Posted at patlauner.com on 7/3/17
RUN DATES: 6/22/17 – 7/2/17
VENUE: 24 venues in and around downtown San Diego
The last day of the 5th Annual San Diego International Fringe Festival ended as strongly as it started for me.
First, I caught the last performance of “THE BANZA,” a totally delightful musical created by last year’s graduates of Canyon Crest Academy (CCA), under the banner of Ellipsoid Players: book and lyrics by Jacob Surovsky and Music by Zane Alexander and Kion Heidari (who also starred). The story is close to their actual lives: freshman year of college. The show is smart, the characters are well drawn and skillfully portrayed, the singing was excellent and the music tuneful, varied (there’s even a tango!) and well played. Equity actor Jason Maddy (who had been their drama teacher at CCA) adroitly directed and also played a few comical roles, including a very funny Rod Serling (of “Twilight Zone” fame), who was an alumnus of Antioch College, where the play is set. The monster/ghost haunting the residence hall is a bit far-fetched, but the problems and anxieties of new college students are believably portrayed. A impressive world premiere by these young artists.
The grand finale of the Fringe, for the fourth year, is THAT 24HR THING. Six accomplished playwrights are given 24 hours to write a 10-minute play; four other playwrights created monologues. The six directors and 18 actors had 8 hours to bring the plays to life â€“ including staging and memorized lines. It was terrific. The writing was incisive — a fair amount of it political — and the acting was uniformly superb. Interestingly, a cellphone featured in just about every play. There was lots of comedy, but also plenty of poignancy. This should be a must-see for your Fringe-going every year.
And now, after having seen a ton of shows, these are my final Critic’s Picks:
8 Songs for a Mad King
Underneath the Lintel
6 Quick Dick Tricks
Hip Hop Cabhooray
That 24Hr Thing
It was a pretty solid Fringe all around, considering that there’s no quality control (a hallmark of the Fringe, though I wish it were otherwise). I can’t wait to see what next year’s Fringe will bring; there’s always some improvement or addition. My ongoing wish-list: transportation among the far-flung venues, and considerably more advertisement to the general public.
Onward and upward, Fringeneers!
©2017 PAT LAUNER, San Diego Theater Reviews