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Fringe of Marin Spring 2011

April 22, 2011

The Fringe of Marin (Dominican U in San Rafael CA) has always been ambitious in scope—a twice-yearly baker’s dozen of new one-act plays by new or relatively unknown playwrights. These are presented in two alternating programs, five showings each in the current season. The house is small and informal, the staging spare. This puts the burden on the writers, directors, and most importantly the actors, to make the most of each play’s intent during its brief moments on stage. The results of this experimental format might be mixed, but there is no better showcase for emerging talent, and no audience will leave the theatre unmoved or unenlightened.

Program One (three more showings—4/30, 5/1, 5/7) opens with plenty of laughs. “The Taxpayers Nightmare” is one we’re all familiar with as the harried everyman loses his way in the byzantine depths of the IRS. In “Candle, Rose” two damaged souls meet in a bar, each too immersed in private pain to see that their stories are the same. Their paths veer together, split apart, come together at the end with the realization that sometimes everything we’re looking for is right in front of us. “It’s Very Crowded” when two young ladies at a bus stop encounter a parallel universe filled with unseen souls just before the intermission.

In the following bit of metaphysical sleight-of-hand, Jesus comes back to life in San Rafael, as confused by her new condition as Pastor Bob, who won’t see the truth of what is right in front of him. Pinocchio cuts his own strings to find life, but when he does the same for his wooden soulmate Cassandra, she collapses to the ground when “A Puppet is Down.” Harry Shriebman gives us a set of classical mime routines, “A Taste of the Silent Art.” The evening closes with a touching glimpse into the lives of the autistic “Jessica” and her relentlessly cheerful and encouraging mother.

There is much more to see, a wealth of talent onstage and behind, throughout Program One’s rewarding evening. (Program Two not reviewed here, but is understood to be equally worth of your interest).

Reservations: http://www.fringeofmarin.com or (415) 673-3131

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