. 9:15 p.m. Fri., Sept. 27; 4:15 p.m. Sun., Sept. 29. GIANNI TRUZZI

ALWAYS

This effective drama about enduring friendship—and also the enduring cycle of domestic abuse—bears its message without being too preachy, though it doesn't fall far from the Afterschool Special tree. Apparently based on a true story, it's well-written and delivers about all an audience could ask for—some laughs, a few tears, and believable acting. Odd Duck Studio, 1214 10th. 7:30 p.m. Wed., Sept. 25; 11:15 p.m. Sat., Sept. 28; 11 a.m. Sun., Sept. 29. KATIE MILLBAUER

BACCARAT

Even though this play about companionship and alienation is vague, too long, and brutally symbolic, there is a fragile, heart-stopping chemistry between actors Montana VonFliss and Mike Mathieu that almost makes the show worth seeing—they communicate like birds. One of Mathieu's tasks is to utter the sentence "I am the ground you walk on, and I will keep you safe forever," and to everyone's shock, he movingly does so. Union Garage #2, 1418 10th. 10 p.m. Sat., Sept. 28; 1 p.m. Sun., Sept. 29. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE

BARONESS JZEANNETTE, THE TEUTONIC TOUGHLOVE TYWRANT

The Baroness offers no-nonsense sex advice like a lanky Dr. Ruth in fishnet stockings. Yet despite writer/performer Jeanette All饧s improvised audience sparring, the promise of a high-spirited romp fades once it becomes clear that this put-on has no particular point. All饧s advice is surprisingly bland, especially when it's so clear she made up the questions. Schnapps is needed, either for All饠or, better yet, for us. Odd Duck Studio, 1214 10th. 4:45 p.m. Sat., Sept. 28; 7:45 p.m. Sun., Sept. 29. G.T.

* CHILDREN OF UNFORTUNATE SHAPE

Five misshapen characters all attend a support group called Mentally Combating Your Physical Challenges. Said "challenges" are stubby legs, an oversized head, deformed arms, a missing tongue, and a second toe extending far beyond the big toe. Comedy ensues, thanks in no small measure to an unfaltering portrayal by Cory Calhoun, who holds the show together. "My life changed the day I fell in love with my grandmother," he blurts out, apropos of nothing. "Goddamn, I loved her." Union Garage #1, 1418 10th. 9:15 p.m. Wed., Sept. 25; 2 p.m. Sat., Sept. 28. C.F.

CHURCH OF PIE

Pie—a collection of vignettes about appetite, both culinary and carnal—begins with a genuinely charming musical number about a runaway pancake, then descends into a trite and increasingly insipid series of non sequiturs. Just wait until you hit the endless, semi-serious sketch about the vegetable lover discovering he's married to a bunny, who leaves him with the wistful parting words "I hope you find how your garden grows." Ouch. Chamber Theater, 915 E. Pine, fourth floor. 7:30 p.m. Wed., Sept. 25; 9:15 p.m. Fri., Sept. 27; 2:30 p.m. Sat., Sept. 28; 5:30 p.m. Sun., Sept. 29. STEVE WIECKING

* CLONING JUDSON

By turns startling, sexy, and unsettling, Judson is driven by its intensely focused cast—and writer/ director J. Daniel Stanley—who manage to elevate the subject to something higher than what could have been a pedestrian moral commentary on the ramifications of modern science. Aaron Blakely, in the lead role, brings all of his insight and intelligence to bear, and the result is unforgettable. Freehold Studio, Oddfellows Hall, 1529 10th, second floor. 10:45 p.m. Sat., Sept. 28. C.F.

DANCING WITH SOUL

Eloquence Performance Company's Bryon Davis refers to himself as a renaissance man—directing, choreographing, and dancing for his own ensemble—but he might consider stepping back from the multiple roles to look at the performance. The works here come across as sincere but heavy-handed, with well-worn themes like family violence and sexuality treated in conventional fashion. Chamber Theater, 915 E Pine, fourth floor. 9:15 p.m. Thurs., Sept. 26; 4 p.m. Sat., Sept. 28. SANDRA KURTZ

* GEORGE BUSH'S NUTS

Political theater is as likely to self-destruct as succeed, yet Baltimore-based playwright and one-man whirligig Brandon Welch dives right in and delivers a string of satirical vignettes that largely work. Of course, he's got great material—a president who at moments seems to have lost his mental compass and a nation gone equally bonkers. But Welch has got something else working, too: an ability to make the political deeply personal. Union Garage #2, 1418 10th. 10 p.m. Sat., Sept. 28; 1 p.m. Sun., Sept. 29. PHILIP DAWDY

ISO . . . IN SEARCH OF

Something's off about a performance when the audience doesn't recognize the end: They sat in the dark at the finish of ISO, unsure if they should clap or expect yet another vignette exploring sexuality in human relationships. While some of the sketches were effective (real bodies—with tummies and scars—mimicking the hyper-toned humping seen in music videos), others were tired repetitions of old material (gosh—a penis!). Richard Hugo House, 1634 11th. 10 p.m. Thurs., Sept. 26; 12:30 a.m. Fri., Sept. 27; 6:30 p.m. Sat., Sept. 28. S. K.

