Orlando Fringe reviews

ORLANDO — The Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival runs now through Memorial Day at venues in Loch Haven Park, Ivanhoe Village and downtown Orlando. Orlando Entertains caught up with some shows and here are our thoughts on them.

Raquel

Raquel at Orlando FringeRaquel is a one-woman drama by playwright Claudia Vargas, and a harrowing one. And first, a disclaimer. Waiting in line to get into the show, a woman approached me and asked if I speak Spanish. Noting that I didn’t, she pointed out that the play is entirely in Spanish and then handed me a headset that I could listen to. Unfortunately, the narration on the headset didn’t translate every line spoken by the lead actress but instead described what was happening, which left some challenges in following many of the smaller details.

The good news: even with that, it was clear just how powerful actress Karina Gentile was in this very despairing story about Raquel, who is in the desert searching for her partner, Desiree, who disappeared two years ago. Raquel believes Desiree was brutally raped and then killed by a gang of police officer because she was trans, and Raquel has found some of Desiree’s belongings in that bleak landscape.

Raquel tries to connect with a psychic to see if her supernatural powers can help her, and she recalls how she and Desiree first met and became lovers.

This is a bleak story, that covers topics that include transphobia, AIDS, the pain of being an outsider, and police brutality — rough subjects that Gentile nevertheless covers in a striking performance. The play is very creatively directed by Edwin Yumar, and it’s clear the playwright, actress and director all feel a unique passion for this piece. Even with the shaky translation, I found it compelling and rewarding.

Raquel is being performed at the Brown Venue on the following dates:

  • Saturday, May 28 at 9:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, May 29 at 7:15 p.m.

Waiting For Gadot

Orlando Fringe reviewsImagine if Irish playwright Samuel Beckett had been a comic book nerd and you might have gotten a play like this one, a comedy about two uber-geeks waiting first in line at an scheduled appearance of Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot. Since they arrived early — one with a tent and snacks, the other with a lawn chair — they have time to debate the true meaning of a nerd who eschews dating, a love life, acceptance from their peers and entry into the in-crowd in favor of comic books, sci fi flicks and TV shows, and super hero action figures. At times they become quite frustrated with one another and have plenty of major fits.

The show, written and performed by Jarman Day and Steve Pugh, is an ode to the true nerds among us, (and you know who you are), and there are unlikely to be too many funnier moments at Fringe this year than the two of them in Wonder Woman outfits. Quite silly, often quite funny.

Waiting For Gadot is being performed in the Brown Venue on the following dates:

  • Monday at 7 p.m.
  • Friday at 9:45 p.m.
  • Sunday, May 29 at 3:45 p.m.

Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright, and author of the book When I Woke Up, You Were All Dead. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com

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