- The Washington Times - Friday, July 3, 2009

It’s summer and time to Fringe. We’re not talking emulating the Broadway revival of the musical “Hair” and letting your freak flag fly, with fringed vests and moccasins or going all Roger Daltrey on us. The first week in July brings the fourth annual Capital Fringe Festival, and the current economic woes have not resulted in a more frugal fringe. Festival founders Julianne Brienza and Scot McKenzie promise a robust festival, with 124 groups staging 624 performances. Ticket sales at last year’s Fringe topped 10,000, and promoters expect the same or larger numbers this year.

Primo hangout spots at Fort Fringe and the Baldacchino Gypsy Tent are back at the former AV Restaurant site at 607 New York Ave. NW, and happy-hour food and drink specials have been added on the weekends.

“We’ve compressed the Fringe into a two-block radius, so everything is in the same neighborhood, which makes it more festivallike, and people don’t have to jump on and off the Metro to get to performances,” Miss Brienza said. “We also have more music acts this year and a new music showcase called Fast.”

Fast will feature everything from indie rock, ambient/noise and hip-hop to DJ culture, experimental music and garage metal.

One of the much-anticipated musical acts will be the return of Shawn Northrip’s punk musical “Titus X,” which plays the Warehouse Mainstage Thursday through July 16. Producer Charlie Fink promises the Sid Vicious-style adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus” will be more demonic and even louder and bolder than the 2004 production. Mr. Northrip has cast a 9-year-old actor as one of the sacrificed sons, and Mr. Fink reveals he is dispatched “in gory fashion at the top of the show, setting the whirlwind of revenge into motion while electric guitars shriek in horror.”

After all that heavy-metal anarchy, you may want to return to a gentler time. How about the Great Depression and the vaudeville era? Sabrina Mandell and Mark Jaster’s Happenstance Theater will present Cabaret CooCoo starting July 10 at the Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church, 900 Massachusetts Ave. NW. Hotsy-totsy dancers, a burlesque pit band and illusionists at a church? “It’s a vaudeville cabaret that exists in Purgatory, so it all fits,” Miss Mandell said. “The stakes are very high for these performers to succeed.”

The future, or more specifically, the futurists, are the focus of Carmen C. Wong’s “A Tactile Dinner” (July 11 through 19) at the Arthur S. Flemming Center, 1426 Ninth St. NW. It’s a gastronomic tribute to the 100th anniversary of futurism and F.T. Marinetti’s avant-garde “Futurist Cookbook.”

“I’m a huge food person, so this show incorporates my love of food and theater,” Miss Wong said. The dishes in this seven-course meal - which the audience will sample - go by such names as Polyrhythmic Salad and are “diner-friendly but not entirely edible,” she noted, adding that “the idea here is to emphasize the tactile qualities and playfulness of food.”

Future thinking also plays into Callie Kimball’s “May 39th/May 40th” July 11 through 24 at the Trading Post theater, 1013 Seventh St. NW. The rueful comedy “May 39th” was the talk of the 2006 Fringe, and the follow-up “May 40th” is a bit darker. Set in 3009, “May 39th” depicts the morning after a first date. “In the companion piece, the couple is together,” Miss Kimball said. “Both plays deal with the reality that no matter how sophisticated our lives get with technology and so forth, it is still very difficult and complicated to have a relationship.”

WHAT: 2009 Capital Fringe Festival

WHEN: Thursday through July 26

WHERE: Venues in Penn Quarter and Mount Vernon Square neighborhoods and at Fort Fringe, 607 New York Ave. NW

TICKETS: $10 to $15

PHONE: 866/811-4111

WEB SITE: www.capfringe.org

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