How the Money Goes, DC Fringe

Confession: I've never been to a Fringe show before. Or at least, I hadn't until this past Sunday, when I went to the Warehouse for Odd Act's 'How the Money Goes.'

Why not? I'm not entirely sure, but I think it has something to do with a longstanding snobbery that am willing to own up to- I rarely see work by contemporary playwrights (just as I rarely read current bestsellers). I've always much preferred to keep to work that has already stood the test of time and been vetted by countless others before it reaches me. While for many of my friends, Fringe is an exciting time to experience fresh and innovative new theatre, I've always hung back. I've probably missed out on quite a lot, but then, I know from reports that filter back to me that Fringe plays can be something of a chancey game.

I tell this to you, gentle reader, because I feel it's important to note one's own biases. In fact, I'm not done yet- I am very well acquainted with several members of the Odd Act team, so it's very odd to suddenly find myself evaluating the work of people I consider friends. This is perhaps why I write for a blog and not for a Serious Print Publication.

Hence, it's a little difficult to evaluate 'How the Money Goes.' If I say that the show feels very Fringe-y to me, what does that mean when I have so little to compare it to? Does the cast, under Ashley Duncan's direction, do quite a lot with a tiny budget? Absolutely. Is that cast composed of a lot of people you've probably never heard of? Yep. And are some of those cast members quite good, in fact? Sure- Thony Mena and Anna Lynch are standouts in the small cast of five. Does the script pack an awful lot into what felt like a frantic 90 minute run time? Oh crikey, yes.

In fact, the play itself might be the drawback to 'How the Money Goes.' I spent 2/3 of the performance trying desperately to keep track of the ever-shifting plot before realizing that that just Wasn't the Point. Once I learned to stop worrying and enjoy the ride, my perspective on the events took a turn. Rob Cousins, listed as the resident playwright of Odd Act, throws rather a lot (too much, at times) into the stewpot. There are some very interesting ways in which the play plunges into heady metatheatricality and some quite clever conceits, but there's a danger of some of it getting lost. Duncan's energetic staging perfectly suits the play, but the play reaches a mite too far for itself.

But then, for me, that's rather what Fringe is about. A Fringe Festival seems to be the place to try that idea that's been cooking in the back of your mind for awhile, the one that's just a little too out there for other venues. It's a place that demands both gumption and risk, and 'How the Money Goes' possesses these qualities in spades. I'm still not sure I'm a Fringey gal, but I salute Odd Act for embracing the spirit of a venture I've never felt quite up to tackling myself.


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