The New York International Fringe Festival wrapped up its 25th year on Aug. 25, and we asked three theater experts to pick their favorite performances. Read all about the most memorable moments from this year's FringeNYC below.
One of the pleasures of the Fringe Festival is discovering new performers to keep on your radar. This year, one of those artists is Rati Gupta, who wrote and starred in her one-woman “Not Another Teen Solo Show.” She takes the audience on a tour of her high school years in Indiana. I don’t want to lump Gupta with Mindy Kaling just because they are both sassy Indian women, but it’s hard not to draw comparisons. Though Gupta definitely has her own style, it’s worth noting that Kaling broke out with a Fringe show that she co-wrote, “Matt & Ben,” in 2002. With her charm and wit, Gupta could probably make the jump to television. I could also see her writing smart teen movies, since she has such an understanding of them. But in whatever capacity, I hope to see more from her. —Linda Buchwald, Pataphysical Science
Kim Blanck really astounded me in “Ex Machina,” David Jacobi’s play about factory drones who spend most of their waking hours building “SuperPhones,” drinking cheap vodka, and feeling sad about their lives. Their movements are closely monitored by an overbearing security guard whose bark is worse than his bite. It’s a stinging yet hilarious indictment of neoliberalism. Blanck played the role of Iris (Siri backwards), a mystery woman who appears out of nowhere to taunt the men of the factory. Unlike her anagram, Iris isn’t helpful at all, unless your objective is to quit your job, torch your office, and murder your boss. (Capitalism is all about survival of the fittest, right?) She’s the ever-present voice of your animal brain that you can try to ignore through work or drown with liquor, but it keeps coming back. Rather than play Iris as a nagging harpy (which would have been the obvious choice), Blanck brought a seductive bad-girl feel to the role. She really sold her anarchy as something sexy and fun, making resistance all the more ludicrous and futile. Blanck also has perfect comic timing, which is essential for a play that could easily get bogged down in all the misery of its subject matter. By the end of the show, she had the audience so thoroughly enthralled that her slightest movement or breath had them in hysterics. I would have totally punched a rent-a-cop in the face for Iris. —Zachary Stewart, TheaterMania
The most entertaining performance I saw at the Fringe this year was from Matt Baetz, who was in Adrian Bunting’s “Kemble’s Riot.” The play was 60 minutes and was kind of a historical reenactment of the 1809 Old Price Riots at the Covent Garden Theatre in London. Baetz had the task of rallying the masses—aka the audience—and getting us to shout, stand up, and throw plush balls at theater manager John Kemble (played by Guy Masterson). Midway through the play, a majority of the house was on his side, and an audience member even talked back to Kemble (Baetz does get some points docked for being caught off-guard). He also had to do a good chunk of the exposition on the background of the Covent Garden Theatre and why we should all care enough to get off of our cushioned seats. And he did it without sounding like those crazy street evangelicals and while dressed like a hipster cop. In short, he made me believe in the cause. —Diep Tran, American Theatre Magazine