Capital Fringe Review: ‘Polaroid Stories’ by Bev Fleisher

Make sure you see this fine ensemble before July 27th, or you will  never be able to say “I knew them when ….” This production was first staged at American University as  Blind Pug Arts Collective’s co-founder Jonelle Walker’s honors thesis project, but the play was written in the 1990s by Naomi Iizuka.

The ensemble worked seamlessly, giving and taking focus as appropriate. Just as in the epic Metamorphoses by Ovid, to which the play is loosely related, no one character dominates the story; the whole of the cast is greater than the sum of its parts.

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Monologues were, by far, the best components of this performance. The tales of love and loss — either real or imagined — allowed the characters’ emotional lives to emerge and intertwine. Scene work was often overwhelmed by a barrage of “fuck you-s” drowning out the nuances in many relationships. What did come through was palpable and unresolved anger. A chain link fence was used to emphasize emotional distance and two crates of different heights adeptly showed changes in power in relationships.

Among the many fine members of the ensemble, SKINHEADboy (Brandon Deane) and SKINHEADgirl (Andrea Parente) gave particularly memorable performances. Though they seldom appeared on stage together, each carried their strong emotions in every fiber of their being to create a visceral connection with the audience. Parente drew one into her tense and anxious world: sad, confused and desperate to find some good. She exuded happiness in  her fantasies of a different life, in stark contrast to devastation when she realized they would not come true. Deane’s performance was equally raw and engaging.

The relationship between Echo (Annelies Van Vonno) and Narcissus (Chris Carillo) was particularly poignant. Starting as an empty vessel with no hopes or dreams of her own, Echo clings to Narcissus, who has plenty of plans for his future. Her dependence on him is shown through echolalia for most of the performance. Only at the end, when Narcissus cuts off all ties with her, does Echo begin to find herself and her own voice, which she shares with the ensemble and audience.

Following the tale’s themes of love, loss, anger and rejection requires absolutely no knowledge of Greek or Roman mythology. All the more reason to cast aside any doubts and see the entrancing performance that is made complete through the clear cooperation of all involved in the Blind Pug Arts Collective.

Presented by Blind Pug Arts Collective
Written by Naomi Lizuka
Directed by Jonelle Walker
Produced by Lauren Alexander and Medha Marsten
Ensemble members:
Sheen Mercado (Dionysis)
Geoff Blizard (G)
Brandon Deane (SKINHEADboy)
Cris Carillo (Narcissus)
Matt Meyers (Orpheus)
Ariana Kruszewski (Eurydice)
Andrea Parente (SKINHEADgirl)
Annelies Van Vonno (Echo)
Jonelle Walker (Semele/Persephone)

Running Time: One hour and 45 minutes.

Polaroid Stories plays through July 27 at Fort Fringe – The Shop at 607 New York Avenue, NW in Washington DC.  For performance information and to purchase tickets, go to the show’s Capital Fringe page.

2013 Capital Fringe Show Preview ‘Polaroid Stories’ by Lauren R. Alexander.


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