I look across the dance floor at Dave Gangler. He is dripping with sweat and grinning like an idiot - dancing wildly, with joyous abandon. His Fringe lanyard, already an icon of nostalgia, bounces with him and relentlessly slaps him in the face with each leap. It seems to make him grin all the wider - just a man and his lanyard entwined in the irresistible and primal grip of Ke$ha.
And so fringe came to a strange and beautiful end on the dance floor of The Varsity Theater.
I have never ‘done’ fringe like I did this year. In past years, I’ve been in a Fringe show here or there; and I’ve seen a Fringe show here or there - always keeping the bulk of the chaos at arm’s length.
This year I created and produced a show, saw 16 other shows (for the true die-hards, this is a pitifully low number, I know, but it happens to be a personal best), and I blogged here, of course.
I got to venues by bike, car and occasionally by foot - sprinting the last desperate block or flight of stairs to make them in time. I went to producer meetings, and Fringe Central, and when it was all said and done, I found myself among the last to leave the closing night party.
My last day of Fringe began with two shows on the docket: ‘To My Son Born 5 Years From Today’ by Christopher Kehoe at The Women’s Club; and ‘A Certain Age’ at Huge Theater (I was lucky enough to make a reservation before the sell-out).
Ironically enough, they were perfect bookends to both the day and the Fringe itself. Kehoe’s show features a young man’s anticipation of Fatherhood. In ‘A Certain Age’, two middle-aged women triumphantly look back on the very phase Kehoe anticipated. The vastly different theatrical styles seemed to highlight their respective points all the more sharply: Kehoe’s show is full of movement and symbol and imagery and metaphor; A Certain Age instead relaxes into a delivery that is simple, straightforward, a tried and true presentational style.
Like when I talk to my two older sisters who, between the two of them, have 6 kids. I, the childless baby of the family, wax philosophic about how the universal bond between mother and child must feel so real, yet so meta... And they tell me it’s really just all about keeping Cheerios out of your hair.
Following their curtain calls, there was just one more thing standing between me and the Fringe finish line: My own show, ‘They Called Her Captain’ had earned the encore at the Playwrights’ Center. We were delighted and proud... and needed more programs and an additional car to help with load-out, and does anyone know where the bubble wrap...
Already, the piercing beams of reality had begun to puncture through the thin Fringe-blanket we’d been playing under all week. Soon too, Monday morning would come. And it would all be in the rear-view.
But not yet.
Following the encores, hoards of people descended upon The Varsity Theater for the closing party. While in line at the bar, or the bathroom; while smoking or dancing or leaning in the shadows - people talked about the shows they saw, the ones they missed. They praised and panned and applauded and pouted.
And we danced. We danced a lot.