Asian Story Theatre's "There and Home Again: More Stories from the Sun Cafe."
The 18tth San Diego International Fringe Festival is under way in multiple venues downtown. Some highlights from the first weekend:
• Asian Story Theatre’s “There and Home Again: More Stories from the Sun Café” is a poignant and personal piece that is part history lesson, part dramatic re-enactments. In a gripping hour of vignettes, the company’s talented cast covers a lot of ground, from the Japanese-American internment camps to the fledgling days of San Diego’s downtown neighborhoods. Historic images projected on a screen and iconic music from the ‘40s accompany much of the storytelling in the intimate (though acoustically challenged) Geoffrey theater space inside the Spreckels. But “There and Home Again …” is foremost a family story, with the bygone (at least in its original conception) Sun Café the home base for tales of love and sacrifice and perseverance.
“There and Home Again: More Stories from the Sun Café” will be performed again on Tuesday, June 26, at 6 p.m., and Saturday, June 30, at 7:30 p.m.
• “The Magic in This Soul” is Blindspot Collective’s treatise on discrimination, adapted from more than 100 interviews that local high school students conducted with members of San Diego communities – in particular those marginalized or victimized by the ignorant, small-minded and hate-filled. In the one-hour production directed by Blake McCarty, 10 Blindspot performers tell the stories of those judged and oppressed because of the color of their skin, their sexual preference or gender identification, or because of a disability. In the age of the Trump presidency, their true stories are all the more heart-rending. Trump should see “The Magic in This Soul.” So should you.
“The Magic in This Soul” will be performed again Wednesday, June 27, at 9 p.m., Friday, June 29, at 9 p.m. and Saturday, June 30, at 7:30 p.m., all in the Lyceum Space at the San Diego Rep.
• Performer Tyler West says barely a word in his pantomime-heavy one-man show “Abeyance,” but he doesn’t really need to. He’s that skilled at sounding like a gurgling water cooler or making you believe he’s out on the ledge of a tall building with pigeons perched on every appendage of his body. The most fun comes when the tireless West recruits audience members to improv a few bits with him, so be prepared to be recruited if you attend one of his two remaining shows at the Bristol Hotel on First Avenue.
“Abeyance” will be performed again on Saturday, June 30, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, July 1, at 4 p.m.
• Audience participation is also inevitable, but even more fun than at “Abeyance,” in mind reader Mark Toland’s show in the Geoffrey. Amazing is the only way to describe the things Toland pulls off in a fast-moving exhibition of telepathy, with attendees as subjects. Toland’s also a quick wit, which should entertain even the most stubborn skeptics. But by the end of his show, you probably will be a believer yourself.
“Mark Toland: Mind Reader” will be performed again on Tuesday, June 26, at 9 p.m., Friday, June 29, at 9 p.m., and Saturday, June 30, at 4 p.m.
Have fun at the Fringe! It’s a San Diego summertime tradition that puts Comic-Con to shame.
David L. Coddon is theater critic for San Diego CityBeat