Cincy Fringe 2023 Reviews: Christy’s Day 1 and 2

I'll be sharing my thoughts as I go (plus a few favorite spots for food and drinks nearby), so follow along here and on Instagram!

Reviews by Christy Carson

Headshot of LCT Reviewer and Actor Christy Carson

After moving to Cincinnati last year, Cincy Fringe 2022 was my first intro to theatre in the area, so I volunteered at Fringe and tried to see as many shows as possible. This year, I’ll be sharing my thoughts as I go (plus a few favorite spots for food and drinks nearby), so follow along here and on Instagram!

After kicking off the Cincinnati Fringe Festival on Friday (Day 0?) and seeing many 60 second previews at Know Theatre, I was more than ready to start seeing some shows.

Poster for


Julie is an eclectic mixed-medium, high energy story of Julie d’Aubigny (Lisa DeRoberts, who is also the playwright and producer), a woman who lived the life she wanted in the 17th century. We jump from self narration to green screen satirical videos to sit-com style interaction with laugh and boo cue cards.

The cast (Lisa DeRoberts, Abi Esmena, Hannah Levin, Andrew Macloney, Dan Robertson, and R Deanrde Smith) never leave us with a dull moment from the time we’re offered bread as we sit down, to the many laughs throughout. Props to director Lauren Carr for guiding this excellent ensemble to keep this fast-paced show moving without feeling rushed or leaving us confused. Overall, Julie is a well rounded show that captures the weird and fun essence of Fringe and features and solid feminist and LGBTQ+ themes.

Heart Ripped Out Twice and So Can You poster for Cincinnati Fringe Festival 2023

Heart Ripped Out Twice and So Can You

Heart Ripped Out Twice and So Can You draws us in right away before Linnea Bond says a word. Aptly billed as a “(mostly) comedy about pain,” Bond immediately engages us with interactive humor as we ponder the question about what it means to be human. This show is full of depth, though, as we’re left with raw, relatable moments when Bond explores pain beyond the physical, such as heartbreak.

This show is just as beautifully performed as it is written. We find it easy to laugh, hard not to cry, and impossible not to care. Just as Bond draws us in through humor without saying a word at the beginning, she captivates us so completely in total silence at the end that we sit collectively in shared awe. Definitely a Must-See – Don’t miss this show!

Alphas: Apocalypse poster for Cincinnati Fringe Festival 2023

Alphas: Apocalypse

Alphas: Apocalypse brought a cute hour of comedy skits and improv around the theme of the world ending. This special event is a fun showcase of Cincinnati Improv’s women-identifying troupe featuring both experienced and developing improv artists. They start by asking the audience to write down “useless skills” as we walk in, which engages us right away. It also provides prompts for a skit in the middle of the show. Towards the end, the cast asks the audience for prompts live and turns them into improvised apocalyptic scenes. If you’re looking for a lighthearted comedy variety show by women, check out their last performance on Thursday, June 15.  

Jon Bennett: Dad (Hates) Jokes Poster for Cincinnati Fringe Festival 2023

Dad (Hates) Jokes

Dad (Hates) Jokes put a nice finish on Day 1 with well-structured comedic storytelling. Jon Bennett was one of my favorites from last year in Fire in the Meth Lab, so I made sure this show made my list. Bennet takes us through stories about his relationship with his father and his developing career. He uses his dad’s near-death experiences and disappointments with Jon as chapters we follow, interspersed with original “poetry.”

Always hilarious and often touching, Jon Bennett does not disappoint. If you’re craving a comedy show to balance out more serious ones, get your tickets to see Dad (Hates) Jokes.

Modern Beings in Search of the Sole poster for Cincinnati Fringe Festival 2023

Modern Beings in Search of the Sole

Modern Beings in Search of the Sole uses movement, music, poetry, and puppetry to illustrate the journey of life. The story primarily follows Lyd Noll’s character after Noll and Jason Coffenberry shipwreck on an unknown island. The whole cast (Daniela Nenova, E. Carr, Lyd Noll, Olivia Cremisio, and Jason Coffesnberry) works together, playing travelers searching, portraying beings that live there, and moving as an ensemble.

The movement and shadow work is beautiful and flows well with Warren Harrison’s music. Some of the movement and puppetry on the floor is difficult to see if you’re not sitting in the front row, even in this intimate space, and I wish it was staged to be more visible. Overall, if you like movement-based shows that ponder finding yourself and meaning in life, check this one out. Get there early so you can snag a seat in the front row!

Local Food and Drink Recommendations

I started the first day with a solid brunch nearby at LouVino (try the fried chicken tacos!) before seeing Julie. I found myself at 1215 Wine Bar and Coffee Lab more than once between shows to refuel and start writing. Gomez is also great for a quick bite! I grabbed some chips and queso there before Dad (Hates) Jokes.

On Day 2, I grabbed brunch with some friends at Alcove before heading to Fringe. I only saw one Fringe show Sunday, but had an early dinner at Crown Republic before seeing the Moulin Rouge! at the Aronoff. So much good stuff around!

The Bottom Line (TLDR)

After the first weekend, Cincy Fringe’s 20th Season is off to a great start! I’ve only seen 5 out of the 30+ shows, and can’t wait for more. So far, Heart Ripped Out Twice and So Can You is my top recommendation, but I’ve heard great things about RUH-Roh!. I’m looking forward to seeing it on Wednesday!

Get Tickets and Get Involved

Learn more about the Cincinnati Fringe Festival and get your tickets now! You can also volunteer and see shows for free! I loved ushering last year – it’s a great way to see shows, make friends, and you get a cool t-shirt. 

A new Calendar for everything onstage from LCT’s member theatres.

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