Hollywood Fringe Festival Features Local and International Plays With a Nautical Twist

Being located 13 miles inland is no deterrent to sea-loving (or perhaps sea-fearing) playwrights at this year's Hollywood Fringe Festival. The most recent LAist visit to the Fringe was all about watching some of these nautically-themed plays. There are numerous works that explore oceanic motifs including Into the Torrent Sea, The Cannibal King, The Pirate Laureate of Port Town, Richard Parker, and The Annual Meeting of the American Society of Lone Fishermen Who Have Found Dead Bodies. LAist was lucky enough to catch to latter two.

Richard Parker
Owen Thomas' macabre Richard Parker depicts two men trapped in a disturbing, self-perpetuating stranded-at-sea horror story borne out of tragic (but avoidable) destiny. Thomas' work is full of the sort of creepy, fascinating, reflexively-spun dialogue that draws cold sweat out of the palms.

The staging is as simple as can be, but the engaging direction of Gareth John Bale draws the audience deep into the emotional, mindful epicenter of the play. Bale and Alastair Sill, playing two men with one name work in tandem to give dark, energizing and intriguing stage performances.

Thomas, Bale, Sill, and Darkman Productions (the Richard Parker company) all hail from Wales. The understated, very-Welsh, off-the-beaten path graciousness really comes through in this play and gives Angeleno Fringers some hope that our humble theatre festival is capturing some international attention.

As the cast of Richard Parker took their final bows, we kind of wanted to yell "Thanks for bringing this awesome, kick-ass play all the way from Wales for us!" Richard Parker is playing as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival through June 22 at Theatre of NOTE and Open Fist Theatre. Tickets are $10 and available online.

The Annual Meeting of the American Society of Lone Fishermen Who Have Found Dead Bodies
TS Cook's charming monologue The Annual Meeting of the American Society of Lone Fishermen Who Have Found Dead Bodies takes place in a little fishing boat just off the coast of our own Long Beach. The grim title of Cook's play sits in stark contrast the the gentle, reminiscing quality of his writing which occupies the same tonal vein as Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea.

The Angler, the only character seen by the audience, guides his audience through the most poignant moments of his life, waxing intimately and appreciatively about fishing, family, death, war, friendship, boating, and solitude. With a distinctly American salt of-the-earth (or rather, salt-of-the sea) sentimentality, The Annual Meeting of the American Society of Lone Fishermen Who Have Found Dead Bodies harnesses natural imagery to transport its audience such that the script and nautical staging elements really make you crave the lulling quiet of ocean.

This production is double cast and co-directed by Paul Messinger and Cook himself. LAist can speak only to the delivery of Cook's performance: As the Angler, Cook fluidly fosters a wonderfully warm, comfortable feeling, like listening to an old, close friend recount stories that you both know faithfully, but never tire of. The Annual Meeting of the American Society of Lone Fishermen Who Have Found Dead Bodies is playing at Artworks Theatre as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival through June 23. Tickets are $10 and available online. TS Cook will return to the stage with this show for one night in August at the Fremont Centre Theatre in South Pasadena.

Tickets, packages, schedules, and show information for all Hollywood Fringe Festival 2012 productions are available online.