Mon
Aug 24 2009 3:36pm

SF Theatre: FringeNYC + NYC Theatre Roundup

While August is a dead period for most of New York City’s culture, NYC’s theatre scene tries to pick up the slack with the New York International Fringe Festival, a two week festival of immense proportions: There are 1300+ performances of 200+ plays in 20+ venues, and you can get into any show you choose for a mere $15. Luckily for devoted speculative fiction theatre enthusiasts, many of these shows seem to have science fiction, fantasy or horror elements. While I was reading through the Fringe guide, I made a list of these and other shows that may be of interest to Tor.com readers.




It’s just about impossible for any one person to see all—or even most—of the shows in Fringe, so inclusion on this list does not imply an endorsement. However, if you need some kind of critical metric, the ever-helpful Critic-o-Meter has been doing a Fringe review summary. I’ve marked all of the shows that they’ve calculated to have an average rating of B+ or above with a ♦.

All images and text in this roundup (save for bracketed commentary) are courtesy of Fringe NYC and each show's producers. Go to the Fringe website for running times, duration, venue, city of origin, writer/director/producer, and much more.

  • The 49 Project: In a time when men have lost their rights to the female majority, a charismatic activist undertakes a bold plan.
  • 666: Four death row convicts meet their fate, and keep you laughing constantly without words. ♦
  • The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer: Alvin Sputnik is Earth’s last hope. He must venture to the bottom of the ocean to find his wife’s lost soul and save humanity.
  • Afterlight: Twilight. A flutter, quick and light. A wolf howls. An accident. Ordinary lives collide with the supernatural. Inspired by surrealist photography.
  • American Jataka Tales: From ancient India, the Jataka are stories about the past lives of the Buddha. Many stories involve animals (and are old enough to have been the inspiration for Aesop's Fables). American Jataka Tales is a humorous version of these stories featuring centuries of Americans.
  • Camp Super Friend: Marvel is a super-hero, but doesn’t know how to be a super-friend…yet. At SuperCamp Professor Nemesis plans to strip super-kids of their powers. Marvel learns how to be a good friend and with his friends, saves the day. ♦
  • Dancing With Ghosts: Harley Newman was named after his uncle, an adopted brother to the shaman in a tribe of headhunters. Drawing from the feathered edges of shamanic lore, this is a modern exploration of ancient performance, and manipulated perception.
  • Dante’s Divina Commedia: Inferno: Do you dare to descend through the nine circles of Hell? This visually striking adaptation of Dante’s Inferno, directed by internationally acclaimed director, Rene Migliaccio, redefines traditional boundaries and offers a haunting and thought provoking examination of our own humanity.
  • Devil Boys From Beyond: Flying saucers! Backstabbing bitches! Muscle hunks and men in pumps! Wake up and smell the alien invasion in this outrageously insane comedy by a multi-award winning artistic team including Ridiculous Theatre Company’s Everett Quinton.
  • Diamond Dead: Death took the band DIAMOND DEAD to another level, now these zombies come to rock your balls off and maybe save the world...but what's for dinner?
  • Ectospasms: 1848. The dead contact the Fox sisters of Hydesville, NY, and Spiritualism is born. Trance-driven mediums and disembodied spirits move within a supernatural soundscape, illuminated by textures of light and otherworldly projections in this multimedia dance theatre piece.
  • Egg Farm: Two actors: many people. Think Sweeney Todd meets Brecht meets YOU, set in a dark, funny, and bloody future. Come secure the success of humanity for only a small, one-time fee: YOUR LIFE. ♦
  • Eminene: A runaway girl and a mysterious stranger journey across a post-apocalyptic landscape in search of safety. This harrowing tale of science fiction explores the price of stability in an unstable world. Features border patrols, forged identities, two-headed mutants, and more! ♦
  • The Fall of the House of Usher: Dark musical based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. A poor street musician befriends a musical genius, his beautiful wife, and his brilliant, troubled sister. A tragic death and a terrible secret turn their ancient mansion into a tomb.
  • Far Out: The New Sci-Fi Musical Comedy: Boy meets girl, boy gets girl...boy fights singing-eyeball-alien-diva?! Keep an eye open for this rollicking spoof of classic 1950’s grade-B-alien-invasion movies, the sock hop teen scene, and the cold war. It’s outta sight!
  • Forest Maiden: A Maiden leaves her elf-dyke girlfriend in the forest. She is captured by a Knight and a Reality Show Host! They fight, fuck and text-message their way back to the Kingdom. A fable for the queer fantasy geek...in everybody.
  • Graveyard Shift: The American Tragedy Musical: Sex, Death, Zombies! This show has two of those three! A Zombie Virus is spreading and our heroes at ValueVille Superstore must survive the night. Lives are lost, love is found...and we learn what it means to be truly living.
