2013 Philly Fringe Festival :: the MOST coverage and Six Picks for the Festival

2013 Fringe Festival PhiladelphiaAs its mission, Phindie provides independent coverage of Philadelphia theater and arts, with a focus on independent theater. So the Philly Fringe Festival* is a perfectly aligned two-week event. With previews of nine distinct neighborhood fringes, interviews with the artists behind some of the most anticipated shows, and eight reviewers attending about 70 (SEVENTY!) performances, Phindie is providing more in-Festival coverage than any other publication in the city.**

Check this link for all the 2013 Philly Fringe Festival reviews and read on for some tips on what to see.

Pre-Festival critics’ picks

With eight reviewers submitting requests for reviews, it was easy for Phindie to see which shows were in-demand by the people who love theater the most and give it the most critical consideration. Here are the top pre-Fest critic choices.

Pay Up. Pig Iron Theatre Company, Philly Fringe Festival

Pig Iron wants you to PAY UP.

Pay Up (Pig Iron Theater Company)
Perennial Fringe favorites Pig Iron (Zero Cost House, 2012; Twelfth Night, 2011; Cankerblossom, 2010; Welcome to Yuba City, 2009) entertain and challenge again with the Presented Fringe show Pay Up, which explores how we spend our money, time, and limited choices. Previews began a couple days ago and Phindie can testify: the pre-Fringe buzz is correct. September 4-22, 2013. Tickets.

Holly’s Dead Soldiers (Bruce Walsh, Douglas Williams, Chris Davis)
Bruce Walsh has been involved in six previous festival productions, including three in what is now the Presented Fringe. He wrote and produced last year’s critically acclaimed living room piece, Chomsky vs. Buckley, 1969, and returns this festival with a similarly intimate show. He is joined by admired playwright Douglas Williams and writer Chris Davis. Davis authored 2012 Fringe fave 1 Year and a Day and has impressed since with two one-man pieces: Drunk Lion and The Violence of the Lambs. Performances take place at Walsh’s Northern Liberties home and Williams’s Mount Airy home. Tickets are probably already sold out, but if not, get one now. Kegs and eggs, Capote style. (Interview with Bruce Walsh.) September 7-14, 2013. Tickets.

Traveling Light by Lindsay Harris Friel (Liam’s Soda Cushion Fortress)
The Fringe often throws up such unlikely company names as Liam’s Sofa Cushion Fortress. Spearheaded by local director Liam Castellan, the Fortress is the force behind Traveling Light, a new work by local playwright Lindsay Harris Friel about a meeting between two icons of swinging London: Beatles manager Brian Epstein and playwright Joe Orton. (Interview with Liam Castellan.) September 6-14, 2013. Tickets.

Bathtub Moby-Dick (The Renegade Company)
The Renegade Company has provided Philadelphia audiences with a stream of engaging theatrical productions: HamletmachineThe Amish Project, and Glass: Shattered. Renegade is making a splash in the 2013 Fringe Festival with Bathtub Moby-Dick, a repurposing of Herman Melville’s masterpiece. The venue was found on Airbnb, a rubber duckie has a supporting role and, yes! it takes place (largely) in a bathtub. (Interview with director Michael Durkin). September 4-22, 2013. Tickets.

Geoff Sobelle gives an OBJECT LESSON. Philly Fringe Festival

Geoff Sobelle gives an OBJECT LESSON

The Object Lesson (Geoff Sobelle)
Fringe star Geoff Sobelle (Elephant Room, 2011; Amnesia Curiosa, 2006; all wear bowlers, 2005) eschews his acclaimed clown routines to explore the inner life of objects in this Presented Fringe production. “An absurdist mystery about the search for meaning in a massive collection of stuff.” September 12-21, 2013. Tickets.

St Joan, Betrayed (Mary Tuomanen and Aaron Cromie)
Local actor Mary Tuomanen and her director beau Aaron Cromie make a formidable duo. Following up 2011′s Fringe hit A Paper Garden, they bring their considerable talents to Saint Joan, Betrayed, a one-woman (and puppets) piece about French rabble-rouser/national icon Joan of Arc. (Play preview and interview with Aaron CromieSeptember 5-14, 2013. Tickets.

Others receiving buzz: The Sea Plays (Philadelphia Artists’ Collective), The Ballad of Joe Hill (Swim Pony Performing Arts), Franz Kafka’s The Castle (The Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium).

Get more Fringe tips from Phindie with these previews of 9 neighborhood fringes

*A note on names: The Philadelphia Fringe Festival began in 1997, inspired by the world-renowned Edinburgh Fringe Festival, itself originally an offshoot of the Edinburgh International Festival. In 2004, the Fringe rebranded itself as the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe, reflecting its two distinct programming streams: events sponsored by the year-round organization, including performances by international artists (Live Arts), and the open-call productions open to any artist (Philly Fringe). Under pressure from the continued resonance of the “Fringe” brand, the organization renamed itself again in 2013. The year-round arts org is now known as the (very brand agency-ish) FringeArts; the two-week festival is promoted as the “2013 Fringe Festival”. But googling “Fringe Festival” will take you to a list of results from around the world. So it seems likely the name for the annual festival will converge on either the original moniker, “Philadelphia Fringe Festival”, or the sobriquet cum official name cum former name, “Philly Fringe Festival”. With inconsistency, Phindie has chosen to use the latter, the shortened “Fringe Festival”, or just “Fringe”.

**EDIT: Okay, as it turns out, this is probably not true. Yay City Paper!

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About the author

Christopher Munden

Your faithful correspondent and publisher Christopher Munden has written and edited for many publications, websites, and cultural institutions. He was an editor/publisher of the Philly Fiction book series, collections of short stories written by local writers and set in Philadelphia. He's also a soccer coach and a pretty good skier.