Fringe's 'Edible Rex' runs long, ends abruptly on first night at Goethe-Institut

By Fiona Zublin
Monday, July 12, 2010; 4:07 PM

Anyone who has been to the Capital Fringe Festival knows to expect muggy theaters, references to Chekhov and (of course) the unexpected. But they probably didn't expect to find themselves out on the street before their play had ended.

"Edible Rex," a 13-part play about author-performer John Feffer's quest for the perfect meal, had its first performance at the Goethe-Institut on Saturday at 10 p.m. Or rather, most of its first performance.

"We were just starting the 13th scene when the lights went down, completely black, and John claps his hands, like, 'Hey, you, up there in lights, turn 'em on,'" says Donna Peremes, a Washington Post staffer who attended the performance, "And the audience thinks he's clapping 'cause it's over, and someone from on high says, 'John, we have to end; we're running a little late.' A lot of people thought it was part of the play." Late that night, Feffer e-mailed the script of the final scene to everyone he knew who had been in the audience.

"The performer went over his allotted time, and we are legally required to be out of the venue at a certain time," Capital Fringe spokeswoman Laura Gross writes in an e-mail. "We apologize for the inconvenience but hope that everyone understands."

"I thought 'cause we were the last show of the evening, there might be some flexibility," Feffer said. "But this is a well-balanced schedule; you do screw up a lot of people if you go over." Feffer cut two minutes out of the piece before the second performance and had his wife, Karin, sitting in the front row with instructions to hold a piece of paper over her face if he started to creep over the time limit. "[The audience was] angry, and I don't blame them," he said of the truncated first performance. "It's like being woken up from a dream."

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