Click the “all shows” link at the 2015 Edinburgh Festival Fringe site and you get 3,556 results. By comparison I count 46 for the Chicago Fringe Festival, excluding special features like the No Shame Open Mic and the Misfits Carnivale—a differential of about 77 to one. To be fair, the Edinburgh event has run every summer since 1947, lasts 25 days, and originated the very concept of a fringe, whereas ours is in its sixth year and lasts two weekends.
Thousands of selections or not quite four dozen, though, any fringe festival is necessarily a crapshoot. Reader critics will be in the home of the festival, Jefferson Park, seeing all the shows we can during the first weekend, so you’ll have a guide for the second. Until then, a few themes pop out.
There are gender-related offerings ranging from Occupy Your Vagina! (Chicago-based Mariann Aalda plays sex-ed evangelist Ginger Peechee-Keane) to Men Will Be Boys (Minnesotan Scot Moore as a new dad explaining sexism to his baby daughter). Zombified productions include Pirate Ninja Zombie (Hoosier Daniel Biemer in an autobiographical “accordion rock opera”) and Once Upon a Zombie Apocalypse (Ashley Roberson’s kid-friendly look at brain eating). Then there’s the gender/zombie hybrid, Ladies Night of the Living Dead, about a bachelorette party gone horribly wrong.
Issue-centric entries abound. You can consider victimization with Bully, the political consequences of climate change with Our Fair City: Human Resources, corporate culture with The Anti-Boss, LGBT-shaming micro-aggressions with Queer Heartache, and the world of furries with Zipped & Pelted. Those eager to avoid issues of any kind can try This Field Intentionally Left Blank (“Go watch someone whine about anorexia or racism or something,” runs the description. “We’re just entertaining ourselves.”) and the self-explanatory Everything: Something About Nothing.
The list goes on. Not as long as the Edinburgh list does, but it goes on. For more shows, as well as locations and schedules, check chicagofringe.org.
Chicago Fringe Festival 9/3-9/13: Thu-Sun, various times, various locations, chicagofringe.org,$10 per show plus $5 button, packages $36-$175 plus $5.