Monday, July 24, 2006

The Escapists

Just a little over a week ago while surfing the Internet late at night thanks to jet lag-induced insomnia, I stumbled upon the Washington Post's 2006 Fringe Festival site. I couldn't believe it! While living in Florida I'd heard about this week-long venue of experimental theater but never made an effort to go see it in Orlando. Now though with it being only a 15-minute Metro ride away there was no excuse.

My first Fringe Fest experience was watching a performance of The Escapists, an improv group based in Portland, Maine. I went with my friend Reshma who was also new to the whole Fringe scene. This particular show was at the Warehouse Next Door in Chinatown. The venue was small but fitting for a 4-person troupe.

It started off with an a capella-like song followed by quick introductions. The first bit was a classic improv game whereby one of the members waits in a soundproof area off-stage while the remaining members gather responses from the audience. Upon their return, the now ignorant player must figure out what those responses are solely through charades. Typically a running monologue accompanies the bit and in this case it was an entertaining Baptist sermon.

They performed several other classic improv games but there was a lot of sketch comedy in between the bits, more than I expected. My previous experience with improv, The Blue Show in Arlington, Virginia and Not Quite Right in Melbourne, Florida, were solely games-based so the sketch comedy, while fairly funny, took some getting used to.

All in all though it was a great show and the audience was constantly laughing, especially during those acts were they used all of their input. They even came out to do an encore performance which got them several more rounds of applause. If the rest of the shows are as good as this one then I will have thoroughly enjoyed the first annual DC Fringe Fest.

No comments: