The Hollywood Fringe Festival, for those who are unaware, is an annual June theatre festival meant to showcase new and exciting pieces and talents in the Los Angeles area. As a theatre student, it’s something I’ve known about for a while but have never really had the time, and let’s be honest, the funds, to attend. However, when my sister, a recent college graduate with a degree in Theatre Arts, specifically focusing on lighting and sound design, reminded me that she was stage managing a show her friends had created and were performing in (“8:03”), I was easily persuaded into going – and into writing about it. First and foremost, I admit my bias: as I said, my sister is heavily involved, and I’ve known the creators/performers of the show, Adam Dlugolecki, Kent Jenkins, and Jakob Berger, for some time. While my complete and total enjoyment of the show may be based in affection for those involved, what is not affected by my bias is the show’s overwhelmingly positive feedback from press and audience members alike, as well as its status as a “Pick of the Fringe” show, meaning that of the over 100 shows that are part of the Fringe Festival, “8:03” is one of the twenty chosen to be one of the best shows of the year.
Although I was initially thrown off by how crowded and noisy it was inside the small, hole-in-the-wall theatre on the outskirts of Hollywood (there were two shows playing at the same time right next to each other), I was pleasantly surprised by the comfort and intimacy the actual black box space provided. Upon entering the theatre, you are asked to put three coins into a water jug, handed a crumbled-up program, and find yourself looking at Berger perched on top of a large chest, holding a distressed Chinese umbrella, with a minimalist set beside him – a position he holds for nearly fifteen minutes. The fifty-five minute performance relies heavily on movement and very little on speech, with only one word, “Gopkins,” being used through the entirety of the show. It is a captivating and provoking piece that plays with timing, music and sound, and the breaking of a predetermined and programmed thought process. The tagline on the program itself reads, “3 characters going in circles until they realize they are 3 characters…” in a continuous circle, so that the audience member is reading the same thing over and over again. Visually stunning, exceedingly well choreographed, and perfectly cued in each moment, 8:03 holds the audience in its firm, and oftentimes comedic, grasp. It is post-modern theatre at its finest, and tells a story of discomfort, loss, and existence when nothing is as it once was.
It isn’t difficult to imagine how these three men, who collectively make up the Scherzo Theatre Company, came up with the concept while in their final year of college (they’ve now been out of school for a year). Each man exudes a unique and engaging character, even without the use of speech, and each actor is able to portray the story to perfection with just the slightest change of expression. With a company name that means “I play” in Italian, a title that marks the exact time the show began during its initial run, and a play that incorporates varied and fascinating art forms, it’s hard to imagine why anyone would want to miss out on this thought-provoking work of art. With only two performances left – June 21st at 12:03pm and June 25th at 6:03pm – and tickets at the low price of thirteen dollars per performance, this is a show you absolutely do not want to miss.
Article by Lizzie McDowell.