Fringe of Marin One-Act Play Festival Celebrates 25 Years!

The Fringe of Marin is one of the oldest Fringe Festivals in the country and the oldest in the San Francisco Bay Area.  The Fringe of Marin is now celebrating its 25th season with some of the most innovative work of San Francisco Bay Area playwrights, directors, and actors.

Established by Dr. Annette Lust in 1985, who was a professor at Dominican University and who continued to run the festival until her death two years ago in late February.  At this time, Gina Pandiani, Dominican alum who graduated in 1985, stepped up to the plate as Managing Director to make sure that the show will continue to go on at the Fringe of Marin.

This review is centered on Program B which consists of four plays and one monologue.  Program B was presented on Saturday, May 2, and Friday, May 8 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 10 at 2:00 p.m. at Angelico Hall at Dominican University.

Program B opened with Chill, written and directed by Nathan Day.  In Chill, a bickering young couple, Suzy (Iris Mallgren) and Bobby (Nick Coelius) are dressed in bathing suits and sitting in beach chairs.  It is supposed to be warm, but they’re freezing to death.  They wrap their beach towels around themselves.  Bobby’s towel is very patriotic – like the American flag.  Chill was well cast with a good contrast in character.  It was well directed with a lot of laughs from the audience.

That light satirical play was followed by Wii, written and directed by Gary Green.  Stacey Anderson plays Sharon, a transgender (who was Liam’s father but is now Liam’s mother).  Nico Canivet, a child actor plays Liam, who was trying to make a difficult adjustment.  Director Gary Green should have moved the important scene on the couch forward toward the audience instead of at the back.  Nico Canivet is wonderful as Liam in a challenging role.

The last play before intermission was Alby and Me, written, directed, and acted by veteran Fringe favorite, Steve North.  Steve North is a real pro, who has performed stand-up comedy at the Marsh in Berkeley.  Steve has a great sense of comic timing, and he had the audience roaring with laughter as an aging actor trying to remember his lines.  He carries a script as a prop.  “Alby,” in the title, comes from the albatross which he drags in at the end from the Rime of the Ancient Mariner.  Steve North has the skill to keep the audience in the palm of his hand.

The second half of Program B opened with Sheroe by Nick Hadikwa Mwaluko and directed by Sydney Painter.  In this play, Jasmine Williams plays Cheryl, who is visited by the ghost of her dead Mother, skillfully played by Paige L. Mayes.  This play was beautifully acted and directed.

The final play of Program B was Safe House written and directed by Fringe Festival veteran Charley Lerrigo.  In Safe House, a hurricane drives the Sheriff John Hurlbut, solidly performed by Bruce Carlton to the safe house of Hattie Peterson, a long-time friend, seductively portrayed by Sanna Cook.  She offers the sheriff something warm to drink and sets about to seduce him.

Program A was performed on Friday, May 1, Saturday, May 2, and Saturday May 9 at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday May 2, at 2:00 p.m., at Angelico Hall.

At the end of the Festival program, Gina Pandiani announced the 2015 Fringe of Marin winners.  All of the winners were from Program B, except for the Best Ensemble, called Pizza Man from Program A.  These are the results:

Best Director: Sidney Painter
Runner-Up: Gary Green

Best Male Performance: Nico Canivet
Runner-Up: Nick Coelius

Best Female Performance: Jasmine Williams and Paige L. Mayes
Runner-Up: Iris Mallgren

Best Ensemble: the cast of Pizza Man

Best Play: Sheroe
Runner-Up: Chill

What a wealth of talent I witnessed in Program B, of directors, actors, and playwrights!

Congratulations to Gina Pandiani for keeping the show going on!

Flora Lynn Isaacson

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