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Fair Grounds, all day
Final day of weekend one
Bayou Beer Garden, 9AM
The most important meal of the year
Prytania Theatre, 10AM
1933 sci-fi horror classic
Saenger Theatre, 3PM
YouTube superstar comes to town
Marigny Opera House, 5PM
Feat. guitarist and composer David Sigler
Eiffel Society, 7PM
Lord of the Rings burlesque
Maple Leaf Bar, 7PM
Feat. Walter "Wolfman" Washington and Russell Batiste, plus a crawfish boil
Bar Redux, 9PM
NOLA-based Balkan band
Zeitgeist Arts Center, 9PM
Helen Gillet presents Belgian avant garde films
Louis Armstrong Park, 1PM
A protest for freedom, jobs, justice, and sanctuary for all
Peoples Health Jazz Market, 6:30PM
CNN presents event, with post-screening conversation with anchor Brooke Baldwin
House of Blues, 7PM
Carver Club, 8PM
Treme club shifts its weekly show to the historic Carver Theatre
Cafe Istanbul, 9:15PM
Evening of poetry with Chuck Perkins, plus live music
Blue Nile, 11PM
Famed brass all-stars play Frenchmen
Ernest N. Morial Cenvention Center
Kick off day of tech conference
Marigny Recording Studio, 3PM
First annual showcase of the label's artists
Greater New Orleans Foundation, 4:30PM
Music from Irma Thomas, Big Sam's Funky Nation, Rebirth Brass Band
343 Baronne St., 6:30PM
Chardonnay vs. Pinot Noir
House of Blues, 7PM
Grammy-nominated French heavy metal
Little Gem Saloon, 7:30PM
Stick around for Honey Island Swamp Band at 11PM
Smoothie King Center, 8PM
50th anniversary tour
Feat. Rory Danger and the Danger Dangers
Octavia Books, 4:30PM
From "How to Be A Supervillain"
Hosted by Pistil & Stamen Flower Farm and Studio
Music at the Mint, 7PM
Feat. Tim Laughlin
The Sanctuary, 8PM
CD release show
Snug Harbor, 8PM
Feat. Marcia Ball, Joe Krown, and Tom McDermott
In support of newest album 'Whiteout Conditions'
Saenger Theatre, 8:30PM
Blue Nile, 9PM
Feat. Ivan Neville
Gasa Gasa, 9PM
Feat. Chrome Pony and Post Animal in support
Blue Nile, 11:55PM
Next generation NOLA brass
Pres Hall, 12AM
With Jon Cleary, Benny Bloom, & Friends
Fair Grounds, all day
Weekend two kicks off
Tubby & Coo's, 4PM
Star Wars party
Jazz in the Park
Russell Batiste and friends
Crescent Park, 5:45PM
Get sweaty and centered
Ashé Cac, 6PM
Live music, DJs, and dance
The Music Box Village, 6:30PM
Punk rock percussion
Rosalie Apothecary, 7PM
Class for women's health
House of Blues, 7:30PM
Benefit concert for his namesake foundation
The Historic Carver Theater, 8PM
Feat. Ian Neville, Nikki Glaspie, SSHH feat. Zak Starkey of The Who
The Howlin Wolf, 9PM
Republic NOLA, 9PM
Feat. George Porter Jr., Zigaboo Modeliste
Music at the Mint, 9PM
Live music to benefit the Louis Armstrong Jazz Camp
The Sunday Critic: Sarge, Enter Your Sleep, A Nudist's Wedding
Besides the opportunity to be windy and wordy, the main advantage of keeping my amateur status as a critic rather than going pro (i.e being paid) is that I am not obligated to the scene as a whole. I get to what I get to. I’ve taken a pass on many shows. Sometimes, there's a conflict, other times shows are just not ready for a review, and sometimes words just don't do justice to a work.
Below are brief reviews of Sarge, Enter Your Sleep, and A Nudist's Wedding: three productions which, had I not promised coverage of this year’s Fringe Fest as comprehensive as I could manage, I’d just as soon not be writing about at all…
Sarge (Clifton Players, Cincinnati)
The thoughtful good intentions of Kevin Crowley’s monologue play Sarge are so heart-on-the-sleeve obvious that I want to praise it simply for the willingness to engage the immediate world. I’m an admirer of playwrights who dare address issues of the day directly. (Most retreat to the past, or to fantasyland, claiming as they wave goodbye to be relevant by way of metaphoric timelessness.) So, this meditation on the Jerry Sandusky/Penn State child sex abuse scandal from the point of view of his wife, Dorothy “Sarge” Sandusky--specifically, about the power of denial to blind us to the truth--should be just my meat.
