The summer of 2010 marks the debut of Hollywood Fringe and the first ever Fringe Festival here. Using more than 20 theatrical spaces in Los Angeles, most centered in Hollywood itself, the festival's idea is that patrons can wander from theatre to theatre to see things all day since events are scheduled about four deep at each venue. If you miss a show at one space it may very well turn up again at a different time and space. The Fringe Festival features dance, theatre, comedy, local groups, touring companies, and international artists, plus a few troupes that travel the “fringe festival circuit." I had the chance to see three excellent one-person shows in the course of one day.
The first show was called The Event, written by John Clancy, directed by Ian Forester, and performed by the inimitable Paul Dillon. Dillon had considerable presence and does a brilliant job despite a very loud party that was going on next door. He performed without missing a beat. The premise is simple. The actor acts as a narrator to describe the events, emotions, and thoughts that are going through the performer’s head as well as the brain of his audience and his tech person. In the process the play also looks at events and situations outside itself to examine questions like "what is reality?" and "what is illusion?" The play is fascinating and often hilarious.
The second play, The Packer, comes all the way from New Zealand and has been touring for several years now (remember those professional Fringe types I mentioned). Honestly, because of the thick accent I didn't understand a lot of what was said, but actor Jay Ryan is masterful at switching characters and accents, giving all his characters specific body types and speech patterns. It was an incredible performance. Ryan plays Shane, a factory packer who is living with his gin-soaked mother and hanging with a drug-crazed "wigger" mate while he pursues his ex and a new neighbor of a different ethnic group looked down on by his family and his friends. All the while Shane dreams of becoming a hip-hop artist. The writer was Dianna Fuemana and the director was Jeremy Lindsey Taylor. Bravos, all around. Everything was clear despite the language problem, thanks to the combined efforts of actor, director, and playwright.