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Fringe Festival Reviews: Solo Shows

Patient 13 (left) and My Dead Dad (right) are just two of the many Hollywood Fringe Festival solo shows this year focusing on personal trauma of various kinds.

The Hollywood Fringe Festival has dozens of solo shows covering addictions, obsessions, coming of age and overcoming trauma of various kinds. Here are two shows addressing trauma medical and parental (with a little bit of traumatic crossover).

Patient 13

Patient 13 and My Dead Dad are just two of many Hollywood Fringe Festival entries this year dealing with various kinds of trauma.
Patient 13’s Gail Thomas.

Gail Thomas has seen a few things. She’s fearless, leaving behind a career as a lawyer in Oklahoma to pursue her storytelling, acting, photography, and romantic dreams in New York. She’s brutally honest, describing the failures of a long quasi-relationship and several of her internal organs in detail that sometimes crosses into the TMI zone.

Billed as a story about Thomas’ experience as the 13th patient in an FDA study of psychedelics, Patient 13 spends 40 of its 50 minutes laying groundwork for a happy ending of magic mushroom bliss. Luckily the backstory about two people unable to commit and a gynecological nightmare are compelling, if sometimes icky.

Thomas, a Moth Story SLAM winner, has a winning way and a lot of shocking details. From “defensive dating” to a string of doctors, this is a story of a strong woman who kicked cancer and got rid of the toxic people in her life. Thomas reminds us all to participate fully in life, to trust and let go. And she leaves you wondering where you can get your hands on some psilocybin.

Patient 13 has three performances remaining, through June 21 at the Broadwater Black Box, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd. at Lillian Way. For dates and times and to purchase tickets, click here.

My Dead Dad

Sam Jae, creator of My Dead Dad. Photo by Andrew Max Levy.

Father-son relationships are complicated, so mixed feelings are understandable. But if they’re too mixed, a story becomes murky. Comedian Sam Jae opens his show describing how terrified he was of his angry, yelling, “Breaking Bad Dad.” His dad called him out for his weight and tried to force him into a macho mold (“You can’t fail if you don’t try!”) before dying when Jae was 15. Was his dad cruel? Misguided? Loving and kind? All of the above?

Jae’s story starts out on the cruel side and ends, posthumously, on the kind. Dad was domineering and distant. Except when he was involved and caring. See? Complicated. Jae has a lot to work out. It feels like maybe this show will help.

My Dead Dad has two remaining performances, Sat., June 10 at 8:30 and Thursday, June 22 at 6:30pm at the Hudson Guild Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd. at Hudson. For specific showtimes and to purchase tickets, click here. The show is listed as 45 minutes, but the performance I saw ran long.

Here are some other picks for solo shows:

Sister from Another Planet by Nancy Beverly

Getting There by Rebecca O’Brien

Odyssey, Race and Racism by Levy Lee Simon (directed by Juliette Jeffers)

Being 80: Too Old to Change? by Art Shulman

M.A.D.D About the Boy by Roni Gayer (directed and co-written by Nico Fife)

Hypomanic by Stephanie Matsuba

How to Be an Ending by Elena Rosa

I Feel the Need by Naval aviator Loree “Rowdy” Draude

Jackie by Everleigh Brenner

Criminal Defence: A Comedy by Murray Meyer

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Laura Foti Cohen
Laura Foti Cohen
Laura Foti Cohen has lived in the Brookside neighborhood since 1993. She works as a freelance writer, editor and consultant. She's also a playwright affiliated with Theatre West.

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