Five More From Frigid Festival, Opening Tonight

The Frigid New York theater festival starts today and runs until March 4. Earlier this month, The Local recommended five must-see shows that previewed in “snippet” form. Last night at Under St. Marks, some of the cavalcade’s out-of-town participants (Frigid was co-founded by the group that started the San Francisco Fringe Festival and is part of the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals) offered similar glimpses into shows that were decidedly more personal and eccentric, but not necessarily as recommendable.

While the locals skewed toward ensemble comedy or musical, the travelers tended toward one-man or one-woman shows. “The Rope in Your Hands,” for instance, is a one-woman show about Hurricane Katrina survivors – similar in conceit to “nine/twelve tapes” – in which playwright Siobhan O’Laughlin dramatizes actual interviews that she conducted in New Orleans. Her transformation into an opinionated black engineer was disconcerting at first, but the audience ultimately approved.

“Musical Pawns” is a musical dramatization of a Jewish family hiding from the Nazis in the early 1940s, and the semi-fictional tale of how Russian composer David Nowakowsky’s music manuscripts made it from France to the United States. Last night, Toni MacRae, an adult actress, played six-year-old boy Alexandre – convincingly, in fact – before producer Ron Graner took the stage to serenade the audience with a song he wrote about Occupy Wall Street. Hopefully this will not be included in the actual show.

In the preview for “Man Saved by Condiments,” a man (played by Tim Uren) sat in a chair in ragged clothes, yelling at a hot sauce packet as though it was his lady love Justine. The play is based on the true story of a man who was forced to live off of condiments for five days after surviving a car crash. In real life, this was surely harrowing. On stage? Pretty funny, actually.

Two outliers were “Initium/Finis” and “Coosje” (pronounced “Koosha”), which may have more narrative arc in their full-length versions, but in short form appeared basically absurd. In the former (produced by Theater Reverb, whose works have been called “pre-Modern Postmodernism of Tristan Tzara and Dada”), words and images were projected behind an unlit dancer. The latter, which imagines artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen retreating into the world of their sculptures when Coosje becomes ill, featured a lovely song about self-awareness – sung, of course, by an intrepid female pear.