1 Love It

The New York International Fringe Festival 2015 guide

Puppets, zombies, small penises, Lena Dunham and David Foster Wallace get the spotlight at the Fringe Festival 2015

Garrett Matthew
Divine Intervention

As Broadway and Off Broadway take breathers before the fall rush, August means just one thing for many lovers of New York theater: Fringe Festival 2015. More than 75,000 people swarm annually through this sprawling hive of theater and dance, making FringeNYC (as it’s sometimes known) one of the city’s largest events. This year’s 19th edition includes 200 offerings by various theater and dance companies, each of which gets just five or six chances to show its stuff.
 
Of course, quantity doesn’t always equal quality—and that’s where we come in. The wild variety of Fringe offerings includes musicals, experimental pieces, classical revivals and ramshackle new works about small penises, Lena Dunham and pretty much every subject in between. Some may go on to glory (like Fringe Festival alumni Urinetown and Silence! The Musical), while others will fade into well-deserved obscurity. As always, we’ll be sending a battery of reviewers out into the field to report on dozens of shows, so check this page regularly for new reviews.

What is the Fringe Festival?

The New York International Fringe Festival is a sprawling annual showcase for theater and dance, staged in multiple venues in downtown Manhattan. It was founded in 1997.

When is the Fringe Festival?

This year's edition of the New York International Fringe Festival runs from August 14 to August 30, 2015.

Where is the Fringe Festival?

Fringe shows are staged at 16 different venues, most of them in the East Village and Lower East Side.

How do I buy tickets for the Fringe Festival?

Tickets are $18 per show, and some shows sell out fast. A full list of the productions—and where and when they're playing—can be found at the official Fringe Festival website. And if you can’t get tickets to a particular show, don’t give up hope: Some of the most popular Fringe plays return in September as part of the FringeNYC Encore Series.

Fringe Festival 2015 coverage

Theater

28 shows to check out at the Fringe Festival

We sort through the postcards and guide you through the offerings at this summer's New York Fringe Festival

Read more
LGBT

Gay shows at the New York International Fringe Festival

The annual Fringe fest always has a healthy number of queer shows. Here's this year's LGBT options.

Read more

Past Fringe Festival coverage

Blog

Five kinds of Fringe Festival show (2014)

Each Fringe Festival show can be cast into one of these categories

Read more
Blog

Five life hacks to mentally survive the unbelievably shitty Fringe shows you will see (2014)

The Fringe Festival is a home for both really good and pretty terrible theater

Read more
Theater

Postcards from the New York Fringe (2013)

Those 4" x 6" slips of glossy paper with brief descriptions can still provide key clues in the search for Fringe gold

Read more

Past Fringe Festival Top Picks

Theater

The Bloodline of Shadrick Grace (2014)

Read more
Theater

Joel Creasey: Rock God (2014)

Read more
Theater

Hoaxocaust! (2014)

Read more
Theater

I'll Say She Is (2014)

Read more
Show more

Past Fringe Festival reviews

Hoaxocaust! (2014)

Did Hoaxocaust! really happen? That’s a running question in Barry Levey’s semisatirical monologue, in which he recounts a globe-trotting voyage into the creepy world of Holocaust denial. Spurred by arguments with his Midwestern Jewish family and his Dominican boyfriend, Levey begins to wonder whether Jews evoke Nazi Germany too readily to defend their own insularity and Israel’s military policy: Does this the-Shoah-must-go-on attitude trigger an implicit Godwin’s Law that makes non-Jews tune out or turn against the conversation? From this starting point, Levey, who cannily presents himself as a nervous nonperformer, embarks on a series of brief encounters with renowned revisionists, including England’s David Irving and France’s Robert Faurisson. The unlikeness of his story creates what could be an interesting tension with the show’s concerns about historical veracity, but this potential is not fully realized; the unreliability of the narrative is clear from the start. And although Levey means to illustrate how easy it can be to fall for misinformation, especially in the Internet era, the conclusion of his show effectively obviates the preceding hour in one or two minutes of facts. Meanwhile, what turns out to be his central contention remains underdeveloped. Hoaxocaust! raises provocative questions, then spends most of its time evading them: It may be true that evoking the Holocaust helps spur anti-Semitism, but Levey’s story doesn’t makes a convincing argument about that, ei

