What to see and skip after five days of the Capital Fringe Festival

In the past five days, The Post's Capital Fringe Festival reviewers have heard songs about iPhones, seen Dolley Madison in a miniskirt and been totally duped by misleading titles. Take a look at some of the shows we've seen, along with which ones we recommend.

Go see these:

"Soci@l Medi@ Expert"

"Writer/director John Krizel’s “Soci@l Medi@ Expert” takes a healthy jab at Twitter and a paint-scratching sideswipe at all things corporate. Krizel’s engaging 80-minute comedy reveals a sensibility marinated in the nerdiness of “The Office” and the hipness of 'Saturday Night Live' with a soupçon of sci-fi futurism. It’s a savory recipe." -- Jane Horwitz

"In Search of the Perfect G-String"

"Hands down, the award for best titular innuendo at this year’s Capital Fringe Festival goes to National Symphony Orchestra cellist Yvonne Caruthers. 'In Search of the Perfect G-String' is her revealing one-woman show that is not about shopping for lingerie, but playing the cello." -- RR

"Funny Stories 2"

"No one can accuse monologist James Judd of false advertising. His return to the Capital Fringe Festival with 'Funny Stories 2' is exactly what it purports to be. Judd uses a handful of props, a little lighting and a few sound effects to aid in his hour-long performance, which consists of three amusing autobiographical tales." -- Stephanie Merry

"Bully"

"'Bully' is devastating and should be required viewing for all schoolkids. In some ways, the show seems ready-made for such a purpose, with projections that delineate how people can deal with bullies. But Kaplan manages the neat trick of delivering those messages without slipping into overly sentimental after-school-special territory." -- SM

Maybe:

"Big River (And Other Wayfaring Ballets)"

"For MOVEiUS, the Capital Fringe Festival represents a chance for young working professionals with extensive dance training to continue performing. Go into “Big River (and Other Wayfaring Ballets)” expecting a well-executed adult dance recital, and you’ll be pleased." -- Rebecca Ritzel

"The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs: The Musical"

"Smoothly directed by Ronee Penoi, this fringe festival piece is as faithful a translation of Daisey’s monodrama -- the monologuist allows others to present the work without paying royalties to him -- as one could imagine." -- Peter Marks

"1814! The War of 1812 Rock Opera"

"One glimpse of Dolley Madison, portrayed by Laura Komatinsky in a zebra-print miniskirt and fishnet stockings, and it’s clear that the group behind '1814! The War of 1812 Rock Opera' has taken a few liberties with history." -- SM


Jimmy Grzelak in “How to Be a Terrorist.” (Courtesy of Jimmy Grzelak)

"How to Be a Terrorist"

"The piece, which clocks in at under an hour, could stand a bit more attention to transitions. Grzelak has not yet mastered the tricky art of determining how much information an audience requires for it to follow him all the way down the narrative trail." -- PM

"Our Boys"

"Director Felicity Ann Brown’s slightly stilted but animated production unspools at a brisk pace on a set that relies on telling pieces of furniture (a sofa, a portrait of a pig to suggest the Middlewick residence, etc.). Ziese is impressively poised as the dashing Charles, while Chaharbaghi minces around with the right air of sweet-tempered vapidness as Talbot." -- Celia Wren

"One Night in New York!"

"As the young man, Paul Luckenbauh combines gumption and naivete, with a strong singing voice. He arrives in an all singing, all dancing (and all male) New York of tourists, construction workers, the Statue of Liberty, the Naked Cowboy and the fake Elmo in the promising opening song, before the play takes some tired turns, with a fairy godmother in drag granting three wishes." -- Roger Catlin

"McPherson Madness"

"Life was so different in Occupy outposts that it’s worth examining all its unusual aspects, from the call-and-response 'microphone' methods to the meeting hand signals. Some obvious Occupy veterans in the audience laughed loudest at the frustrations over the nightly general assemblies, whose details were summarized hurriedly onstage 'because this is a play.'" -- RC

"What's in the Box?!"

"The show might be a bit uneven, but it’s never boring. At its best, the seemingly impossible art of improv looks easy. The Begonias flitted in and out of that zone. If on-the-fly comedy is difficult, spontaneous striptease routines might be even more daunting. That helps explain why some of the dance numbers looked less than polished." -- SM

Maybe not:

"Madam Ambassador"

"The satire about diplomats written by former diplomat Duke Ryan, is probably really funny to people who have worked in the foreign service. To the rest of us, it’s a slightly clunky story about a bored wealthy woman (Patsy Magno) who buys herself an ambassadorship to Copenhagen and then has to play some dirty politics in order to . . . well, it’s not entirely clear." -- Fiona Zublin

"Double Freakquency

"If only the plot were as strong as the concept. The story of a passive-aggressive feud between two friends, by Richmond’s AVAdventure Productions, lacks heft. Renee (Caitlin Carbone) and Alex (Summer McCarley) are first roommates, then neighbors — and as much as they would like to grow apart, the thin walls of their adjacent apartments are keeping them locked in a jealous competition. Carbone and McCarley do their best Milli Vanilli to the dual audio tracks, but perhaps due to the contrivance of the lip-syncing, there is little room for subtlety in the performances."  -- Maura Judkis

"Carry a Big Stick"

"Last-minute changes would explain why the lead characters in this play didn’t know their lines. David A. Schmidt, playing Hanna, carried the script around tucked into a leather folder and pretended to be taking notes. As Roosevelt, John McCaffrey had the character down but not his dialogue. 'Senator Moore! — I mean — Senator Hanna!' the actor bellowed, considerably detracting from what was intended to be a tense scene." -- RR

Washington-area native Stephanie Merry covers movies, theater and art for Weekend and the Going Out Guide. She’s also the section’s de facto expert on yoga, gluten-free dining and bicycle commuting.
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Alex Baldinger | July 16, 2013