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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

What to See at This Year's SF Fringe Festival

Posted By on Tue, Sep 4, 2012 at 11:33 AM

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"Open-minded" is such a tricky phrase. When I've been pulled into religious discussions against my will over the years, I've inevitably been informed that the only reason that I don't believe in the other person's deity or personal savior is because I'm closed-minded, and if I would just open my mind I would see that what they're saying is totally the truth. I make a point of avoiding people like that these days.

But I don't avoid the theater, which is why the motto for the San Francisco Fringe Festival over the last few years -- right there in the official press release template, and often rendered in Comic Sans in the press releases themselves -- always give me pause: "Fresh, exciting theatre for open-minded audiences." Yikes! If I don't care for a show, does that mean my mind is closed? So much pressure on the audience!

Thankfully, plenty of this year's shows are worth the risk.

BIBLE-NOT: Stories for Grown-Ups is a comedic drama (a "Dramody," they say) that takes Bible stories and adds adult humor and nudity, or -- depending on your point of view -- restores the adult humor and nudity that was probably there in first place. Includes a visit from Pastor Bob and the Showgirl too!

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For a different, more contemplative kind of eye candy, there's Journey of Light, A Glo-Opera. A three-act story told entirely with lights, it tells a sparse story ranging from the Big Bang to the end of time, all within a mere forty-five minutes. And it's glowy! It's the rods-and-cones workout of being at a rave without having to deal with being at a rave. Win-win, in other words.

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Glowy renditions of the history of the universe are fine, but won't anybody think of the foreskins? Glen Callender's solo show The Revolution Will Not Be Circumcised takes up that mantle. Snipping boys' tips is a hot topic these days in San Francisco, so much so that when Gore Vidal died, the memorial at 18th and Castro focused mostly on a couple anti-circumcision quotes from Myra Breckinridge, as though that was somehow the most relevant aspect of his life and work. Me, I would have gone with his tussle with Charlton Heston over the gay subtext in Vidal's script for Ben-Hur, but then again, I don't have a strong opinion about male circumcision either way. But Glen Callender does, and he'll also explain why circumcised people fear his foreskin. The More You Know!

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Enough theology and cosmology and penis-ology: It's time for clowns! The Good, The Bad, and The Stupid is by the Pi Clowns, that -- judging from the press photo -- is comprised of five clowns, which is about 1.86 more clowns than you'd expect with a troupe called the Pi Clowns. Then again, what are clowns if not the irrational numbers of the theater world? At least they respect the Oxford comma. Anyhow, they claim to have once caused a woman to laugh so hard she went into labor. Here's hoping she knew she was pregnant.

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The San Francisco Fringe Festival runs from September 5-16 at the Exit Theater, 156 Eddy (at Taylor).

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Sherilyn Connelly is a San Francisco-based writer. She also curates and hosts Bad Movie Night at The Dark Room, every Sunday at 8pm.

Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF (follow Sherilyn Connelly on Twitter at @sherilyn) and like us on Facebook.

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