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Arts and Entertainment

Hollywood Fringe Festival 2012: Surrealist Plays Abound with 'In Dream' and 'Reconstruction'

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Surrealist plays abound at this year's Hollywood Fringe Festival. During our most recent trip to the Fringe, we caught In Dream and Reconstruction, two plays that deal with varied topics ranging from bureaucratic failure to idealized heroes, but both works share the defining, intriguing element of otherworldly surrealism. If these plays came to fruition in 1959, Rod Serling certainly would have commissioned them as Twilight Zone teleplays. Be sure to read the closing dates for these shows carefully. As the Hollywood Fringe Festival has arrived at its mid-point, some of these shows are winding down and today may be your last chance to experience these theatrical trips through the weirder corners of the mind.

With Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Steven Speilberg's Lincoln set to open this year, it seems as though America's 16th president is having a bit of a renaissance. In that same come-back-kid vein, Claudia Restrepo's historical fiction play Reconstruction lets contemporary audiences revel in the dignified icon in a new and inventive way.

In Restrepo's vision, Lincoln (brilliantly played by Kipp Moorman) has taken up residence in Chicago with Silvia (played by Restrepo), an introverted photographer and Civil War enthusiast struggling with a family tragedy. For Silvia, Lincoln falls somewhere between a time traveler enthralled with modern conveniences and a warm, easy-going imaginary friend and that just happens to make an excellent cup of coffee. The script is a bit trite at times, but overall, Restrepo's work is well researched and enjoyable. Kaja Martin's direction is lively, natural, and tactful.

The attention to detail in this staging fosters a homey, welcoming feeling that a rare find at Fringe. The Reconstruction cast -- Restrepo, Moorman, Lisa Goodman, and Jonathan Chase -- is capable, but varyingly talented. Chase interprets his character with a perceptible nod to Doctor Who that we can't help but love. Furthermore, Moorman's truly believable and relatable portrayal of Lincoln rocks so hard! His genuine enthusiasm and passion is gently obvious and wonderfully contagious. Moorman's upbeat and expressive performance really brings Lincoln back to life.

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Reconstruction is playing at Lounge Theatre as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival through June 23. Tickets are $5 online or pay-what-you-can at the door.

In Dream
Matt Chester's hypnagogically dark In Dream takes viewers though a pre-dream sleep realm controlled by Mitch, a bureaucratic paper-pushing dream lord where the most evil man alive contends with his own guilt while a mother and daughter meet during a timeless premonition. Chester's script is affecting and engaging. It brims with heartfelt, instinctive dialogue with a murky, surrealist edge. While some of the In Dream cast members are still honing their professional talents, Jeff Elam and Emily Spalding give understated, but outstanding performances. Playing Levi, the most evil man alive by statistical default, Elam is tactfully absorbing and effective. As Linda, an adult woman that meets her mother prior to her own birth, Spalding is deeply knowing an utterly magnetic.

Under the direction of Mary Evans, this simple staging of In Dream moves well and rightly highlights Chester's excellent script.

In Dream is playing at Theatre of NOTE as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival through June 18 (closing today). Tickets are $7 and available online or at the door.

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