I have a confession to make: until last night I was a fringe festival virgin.
Year after year I’d drive past the tent, see the sign, hear about the shows. In a way it felt like a big block party. A block party filled with people on Ecstasy. Even if it was right outside my door, it still felt weird to crash it, like I needed one of the more sober people to actually insist I come. In the case of the Hollywood Fringe Festival, I got such an invitation when I was asked to be a guest blogger. So last night I popped my Fringe cherry.
I use this analogy in part because Kiersten Lyons’ one-woman show CRUSHED deals with this very concept and more. Lyons originally told the story of the various men who rejected her, starting with Han Solo and moving on from there, as a pilot; but it’s hard to imagine the show without Lyons in the flesh recounting it.
Moving from a clothesline of paper hearts to a transparency projector to the various “places” she conjures up so well, Lyons makes the audience feel like she’s a long-lost girlfriend and we’re catching up on events that transpired since we parted ways at age six. She’s funny and affable and self-aware; she also did the amazing thing of making me remember the look on Marc Tetelle’s face when, in eighth grade, I told him I liked him and how Neal Barry and I kissed after the Sadie Hawkins dance (my first!) which led to his ignoring me for the next two years.
My own romantic pitfalls aside, Kiersten Lyons’ lead her — and, ultimately us — to a place of hope and surprise and comfort. Let me share this with you, she implies. Help me tell my story. She even says this, in not so many words, to the audience directly.
I think that’s what makes the Fringe so special. It’s a chance for audience and performers alike to collaborate in an intimate storytelling process. A chance to experience the moment together.
A chance to feel like you really belong at the party.
CRUSHED plays at the Underground Theater June 15 and 16 and June 21 through June 23rd.