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San Francisco Fringe Festival 

A sampling of this year's quirky offerings

Wednesday, Sep 12 2001
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Like asking a question of the Magic 8 Ball, attending the S.F. Fringe is less about finding a definitive answer than about enjoying the possibilities: Fringe shows range from "You can count on it" to "Reply hazy." Cathleen Daly's How to Be a Secret Agent Girl as Seen on American Television and in Movies, with its quirky, surreal exploration of female archetypes from Bond girls to brides to Miss America contestants, could be one of the hits of this year's fest. Daly avoids heavy-handed commentary in favor of playfulness -- contestants wear cupcakes in their hair, Bond girls tell "panty confessions," and the winning moment is portrayed in slow motion. Also outstanding is Kaliyuga Arts' The Pilgrim Project, a bizarre account of the pilgrims' arrival on the Mayflower and their colonization of the new land, written by absurdist Dan Carbone. A paper turkey burns and a Native American speaks in a proper British accent in this fusion of humor and stark truth. Likewise, Rogues' Yarn Theater from London tackles Conrad's Heart of Darkness in a condensed and well-acted performance. In Interstate Zero, Colorado's Atomic Elroy plays Pops Culture, a Warhol look-alike who travels down the highway of life commenting on superficiality. Some "exits" off the highway include the Beatnik Doctor and a representative from the Serious Art Student Academy, most of them amusing and well performed (though the Trenchcoat Mafia bit is superficial). S.F.'s Gabriel Diani also comments on the nature of humankind in God Complex, portraying various megalomaniacs, from a college professor teaching Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound to an evil management consultant to Christ at the Last Supper (one of the more well-rounded scenes). Though a likable performer, Diani sometimes goes for easy writing: "I am God," he encourages the audience to yell. "Now go buy your SUVs, ignore global warming." Sketch comedy group and Fringe veterans the Neo-Surrealists are back with Mock Naval Battles!!! -- if you attend it, you agree to have cheese and marshmallows thrown at you, to watch gratuitous male nudity (cut and uncut), and to have said nudes smear greasepaint on your face. Their sketches stretch from the borderline psychotic to the comically twisted, but never quite climax.

About The Author

Karen McKevitt

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