Fringe Festival shows you can’t miss in 2023

Fringe Festival
Eli Lynn, Madeleine Garcia, and Peter Nicholls in ‘Citrus Andronicus’.
Wide Eyed Studios

The Philadelphia Fringe Festival opened last weekend with a roster of up to 300 diverse productions and experiences throughout the city. Each performance/activation is unique in its own respect, and for the 27th edition of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, there will be a focus on embracing the FringeArts site as a cultural, culinary, and nightlife hub.

Arts-wise at the Fringe Festival, as always, there will be some world premieres to look out for, with some highlights from John Jarboe, Meg Saligman, Mimi Lien, Emily Bate, Susan Marshall and more. Other notable Fringe Festival activations also span a David Bowie-themed event by the Paul Green Rock Academy and the return of the ever-popular Late Night Snacks pop-up cabaret bar from ‘The Bearded Ladies.’

On top of everything Fringe has to offer, Philadelphians can also find Independent Festival Hubs, including Cannonball, Crossroads Comedy, Circus Campus Presents, and two new additions–Laurel Hill and Daydream: An Art for Young Audiences Hub, according to a release.

But if you’re looking for what shows are a must-see within this expansive roster, we’ve got you covered. 

Fringe Festival
Wide Eyed Studios

‘Citrus Andronicus’

This world-premiere adaptation by Eli Lynn and the Philadelphia Artists Collective asks the question: What happens when you take a play about revenge and pair it with fruit? ‘Citrus Andronicus‘ will play at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival until Sept. 17, and its inspired by Shakespeare’s bloodiest tragedy, ‘Titus Andronicus.’

The official description of the show reads: “Dr. Madeline could not be more excited to be making her speaking debut at the Biennial Conference of the Northeastern Renaissance Society. Unfortunately, her brilliantly insightful lecture tragedy has been relocated from Ballroom D to a loading dock next to the kitchens, where two enthusiastic clowns are busy loading in crates of fresh fruit. Will she be able to squeeze a win out of this jam? Or will the unruly pear of clowns steal the limelight?”

The show is also described as being fast-paced, off-the-wall and an absolutely bananas exploration of the Bard’s brutally violent work and like nothing you’ve ever seen before. 

Poth Brewery, 3145 W Jefferson St.

‘Rhythm Bath’

This multi-collaborative show comes from Renowned choreographer Susan Marshall and Tony Award-winning set designer Mimi Lien, in conjunction with the Temple University Institute on Disabilities. Described as an inclusive dance installation, Rhythm Bath blends performance, meditation, and wonder, inviting guests to sense the dance happening around them.

Taking place at the Christ Church Neighborhood House in Philadelphia, this world premiere will open this weekend on Sept. 17, and will play until Sept. 24. 

“With Rhythm Bath, I’m inviting audiences to gather and enjoy performance in an environment where there’s no ‘right’ way to be,” says Marshall in a statement. “Our creative team is hoping to create a level playing field in which a certain way of being in—or controlling—one’s body is not privileged.”

While watching this show guests can come and go as they please while they immerse themselves in the space of shifting fabric, light, sound, and movement. And this show specifically was developed in conversation and collaboration with those who identify as neurodiverse. The artists and producers use the term “neurodiverse” to primarily describe people with disabilities that affect motor control and vocalization, including autism, apraxia, Parkinson’s disease, Tourette’s syndrome and a range of developmental disabilities, a release states. It is designed to be welcoming and accessible to—not just adapted for—the neurodiverse and neurotypical communities.

Fringe Festival
Courtney Henry in RHYTHM BATH.Wide Eyed Studios

Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 N. American St.

‘Wig Wag’

This performance takes place at the FringeArts building. In ‘Wig Wag‘, Philadelphians can follow composer, community songleader and choral conductor Emily Bate as the show blends deeply accessible, participatory music for the audience, with vocal acrobatics performed by a four person cast.

And as a release states, ‘Wig Wag’ is inspired by the work of scientists, philosophers and artists like Anna Tsing, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Donna Haraway, Gary Snyder, Tyson Yunkaporta and Andreas Weber, who all insist there is no split between humans and the rest of nature, and no discrete boundary around the self. Each “self” is actually a network of relationships.

This show will be part of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival now until Sept. 24. 

140 N Christopher Columbus Blvd, FringeArts

‘Black Wood’

Gunnar Montana’s shows stand out in the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, and for good reason. With ‘Black Wood‘, a release cites that this particular performance is reminiscent of previous works, including 2019’s ‘Basement’ and 2016’s ‘Wroughtland’. 

In production for the last two years, (Montana built the set from scratch on top of creating the entire performance) ‘Black Wood’ immerses audiences into a world of witches, scorned lovers, cannibalism, and creatures of the night. The storyline centers around a coven of witches who discover their supernatural strength in the face of adversity.

“Black Wood is the most immersive production I’ve ever created,” said Montana in a statement. “I want my friends and fans to step inside the performance space and feel like they’ve entered an entirely new world. The set design plays an integral role in the show because the witches derive their supernatural powers from the woods. I wanted to create an experience where the audience will use all their senses and absorb all that Black Wood offers.”

The show will play during the Festival and beyond until Oct. 31. 

Fringe Festival
Gunnar MontanaJoe McFetridge

The Latvian Society of Philadelphia, 531 N. 7th St.