Read more
Theater

MANish Boy (2014)

Ralph Harris is ecstatic when he gets a call from an old lover, but before he can finish his question—“Do you still have those hot pants…”—she tells him that he might be a father. The DNA test he must take sends him back to his hometown of Philadelphia, where every street is a memory lane. Harris relives his boyhood: wishes on his family’s spin-top chair (“make me rich, make me rich”), stoop speeches about “freaking girls,” a glorious arrest for trespassing on a playground. Amid the child’s play, he delves into serious matters. How do you know how to be a dad when yours left when you were seven? With compassion and verisimilitude, he portrays his violent, substance-abusing father and uncle, conveying both their love and their terror in a heartbreaking performance. For comic relief, he also plays his delightful 94-year-old grandfather (who, when held at gunpoint, hilariously shames his assailant) and his mother’s best friend (who became his lover when he was 20). Harris's delivery combines incredible speed with impressive diction and clarity—the words flow with terrific musicality—and he enacts his physical transformations with grace and agility. With bittersweet humor, Harris offers a memorable look at the things that can separate men from boys.—Sarah Andrew Click here for full TONY coverage of the 2014 New York International Fringe Festival.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Read more
Theater

Fatty Fatty No Friends (2014)

In the opening moments of Fatty Fatty No Friends, we hear a band that evokes Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. The music (by Christian De Gré) has a creepy-carnival vibe, and the imagery is pure Halloween: stilt-walking skeletons and an army of stylish teens with black rings around their eyes. Obese Tommy (Jason Sofge) waddles straight into this horror show, assailed by taunting, abusive classmates and menaced by skeletons. Our chubby hero awakes, goes to school and is befriended for the first time in his life—until the popular mean girl (Mia Thomas) intervenes. Alone in the bathroom, Tommy realizes that his bullies aren’t nasty on the inside but actually…delicious. So he decides to take gruesome action. (Flesh hangs off characters’ bodies in the form of red sashes.) The inventive set is drawn on reversible sheets held up by performers, and the ensemble is perfectly despicable. But the real discovery is Sofge, whose vulnerability makes Tommy’s journey authentic rather than just endearing. (He shines in an amusing tune about sweatpants: “They don’t tear, they don’t split / They remind me that there’s a place I fit.”) De Gré, lyricist Joseph Reese Anderson and book writer Serrana Gay have created a surprisingly touching piece that, whether it makes you cackle or sniffle, ought to have a future life. With childhood obesity on the rise, this serotonin-boosting musical ought to be performed in schools throughout the land.—Sarah Andrew Click here for full TONY coverage o

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Read more
Theater

The Three Faces of Doctor Crippen (2014)

The life of Dr. H. H. Crippen, a homeopath who made a stir in 1910 when his wife's dead body was found hacked to pieces in his basement, is the inspiration for Emily Schwartz’s imaginative dark comedy. This, however, is no ordinary retelling: The three different "Faces" of Dr. Crippen—his Public, Private and Fantasy sides (played by Stuart Ritter, Scott Cupper and Matt Holzfeind, respectively)— depict the thought processes that led to the murder. The concept might sound heavy-handed, but in this riotous, poignant production, it is handled with a light tough. Schwartz's script masterfully balances slapstick with drama, blending the gaudiness of a bad vaudeville act with the absurdism of a Pinter play. The play hews to the facts of the case and spans nearly 25 years, from the beginning of Crippen’s medical career to his eventual execution in a London jail, yet never gets mired in exposition—a testament to director Jimmy McDermott swift, quick-witted staging and the ensemble cast's spot-on comic skill. Although it takes time for the three Faces to fully develop into unique personae, they run the gamut tirelessly between laughter and tragedy, pulling out every trick they can until they all must face the music together.—Chris Corbo Click here for full TONY coverage of the 2014 New York International Fringe Festival.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Read more
Theater

And She Bakes, LIVE (2014)

