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BWW Review: PLAY CUPID Hits Home at Capital Fringe

Capital Fringe Festival's PLAY CUPID is a crowdsourced dating app in which we, the audience, decide who gets paired up as we watch the action unfold. The choose-your-own adventure matchmaking format of this performance makes it better than this season of "The Bachelorette." Or at the very least, it feels more authentic. Its surprising humanity and sometimes painful awkwardness might summon not-so-distant memories of your own first dates.

Creator and emcee Brett Steven Abelman guides us through the game-show-meets-reality-show process, as we vote on which of the five diverse participants will get a shot at love. Would PR strategist Brianna (Kara Turner) hit it off with magnetic Ali (Niusha Nawab)? Should we pair the vivacious DC lobbyist Jessie (Allyson Harkey) with the polyamorous Kyle (Elizabeth Hansen) just to see if it all implodes? And what about soft-spoken Jakes (Klenn Harrigan), who might need this more than anyone else?

Having fellow audience members willing to play the game is a huge advantage. Most of my group didn't hesitate to voice their opinions as we witnessed the progressing dates, which added to the camaraderie of the experience. Many of the situations felt utterly real, from a low-key racist encounter to an adorable movie theater moment.

The only downside was the time constraint: just keep in mind that you'll only get to choose a few unique combinations of people within the hour, meaning you might miss out on the perfect couple or have things cut off before you see how it ends.

But that's part of the beauty. If there's one sign of a successful show, it's leaving the audience wanting more. If there's another, it's leaving them with the feeling of unlimited possibilities.

Running time: approximately 60 minutes without an intermission.

PLAY CUPID plays through July 24 with three more performances left at the Atlas Performing Arts Center - Lab II, 1333H St NE, Washington, DC 20002. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit

Photo: PLAY CUPID promotional image.

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From This Author - Barbara Johnson