Capital Fringe 2014 Review: ‘Bargain Basement University’


Have you ever wondered what higher education would be like if you didn’t have to deal with all of the hassle that comes with it? If you happen to be walking in the general vicinity of Fort Fringe on New York Avenue, you might get a chance to find out. Armed with a portable printing press and a sign that mocks higher education slogans (hers is “Open the Door to Soar”), Madeline Curtona’s Bargain Basement University promises students a streamlined education and an instant degree hot off the presses. The only cost of the degree is whatever random item you can find in your pockets.


The whole process of meeting Curtona, initiating the payment and getting the degree only takes about five minutes, but it’s an experience you can’t help but laugh and giggle your way through. Posing under the guise of a “university administrator,” Curtona stays in character the whole time, effortless fielding questions about her and her character.

The performance makes Curtona’s thesis crystal clear. Higher education is a sham, and in today’s job market, the fake degrees Curtona delivers to her students are just as valuable as the real ones. If you read the fine print of your newly minted diploma, it reads “The Degree of Bachelor of Arts in an Are of Specialized Study Designed to Obtain Money but May or May Not Do So.”

Finally, what fake university is complete without a website? Curtona goes all-in with her satire, giving BBU everything from a cliché mission statement, to hilariously sarcastic alumni testimonials, to a nonexistent curriculum and campus bookstore.

Running Time: Two hours.

Bargain Basement University runs through Sunday, July 27 at Fort Fringe, and Vicinity. For more information, please visit the Capital Fringe page.


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