Fringe: Cautionary Tales & Trixie Tickles

While I did a little eye-rolling waiting for the show to start, once “Cautionary Tales for Adults and the Many Adventures of Trixie Tickles” got going I didn’t have time to do much of anything but laugh. The long name is reflective of the fact that this is really two shows back to back. The first, Cautionary Tales, is presented as a sort of odd storytime for adults. The not-so-well-meaning librarian brings four stories to life with the not entirely willing assistance of her audience of four. A transparency projector provides us a view of some of the pages as her charges act out the scenarios.

Being subversive is easy – it doesn’t take much talent to thumb your nose at The Man. The trick is making it interesting, as anyone who’s ever had to listen to the ravings of a patchouli -stinking longhair with a bullhorn can tell you. Cautionary Tales manages it handily and is funny not just in the punchlines but in the moments in between.

After an interstitial song/spoken word performance, presumably to provide time for the actors to change costumes while providing the audience a cleansing few minutes of complete confusion, we launch into the Many Adventures of Trixie Tickles, a children’s show gone insane. If someone were to re-animate Hunter S Thompson and task him with creating an amalgam of Dora the Explorer and The Wiggles this is probably what you’d get.

The two shows make a fun pairing. Cautionary Tales riffs on the fact that life is often unfair and sometimes miserable, in complete opposition of what we tell kids in their stories. Trixie flirts with this, particularly in the hysterically funny scene in which the kindergarten teacher asks her kids what they want to be when they grow up, only to inform them that things rarely work out how you want and that they’ll probably only manage these things in their dreams.

Most of the rest, however, is given over to turning the children’s show on its head and teaching all the wrong lessons with the standard kid’s show messages. You should make friends with new people… and that stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet, so why not take that candy he’s offering? Imagination is your key to grand adventures… why not play pretend with daddy’s gun?

You’ve got one more shot to get out and see it and I highly recommend it. Have a cup of coffee, pop a few no-doz, and head out on Saturday, July 28 @ midnight.

Source Theatre
1835 14th St. NW
Washington, DC 20009

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