Howard Sherman's Frenetic Fringe Binge
For one harried 72-hour period, a seasoned theater professional dives headfirst into the world of mimed masturbation, weapon-wielding clowns and talking grapes that is the New York International Fringe Festival.
Someone bathing on stage? Commonplace. Two people bathing together on stage? Seen it. Male and female conjoined twins spending almost the complete duration of an hour-long Bulgarian play in bathtub? For that, I needed to go to the Fringe.
Inanimate objects coming to life and talking? Oh, that’s so Toy Story. Two grapes discussing life for 80 minutes? Yup, that’s the Fringe.
I didn’t choose to see these plays. As a Connecticut native, raised on a diet of regional theatre, Broadway and the major Off-Broadway companies, I don’t usually spend a whole lot of time below Union Square. Coming out of college, my drama club friends became doctors and lawyers, so I was never compelled to see productions in fifth-floor downtown Manhattan lofts. Having only moved here a decade ago at age 40 to run the American Theatre Wing, which required me to see every show that opened on Broadway, I’m pretty mainstream by default. But for three days in August, I dove into the New …