Located just outside of the Spiegeltent -- but at the opposite end of the Fringe spectrum as the glitzy spectacle of "Cirque du Fringe" -- "Dashboard Dramas" is a no-frills affair, though it still completely encapsulates the spirit of the festival: It's fast, fun, and wildly creative.
Directed by Patricia Lewis and written by Abby DeVuyst and Kerry Young, the show's format is ingenious: four parked cars along the edge of the Spiegelgarden, each assigned a number from one through four. Audience members get in the back seat of an assigned car (I started in number four), followed shortly by the performers, who take their place in the front. A brief play is performed, the performers exit the vehicle, and you get out and rotate chronologically to the next car.
Car one contains "Supply and Demand," depicting a small-time drug dealer (Jeffrey Andrews) fielding phone calls and killing time while awaiting the arrival of his companion. In "Backstreet Blues," two beat cops (Jake Purcell and Kerry Young) investigate an abandoned car, and find themselves making a personal connection in the process. Possibly my favorite of the four, "Mental Matrimony," follows a freshly married young couple (Lainey Catalino and Dan Hart) about to embark on their honeymoon. We listen in on their interior monologues, expressing their unspoken fears and doubts, which we hear through audio track. Extra credit must be given to both actors for maintaining their focus while a pregnant woman screams and jumps on the car next to them, because "Lion Love," shows what happens to a husband and wife (Matt Allen and Abby DeVuyst) when the woman goes into labor and their car won't start. Chaos ensues as a hysterical argument occurs in, around, and occasionally on top of the vehicle, with the couple venting their many life regrets.
The car interior is a venue surprisingly conducive to live theater. In a nice touch, two of the cars had the headrests removed, which allowed both actors to be constantly visible and made it much easier to appreciate their performances. Still, your enjoyment level will depend on your comfort being in such close quarters with total strangers, though unlike me, most people will have the benefit of attending with at least one companion beside them.
Part of the fun of "Dashboard Dramas" is watching passersby stare quizzically into the cars, clearly wondering what the hell was happening inside. However, seeing as how all performances are currently sold out, only a lucky few will get to know the secrets contained within."Dashboard Dramas" will be performed again Saturday, September 20, Sunday, September 21, and Saturday, September 27. Unfortunately, all performances are currently sold out.