  • Hatching: Unable to pay her medical bills, Scarlett Duvall is taken to an unmarked building to work off her debt. Within minutes, Scarlett finds herself enveloped in a world of nurses, tazers, and man-eating lepers. Here, she must hatch an egg.
  • A History of Cobbling: In this fantastical comedy, Michael encounters a twelve-inch English cobbler on a deserted city street. He then races home to tell his eccentric wife, Loraine, only to find that she has made an unusual discovery of her own.
  • I Can Has Cheezburger: The MusicLOL!: Snack attack! Come along as a cat journeys through the alternate universe of the Internet in pursuit of his one true love: a “cheezburger.” Based on cult website ICanHasCheezburger.com, this campy musical romp is sure to make you LOL!
  • Inferno: The New Rock Musical: Abandon all hope indeed. Dante, guitar in hand, leads a mighty band of demons across the river Styx. This psychedelic rock opera adaptation of the epic poem will have you moshing with the devil. Hell has never been so hot!
  • The K of D, an urban legend: Truth: Before Charlotte’s brother died, he kissed her. Legend: Everything Charlotte kissed from that moment on also died. A summertime ghost story about a small-town girl with a lethal skill. Seattle's sleeper hit of 2008.
  • M: An adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth for three actors: “Something wicked this way comes” as The Three Witches morph into every Character using black magic and prophetic visions to spin the tale of Macbeth in this abridged adaptation of Shakespeare's timeless tragedy.
  • MARS: Population 1: Utter isolation. Limitless exploration. As he runs out of air, the first man to land on Mars comes face to face with his own sanity, humanity, and SPACE-MADNESS, in this innovative Sci-Fi experience that will awe your imagination.
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Not the fluffy fairytale you thought—eight actors magically morphing from a caustic duke to a mischievous sprite, all out of one suitcase. This Alabama company takes a breath at the top and doesn't exhale until the curtain comes down, y’all!
  • The Motherline: Claire, an unborn soul, has chosen her mother, but her mother isn’t getting pregnant anytime soon. Will exchanging lives with her mother’s Buddhist cat get Claire close enough to win the love she desires? A lesson in the roots of love. ♦
  • Mutti’s After Supper Stories: Welcome to Mutti’s house, where Noelle McGrath DePaula and her remarkable children, Juliet, Colin and Lily, perform five funny, scary and very German Grimm’s fairy tales. This handcrafted and heartfelt production features original songs-some witty, some melancholy and beautiful. ♦
  • Powerhouse: Enter the mind of brilliant composer Raymond Scott, whose life’s work is hijacked by cartoonists. With swing dancing, puppetry and futuristic music machines. A new work from the creators of FringeNYC hit There Will Come Soft Rains, Time Out five-star pick. [NB: Tor.com's review of There Will Come Soft Rains is over here. ♦
  • Savage International: Love. Hell. Or Earth. A woman sentenced to hell must choose between love with a suspected killer, eternal damnation or an illegal return to earth. Two detectives of the afterlife chase her and their own truth in this sci-fi western.
  • Truth Values: One Girl’s Romp Through MIT’s Male Math Maze: True life tale of a gifted young Berkeley chick taking on sexism while pursuing a Math Ph.D. at MIT, where girls aren'\’t supposed to be girls...especially girls with a penchant for fighting back with fashion!
  • Ukrainian Eggs: Terrible Tales of Tragedy and AlleGorey: Inspired by the delightfully ominous illustrations of Edward Gorey. Ten performers, forty characters, and twenty unfortunate events pack this powder keg of dance theater with heart and hijinx.
  • The Unlikely Adventure of Race McCloud, Private Eye: To find his missing secret-agent family, the second-most clueless detective in Westside City (and his super-genius niece Cookie) must face off against vampires, a Sphinx, “Perfect” Troopers, a masked vigilante and more in this comic-book style comedy/adventure.
  • Venus: On the volcanic surface of planet Venus, a community of ex-patriot, twentysomething Earthlings share a pancake breakfast in the local firehouse. Suddenly, a strange, beautiful girl appears, and everything erupts. The fourth in a series of ecologically-inspired Planet Plays.
  • Viral: A woman googles “painless suicide” and finds the people who will help her end her life—if she'll let them film it. And sell it. A pitch black comedy from two-time FringeNYC award winner Mac Rogers. [NB: This show is by the excellent Mac Rogers, who wrote Universal Robots, reviewed here in March. There’s nothing explicitly SFnal about the show, but it does posit a slightly modified world in which suicide alternatives are available over the internet.] ♦
  • Zipperface!!?!: The Hobo Musical: A parody of the recent rash of movie-based Broadway musicals, this wicked murder mystery is a reinterpretation of a little-seen 1989 bomb, as performed by an all-singing cast of drunken hobos and prostitutes. Oh, and there are robots.

