Capital Fringe Festival’s 2014 lineup: 25 plays in one Venn diagram

The Capital Fringe Festival, D.C.’s smorgasbord of offbeat theater, seems to have an unspoken rule: Write what you know. There are at least nine autobiographical solo shows this year, and many of the other 126 performances draw on familiar subject matter, such as post-college angst, Washington life and Shakespeare. We Venn’d a few themes that jumped out at us.

Capital Fringe Festival, locations vary; Thu.-July 27, $17 per ticket plus one-time purchase of $7 Fringe button ($5 on July 10); 866-811-4111.

13 Men
Three women meet up for brunch at The Big Board (a real D.C. restaurant) and hash out romantic disasters and other life quandaries — in song. Without a single costume change, Jack O’Reilly plays all 13 male characters, including a macho Marine, a bisexual actor and an earnest Midwesterner.

Antigone
In Greek mythology and the Sophocles tragedy, Antigone defies King Creon by giving her brother Polynices a proper burial. French playwright Jean Anouilh’s version is an allegory of Vichy France. In this English adaptation of Anouilh’s play,  Antigone stands up for individual rights in modern-day America.

Balloon Plays
Three clowns explore a world of balloons. “Balloon Plays” is weird and cute, and it’s for everyone ages 5 and older. Except those who are easily startled, because balloons pop.

Ben & Lucille
Lucille is a graduate student at NYU. Her boyfriend Ben, a painter, lives in D.C. Can their relationship hold up despite the strain of distance and increasingly divergent life paths? Is there any chance of Lucille finding a job after getting her history Ph.D.? Somehow this will all get resolved in a Super Eight motel room in Philadelphia.

Bethesda
A diplomat with a scandal-sullied reputation returns home to the eponymous Maryland suburb. His misdeeds drive his wife and kids to extreme measures.

Bitch: A Play About Antigone
In this modern rendering of the Greek tale, set in a D.C.-Thebes mashup, Antigone may be a threat to national security. She’s fallen in with the terrorist cell Daughters of Oedipus and soon runs afoul of President Creon.

Brownie and Lolli Go to Hollywood
Two lady clowns desperately want to audition for their favorite TV show (“Live at Da Fonky Burlesk”). But they need to get from New Orleans to Hollywood, like, tomorrow. Find out how low they will go to raise the funds in this musical comedy.

C-
Writer/director/star Eric Jaffe interviewed 65 of his now-middle-aged frat brothers about their post-college career paths, hoping to find out whether a college education is worth it the trouble.

Sina Heiß plays a giant, sentient pear in "Coosjie."  (Alisha Lang)
Sina Heiß plays a giant, sentient pear in “Coosje.” (Alisha Lang)

Coosje
You know the giant typewriter eraser tilted at a jaunty angle in the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden? Sculptors (and husband and wife) Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen created it, as well as many other whimsical, oversized versions of everyday objects. The musical “Coosje” is based on the artists’ relationship, though it’s set in a fantastical world where a giant pear comes to life and sings about its adventures.

Córiolanas
Set in the not-so-distant future, two matriarchal orders vie for supremacy. Caius Marcius leads the sexy Volscians against the peaceful Romans. Fans of obscure Shakespeare tragedies can probably guess who wins.

Dateline: Macbeth
A faded Hollywood actor and his wife head to Hawaii to perform in a local production of Macbeth. Unfortunately, their lives begin to mirror Shakespeare’s tale of murderous ambition in this drama told in the style of a “Dateline” true crime investigation.

Districtland
Four D.C. archetypes — a returned Peace Corps volunteer, a Capitol Hill intern, an unemployed law school grad and a State Department fellow — live in a group house. Even if they aren’t familiar with group-house drama, D.C. residents will appreciate the absurdist romp through familiar environs, including poetry slams and networking events.

Four Dogs and a Bone
Two actresses, a writer and a producer scheme and manipulate one another in an attempt to further their floundering careers. Despite the canine-centric title, there’s plenty of cat fighting.

Macbeth: The Instruments of Darkness
This production moves the enigmatic witch trio from the sidelines to the spotlight. After their famous chant, the crones show up as alter egos of many of the main characters.

Medea’s Got Some Issues
One of Greek mythology’s most unstable characters, Medea killed her kids because she was mad at her man. In this one-woman farce, she explains herself, and rants about some other stuff, too.

Olizzia
Two straight BFFs, one from D.C. and the other from the West Coast, get it on while on vacation in Rio. This raises a lot of questions for Lizzie and Olivia, about friendship, sex and soulmate-hood.

Best friends Laura and Charlie (played by Katie Ryan, left, and Abigail Casey, right) face career woes in "The Program Assistant."
Best friends Laura and Charlie (played by Katie Ryan, left, and Abigail Casey, right) face career woes in “The Program Assistant.”

The Program Assistant
Best friends Laura and Charlie want the same State Department job. Laura gets it, Charlie panics, relationships are strained and everyone is angsty.

R+J: Star-Cross’d Death Match
Staged at Petworth bar DC Reynolds, the Shakespeare classic morphs into boozy shenanigans, with few boundaries between the audience and the action. Form teams, play flip cup and dance dance dance as the Capulets and Montagues go at it.

Relationsh!t
A two-woman sketch comedy duo finds lots of material in relationship drama, be it romantic, family or none of the above.

Secrets of the National Mall
Former Voice of America reporter Andrew Baroch will lead tours of the National Mall, where he will point out details in the marble monuments that belie America’s secret and surprisingly sexy Freemason past.

TAME.
This retelling of “The Taming of the Shrew” takes place in 1960s Louisiana. After Smith College expels Cat for suspected lesbianism, a minister attempts to set her straight.

Ten Principles )’(
Ten D.C.-based Burning Man veterans will tell stories about the 10 principles governing the bacchanal, such as gift-giving. What does an investment analyst have to offer throngs of half-nude people dancing in the desert? Financial planning, perhaps.

What Would Tina and Amy Do?
Best friends Tinley and Annie are struggling with typical post-college malaise, which leads them to the realization: Bitches get stuff done. Drawing inspiration from the classic Tina Fey and Amy Poehler “Saturday Night Live” sketch as well as the comedians’ real-life friendship, Annie and Tinley find the self-confidence to get their lives on track.

Will Work For
Playwright Dacyl Acevedo embodies a multi-culti mix of people who find themselves suddenly unemployed and forced to navigate today’s tough job market. For comic relief, she also plays a clown — albeit one that ends up begging the audience for handouts.

You, or Whatever I Can Get
Four D.C. roommates grapple with long-distance relationships, cybersex,  phone sex and existential despair through chipper song and dance numbers.

More stories about D.C.-area theater:

Summer theater events in the D.C. area: Disney, Shakespeare, Sondheim, et al

Meet Michael Reilly, who manages ‘The Lion King’s’ puppet kingdom

The freakishly tall Matthew Patrick Davis plays an actual freak in the Kennedy Center’s ‘Side Show’

Sadie Dingfelder is a features writer for the Washington Post Express.
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