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Capital Fringe 2014 Review: ‘The Circle’

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The Circle by banished? Productions might be one of your most unique experiences at the Fringe. The entire play takes place outside using Dupont Circle, Connecticut Avenue, and some surrounding shops as its stage. As you listen to the 27-minute audio track you downloaded beforehand onto your device, a guide walks you through neighborhood, occasionally crossing paths with a vignette of physical theatre played out by the two main performers Carrie Monger and Amanda Abrams or some other tactile event that corresponds with the soundtrack.

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The story of this production follows a time-traveler (who we only ever hear on the audio track) looking back on her younger self, both of whom are semi-autobiographical representations of the playwright Juanita Rockwell, a Dupont native. The story is a blend of vague sci-fi that revels in slice-of-life moments as her younger self moves through a typical day as a teenager.

You’ll have to forgive me for being pretty vague about this performance because what made this experience so special was the sense of discovery one felt while being inundated with sensory information. The soundtrack and the performances are a lot to take in on their own, so it’s easy to just be overwhelmed by the movement, sounds, and smells of the city while in the mindset of an active audience member. I know I began to look at DC in a way I never had before while participating in this bit of performance art.

While the dancing of Monger (who also served as the choreographer) and Abrams seemed a bit under rehearsed and not yet fully formed, the bits of movement set a good tone for the show. I was a tad confused by some aspects of the show such as the ages of the characters, the thought behind some of the more abstract moments, and the overall journey of the protagonist through her past. There was no apparent thematic through-line to tie the whole show together outside of nostalgia and fond remembrance, however, this show can be enjoyed on its own terms as an experience in urban exploration. Although I preferred not to interact with the actresses, those who enjoy audience interaction will be delighted by the plethora of opportunities to become part of the show.

If you’re looking for a unique experience and have a wide-open mind to what the word theatre can mean, then The Circle is for you.

Running Time: 50 minutes.

The Circle plays through July 22, 2014 outside of the Dupont Circle Metro Street entrance in Washington DC.  For more information, visit their Capital Fringe Page.

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