DAMNED DIRTY APES! (Renegade): 2015 Fringe Review 36


It’s human versus simian in Renegade’s DAMNED DIRTY APES! (Photo credit: Daniel Kontz)

Take time to smell the flowers, rub on the essence of their therapeutic leaves, and eat the blossoms along the way (courtesy of local flower farm Jig-Bee), as an overly zealous and anxious ranger (Lizzie Spellman) leads you on a wacky, mucky, theatrical expedition through the wilds of South Philly’s neglected FDR Park. Conceived and directed by The Renegade Company’s Mike Durkin, and written by Chris Davis and Sam Henderson, this imaginative mash-up of Tarzan the Ape Man, The Planet of the Apes, and King Kong presents a farcical history of America through a series of exhibitions, re-enactments, and unexpected disruptions, in which humans and apes face off to become the dominant species.

An original sound composition by Adam Vidiksis underscores the action, as homosapien and simian storytellers (Richard Chan, Rob Cutler, Lisa Fischel, Kristen Norine, Zoe Richards, Sam Sherburne, and Steve Wright) weave a comical tale with a serious moral about human nature versus natural instincts. The immersive mile-and-a-half trek begins at Broad & Pattison and concludes near the American Swedish Historical Museum, so come prepared with sturdy shoes and bug spray, and then expect the unexpected. Though the 90-minute performance could use some tightening around the middle, in general DAMNED DIRTY APES! is more fun than a barrel of monkeys! [FDR Park, 1500 Pattison Ave.] September 9-17, 2015; fringearts.com/damned-dirty-apes.

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About the author

Debra Miller

Debra holds a PhD in Art History from the University of Delaware and teaches at Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ. She is a judge for the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre, Philadelphia Arts and Culture Correspondent for Central Voice, and has served as a Commonwealth Speaker for the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and President of the Board of Directors of Da Vinci Art Alliance. Her publications include articles, books, and catalogues on Renaissance, Baroque, American, Pre-Columbian, and Contemporary Art, and feature articles on the Philadelphia theater scene.