Theatre Spoken Here
July 3, 2013


by Morna Murphy Martell

I was part of the Off Off Broadway movement in New York in the 1960's when, in defiance of the entrenched Uptown Theater Establishment, young people put on audacious and original shows. It meant you might see the worst example of personal egotism, or be present when a brilliant new talent exploded into life. I saw plays by then unknowns Sam Shepard, Lanford Wilson and John Guare. I saw future stars performing in dingy halls because this work freed their spirits. Today, this is what you will find in the Fabulous Hollywood Fringe Festival.

Participation in the Festival was completely open and uncensored. These productions were by independent performers as well as local, national, and international arts companies. By opening the gates to anyone with a vision, the festival was able to exhibit diverse and cutting-edge points-of-view. There were 200 plays presented in all and, although I only got to see nine, I was delighted by the quality of each one.

9. ÆSOPERA. Though I must confess Grand Opera is not my thing, yet I could see - and certainly hear - the talent in this company. Drawing loosely from a number of lesser-known Aesop's Fables, this bravura ensemble engages us in a series of life-lessons. My favorite was the man who wants to create a flying machine and goes to the Oracle who asks him three questions about life. When he answers them correctly, she gives him the secret of flight. However, by pondering these enigmatic questions he realizes his invention can be used in war and, when his own son marches off seeking glory, the man wisely destroys his invention. Other parables were often difficult to follow as much of the words are lost in the soaring vibrations of full-throated singing. Still, opera lovers should appreciate this unique and daring show.