It isn’t. Sarge makes its point within the first ten minutes but still has 40 minutes to fill. In three scenes where one would do, the woman is portrayed in the stereotypical round – as a blinkered homebody, profoundly religious, determinedly motherly – without sarcasm but also without complexity. The only surprise in her story is her past career as a singer, but nothing is done with that except the opportunity to hear the very fine actress, Susan Emerson, assay “Tennessee Waltz” twice.
A Best of Fringe winner in Cincinnati, I must assume that Sarge generated real power at home, where the Sandusky scandal was more immediate and audiences could fill in responses from daily-news knowledge of it. But that power doesn’t travel: A pedophile husband and his truth-denying wife is a dynamic that doesn’t change much and has been, sadly, often told. (See every fourth episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit or Criminal Minds.) Since Crowley is a considerate writer, excellent with dialogue, I’d recommend that he go against his and my preferences and spring this play from its basis in fact. Freed of its obligation to the facts of living people’s lives, Sarge could really go places.
Fans of highly skillful naturalistic acting may want to see Sarge for Emerson’s poignant performance alone. She is awfully good: Think Mary Pauley for a local reference point to the quality of her work.
Enter Your Sleep (Elm Theatre, New Orleans)
The Elm Theatre’s Enter Your Sleep (which continues at the Fortress of Lushington one more weekend after Fringe Fest is done) is perfect. In every way. It’s been years since I saw a show that I didn’t want to attempt to put into words because I feared disturbing or trivializing my memories of it. Crap!
Playwright Christina Quintana’s world premiere sounded in description exactly like a cutesy chore. A dreamscape play about childhood BFFs Glory Zico (Becca Chapman) and P.K. Whylde (Matt Standley) – see? Even the characters’ names are cutesy – meeting on the nighttime astral plane to work out the long, complex history of their essential but indefinable relationship. Oh goodie! Another any-one-damn-thing-after-another-damn-thing non-story that stops…whenever the playwright runs out of ideas… rather than concludes.
Wrong. Wrong wrong wrong. The high-comedy quick-change dreamscape episodes, with Chapman and Standley each sliding into and out of dozens of personae, unfolds with a slowly revealed internal logic that turns first worrisome, ultimately devastating, as Quintana shows her cards--even while the laughs continue irresistibly. On this play’s more intimate but equally complex scale, director Joe Furnari demonstrates all of the problem-solving mastery that didn’t quite rise to the challenge of A Lie of the Mind.
Swamp DeVille’s elegant interlocking boxes-and-boards set is everything it needs to be at every moment.
Most unexpectedly: the peerless Becca Chapman is met and matched. Matt Standley here makes his debut as New Orleans’ newest, uniquest, charismaticnest leading man.
Even the philosophical questions – about the meanings, manifestations, and limits of friendship – are satisfied. I got to steal from one of my betters and get out of this. “If you can see Enter Your Sleep and not feel deeply moved, I never want to meet you and that is that.”
A Nudist’s Wedding (New Orleans)
Then there is the theatrical equivalent of the Sunday painter, of which Stephen Hunyadi’s self-production of A Nudist’s Wedding at the Fortress of Lushington is a textbook example. This is, in its way, as emblematic of a fringe festival’s first purposes as is Lofty Productions’ Cicada, and may be of interest for that reason alone. Otherwise professional (or even talented-amateur) critical appraisal of this comedy about a tradition-minded young lady who marries into a collective of marijuana-farming nudists, would be utterly beside the point.
Since I was there, I will offer a few notes. Musician Michael Kunz makes a charming debut as the easy-going stoner fiancé Earth, generating most of the laughs on hand. Newcomer Maggie Blaeser demonstrates an impressively fearless commitment to the role of Iris, his shrewish betrothed. Another newcomer, Laura VanDruff, makes the most of what she has to work with as the de facto leader of the collective. Old hands Carlos Gonzalez and John Gore perform yeoman service in utilitarian roles as the priest and the father of the bride, respectively.
Beyond but not because of those highlights, A Nudist’s Wedding is a must-see for the family and friends of the playwright, the director (recent returnee Megan Barrios), and any of the onstage principals.
Renard Boissiere, Linzi Falk, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Dead Huey, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via
Michael Weber, B.A.
B. E. Mintz