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Deaf Man Hoofing: An Irreverent Start

In the marathon
In the marathon "Unmapped," Daniel Burkholder and Jonathan Matis improvised a roughly half-hour show every hour on the hour for an entire day. (By Enoch Chan)

-- Celia Wren

'Improvised Experimental Diva'

Susan Oetgen's solo "I.E.D.: Improvised Experimental Diva" is a perfect fringe experience: 35 weird, highly disciplined minutes in which art and war unexpectedly intersect.

The show's title boomerangs the abbreviation for the improvised explosive devices so familiar from the Iraq war: As a classical singer who's too tense to sing, Oetgen tries to find her voice, and perhaps make it a weapon. There is an avant-garde formality in her mixture of fractured recorded speech (think adolescent voice-cracking electronically magnified) and occasional bright, powerful singing, in the way the way terse, loaded phrases repeat and deepen, and in her physical stretches and drills that are creative and martial.

The show, which repeats tonight and Wednesday at the Calvary Baptist Church Chapel on Eighth Street NW, is deliberately paced, like a tank gun surveying the horizon. Oetgen hits her target; her a cappella ending is dynamite.

-- Nelson Pressley


A pajama party broke out at the Warehouse Main Stage Friday night at 9 as dancer Daniel Burkholder and guitarist Jonathan Matis, both barefoot and in soft, loose outfits, improvised a roughly 30-minute show every hour on the hour for 24 hours straight. Two reports:

10 p.m. Friday: Dancer Burkholder and musician Matis start in opposite corners but gradually share the space, swap roles, jointly fiddle with the guitar and pickup that feeds back the blips and pings they tap out on the strings, or that Matis creates at one point by patting the instrument on his face like a towel.

10 a.m. Saturday: Reportedly they made it through the night with only 7 a.m. as a show with no audience, and they danced anyway. At 10 a.m. there was an audience of two, plus two very-latecomers, watching roughly the previous night's dynamic play out again, with the inventive Burkholder dancing in exploratory circles close to the ground and the less graceful Matis moving like a man trying not to fall over. They have a silent rapport, but the guitar is the invaluable partner, swirled and shared and placed on a stool as the lads whack it delicately with sticks. Boys with toys . . .

-- Nelson Pressley

'Bushwa: A Modern Ubu'

Brainy playwright John Morogiello ("Irish Authors Held Hostage") had another intellectual field day in "Bushwa: A Modern Ubu," which had its only two festival performances Saturday and Sunday. A re-imagining of Alfred Jarry's seminal shocker "Ubu Roi" (1896), "Bushwa" relates the gruesome escapades of a foul-mouthed, pea-brained political scion named Y, who tyrannizes a United States--like nation while unleashing war in the Middle East.

Armand Sindoni gave a broadly loutish manner to the childish Y, whose salient characteristics included mangling the English language ("respectify," "hungerate," "ambitionations"). Lori Boyd was diverting as Y's Machiavellian mother; Stefan Aleksander furnished well-pitched imitations of Reagan and Clinton; and various other members of the the Georgetown Theatre Company ensemble did gleeful label-wearing turns as the personifications of countries ("Earwax," "HaughtyObabia") or entities ("The Press").

At two hours, the joke felt too long, but given its clever allusions, you had to respectify it.

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