It’s that time again, folks. The time when the world’s most avant-garde and experimental theater types descend on the East Village and Lower East Side for a fortnight of moderately insane adventure know as the Fringe Festival. The 18th edition of the Fest will be deluging the metropolis with playful peculiarities from August 8 to 24.
Trying to pick the weirdest shows in any fringe festival is a little like (according to mildly misogynist legend) trying to isolate a winner in a Miss Iceland beauty contest. The particular quality you’re controlling for (weirdness and beauty respectively) is intensely present in each contender in an idiosyncratic-yet-somehow-similar way (unlikely historical references, meta-theatrics, cultivated randomness; icy blonde hair, blue eyes, long legs), and so it feels really rather unfair and slightly arbitrary to have to choose.
With that disclaimer firmly in place, we bring you 10 of the fringiest of this year’s Fringe Fest offerings. Selections are based on the brief but intriguing blurbs the theater companies provide, and listed in no particular order. If these aren’t weird enough for you, please browse the catalog of over 200 shows at your own leisure. Note that this year, tickets will be available with no processing fee from FringeCENTRAL.
The Mormon Bird Play: “A Mormon fantasia!* Six men play little girls who become birds that manifest themselves as Mormon temple workers and pioneer women. A darkly twisted comedy where a mute girl’s silence acts as a Rorschach test for an entire community. *(Burlesque Included!)”
Soga Shohaku: “This play is the story of a painter living in the 18th century at Kyoto, called Soga Shohaku. He drunk a lot of alcohol, said bad things to people and sometimes he brandished a sword. Soga Shohaku is very annoying man. He was hated, because he always cursed. But he had a reason to live in a clumsy way like that.”
All My Children: “Dr. Grean is America’s frozen family expert and proud mom of 23 could-be-kids in a cryocan. Watch her lecture go spectacularly wrong as blackouts sweep LA, causing a family meltdown! It’s like watching a TEDTalk colliding with the Hindenburg.”
The Mushroom Cure: “Inspired by a scientific study showing that hallucinogenic mushrooms can potentially cure obsessive-compulsive disorder, Adam embarked on a program of vigilante psychopharmacology. As he uncovers an underground community of clandestine chemists, falls in love with a brilliant psychologist who takes him on as her unofficial research subject, and decamps to a remote island accompanied only by his geriatric pug dog and formidable pharmacopoeia, Adam’s relentless pursuit of his unorthodox cure is at once hilarious, harrowing, and heartrending.”
Fuck you! You Fucking Perv!: “This solo performance is a schizophrenic immersion into psychological damage caused by pre-mature sexualization, a sensory bombardment of weird and sometimes shocking imagery, tap dancing and tasteless jokes.”
Fatty Fatty No Friends: “As the fattest kid in school, Tommy lives a lonely, living nightmare. When the skinny kids’ taunting goes too far, Tommy takes revenge without amends. A dark spoken-word musical diving into the lunchtime of life, where bullies are delicious.”
The Apple Tree, or Penis no. 7: “A Dr. Seuss meets poetry slam exploration of a young woman’s wild and hilarious ride through the mystifying world of the penis, asking ‘Why is it that once I put your dick in my mouth we don’t talk anymore?’”
Olympus Records: “What if five Heroes of Greek Tragedy were in the biggest band of the 90’s…and that band broke up? We explore our fascination with Celebrity Culture through all new 90’s songs, the plays of Sophocles, and the immortal Carson Daly!”
The Bloodline of Shadrick Grace: “Take one abandoned Bootlegger, add one bitter wife, a Caddo Indian, two muddled Aunts, three dashes of corrupt cops, a pinch of lesbian nuns, and pour into a depression-era-glass for a Southern tale about a diamond in a rough place.”
Pickles & Hargraves and the Curse of the Tanzanian Glimmerfish: “Legendary mouse detective Thomas Hargraves, attends the annual Fish Fanciers Convention when a murderer strikes – or is it the work of an ancient pescetarian curse? Can our hero solve the mystery before the killer, or the curse, strikes again?”