The New York International Fringe Festival

Dirty clowns, nudity, classics trashed, puppets and outrageous meta-musicals: Looks like the New York International Fringe Festival is back in town.

Peter Grosz in Recipe for Success

Peter Grosz in Recipe for Success Photograph: Laura Rose


Every August theatergoers brace themselves for the New York International Fringe Festival. It hits us in the dog days of summer like a punishing heat wave of talent—or, if not talent, then unbridled, reckless enthusiasm. First mounted in 1997 out of a few poky Off-Off Broadway spaces on the Lower East Side, the Fringe has grown in size and cultural cachet. Now the festival calls itself “the largest multiarts festival in North America,” with yearly attendance topping 75,000. This year, FringeNYC (as it’s also known) will offer shows by 185 theater troupes and dance companies in 19 downtown venues. All tickets are $18 ($15 in advance) and shows sell out fast. If you can't get a free ticket to Shakespeare in the Park, the Fringe is a valid alternative.

So the Fringe is big. Too big. When you program nearly 200 events, you are consigning the average ticket buyer to several days of amateur hour. Self-indulgent interpretative dance-theater. Embarrassingly inept comedy. Crummy puppet plays. But the roll of the dice is part of what makes the Fringe so much fun. And it’s not like the festival hasn’t had its successes: Broadway and Off Broadway hits such as Urinetown, Debbie Does Dallas, Silence! The Musical, Matt & Ben and Triassic Parq started out at the Fringe.

Although the 2013 Fringe Festival ended on August 25, 17 of its most best shows have extended their runs thanks to the FringeNYC Encore Series, whose offerings are divided between the Players Theatre and the Baruch Performing Arts Center. Here are the ones that we reviewed in their original August runs.


2013 Fringe Festival coverage

Postcards from the Fringe

  • Price band: 1/4

Choosing a worthy Fringe show can be a real paper chase.


Reviews of 2012 Fringe Festival shows

Alice & The Bunny Hole

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  1. Ellen Stewart Theatre at La MaMa 74A E 4th St, between Bowery and Second Ave
More info

All My Children

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice
  1. Gene Frankel Theatre 24 Bond St, between Bowery and Lafayette St
More info

Animals

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  1. Kraine Theater 85 E 4th St, between Bowery and Second Ave, 10003
Buy tickets

The Apocalypse of John

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  1. Players Theatre 115 MacDougal St, at Minetta Ln
More info

Select Fringe Festival 2012 shows

  1. Connelly Theater 220 E 4th St, between Aves A and B
Buy tickets

Antigone Unearthed

  • Price band: 2/4
  1. Living Theatre 19–21 Clinton St, between E Houston and Stanton Sts
  2. Until Sun Aug 26
Buy tickets

Fortunate Daughter

  • Price band: 2/4
  1. The White Box (at 440 Studios) 440 Lafayette St, between Astor Pl and E 4th St
Buy tickets

Quest for the West

  • Price band: 2/4
  1. Theatre 80 80 St. Marks Pl, between First and Second Aves
  2. Until Sun Aug 26
Buy tickets

Past Fringe Festival coverage

Reviews: Fringe Festival (2011)

  • Rated as: 2/5
  • Price band: 1/4

This year, we decided to sample the Fringe randomly. Ouch.

Reviews: Fringe Festival (2007)

  • Rated as: 3/5

TONY reviews some of the Fringe festival's race-themed offerings.

Review: Yeast Nation (2011)

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

An infectious new musical from the Urinetown team hits the Fringe Festival.

Review: The Mountain Song (2011)

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice

The resourceful kids of PigPen tell a rambling, gothic country tale.



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