Andy Baroch had a pencil sharpener shaped like the Washington Monument in one hand, and a hammer in the other.
As he pummeled the tiny obelisk into the grass by the Capitol Reflecting Pool, the hammer’s head flew off. The mini-monument stayed intact, though covered in dirt. “This gives me no pleasure,” he said, as the remaining audience dissipated.
Baroch was concluding his Capital Fringe Festival show Secrets of the National Mall, which was classified as “storytelling” in the 2014 festival guide (although within the larger “drama” section) and described thusly: “Radio news reporter reveals the secrets of the Freemasons, the underground fraternal organization which designed the National Mall. Join his walking tour to hear the shocking truth!”
Few audiences would get to. After the first weekend, tickets for Secrets of the National Mall were no longer available for purchase on the Fringe website, even though it had originally been scheduled for 22 performances, more than any other show in the festival. Was it simply too fringe for Fringe?
Thirteen people, myself included, assembled at the Capitol Reflecting Pool at 7 p.m. on the first Friday of the festival. They’d paid $17 for the privilege, in addition to the mandatory $7 button required for entry to any Fringe venue ($5 if you bought it early enough). I got to go for free, because I was reviewing it for Fringeworthy. Baroch, our ostensible tour guide, had us sit in the grass with a clear view of the Washington Monument. It was time to explain why the National Mall is actually the largest hieroglyph in the world.
“What is it?” he asked us in a deep baritone, gesturing at the Washington Monument. “What is it?”
The audience threw out ideas—an obelisk? No. A penis? Nope.
“It’s a dildo,” said Baroch.