Anyone who enjoys a bit of kitsch with their kitchens will eat up this stage version of Daliya Karnofsky’s YouTube baking series of the same title. On video, Daliya can edit her performances; here, she improvises a sweet live show, directed by Annie G. Levy, and any imperfections and redundancies are forgiven. As she cooks onstage—with breaks for adorably awkward dancing—she uses the ingredients and steps to make points about her love life and those of her fans. (Sample instruction: Keep the heat on low.) The venue may be called the C.O.W., but Daliya’s creations are vegan and gluten-free, so most people with dietary restrictions can still enjoy the treats they get to take home from the show. And while it's not strictly required in order to appreciate her message of empowerment through pastry, it helps to have a taste for nuts.—Amelia Bienstock Click here for full TONY coverage of the 2014 New York International Fringe Festival.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Read more
Theater

Whiskey Jack (2014)

In the energetic opening scene of Daniel Carroll’s Whiskey Jack, a crew from the Manhattan Logging Corporation prepares for a trip to the Canadian wilderness with a rousing rendition of “Pay Me My Money Down” (the first of many fine uses of folk music in the show). As the excellent cast bustles around, a narrator (Carroll) who has devoted his life to studying the tragedy that is about to befall them—think The Twilight Zone’s Rod Serling as rambling and unappreciated academic—explains that before the great stock-market crash of 1929 could fell these loggers, a mysterious sickness would. Unfortunately, as the darkly comic thriller plot unfolds, it becomes more and more confusing. The raw elements are interesting: a murder plot, an insane doctor with his own agenda, a bitter Native American employee poised to avenge the taking of his ancestors’ land—not to mention a supernatural demon known as Whiskey Jack. The play pours out a bigger drink than the audience can swallow.—Madeline Raynor Click here for full TONY coverage of the 2014 New York International Fringe Festival.

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Read more
Theater

His Majesty, the Devil—A Play with Music (2014)

A Young Man (Colin Pip Dixon) lies barefoot on the floor while a Visitor (MacIntyre Dixon, Colin’s father) sits in a chair, reading a newspaper. The former, it seems, has been plotting an anarchist revolution, out of despair at the state of the world; the latter is the Prince of Darkness himself, who may or may not be a figment of the boy’s feverish imagination. His Majesty, the Devil is one long, familiar conversation: The Young Man spouts adolescent, creakily worded vitriol (“How could my mind beget such a fool as you?”), while the Visitor wallows in various forms of self-pity and shares hoary tropes about human iniquity (“I’m not half as harmful as your human brothers and sisters”). Sympathy for the Devil only extends so far. The elder Dixon, deploying more treacle than brimstone, performs with seasoned skill; the younger, who also composed an original score for the piece, plays the violin beautifully but does not appear to be a trained actor, to damaging effect. The project is sweetly dedicated to its late playwright, Alexandra Devon, who was Colin’s mother, and there is no question as to its good intentions. But we know where roads paved with those can lead.—Adam Feldman Click here for full TONY coverage of the 2014 New York International Fringe Festival.

Time Out says
  • 2 out of 5 stars
Read more
Theater

Loveness: I Will Only Love You Once (2014)

With dialogue alternating between free verse and clichés, and a plot that bends itself into a question mark, Loveness sends you ambling out of the theater wondering, That was a joke, right? Artistic types Isabelle (Meridith Nicolaev) and Carlyle (Jinn Kim) are in their mid-thirties and on an awkward first date. Carlyle impetuously asks a question intended to make him look sexy: “What do you want?” Isabelle responds with her dinner order. “No, in life,” he clarifies, his laugh half Boy Scout, half creep at the bar. Isabelle observes that you can’t paint the fruit until you have tasted it. Carlyle is confused. They begin to date. Isabelle blathers to her matronly therapist (Kelley Rae O’Donnell) about her concerns, while he sees his own doctor—a bartender (Marco Greco). Following his drink-slinger’s advice, Carlyle squanders his good fortune by gambling and doing drugs. Will Isabelle still love him? Did she ever? Playwright Craig muMs Grant is a notable poet, but his lyrical detours are too dense to elevate the relationship into drama. Alternatively, if Loveness were to succeed as comedy, it would need snappier direction and comic acting. As Isabelle, Nicolaev might have served as the voice of reason, guiding us through the absurdity, if she had downplayed her angst and the other cast members had ramped up the humor. Sadly, it’s not a good match.—Sarah Andrew Click here for full TONY coverage of the 2014 New York International Fringe Festival.

Time Out says
  • 2 out of 5 stars
Read more
Show more

Comments

1 comments