Fringe Day 3: My Day at City of Asylum and the Mystery of the Tall Old Man Solved

Day three of the Pittsburgh Fringe Festival and I am a pro at this point. I have my sun gear, canteen and extra thick layer of antiperspirant. Luckily for me, I was stationed at one location for all three shows of the day – City of Asylum.  My the first performance of the day was Who is Bob Friendly? by Cup-A-Jo Productions. We get to know Bob, not through his life and experiences, but through those of the people who knew him in life. His friend from his military days, ex-wife and neighbor describe their experiences with him as if they were being interviewed.  The trio would take turns sharing stories about Bob, none of them really holding him in too high regard.

There were five pauses in the interviews of the three people speaking about Bob, four of which were solo musical numbers by four different artists; two piano numbers, one ukulele, and an electric guitar. For the most part, the songs were reflective and melancholy, but I enjoyed all of them. Each musician wore a hat that represented Bob and the songs seemed from or about him, providing the only redemption for him throughout the entire show. The finale came from the front row and was the same gentleman in the same suit that I noticed at theWoman in the Raw show the previous day. He stands up and starts speaking about his deceased father. He begins a prepared speech, puts it back in his pocket and then starts berating his father for who he was and blatantly calling him an asshole at his own funeral. Damn, this was rough. I honestly could not tell if this was a reflective piece on how people are remembered or just the writer releasing some deep rooted angst. That being said, it was good overall and the actors and musicians were wonderful.

I had just enough time to process and shake off the confusing feelings brought on by Bob and was ready to finally get the entire story of the bear I witnessed on Middle Street the afternoon prior. The Murder of Gonzago¸ by Alan Irvine (Brawling Bard Theater)  is a Shakespeare–like scandal involving love affairs and murder plots, but very much a farce. Lucianus (Jared LoAlbo) is attempting to dispose of his clueless uncle Gonzago (Micheal Mykita) in order to inherit his estate to pay of his gambling debts to Mistress Ardolph (Gretchen Breslawski). No matter how hard he tries Lucianus ends up reducing the size of the staff by accidently killing a servant with each go at Gonzgo. I’m not sure I liked what this play had to say about lower income earners.  Although it may not have been the most “professional” play I saw all weekend, it was definitely the most fun.

To close out the triathlon of performances under the tent was No Late Seating; luckily I was first in line for this one, showing up a whole three hours early. This show featured the staff of a theater, each filling what I assume is a stereotype of those that work in the industry.  It was full of jokes and colorful, exaggerated characters, including the feminist leader, space cadet stoner, the creep and the one kid that tries drugs once and is never the same. The production reminded me of a sitcom pilot; had the feeling that it was just a few clips of a collection stories including those of crazy patrons and crazy coworkers.

Although my weekend of taking in shows was over, I still had one more task; find the tall old man and complete my story. I almost did not turn down the street I did as I headed toward my car but was relieved that I did when I spotted him slowly making his way down the sidewalk. Again, I yelled out “I have a coin for you!” and he stopped on the spot and turned to face me. This time he examined my coin, and handed me another one from his pocket that said “Fringe Central” on the back of it. I booked it over to Arnold’s Tea and marched right up to the main table. When I revealed my coin a birdcage full of strange looking bottle was presented to me and I was told I could choose any “elixir” I wanted. There were small and large bottles with labels such as “truth serum”. I settled on one with the tag “guaranteed afterlife” only because it was in the coolest looking bottle. I came to find out this whole adventure was put together by City of Play as an extra “show” with the festival!

That was the end of my search and basically the end of my weekend on the Fringe. I spent the rest of the afternoon in the back of a purple van with the rest of our writers, huddled around as if were about to pull off a heist while trying to decide on the awards. The award ceremony was held at The New Bohemian, which is artwork in itself, where the Golden Crows were handed out to the winners, listed below.  Thanks for tuning in and sticking with us! We’ll see you next year!


Best Show – Tales Too Tall for Trailers

Best Actor – Ryan Borgo (Hedwig and the Angry Inch)

Best Actress – Joanna Lowe (Woman in the Raw)

Best Ensemble –  Intentional Icing

Categories: Feature