John Ulman

Bumbershoot Guide

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Bumbershoot 2010

Monsters of Alt

TV Pilots vs. Baboon Attacks

Previews of Every Single Thing Happening at the Festival

People's Republic of Komedy vs. People's Republic of China

The Stranger's 2012 Bumbershoot Guide!

The Stranger's 2011 Bumbershoot Guide!

Our Massive 2013 Bumbershoot Guide

Bumbershoot 2009

Gogol Bordello vs. DeVotchka

The Stranger's Bumbershoot Guide

How Does It Feel to Be Back?

Mad Ruins

The Bob Dylan Torture Test

Still a Gigolo!

Touch Me, I'm Sub Pop's Warehouse Manager

The Shins vs. Their Future

Here's What We Think of Every Damn Thing Happening at This Year's Festival

Give It to Me Easy

Rock, Chunk, or Rule

Fergie vs. Jackson Pollock

Bumbershoot 2009

Emerald Shitty

De La Soul for Life

Hari's Big Break

Friday, August 31

I'm More Than Hair

Yes, Aloha!

Let Them Bring You Brown

Countdown to Courtney

John Ulman

The Nexus Project is the closest thing to a fringe festival Seattle has seen since its actual fringe festival went down in a blaze of ignominy and finger-pointing five years ago.

In 12 short plays by 12 Seattle writers—with the exception of N.Y.-based Mike Daisey—the regulars have reported for duty: Stephanie Timm, Paul Mullin, Scot Augustson, Marya Sea Kaminski, Elizabeth Heffron, and so on. The results, for a festival, are surprisingly entertaining.

Normally, the very idea of a fringe festival inspires a special terror: interminable performances inflicted on friends, theater critics, and other suckers who—for love or for duty—have been swindled into watching hours of half-baked crap. To its credit, the Nexus Project (produced by a new company called Next Stage) inspires nostalgia for what's good about a fringe festival: a soup of new work, a pastiche of the city's zeitgeist, and the happy surprises writers dig out of themselves when they're pressed against a deadline.

The plays are a grab bag, from dour liberal bromides (Seattle Weekly columnist John Longenbaugh on waterboarding) to farces of ghost stories (Augustson, in top form, lampooning the old phantom-hitchhiker trope) to burlesque (Waxie Moon re-creating famous striptease scenes from All About Eve and The Graduate).

This Loamy Excellence, written by Daisey, begins with two bourgeois bohemians in inflatable kiddie pools, slathering themselves with some brown sticky substance. The woman (Angie Manning Goodwill) says to the man (Alex Samuels): "I've hired Mexicans before, as one does, so I thought: 'Why not have a conscience?'" She's hired Mexicans to protest the war for her. And she's fucking one of them, "because he's exotic." The man is aroused by her politics, her lust, and her French bulldog named Social Responsibility. Though he's moved to NYC, Daisey clearly has the sins of Seattle stuck in his nostrils.

Slumber, by Heffron, is a comical cycle of microplays about people sleeping on couches in increasingly improbable situations. It begins with a husband asking his wife about the stranger sleeping on their couch: "I told you I took a lover!" she shouts, exasperated. (He's Russian, drunk, and passed out while waiting for his vodka.) Slumber progresses through two creepy men lurking over a woman sleeping on their couch, trying to figure out whether one of them hit her with his car while he was blacked-out drunk, to a merry Irishman who's dragged his embalmed wife from the mortuary to live on his couch (she won't ever decompose, he explains, because "she's mostly plastic now") and back to the drunken Russian lover.

Like the best of The Nexus Project, it's fast, funny, and delightfully fucked up. recommended