10 Must-See Curated Shows at the 2015 Fringe Festival

Our Fringe Takeover will tell you all you need to know.

The Cast of A Doll's House. | Photo by Josh Mcilvain

The Cast of A Doll’s House. | Photo by Josh Mcilvain

As usual, there’s way too much to see at this year’s 19th iteration of the Fringe Festival, with 143 different events split between the “curated” shows, a.k.a. the performers who are invited and paid for by the festival, and the “independents,” a.k.a. the come-one-come-alls, which include everything from a comedy hypnosis show (ugh) to stuff you should actually see. Today, we’re focusing on the curated shows to bring you our 10 must-sees. (Click the shows’ title for ticket links.)

Underground Railroad Game

Fringe: Underground Railroad Game

Last year in New York, we had the chance to see a work-in-progress version of this hysterically uncomfortable (or perhaps uncomfortably hysterical) work about racism in the United States, and we can’t wait to see what its creators—Jenn Kidwell and Scott Sheppard—have done with it since. September 2nd to 12th at Christ Church Neighborhood House, Old City.

A Jo Stømgren Triptych

Norwegian playwright and director Jo Stømgren is no stranger to Philadelphia, having made three previous festival appearances. This time around, he offers a triptych: a retelling of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House with a cast of Philly theater familiars including Leonard Haas, Trey Lyford and Suli Holum (and if you have to pick just one of the three, make it this one); There, an original story of Soviet dissidents performed in an entirely invented language (hey, it’s the Fringe!); and complex love story The Border. September 4th to 12th at FringeArts, Old City.

After the Rehearsal/Persona

Fringe: After the Rehearsal / Persona

Nothing says Fringe quite like an Ingmar Bergman film, right? Here, acclaimed Dutch director Ivo van Hove adapts two of the late filmmaker’s screenplays. (The production of Persona includes a 10,000-gallon pool of water, representative of the lake in the film.) Van Hove has said that he’s never watched the movies, preferring to work solely from the texts. September 3rd to 5th at 23rd Street Armory, Center City.

Swamp Is On

One of Philly’s biggest bands (Dr. Dog) meets one of Philly’s most respected experimental theater companies (Pig Iron) for a bizarre-sounding concert experience. To be honest, we have no idea what to expect, which, in their hands, is fine by us. September 9th to 12th at Union Transfer, Callowhill.

Alias Ellis MacKenzie

Fringe: Alias Ellis MacKenzie

Veteran Fringe-goers are no doubt familiar with Thaddeus Phillips, who has produced some of the festival’s more inventive and entertaining concepts. In this world premiere, he teams up with cast members from Netflix’s new show Narcos as well as from a Colombian telenovela (Phillips resides in Philadelphia and Bogota) for this offbeat tale examining the war on drugs. September 11th to 19th at Prince Theater, Center City.

The Extra People

Taking the concept of audience participation to a new level, British theater creator Ant Hampton brings us the U.S. premiere of his “autoteatro” show, in which the audience members are the performers. You walk into a dark, empty theater armed with a flashlight and headphones, through which a computerized voice directs you and the adventure begins. September 17th and 18th at the Merriam Theater, Center City.

Available Light

A rare chance to see Lucinda Childs’s groundbreaking 1983 dance, with music by Pulitzer-winning minimalist composer John Adams and a set designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry. September 10th to 12th at Drexel University Armory, University City.

The 2015 Philadelphia Fringe Festival takes place September 3-19. For more information and tickets, go here