If you’re pining for the vacuum of weirdness that left town with the conclusion of the 2016 Cincinnati Fringe Festival, fear not. The folks behind the Fringe at Know Theatre tonight are opening a show that’s as strange as anything you would have seen earlier this month around Over-the-Rhine. Steve Yockey’s The Fisherman’s Wife is described as a sex farce with sea creatures. Inspired by an erotic woodcut from Japan, the show is about a fisherman and his wife whose marriage has gone stale. On the brink of lethal monotony, they turn a strange corner when a pair of magical, oversexed sea creatures wash up and an unusual traveling salesman arrives with a bag of mysterious wares. Andrew Hungerford, Know’s artistic director, who is staging this show, says, “This play is highly theatrical, incredibly unique, and very, very uncomfortably funny. It had its start in tiny theaters in L.A. and Berkeley that share the Know’s artistic bent, and we’re really excited to bring our design and production aesthetic to this disturbing little play. We’ve assembled a fantastically talented comic cast that is a joy to work with and watch.” You’ll see a couple of Know Theatre regulars (zany Miranda McGee and versatile James Creque), a pair of wildly uninhibited comics from OTR Improv (Eileen Earnest and Andrew Ian Adams) and Cal Harris, who normally works the ticket counter at Cincy Shakes, but who knows what to do onstage, too. Described as “full of surprises,” The Fisherman’s Wife comes with a warning for its “adult situations, language and sexual content.” It’s recommended for mature audiences only. Through July 16. Tickets: 513-300-5669.
For a slightly tamer story of life on and near the high seas, you can drop by the Incline Theater in East Price Hill for Cole Porter’s frothy adventure on an ocean liner, Anything Goes. It’s been around since 1934, but the madcap shenanigans of a crew of American showgirls (plus an evangelist who’s become a nightclub singer), an incompetent gangster and a stowaway with a crush on an heiress — who’s stuck with a domineering mother and a stuffy British fiancé — make for an evening of hilarity. Lots of songs from the Great American Songbook got their start in this show: “You’re the Top,” “I Get a Kick Out of You” and, of course, “Anything Goes.” Through June 26. Tickets: 513-241-6550.
Of course it’s opera, but Fellow Travelers, the world premiere currently onstage at the Jarson-Kaplan Theater at the Aronoff Center, is as gripping and emotionally impactful as any excellent drama. Composer Gregory Spears and librettist Greg Pierce have translated Thomas Mallon’s 2007 novel about the difficult plight of gay men in Washington, D.C. in the 1950s, in a moving and revelatory work that will surely be picked up by other opera companies. Aaron Blake plays a conservative young man who’s drawn into a relationship with an attractive State Department official, played by Joseph Lattanzi. Blake’s vulnerable performance is deeply moving, and Lattanzi’s portrait of a gay man who must make hateful compromises shows how today’s LGBTQ issues have a long history. Especially in light of the recent tragic murders of gay men and women in Orlando, this is an important and relevant production to be seen right here in Cincinnati in its first-ever staging. Highly recommended. (Full disclosure: I worked for Cincinnati Opera for several seasons and still help them occasionally with publicity. But I would praise Fellow Travelers even if I had no past or present. It’s that good.) Performances through July 10. Tickets: 513-241-2742.
Rick Pender’s STAGE DOOR blog appears here every Friday. Find more theater reviews and feature stories here.