“That was really fun. I can’t believe that was in Greenfield!”
On Friday night, this town once again shined a light on the creative talent that’s in such abundance in our valley by staging 11 different dramatic performances in eleven unusual venues all within walking distance in downtown Greenfield.
The opening night of the two-day Double Take Fringe Festival brought theater-goers directly into the path of the oncoming performances. It was the ultimate in performance art—staged in a series of improvised stages in a local bar, in the GCTV studios and in a wonderful little theater that no one knew was tucked into the second floor of Greenfield’s most popular restaurant, Hope and Olive.
In one show, entitled “There is Such a Thing as a Tesseract, performed in the cavernous former Carr Hardware building, we witness a complex dream sequence, wordlessly performed by 10 actors in six different rooms of the building. It’s a memory palace, roughly based on Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, where we follow a young woman through a convoluted series of silent scenes depicting losing her father and reuniting with her family.
But the details are not important…it’s a dream…and the best part is how the audience follows the actors from room to room, like paparazzi tailing a movie star. At one point we all squeezed into a small room for a scene where they were having dinner, and the actor, Aaron Kagan, regally swept us aside to clear a path for him and the other actors to proceed to the next scene.
It was complicated, but there was so much more to see, so we left our friends there and proceeded to the next venue, five blocks up to the GCTV studios. It was a nice, invigorating break before we plunged into the next show, this one, “All the King’s Women.”
Like many of the evenings performances this was a sliver of a longer show, in this case, two women’s depictions of their brushes with the King Himself, Elvis Presley. In the original play, we see Elvis through 17 different women’s eyes, tonight we saw two. Monologues can be hard to pull off, but both women did a good job captivating the audience and re-creating the energy and the swoons that so many people had after they’d spent even a few minutes in the presence of the King himself.
We had another venue to visit…this one perhaps the most surprising. Above Hope and Olive, in the former Polish Club, we climbed stairs to the second floor, walked past a barely used pool table and into a large room that could seat about 150, portioned in half with chairs facing a very nice small stage. Here was the setting for two of the festival’s performances, Cold Storage, and Shrink.
It was hard to believe that Shrink! was an improvised play, but indeed, it was, performed by the Ha-Ha’s, billed as “The Valley’s ultimate improv comedy troupe.” The earned their title with this very funny short play that rotated in a cast of patients and two psychiatrists coping with both their own problems and the challenges of their crazy patients.
In the next room from where the stage is, a beautiful old bar that was once graced by members of Greenfield’s esteemed Polish club is where the friendly proprietor of Hope and Olive, Jim Zaccara, served beer and wine. It was a lovely setting and begged the question, when is the next performance going to be held in here?