Fringe all too often means cringe. Reading the programme for NYC's Crown Point Festival (now in it's final week) with Executive Director Kelly Markus reflecting on our 'subconscious calling to create a moment of beauty' and Artistic Director Chris Ehrmann aiming to unite the 'near strangers Film, Theater [sp] and Music' (ah yes, that famously hostile, incompatible triumvirate), I was tempted to abandon the sweat-and-Stella-scented corridors of the Abrons Arts Center [sp], Lower East Side, to watch Stardust with a Starbucks in a multiplex.
I'm glad I didn't. Despite this pose of sophisticated and cynical froideur, my heart is a soft throbbing well of ambitious idealism. True, there were a few rectum-recoiling moments over the two evenings I attended; the primary problem with the 'Theater' pieces was a lack of brisk, brutal editing. Roslyn Hart's stand-up cabaret as Shells, a Shiraz-swilling, singing Bridget Jones, had the kernel of a good character, which got pounded over a long hour into chaff. Similarly, the Ateh Group's dance theatre show The Girl Detective had a slick, exuberant surrealism that turned into CBeebies irritation with the unrestrained repetition of its 'themes'. The Tailers, a futuristic duologue, was basically Orwell by way of Hollyoaks, and not as fun as that sounds.
The short films were aesethetically accomplished but unoriginal. Kun I-Chang's man-becomes-grafitti fantasy Fission was the Take On Me music video via Banksy; Jenna Friedenberg's Peurto Rican Squirrels was Kids via City of God, but tamer.
But the music had some heart, from the mellow, moochy 'Gypsy jam' of Stephane Wrembel to the rather self-conscious but densely melodic indie rock of School of Seven Bells. The Crown Point crown, however, goes to Nullsleep, aka Jeremiah Johnson, who uses repurposed low-bit electronics to produce searingly sweet old-school romantic poptronica - in this instance, from two Gameboys. Nintendo nerdiness and feel-good nostalgia all accompanied by Johnson's brilliantly earnest nu-conductor moves: survey says boom.