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Disaster, Discovery and Dolphins

The Ninth Annual Cincinnati Fringe Festival is now upon us. From May 29 to June 9 performances ranging from wacky to edgy will stimulate, challenge and entertain audiences that continue to grow.

For me this year is especially of interest because it will feature a world premier by John Ray, a writer whose work I know from the days when I was a regular both as an audience member and performer at the Performance Times Arts Series. I remember a play that had partially to do with (if memory serves) the real and (moreso) imagined events of Martha Stewart, a play that included the very talented actress and writer Elizabeth Logan Harris. One of the things that impresses me about John is his ability to write plays that are damn funny at the same time that they address, unflinchingly, some dark issues. His new play is called The Sweet, Burning Yonder, and there will be five performances, all at 1317 Main Street in Over the Rhine.

When I asked John what the play was about, he said, “The sweet burning yonder is a reimagining of Lewis and Clark’s journey through Louisiana Territory but it’s kind of hijacked in time to the post-Katrina world. A pair of EPA technicians testing the poisonous flood waters discover a Katrina survivor who is able to taste the water and tell you the poisons and toxins in it and also tell you where they came from. She leads them up the Mississippi and the Missouri rivers in her quest to find not only the toxins but a mysterious sweet burning in the waters. It turns out that Katrina has dislocated everything in time, as well and they kind of telescope American history on their journey. They run into Indians and settlers, all the people who’ve lived there in the past. So it’s kind of a dreamscape.”

Another way of looking at it: “a comedy of disaster and discovery, with dolphins.”

The director of the play is Michael Burnham, and the cast includes Omope Carter Daboiku, Dan Britt, Sarah Fischer, Jared Taylor Wilson, Don Volpenhein, Sarah Wolf, Wendy Braun, and Paul Morris. Performance times for The Sweet, Burning Yonder are:

Wednesday May 30 at 8:45 pm

Friday June 1 at 9:15 pm

Sunday June 3 at 4:15 pm

Wednesday June 6 at 8:30 pm

Friday June 8 at 7:00 pm