Beyond the Fringe–Miriam Singer at the Bride

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by Miriam Singer
by Miriam Singer

One show at the Philadelphia Fringe is not enough. It’s so hard to know what will be good, what will not, that you sort of have to sample a bunch and hope for the best. This year, we finally figured that out and purchased tickets to four shows. Two down, two to go–plus a bonus.

Miriam Singer
by Miriam Singer

The bonus was added on to show number one. Murray and I got to the Painted Bride early to pick up our tickets, and there were works by Miriam Singer hanging on the wall in the cafe area, where InLiquid curates member shows. It’s such a gloomy space that if anything looks good in there, it’s probably good. On top of that, I’m a Singer fan, having first come across her work in a show at Siano Gallery (now the late lamented Siano Gallery, it turns out–we heard from gallerist Luella Tripp that it’s going to be a furniture store, instead. But look for Tripp to run another Old City gallery in six months or so).

Miriam Singer
by Miriam Singer

Singer’s work in her show de’rive dreams merges drawings with prints on paper that has been folded and unfolded and otherwise distressed in the course of her travels. She adds to them on the run as she moves through her life, and they have the jazzy rhythms and compression of city life–showing hints of stores, apartments, reflections, compression, circles, parks, bicycles, cars. None of it is spelled out, but all of it is in there, chock-a-block and rubbing elbows, inch by inch across the page.

The performance we saw at the Bride–Flamingo/Winnebago–was almost really good. It’s about a road trip across America with actors and creators Thaddeus Phillips and Muni Kulasinghe. Their two private journeys seek a piece of the past in the seediness of Las Vegas and the environmental disaster of the Salton Sea. Along the way, their searches for the American Dream cross paths. The performances were great. The set was witty and iconic. But call in an editor to trim the talky rants about the environment and politics. The show also sagged in spots, the timing not quite on target. Otherwise, pretty interesting. And, Murray, who always bumps into someone he knows, ran into someone he had written about in the Inquirer, years ago.

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Waiting in a kind of staging area before the play begins. It’s really the back of the stage set for Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven

We had given up the possibility of bumping into someone we knew when we were waiting for the beginning of another Fringe show, Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven, at the Arden. But sure enough, one of our neighbors stumbled in, his unlimited admission pass to all Fringe shows hanging around his neck. Dragons, by Young Jean Lee, is about her conflicting identity as a Korean and an American. The show included enough spectacle and emotion to keep us riveted. But honestly, I was a little confused now and then and couldn’t quite buy into the extremity of Korean self-disgust. And when the show was over, I had much too much to ponder. Still, I enjoyed it. As for our neighbor, he was taking his unlimited admissions badge and moving on to another show. Not us. We went straight home to hug our TV and watch U.S. Open tennis. I’m at it again today, and I’m writing this during the commercials (c’mon, James Blake; I can’t believe you’re going down!)

Tags

inliquid, miriam singer, muni kulasinghe, philly fringe festival, thaddeus phillips, young jean lee

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