BOTTOM LINE: An funny, clever, well-acted and ingeniously written French import of a French-American couple's first encounter.
Is that a frog in your throat or is it a Cheshire cat? Cats Don't Grin, a French import (translated into English), depicts a cross-Atlantic meeting of strangers that turns into a cunning game of misinterpreted proverbs and grammatical corrections. François Carré's writing, acting and directing tour de force is a small act of genius and keeps one completely engaged throughout his first encounter (or is it?) with his American love interest, played equally well by Sanam Erfani. The charismatic idiosyncrasies of French humor are on full display, delivered simply perfectly by Carré's manic performance.
Cats Don't Grin works very well with the limitations of the Fringe environment, managing to deftly meld a minimalistic yet visually stunning set with the functional requirements of the piece itself. But really, with as talented actors as these two, an empty stage is all you need.
It is a delight to watch these two characters' flaws as they struggle to find a way to compliment each other. Cats Don't Grin exemplifies the spirit of Fringe's outsourced ingenuity in every way. If this is a sign of further things to come, then Fringe 2010 will surely be a season to remember.
(Cats Don't Grin plays at the Cherry Lane Theatre, 38 Commerce Street, through August 28th. Remaining performances are Wednesday 8/18 @ 4pm, Monday 8/23 @ 3:45pm, Thursday 8/26 @ 7pm and Saturday 8/28 @ 9pm. Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 at the door, and are available at FringeNYC.com, by calling 866.468.7619, or in person at FringeCENTRAL, located at 1 East 8th Street at 5th Avenue. There is NO LATE SEATING for Fringe NYC shows.