Alone in a Crowd at Cincy Fringe

Annual fest is the place to see solo performers


arry Nilsson once sang that “one is the loneliest number,” but you actually have a goodly amount of company if you’re a 2011 Cincinnati Fringe Festival performer. Close to one-third of the acts included in the eighth annual Fringe, commencing this week, are solo performers — and quite a few of them are veterans who take their one-person shows from festival to festival.

Joe Hutcheson from New York has been at it for four years. His first work, The Purpose of Matter in the Universe, was named the best solo show in the 2007 Midtown International Theatre Festival. His next piece, Miss Magnolia Beaumont Goes to Provincetown, enjoyed a critically acclaimed run at the Cherry Lane Studio during the 2010 New York International Fringe Festival where it garnered a Fringe NYC Overall Excellence Award.

Miss Magnolia is a Southern debutante who finds herself trapped in the body of Joe, a gay New Yorker visiting Provincetown, Mass. gave Hutcheson’s show a “critic’s pick” and called it “original and inventive, as touching as it is funny — this show is rich, wise and deeply human.” Another New York writer called it “one of the nicest surprises of the year.” First performance is Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Zehra Fazal’s one-woman show, Headscarf and the Angry Bitch, won the best solo-performer award at the DC Capital Fringe Festival in 2009 and subsequently played to sold-out audiences at the New York International Fringe in 2010. The show uses music and comedy to explores religion, growing up in a Pakistani immigrant family and coming to terms with sex and love. It’s irreverent but engaging, according to several reviewers. First performance is Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

Music plays a big part in Kevin J. Thornton’s I Love You (We’re Fucked), too. “I was going through an intense break-up in Los Angeles,” Thornton says. “I came to Indiana to hibernate for the winter and clear my head. Instead, I ended up drinking a lot and writing Folk/Country songs. I decided to take all this heartbreak and music and smash it together with my stand-up.”

Thornton’s shows are a fusion of stand-up comedy and original music; he’s something of a throwback to vaudeville entertainers. His performance of another solo piece, Sex, Dreams & Self Control was well received during the 2009 Cincy Fringe. I Love You is a very funny show about a gay man looking back over his love life. First performance is Friday at 9:30 p.m.

Jessica Ferris from Oakland, Calif., offers a “magical realist detective story,” Missing: The Fantastical and True Story of My Father’s Disappearance and What I Found When I Looked for Him, about her pursuit of the truth about her father, a man who disappeared when she was 2.

“In the past couple of years,” Farris says, “our country has been pretty devastated by huge con jobs: Bernie Madoff’s pyramid scheme, for example, and the shady practices that set off the housing market collapse. Most of us are thinking of these guys as far-away villains: What kind of people would do this? My show addresses that question on an intimate level. I reveal what it’s like to be the daughter, the mother, the wife of one of these guys.” First performance of Missing is Thursday at 7 p.m.

Other solo shows in this year’s Fringe are Jimmy Hogg’s Curriculum Vitae (Wednesday at 7 p.m.), Dawn Arnold’s The Lydia Etudes (Saturday at 7 p.m.), Maythinee Washington’s White Girl (Wednesday at 9:15 p.m.), Ben German’s The Beasts (Friday at 7:30 p.m.) and Matt Johnson’s Tooth and ’Nuckle (Thursday at 8:30 p.m.)

THE 2011 CINCY FRINGE FESTIVAL runs June 1-11. Find reviews, feature stories, video, tweats and additional previews at CityBeat's Fringe microsite.

About The Author

Rick Pender

RICK PENDER has written about theater for CityBeat since its first issues in 1994. Before that he wrote for EveryBody’s News. From 1998 to 2006 he was CityBeat’s arts & entertainment editor. Retired from a long career in public relations, he’s still a local arts fan, providing readers (and public radio listeners)...
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