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Defender Picks


On the Fringe II

Berlin to Broadway, Ballsy & Offensive, Poetry Brothel & More

New Orleans Fringe closes out tonight, after five days of 76 plays at over 40 venues. Read on for NoDef's last batch of reviews. 


From Berlin to Broadway


Over the course of From Berlin to Broadway, performer Bremner Duthie delivers a range of songs from the career of one of the modern's world most well known composers, Kurt Weill.  An indication stolen from the show itself: audience members are treated with both songs from underground cabarets in 1930s Germany as well as show tunes that had their début on the Broadway stage.  Performed at Byrdie's along St. Claude, Duthie's voice thoroughly resonates the many bodies as well as the space around this cozy venue with a forceful and precise mastery.


The performance begins as Duthie jumps quickly from his conversation with his pianist, Alan Payne, and starts belting the original German version of "What Keeps Mankind Alive?"   Switching to English, we hear the translation of the harsh and foreign guttural stops and discover lyrics that match, as an answer to the question: "The fact that millions are daily tortured / Stifled, punished, silenced and oppressed."  After the song, Duthie launches into an explanation of the life of Kurt Weill, detailing his work experience with Bertolt Brecht (the source of the more left-wing, revolutionary lyrics) and Lotte Lenya, his on-again off-again lover.



Teasing the audience with snippets of his personal experience studying and performing Kurt Weill that led led to legal recourse, Duthie's passion for the composer becomes the second strong underlying theme of the show.  It is obvious Duthie has an obsession, a positive one he is able to share with audiences around the world, having recorded some of these songs in Paris among other places.



Continuing a running narration of Weill's life, as it bounces around Nazi Germany, general European vagabondery, and disgust at hobnobbing in early Los Angeles, we hear such iconic songs as "Mack the Knife,"


"The Ballad of Sexual Dependency," and "Youkali."  The songs, while of course with same the resonance given by such a full-bodied performer, manage to touch a variety of emotions.  Duthie's facial expressions, thoughtful hand gestures, and slightly rocking feet allow for another layer of communication in the songs, as well as being proof of his passion.



Hearing tales of lover's quarrels and the hardships of artists, the narrative in between the songs give an interesting history of the first half of the 20th century.   Notably, lyrics for Weill range from Brecht, Walt Whitman, and Langston Hughes.  The performance ends with a touching rendition of "Speak Low," as Duthie insightfully comments, a song that could be sung either in church or on broadway, the duplicity being one of Weill's defining qualities.  An informative and passionately musical experience by a talented performer.  Catch From Berlin to Broadway every night at 7pm at Byrdie's.



READ: NoDef 2013 Fringe Reviews, Vol. 1

READ: NoDef 2013 Fringe Reviews, Vol. 2

READ: NoDef 2013 Fringe Reviews, Vol. 3 

READ: NoDef 2013 Fringe Reviews, Vol. 4


Ballsy, Offensive & Funny as F*ck


The outrageously titled play worked from the moment one stepped into the venue. The bright oranges and deep browns of the Hi-Ho Lounge set the tone for the performance. A packed house, people at the bar getting multiple drinks, a screen onstage projecting old Sesame Street clips. Ballsy, Offensive & Funny as F*ck added to the immersion.


The two woman show featuring the YES Girls; Cayenne Cuntessa and Lemmie Lickett, brought 45 minutes of sharp, over the top, boozy, ballsy comedic skits. Our heroines appear in bright, big-wigged, gaudy costumes swigging from bottles of Mad Dog 20/20 and command the stage with quick wit, envelope pushing, prop using fun. The audience remained with the YES Girls throughout the performance, which gave us brilliant monologues and songs about the Plan B pill and the downside to having children, sex with all the races, abortion, masturbation, mishaps and The Little Mermaid wanting to be "loved like a girl."


The chemistry between Cayenne Cuntessa and Lemmie Lickett is on full display, as they interplay between skits and songs, even when their singing or lines falter a bit. They appear a well seasoned comedy duo who have a good time in their production.


Offensive is true to name. The production is for those of you who are not easily offended by language or topics. It targets a nudie nice that really just enjoys having a drink in a bar and getting back to the simple days of Sesame Street, with a wicked twist. Attendees will never see Bert and Ernie or hear Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” filtered through innocence of youth again.


Ballsy, Offensive & Funny as F*ck is a 18+ only show playing again at Hi-Ho Lounge (at 2239 St. Claude Ave.) on Sunday 11/24 at 7:30pm.


--Todd Cirillo



Down and Outskirts


Down and Outskirts presented by the New Orleans Poetry Brothel employs the classic trope of a play within a play. The scene is set at the Backyard Ballroom, a dingy shed with a bar out back set back from the 3500 block of St. Claude Ave. The venue is appropriate choice for the organic production.


Action begins immediately after audience members take their seats. Cast members wander and interact with people by reading poems and drawing “portraits”. Still others stumble about, portraying lost working girls of long-gone Storyville. They lament the red light district's shutdown at midnight or try convince themselves that it will not happen. The pre-show music was fitting, filled with songs about jellyrolls and drinking; old time blues and jazz. There is no other stage production other than the music and the poems.


The show officially begins with a working girl (with an exquisite voice) singing about the shutdown of Storyville. What follows is approximately 40 minutes of poetry, a bit of burlesque and a narrative that loosely stays with the Storyville theme. The program's description of Down and Outskirts as a “a disjointed tale” holds true. Most of the poems, at first listen, do not appear to have a strong or literal connection to the Storyville theme.


The performers all give solid readings of their pieces and deliver them in a fearless and captivating manner. The burlesque segments especially shine. The performers come at the audience from all sides of the theater which adds a wonderfully interactive element.

The concepts and philosophy driving the new New Orleans Poetry Brothel is solid. Future works hold great potential. Down and Outskirts is spoken word as strictly stage performance done very well, no small feat. This show would suit those of you who enjoy a sense of non-linear randomness in their narrative and a cast with the guts to pull it off.


Down and Outskirts is a 18+ only show at the Backyard Ballroom (3519 St. Claude Ave.) and plays again 11/24 at 7pm.


--Todd Cirillo

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Renard Boissiere, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Naimonu James, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Nina Luckman, Dead Huey Long, Alexis Manrodt, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via, Austin Yde


Art Director

Michael Weber, B.A.


Listings Editor

Linzi Falk

Editor Emeritus

Alexis Manrodt

B. E. Mintz

Stephen Babcock

Published Daily