In the two years I’ve covered Fringe shows, performances written and directed by younger artists consistently seem to be uniquely innovative in their style, themes, and structure. TBD: A Devised Theatrical Celebration/A Musical Love Letter is no different. Making up two distinct shows, these performers, designers, and devisors have created a novel and enthusiastic production, even if its impact is somewhat diminished by a lack of structure.
The first half is a devised piece led by director Natalia Corvoisier—and it’s a pretty brilliant show, made up of 15 short scenes anchored in Queer and BIPOC experiences. Actors rely on the audience to determine the order of the scenes by calling out a number to indicate which one they’d like to see. The goal is for the actors to get through all 15 scenes in 30 minutes, and throughout the performance, a countdown timer is projected onto the back wall, heightening the urgency and insisting the audience pay close attention. For the most part, the scenes are strong too, especially “Ignore” (devised by Alie Karambash and Ramon Miranda Amaya), which on its own makes the show worth seeing.
But it’s difficult to feel as invested in the second half, in spite of a lot of talent and plenty of heart. The cabaret-style Musical Love Letter centers on theater itself and the ways the young performers are processing the instability of living as artists in a capitalist world—how to pay the bills, how to have safety and security—while still doing what they love. It’s moving to see them process these feelings through monologue and song, but many of the numbers could use more rehearsal time, and a lack of structure causes the pace to drag.
After the intentionality of TBD, it’s hard to see the bigger picture behind the second show, though that could change in future performances as the actors find their groove. I hope they do, because this cast and crew are certainly talented and committed enough to make this material live up to its full potential.
Running Time: 75 minutes.
TBD: A Devised Theatrical Celebration/A Musical Love Letter plays July 16 at 8:30 pm, July 21 at 6:00 pm, July 22 at 5:00 pm, and July 23 at 6:45 pm at DCJCC – Cafritz Hall. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online.
Director: Natalia Corvoisier & Courtney Simmons
Age Appropriateness: Recommended for children 13+ older
The complete 2023 Capital Fringe Festival guidebook is online here.