Fringe not your style? Here are a few hangers-on from New York’s regular theatrical crop that may appeal to SF fans. Listings courtesy of nytheatre.com.

  • Avenue Q: An irreverent new musical, which features an integrated puppet and human cast, about life on a fictitious New York street inhabited by young people looking for love and happiness. Closes September 13, 2009.
  • The Bacchae: The Public Theater presents a new production of the play by Euripides, directed by JoAnne Akalaitis, with a score by Philip Glass. This is part of the free Shakespeare in the Park series. In previews; opens on August 24, 2009.
  • Click, Clack, Moo: A new musical for children based on the book of the same name by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin. Presented by Theatreworks USA; performances are free. Closes August 28, 2009. [NB: Yes, this is for kids. It’s also the best-reviewed show on the New York stage right now, completely charming, and completely free.
  • The Lion King: The long-running Broadway musical, based on the animated film. Featuring a score by Elton John and others, with Julie Taymor’s remarkable puppets and masks.
  • The Little Mermaid: A new musical from Disney Theatrical Productions, based on the animated film and the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. Closes August 30, 2009.
  • Mary Poppins: A musical based on the 1964 Walt Disney film and the stories of P.L. Travers.
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A free outdoor production of Shakespeare's comedy, presented by Hudson Warehouse. Closes August 30, 2009.
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Pulse Ensemble Theatre tours various locations in Harlem with this free production of Shakespeare’s famous play. Closes August 30, 2009.
  • Peer Gynt: Gorilla Rep presents a free outdoor production of Henrik Ibsen’s famous play. Closes August 29, 2009.
  • Shrek: The Musical: A musical by David Lindsay-Abaire and Jeanine Tesori based on story and characters from William Steig’s book as well as the popular animated film.
  • The Toxic Avenger: A new musical by David Bryan and Joe DiPietro based on the 1985 cult sci-fi film.
  • The Wiz: Harlem Repertory Theatre presents a revival of the musical by Charlie Smalls that puts an African American spin on the famous story of The Wizard of Oz. Closes September 5, 2009.
  • Wicked: A new musical by Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman in which we learn the story of the early life of Elphaba, who later becomes the Wicked Witch of the West in the land of Oz.

Have you seen, or do you plan to see any of these? Discuss herein.

3 comments
Rob Munnelly
1. RobMRobM
I don't know about the fringe plays but if I were in NYC I'd go see Click Clack Moo. It's one of the funniest kids book ever written and illustrated and probably would be a great play. The full title is "Click Clack Moo - Cows that Type - so there's ALMOST a SF element as Farmer Brown has to deal demands for extra comforts (blankets, etc) sent to him by intelligent cows using an old manual typewriter and with Duck as the intermediary.
cdt
2. cdt
I'd surely like to know more about M and Powerhouse.
Liz Gorinsky
3. TooMuchExposition
RobMRobM: I guess I'm of the possibly-non-rigorous view that all works involving sentient, talking animals qualify as SF, but even if that were not the case, I think that singing, dancing, word-processing, pizza-ordering cows would certainly put it over the edge. The four-year-old I saw this with didn't quite grok the collective bargaining aspects, but I think he had about as good a time as I did.
cdt: I'm hoping to see Powerhouse this Friday, but unfortunately by that point it will be too late to spread the word. Unless, of course, they remount it in one of those Fringe spotlight series.

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