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Posted at 1:00 PM ET, 11/ 4/2010

A dose of Fringe Festival in the off season

By Stephanie Merry

Dylan Marron and Jo Firestone bring their parade of crazy to Fort Fringe for "Ridgefield Middle School Talent Nite." (Courtesy Capital Fringe Festival)

Fall Fringe -- the Capital Fringe Festival's off-season programming -- launched last year, but this year's edition is already shaping up to be more like a fleshed-out mini-fest with reprisals of some of the summer's most compelling and popular fare.

Ten shows are remounted at Fort Fringe beginning Thursday, so if you couldn't get a seat at Kelly Bond's performance piece "Elephant" this summer, or you didn't hear the buzz about "Romeo & Juliet: Choose Your Own Ending" until it was too late, now is your chance. Here's a rundown of some of our most anticipated returning acts. (A hint: Bundle up. If you required ice-cold beer to stave off heatstroke during Cap Fringe, you'll probably find Fall Fringe's performance space, The Shop, just as exposed to the elements.)

If the election is any indication, voters can yield substantial changes. But can they save Romeo and Juliet from their star-crossed fates? It all depends on the audience when the Impressionable Players remount the crowd-pleaser "Romeo and Juliet: Choose Your Own Ending," a play that unfolds democratically based on spectator preference. Apparently people like to feel empowered, because the show garnered both the best overall show and best comedy Pick of the Fringe Awards.

Performed in the nude, choreographer Kelly Bond's "Elephant" isn't for everyone, but those who got a peek last summer weren't disappointed. Bond (who teams up with fellow performers Lillian Cho and Melissa Krodman here) has a way of exploring physicality and humanity with the most subtle of movements -- a teeth-baring sneer, a smile, even a twinkle of the eye all add up to something here. (The more we see of her work, the more we think of the push-pull allure of Marina Abramovic's work.)

Dramatic readings of "The Raven," saucy dance routines, cheesy magic tricks -- these are just a few of the humiliating, hilarious displays that are part of "Ridgefield Middle School Talent Nite," last year's Fringe Festival Director's Award winner. Even more impressive than the way each performer channels adolescent awkwardness is the fact that the 15-plus characters are portrayed by two people, the talented Jo Firestone and Dylan Marron. And (bonus!) the duo will be performing for free at 3 p.m. on Saturday at Millennium Stage.

Another nod to the lighter side of Fringe, "Do Not Kill Me Killer Robots" is a solo show that, despite appearances -- cardboard factors heavily in the props -- is not a slapped-together fringe find, but a real touring production. Creator/performer Ben Egerman's solo show finds him as the last living man, struggling to save himself from the unseen creatures that have done everybody else in. The cardboard turns out to be an awfully cute source of comic relief.

Comedic singer-songwriter Ed Hamell took home the director's award in 2009 for "The Terrorism of Everyday Life" and graced us with his kinetic presence in the summer for "This Is Your Brain on Rock and Roll." If you missed it then, don't make that mistake again; the energetic and easily distracted singer-songwriter covered everything from snails to sweat to Ann Coulter's nether regions last time around, and this time? Most likely, not even he knows.

-- Stephanie Merry and Lavanya Ramanathan

By Stephanie Merry  | November 4, 2010; 1:00 PM ET
Categories:  Theater  
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