Ninety-nine seats, 50 seats, 10 seats — stage productions of all sizes abound at the Hollywood Fringe Festival, which begins its three-week run of unfiltered creative outpourings. The 99-Seat Beat, our weekly theater column, also runs through some of this week’s other picks for those seeking more traditional and polished fare. There’s a reimagined take on the story of Anne Frank staged at the Museum of Tolerance, a visceral boxing drama in West Hollywood and “Bestseller,” a literate new comedy in Long Beach.
The Hollywood Fringe Festival
The essentials: With more than 400 shows occupying 53 conventional and makeshift stages within the square-mile “Fringe Zone” — theaters, bars, restaurants, schools and even street corners — the Hollywood Fringe Festival seems credible in claiming to being the largest of its kind in the nation. Now in its 10th year, the festival follows the uncurated model pioneered in Edinburgh, Scotland: The event serves as an umbrella platform to organize, promote and support daring, innovative and experimental work with no restrictions on artistic vision or content. Anything goes.
Why this? Co-founder Ben Hill sees the festival’s place in L.A.’s theatrical ecosystem as “a hatchery for emerging works to reach their audience unobstructed. And it’s so much fun.” The festival has given birth to local stage companies including Theatre Unleashed, Four Clowns, Cherry Poppins and 2Cents Theatre Group. This year’s Fringe grab bag holds everything from family-friendly romps to edgy adult fare. The sheer magnitude poses a daunting challenge in choosing what to see. A good place to start is the festival’s well-designed website, which has filters to help zero in on your best options.
Details: Various locations, through June 30. hollywoodfringe.org/shows
‘Anne, A New Play’ in West L.A.
The essentials: Her diary of two years in hiding from the Nazi occupation brought posthumous fame to the Dutch-Jewish girl who penned it. Although Anne Frank’s story has been staged many times, this 2014 drama by Jessica Durlacher and Leon de Winter employs a framing device with dual timelines: Rather than simply dramatize the diary’s contents, the play also explores the future life that the young Anne might have imagined for herself as an adult. Anne’s wish-fulfilled persona’s perspective on her ordeal contrasts with actual events.
Why this? The U.S. premiere of Nick Blaemire’s new 90-minute adaptation of the 2014 play is presented by the Simon Wiesenthal Center in conjunction with the Museum of Tolerance’s Anne Frank exhibition. The dreamlike staging mixes naturalistic dialog and video, with Ava Lalezarzadeh as Anne and Rob Brownstein (Interact Theatre Company co-founder) as her quietly heroic father. With anti-Semitism on the rise worldwide, this story celebrates defiance and resilience in the face of evil.
Details: A Simon Wiesenthal Center production at the Museum of Tolerance, 9786 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. 3 and 7 p.m. Sundays, 8 p.m. Mondays, through July 22. $40. (310) 772-2505, museumoftolerance.com
‘Sucker Punch’ at Tiger Boxing Gym
The essentials: Racial tensions and Thatcher-era politics go head to head in Roy Williams’ award-winning boxing drama. Amid the turbulence of unemployment, stop-and-search laws and bigotry facing black youths in 1980s Britain, two former friends square off in the ring in the hope — perhaps deluded — that a sports title might offer a way out.
Why this? Staged in a real-life boxing gym by guest director Michael A. Shepperd (artistic director at Celebration Theatre), Coeurage Theatre Company’s limited-run revival pulls no punches in what could be the most visceral depiction of boxing on an L.A. stage since 1996’s “Blade to the Heat.” Challenging theater at pay-what-you-want ticket pricing is the Coeurage mission.
Details: A Coeurage production at Tiger Boxing Gym, 708 N. Gardner St., West Hollywood. 8 p.m. Monday and Wednesday-Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays, through June 23. Pay what you want. (323) 944-2165, coeurage.org/suckerpunchtickets
‘Bestseller’ at International City Theatre
The essentials: Observing a writer at work might sound as engaging as watching paint dry, but playwright Peter Quilter has inventively met the challenge with his new comedy, “Bestseller.” At an isolated writers retreat, struggling scribes argue and vent as their emerging crime thrillers and rom-coms spring to life in over-the-top enactments, amusingly exposing their personal foibles and creative limitations. Stage and screen veteran Wendy Worthington stars as the insightful hostess who understands her guests better than they know themselves.
Why this? International City Theatre’s relationship with Quilter includes well-received productions of his biographical portraits: the tragically gifted Judy Garland in “End of the Rainbow” and the hilariously untalented Florence Foster Jenkins in “Glorious!” Despite its whimsical satire, this fictional follow-up is billed as celebrating writers’ passion for “trying to be authentic in a world where everything is a lie.”
Details: ICT at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center, 330 E. Seaside Way. 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, through June 30. $47-$55. (562) 436-4610, InternationalCityTheatre.org
The 99-Seat Beat appears every Friday. Our writers shortlist offerings with an emphasis on smaller venues. Some recommendations are shows we've seen; others are based on the track record of the company, playwright, director or cast.