We've been busy rehearsing our suspects for their stories in our Capital Fringe Festival edition of Perfect Liars Club (get your tickets soon - they're selling fast!), but in a fit of storytelling gluttony this weekend, we also went to Speakeasy DC's Story Showdown at the Dance Place in Brookland. First, can I comment that the last time I went to Dance Place, Brookland felt like a bit of a wasteland. This weekend the area was bustling with cool new businesses. We went to the soft opening of Smith Public Trust - a new hipster haunt with exposed brick, craft beers and cool food choices aplenty. I was very impressed with their food - their nachos were delicious, their matchstick fries a treat, their arugula salad tasty, but the star of the show for me was the edamame hummus plate. Delightful. And then to the Dance Place for the storytelling event I've enjoyed most my entire time in DC. Turning storytelling into a The Price Is Right gameshow format looked like it was a huge amount of work, but it was inspired, hilarious, and very engaging. At one point I got to be a contestant, and was very smug to win a Ken Barbie doll by proving my memory skills on the details of a story I'd just heard. All I want to do now is go to more story nights with special themes!
But it's not all storytelling. Thanks to the gloriously cheap tickets offered by the Goldstar app, we ended up at the theatre no less than three times last week! First up was Buyer and Cellar at the Shakespeare Theatre. Since the run is finished now, I won't dwell on it, except to say that this one man storytelling-type show about an imagined experience of a gay actor employed to work in Barbara Streisand's fake shopping mall in her basement delivered an excellent performance, some laughs, some poignant moments, and a quiet feeling that someone should have edited about 30 minutes out of the script.
Next up was Grounded at the Studio Theatre, which happily has been extended til July 6th so you still have a chance to see it. A one-woman show about the impact of drone warfare on the soldiers who have been transferred from the battlefield to an office where they wage war by remote control and go home to their families in the evenings. It isn't the show to go to if you're hoping for something heartwarming and upbeat... but the performance is powerful, the script is excellent, and the themes are thoughtful. Definitely worth checking it out. I was intrigued because I'm always complaining about unconvincing British accents... but this play features a British actress doing an American accent, which sounded fine to me. I'd love to know if Americans think she pulled it off convincingly?
Finally, after a beautiful 9 mile cycle along the Mount Vernon Trail and Four Mile Run, made a tad less beautiful by the sunstroke I acquired while doing it (sorry, Busboys and Poets in Shirlington, for my dizzy, hysterical wail for water when I arrived!), we went to the Signature Theatre. We had never been before, but so many of the Helen Hayes award-winning shows came from there that we decided we had to check it out. I can't imagine Cloak and Dagger will be winning one of these awards next year, but I thought it was quite good. It's a musical whodunnit set in New York, a sort of combination of 50s film noir, pantomime, and Andrew Lloyd Webber. The performances were strong, and there were lots of funny and charming bits. If you fancy that, it's on til 6th July too. Signature Theatre is not public-transport-friendly, perhaps, but other than the blazing sun, I can't fault the lovely cycle, and a matinee, combined with a Busboys and Poets brunch practically next door: makes for a pleasing day out.
On Friday we enjoyed one of the 'mix at the museum' events put on by the Smithsonian Association. It was themed around the Natural History Museum's DNA exhibition, and they'd made a good effort, with lots of scientists on hand to do various demonstrations of gene-related fun. Though I was quite bitter at the exhibit where you drank lemon juice, then took a pill, then the lemon juice tasted sweet. That was all very well, but I had a delicious 'gene and tonic' cocktail I was looking forward to afterwards, and the side effect of the pill was to render it quite unpleasant! They also had a guy telling gene-related stories from a book he'd published, but sadly right next to the area where the scientists were loudly doing their demonstrations - so nobody could hear anything. While it was definitely not as cool as their Postal Museum event in the winter, we had fun - it's definitely worth checking out these events.
What is a summer weekend without paddleboarding? On Friday we got up early and tried out Key Bridge Boathouse's 7am community paddle. It's a lovely idea - for the price of paddleboard rental (or free if you have a season pass), the boathouse staff take everyone out on a friendly pre-work paddle up the Potomac. It was a delightful start to the day, not too hot yet, and a really nice experience. Plus they let you try their fancy racing paddleboards... Though during the paddle, we heard tell of a secret waterfall. So on Sunday we hopped onto the paddleboards by ourselves and went on an expedition to find it. And aha - we found TWO waterfalls we'd never seen before. One is not-so-secret: look under the bridge opposite the rocks known as the three sisters... but the other is a little further up, on the Virginia side of the river. Good luck, explorers!
And leaving the most glamorous for last, yesterday evening, my lovely wife and I went to a party at the White House. With the Obamas. Oh yes, ladies and gentlemen, last night we were part of the gay glitterati. As we entered the house itself, what greeted us? Sure, a big Harvey Milk stamp thing. Sure, a cool military band playing swing-type music. Okay, so there were views out one side to Lafayette Square, and down to the Washington Monument on the other side, from behind the famous white columns. There was Californian sparkling wine in rainbow bottles. And great, Obama did a lovely speech about LGBT rights. But ladies and gentlemen, there was... a cake buffet. You know how I feel about a cake buffet. And in the White House too. What a delight.
What sounds cool in Washington in the coming week
Pah, July 4th week is never the best week for cool things to do. But we'll manage:
Tuesday 1st July - not sure if it'll be too meta/in-joke-ish, but the fabulous Capital City Showcase Roast comedy show is doing a Roast of its own venue, The Brixton, tonight.
Wednesday 2nd July - watch Clueless at NoMA Summer Screen since the Woodrow WIlson House vintage games night is all sold out - but get on their website on 3rd July to buy tickets for next month!
Thursday 3rd July - celebrate America at the Phillips Collection After 5 event. Or if you're feeling patriotic but saucy, the W Hotel has a Strip the District burlesque show... And if you're feeling like something not 4th July related, there's an 8x8 show with comedy, storytelling and music - you need to RSVP here to get in.
Friday 4th July - For an air conditioned daytime activity, the Big Maze at the Building Museum opens today. For later, The District Insider lists the best places to watch the fireworks.
Over the weekend? I can't currently find anything cool. I'm going out of town! But if anything comes up in the interim, I'll add it here.