Orlando Fringe Review: Zero Tolerance



You’d have to be trying real hard to miss the ubiquitous slogan for Orlando Fringe this year: “Anyone Can Fringe.” While this campaign is aimed at building an audience, creating awareness that there is a wide variety of offerings at Fringe for people of all ages and creeds, it is important to remember that these three words refer to the performers as well. Granted they are selected through a random lottery, but in this unjuried festival, anyone with the funding can Fringe.

Barbara Selfridge is a sweet woman who is compelled to tell her story of the unusual familial challenges she has experienced in her 49 years. There is a story here, but Selfridge seems ill-equipped to deliver it in a one-woman show format. A solo show seems like a simple concept, but it is a deceiving undertaking; holding the attention of a group of people for 60 minutes, in any meaningful way, is no easy task, particularly in a frenetic festival with more than 90 other choices waiting outside the theatre door. If there was a director for Zero Tolerance: Sex, Math, and Seizures, it wasn’t apparent and both the piece and Selfridge are in need of guidance. The script is often confusing, as Selfridge bounces back and forth in time and it isn’t always clear where we are chronologically. I was actually startled at one point when her mom started talking, since we had already learned she was killed in a car accident. A good edit could fix this. Selfridge herself doesn’t seem to have much experience as a performer, though the voices she uses to represent other characters -- her special needs sister, the sister’s caretakers, her mom and wayward father -- are often amusing. There is a bothersome apologetic tone to the show; sometimes an apology is even muttered when she makes a mistake, sometimes an apology is built into the script, as when she criticizes her Haitian accent. You can’t help hoping that Barbara Selfridge will find some liberation in performing this project. While I long for a more polished performance, there is a larger part of me that just wants to yell, “You go, girl!” I may be conjecturing a lot here, but it looks as though Selfridge is trying something different, at what is conventionally considered late in life, and that should be encouraged. I’ll do you one better than “Anyone Can Fringe” and say anyone can art, a fact that we often forget, and I applaud Selfridge for having the stones to get on the boards. I should note that I was seeing this show during a preview, which can be a greatly unfair circumstance for performers, and apparently we were one of the first -- if not the first -- audiences seeing the piece, which was having its world premiere later that evening.   ZERO TOLERANCE: SEX, MATH, AND SEIZURES Bárbara Selfridge - Oakland, CA Length: 60 minutes Venue: Brown Price: $10 (+svc. charge) Disc.: FA |FV |STU |SR |People w/ disabilities (wheelchair, etc.) Rating: 13+ -  

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