CP writers are reviewing nearly a hundred shows at Fringe this year; you can find them all as they come out over on our Fringe page.
GROUP: Crack The Glass Theatre Company
ATTENDED: Thurs., Sept. 5, 8 p.m., Grasso’s Magic Theatre
CLOSES: Sun., Sept. 8
BRIEF SELF-DESCRIPTION: “A compilation of four short plays by female playwrights from across the country.”
WE THINK: Since 4PLAY consists of four one-act plays with huge tonal shifts, let’s break them down.
A Date With Howie holds a mirror up to modern (or in this case, somewhat ancient) dating conventions. Hopeless romantic/Kenneth Parcell doppelganger Howard just loves to describe himself as “sincere,” “sensitive” and “has a great sense of humor.” As he bumbles through a dozen takes for his video dating tape, he just can’t figure out why camera operator Veronica refuses take him for anything but a moron until she plays a highlight reel of schmucks also dropping “sincere,” “sensitive” and “great sense of humor” in their tapes. Stilted acting aside, Howie bites down hard on the same cliches and courtship exercises that have since migrated onto the Internet.
The next one-act, Blink, is nearly free of cynicism, instead weighing heavy in its drama. As soon-to-be convicted serial killer Lionel is interviewed/interrogated by Catherine, a journalist penning his story, ghosts of his all-female victims take turns interrupting their conversation, drifting throughout the stage, taunting him. Lionel is smug and cockeyed, admitting nothing but smirking as only the truly guilty would. When the specters aren’t tactlessly lecturing Lionel on feminism for no apparent reason (like listing a number of woman-devised inventions because… wait, I don’t know why) or being less than subtle with handling the implications of a man who solely murders women, Blink succeeds in its portrait of a perfectly assholic villain.
Dog Days may very well be 4PLAY’s biggest outlier. Kind of riffing on Up, crotchety Mr. Kransky (who also lost his wife way too soon) forged a generation-gapping bond with his caretaker Juanita, but Juanita has to go back to school now. The play is nothing new, but Mark Collmer’s Kransky, both vulnerable and stone-hearted in his puffy chair, clutching his copy of The Stranger, gives life to tired ideas. Collmer’s delivery of “For a while, crocodile” to his late wife’s empty chair as he exits the stage clinches a stellar performance.
While “The DMV is Purgatory, har har” seemed like its only idea at first, KARMA is impressive not only for its sharp wit and clever dialogue, but for its sheer dedication it is to its concept. Paul thinks he’s arrived at the DMV per routine until the Clerk reminds him that he’s actually on life support after being struck by a car, and now the she’s tallying up his life worth to determine how decent of an afterlife he deserves, dissecting Paul’s pathetic life while he buttons his shirt as a self-defense reflex. When Paul’s old high-school-buddy-turned-douchebag millionaire arrives moments later, only to bribe his way back to life, Paul complains about fairness. “We don’t strive to be fair. Just efficient,” the Clerk, smartly and caustically played by Sarah Braverman, replies, before adding: “Money means nothing to us. But it does to you guys. That’s why it’s so fun to take it away from you.”
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