With 200 shows to choose from, all with vague, two-sentence descriptions, deciding which to see during the New York International Fringe Festival can be overwhelming. Now in its 20th year, it’s still a mixed bag—for every Matt and Ben (the show that launched Mindy Kaling’s career), there are at least a dozen forgettable titles. Even if you comb through every listing with painstaking detail, like we did, you never really know if you’re going to get a future Urinetown or a big, fat dud—but that’s all part of the fun! Here are five shows worth the risk (we hope). Starting Monday check our Fringe page (below); over the course of the festival we will review dozens of Fringe shows.
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This acrobatic sequel to The Little Prince is a safe bet if you’re looking for a show that is appropriate for all ages. It was nominated for Best Show and Best Family Show at Edinburgh Festival Fringe (the largest arts festival in the world) in Scotland, so it’s already been vetted. Bonus (in case it’s not as good as we think): it’s only 45 minutes long.
The Radicalization of Rolfe
This dark comedy seems aimed at those who saw The Sound of Music and had feelings about the 17-going-on-18-year-old messenger boy who made them uncomfortable after he turned out to be a Nazi (this is probably most of us, right?). Rolfe may be a secondary character, but delve deeper and we might find out how a romantic teenager gets taken in by the Third Reich.
Till Birnam Wood…
During this hour-long Macbeth, audience members are completely blindfolded. It’s Shakespeare’s original text, albeit severely cut. Imagine how terrifying it will be to experience all those murders aurally.
Black & Blue
For all the zaniness at Fringe, there are also plenty of serious shows, and this one, about a black man and an NYPD officer, is especially timely. Kevin Demoan Edwards and Katherine George wrote it after realizing they both lost loved ones who had been shot and killed by police officers. This part drama, part spoken word piece incorporates conversations and interviews with people on both sides of the issue.
15 Villainous Fools
Shakespeare adaptations are a staple at the fest, but this one stands out because it’s The Comedy of Errors performed by two women—Olivia Atwood and Maggie Seymour. The show promises Nerf guns, original raps and mediocre puppetry. What could be more Fringe-y than that?