* KALI & COOKIES

Though writer/actor Llysa Holland's elliptical guide through a metaphysical cookbook on fate is too obtuse for its own good, her ambitious thoughtfulness stays with you. The heady experience very keenly comes around on itself, and if Holland's controlled performance is a little (sorry) predetermined—she doesn't sound like anyone speaking from her kitchen, spectral or no—she's come up with some fresh observations ("A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small package"). The show is thick but worth the thinking. Odd Duck Studio, 1214 10th. 6 p.m. Sat., Sept. 28; 6:15 p.m. Sun., Sept. 29. S.W.

* LAURA McKENZIE FEELS LIKE MAKIN' LOVE

A sort of Anna Deveare Smith-lite, writer/actor McKenzie whips 10 disparate characters into a maelstrom of heavily mannered but still remarkably engaging activity—from a bombastic, pulpit-pounding preacher to a jaded, chain-smoking New Joisey-ite. McKenzie obviously has a gift for mimicry, and while you may enjoy some of her characters more than others, her performance—and her unlimited energy—is hard not to admire straight through. Union Garage #1, 1418 10th. 8:30 p.m. Sat., Sept. 28. LEAH GREENBLATT

* NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND

Dostoevsky's pained ruminations on self-conscious living are as timeless as ever, but Andrew Litzky's adaptation can't overcome the fact that they're meant to be pondered from the page—it's too much to hurl at an audience in an hour. What makes the production is Litzky's solo performance: He's grand, casual, and feverish all at once. It may be the best feat of acting you'll witness in the festival. Northwest Actors Studio, 1100 E. Pike, second floor. 10 p.m. Wed., Sept. 25; 7:30 p.m. Fri., Sept. 27; 11 a.m. Sat., Sept. 28. S.W.

* SABOTAGE III

It's no wonder Albuquerque boys Shenoah Allen and Mark Chavez have been racking up raves all over the U.S. and Canada: Their show is sheer hilarity and refreshingly original. They keep their audience in tears for a good portion of the sketch comedy with uncanny voices and facial manipulations, "the world's funniest joke," and songs about washing down babies with beer. Northwest Actors Studio, 110 E. Pike, second floor. 11 p.m. Fri., Sept. 27; 7:45 p.m. Sun., Sept. 29. K.M.

SEARCHING FOR JULIE WISCH

Ah, young love. This mildly comedic drama concerns idyllic, elementary-school romance and one man's adult search for a relationship similarly pure. Unfortunately, a good portion of the dialogue here is clouded with ancient Greek deity metaphors—not only pretentious but alienating for audience members who don't happen to be mythology buffs. Still, there are some decent performances and a couple of effective breakup scenes (and actor Craig Matthews looks eerily like that guy from Dawson's Creek). Northwest Actors Studio Cabaret, 1100 E. Pike, third floor. 9 p.m. Fri., Sept. 27; 4 p.m. Sat., Sept. 28; 12:45 p.m. Sun., Sept. 29. K.M.

TESTS

John Osebold is a funny man—anyone who has seen him perform with comedy troupe The Habit knows this. But his solo performance is a 60-minute inside joke, and unfortunately, the audience is left out. You feel a little uncomfortable afterward, like you've just watched someone doing something private—the self-indulgence of dancing silently about the stage and making silly faces best saved for the bathroom mirror feels a bit masturbatory. Union Garage #2, 1418 10th. 10:30 p.m. Fri., Sept. 27; 6:45 p.m. Sat., Sept. 28; 3:45 p.m. Sun., Sept. 29. K.M.

* VOICING BLUE

When Dappin' Butoh's Joan Laage first enters the space wearing an antique white satin gown, it seems that she's closer to her own Danish heritage than the post-WWII Japanese roots of Butoh—but the simplicity and emotional directness of her work still connects directly to that tradition. Joined in a search for "blue" by poet David Thornbrugh and composer Shannon Hale, Laage embodies a catalog of references from the mundane (the Bluebird of Happiness . . . ) to the esoteric. Freehold Theater, 1529 10th, second floor. 6 p.m. Wed., Sept. 25; 9 p.m. Fri., Sept. 27; 3:30 p.m. Sat., Sept. 28; 1:30 p.m. Sun., Sept. 29. S.K.

WILL

The worst aspect of this slipshod, appallingly written, and under-rehearsed production is that its lead actor has got it into his head to snap his fingers a lot. How many times is he going to snap, you begin to wonder, before you do? Though it's a courtroom drama, the only suspense rises out of a competition between the actors over who can say his lines the fastest—not that they're worth saying in the first place. Union Garage #1, 1418 10th. 6 p.m. Thurs., Sept. 26; 7:30 p.m. Fri., Sept. 27; 6:30 p.m. Sat., Sept. 28. C.F

 
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