As you know, I'm not reviewing Fringe shows out of solidarity and angst... but I'll tell you what else I've been up to this week.
I checked out the first in the Dumbarton House Jane Austen outdoor movie festival series, Emma, and it was really lovely. Everyone sits on the grass behind Dumbarton House, and the setting is idyllic. Plus you can buy wine and popcorn. A charming evening. And free. Sense and Sensibility's tomorrow... If you're more of an indoor cinema kinda person, I also really recommend Boyhood, which I saw at Landmark E Street Cinema. This is a subtle, beautifully rendered examination of a young boy's life as he grows up - shot over 12 years! The fun of watching the family age is sufficient novelty to attract to this film, but it was also very enjoyable.
I also went to Carrie The Musical at the Studio Theatre. I may be the only person in the world who hasn't seen Carrie the horror film (due to excessive levels of fear) but I accidentally won tickets, so commandeered a stoic friend into holding my hand at the scary bits. In fact the musical is not really scary. But it is excellent. This tale of an unpopular girl oppressed by school bullies and her overprotective, religious mother, til she cracks did not seem at first glance conducive to the musical genre. But the songs are great, the energy fizzes, the performances are delicate and intimate and well realized and haunting and powerful, and the story is compelling. This is absolutely worth seeing. It's on til 3rd August.
I was feeling quite impressed with Carrie til I went to the Shakespeare Theatre last night to see a National Theatre Live production from London, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. I loved the National Theatre when I lived in London, and it is an absolute treat that they are recording some of their best plays and streaming them to theatres around the world. If you want to see what I consider to be absolute top class theatre: script, performances, staging, the works, go see this show. It is on once more, on Thursday, and you'd be mad not to go if you love theatre. It surpasses anything I've seen this year.
We went to a science-themed comedy night at Bier Baron, A Scientist Walks Into A Bar, and while the comedy was of course variable in quality, Adam Ruben was hilarious - and nice to get some intelligent comedy. Feels like this could evolve into something like the UK's Bright Club. Alas I think it was just a one-off for now... The Bier Baron is a great venue - I especially liked their strawberries and nutella dish. I'm going to pretend I didn't lick the plate...
After living in DC for ages, walking in Rock Creek Park between Georgetown and the zoo, and cycling down Beach Drive, we always loved Rock Creek Park, but we knew there was more to it. And this weekend we found it. We took an Uber up to Boundary Bridge, from which point two different trails (Valley Trail and Western Ridge Trail), each around 5 miles long, start, veering down either side of the park, down to the zoo. We chose Western Ridge as a random website said it was Rock Creek Park's hidden gem. And it was rather lovely. Entirely surrounded by trees, and with a nice, demarcated dirt track, we ambled up hill and down dale and across an occasional stream, past the park visitor center, across a few roads interrupting the trail, and had a really nice walk. We veered off at the zoo to Adams Morgan, for a tasty reward lunch at Tryst.
We also went on a super-paddleboard, further up the Potomac than we've gone before, since the weather was so lovely this weekend. On the riverbanks there were deer. In the water there were turtles. I felt far from Washington. Though I was probably in reality only about a mile from the boathouse! Tip: take water. I nearly got sunstroke and had to beg some from a friendly family on a boat tethered in our path!
And we went to the Big Maze at the Building Museum. As an enthusiast of their annual summer minigolf, I was interested to see this summer's interactive offering: the Big Maze, especially as I love mazes. It costs $17 to get in, as part of the museum's general admission, and alas, is not really worth it in my opinion. It's made of a sort of plywood, like walking around something made in Ikea. It has a few dead ends, but the whole thing is easily solvable in under 5 minutes. (you can go in as many times as you want - we went twice). But what moves the maze experience from dull to unpleasant is the massive flow of shrieking, running children who tear through the maze, screaming at you to get out of the way as they attempt to solve the maze at high speed. Which might sound charming, but if you're a grown up trying to enjoy the experience, don't hold out too much hope. It's like being in a children's playground. Which is maybe what it's designed for... The only thing that was nice was looking up from within the maze, at new perspectives on the lovely architecture of the building museum. If you plan to visit the big maze, and don't plan to have ten squealing, running children in tow, they have some late night openings which I very much recommend as the way to enjoy the maze.
What cool stuff is happening this week
It's the last week of Capital Fringe Festival, so go see cool stuff! And also Carrie at Studio Theatre. Especially as there's not loads of other compelling one-off activities this week. But here's a few, and I'll add more if they cross my radar:
Wed 23rd - It's Sense and Sensibility at Dumbarton House's Jane Austen outdoor movie screening tonight, free but with wine and popcorn for purchase.
Thu 24th - You'd be crazy not to get tickets for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time if you're interested in world class theatre - they're only $20 and there are currently tickets left. But if not, the city's self-billed largest underground art show, Pancakes and Booze, is happening, with over 50 emerging artists, body painting, and an all-you-can-eat pancake bar. It's at Penn Social.
Fri 25th and Sat 26th - learn about space stuff with fancy pictures and top experts... to the sounds of funky jazz? Yes, that does sound both cool and a bit mad. I don't have a full vision of what this event is, but it is quite possibly quite awesome: Life Out There: A Space Journey with the House Band of the Universe - and word on the street is if you log on to the Smithsonian Associates website (which you have to do to buy tix anyway), and use the promo code 205703, you reduce the cost from $42 to a delightful $25.
Tue 29th - Intrigued by the sound of Little Salon, in a house in Pleasant Plains. It seems to be a sort of art/literature/music salon. Could potentially be very cool indeed. BYOB.