Fringe has begun.
And in just three shows, this viewer has gotten a sense of the wide variety of offerings available for those who choose to make the event a weekend affair.
An invigorating turn in the air at The Old Ironworks, a raunchy contortion of “Ozzie and Harriet” on St. Claude Avenue, and a shaky but nonetheless moving traditional one-man show at The Marigny Theatre.
And that was just Wednesday.
612 Piety St.
9 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday
A dark acrobatic fairy tale, “LoopsEnd”, swirling and spinning its way through the weekend at The Old Ironworks, is the first must-see event of The Fringe Fest that I witnessed.
A chain and silk aerial show that springs from the Atlanta based Paper Doll Militia troupe, “LoopsEnd” comes off like the love child of Tim Burton and Trent Reznor: Shakespearean faeries run amok in the mind of Oyster Boy. Obsessed with both beauty and pain, the evening mixes high romanticism with steampunk sensibilities and is a natural fit for the space it inhabits.
After an intense opening duet involving two female aerialists reversing roles as a captor and a jailer, a company of five women and one stilt-walking man swing and twist themselves into a series of poses worthy of a compositional painting.
The company works in wonderful syncopation throughout a world of ropes and pulleys. They give focus rather than steal it and, because of this, achieve an artistic triumph where all share in the success.
With romantic industrial underscoring, the troupe’s work causes angels to achieve lift, damsels to flee distress, and night flowers to bloom.
It’s a midwinter night’s dream from which you will not want to awake.
‘A Beaver Licious Family Affair’
2239 St. Claude Ave.
9 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday
A different kind of acrobatic work can be found at the Hi-Ho Lounge for “A Beaver Licious Family Affair.”
Ostensibly a subversive parody of a Fifties sitcom, “Beaver Licious” actually tells the story of the Beaver family as an excuse to stage a series of inappropriate variety acts that run the gamut from silly to lurid to completely hysterical, sometimes all three.
A collaborative effort of local performance troupes Cirque d’Licious and Smoking Beaver, “Beaver Licious” is so stupid that it actually works. It doesn’t pretend its performers can act, barely attempts a coherent story, and has less artistic merit than Roger Corman or John Waters’ earlier artistic ventures.
And the joyfully intoxicated audience and I had a hell of a good time watching the sparks fly from more than just the-grinder-against-metal-crotch routine.
In case you missed that… grinder-against-metal-crotch routine.
Because what performers Ginger Licious, Darling Darla James, and Clay Mazing do have is a sense of the theatrical. All three can move, strike a pose, and, most importantly, each possesses a unique skill or two that makes the evening worthwhile.
Whether it’s the slovenly hipster Mazing employing a whip to crack flowers out of his mouth, the seductress James climbing a ladder of machetes to fetch a bottle of snake-oil, or the-deviant-next-door Licious using a walker for the most wonderfully offensive strip tease of all time, the trio never take themselves seriously and simply ask their audience to be as loud and boisterous as themselves.
Wear your fringe button, buy a drink and join the fun.
‘Hey, Hey LBJ’
1030 Marigny St.
7 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday
Sometimes a powerful story is enough.
Vietnam veteran Dave Kleinberg is almost painfully stiff as an actor, the dramaturgical structure of his piece “Hey, Hey, LBJ” is occasionally scattered, and his technical cues, even if they had been run correctly the night I saw it at The Marigny Theatre, do little to move his show along.
But after a time, Kleinberg’s autobiographical tale of his fateful year covering Vietnam as an Army reporter begins building a steady and inexorable momentum.
Stories of heroic latrine duty, typos possessed with fatal force, and friendships vaporized because of military aesthetics overwhelm the technical and performance shortcomings to produce a yarn of friensdship and the sort of courage that most of us cannot conceive of possessing.
With just over half the show remaining, the thought sinks into the viewer: The man telling this tale has lived this tale.
And his lack of bravado, genuine disgust with the absurdity of war, and unabashedly deep love for his comrades carry the day and keep us with him until the end.
A powerful story is more than enough.
Jim Fitzmorris writes about theater. He can be reached at email@example.com.