Conceptual Art: “the notion that the essence of art is an idea, or concept, and may exist distinct from and in the absence of an object as its representation.”
Conceptual Theatre: Glory Us, a new play by Madeline Farrington now playing at The Fridge at Eastern Market.
The play takes the concept of a Glory Hole (“A hole located in a partition in which one’s penis is inserted, thus separating the participants and ensuring anonymity throughout the act of copulation or fellatio (or possibly a titty wank”).
…combines that with Tinder (“…a location-based dating and social discovery application [using Facebook] that facilitates communication between mutually interested users, allowing matched users to chat” and hookup)…
…adds a sexually liberated family dynamic with a grandmother who uses anal beads…
…throws in the death of a brother and father and then a grandmother…
…has strong female leads and a “non-white person”…
And you’ve got Glory Us, as in “glorious,” as in a direct address, sexual medley for the electronically horny (and lonely) modern world.
Directed by Emily Canavan, Glory Us stars Madeline Farrington, the playwright, as herself. She wants to write a play, but she is “stuck” and “stuck” and “stuck.” Her performance is straightforward and oddly disconcerting.
Her lead character, Seersha (Cristen Stephansky), wants an anonymous, i.e., zipless, fuck but her Tinder applicants don’t rock her world. Stephansky’s performance is straightforward and coy.
Then she meets, or rather messages, Matt (Harvey Fitz). He’s just left an ill-fated glory hole encounter where he had fortune cookie style notes taped to his penis. Fitz’s performance is straightforward and hip.
Madeline’s grandmother, Ellen (Susan Gross), encourages her “stuck” granddaughter to keep writing even though the play seems “stuck” without a plot of any kind except for the lead character’s search for the satisfying hookup. Gross plays straightforward while eating lots of chocolate.
Then it turns out that for the playwright Madeline the sexually engrossed Seersha and Matt represent Madeline’s parents, which grosses out her dead brother, the play’s narrator (Mitch Irzinski), who doesn’t want his parents portrayed in such a crude fashion. Irzinski’s narrator is straightforward but his brother captures genuine disgust at what he sees is sexually perverse.
Eventually, Stephansky replaces Irzinski as the narrator and Farrington replaces Stephansky as the woman in need of a good fuck and we’re off.
To be sure, Glory Us combines funny and sad, desperately lonely with outrageously corny in interesting and unique ways.
Its lack of an identifiable scenography seems perfectly apt for this production presented in the style of a staged reading, with actors off book. We focus on the text, and the texts, as well as the dick pics (not shown) and the one bra strap with hint of boob pic (not seen).
Glory Us gives new meaning to the term “anonymous” in that “intimate anonymity” has become an oxymoron for the 21st century.
Is such a thing even possible? Is the confessional with its anonymous sinner ever really intimate?
The play would suggest that an intimate anonymity is not possible, as the characters reveal little about themselves. In fact, the characters remain anonymous even to themselves, up to and through the bitter end.
Running Time: Approximately 60 minutes, with no intermission.
Glory Us plays through December 13, 2015 at The Fridge – 516 1/2 8th Street, SE, in Washington, DC.
The Fridge is at 516 1/2 8th Street, SE, in Washington, DC, 20003 in the adorable alley between 8th and 9th Streets. The alley is between Belga Cafe and Senart’s Oyster & Chop House, across the street from Matchbox Pizza on 8th Street, SE, Barracks Row in Eastern Market. If you’re taking Metro, exit the Eastern Market Station (orange and blue lines) and go straight towards the Starbucks on the corner. Turn right on 8th, and walk two blocks to the alley.
A Look at ‘Glory Us’ by Playwright Madeline Farrington at The Fridge Starting 12/4.