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14th annual New York International Fringe Festival

They're billing it as "New York's best staycation" and "the largest performance festival in North America." Others think of it as "those crazy people who take over downtown in August." In other words, the 14th Annual New York International Fringe Festival opens Friday and runs through Aug. 29.

This year will showcase almost 200 serious and silly productions from 18 states and 14 foreign countries in 20 venues in Lower Manhattan. Performances run from noon to midnight on weekends, 2 p.m. to midnight weekdays. Tickets are $18 per show, $70 for five, $120 for 10 or - you know who you are - $500 for an all-you-can-see Lunatic Pass.

How to choose? You're on your own. Visit fringenyc.org for schedules and details. Meanwhile, here are a few shows - and I stress few - happening this weekend.


1. 'A MATTER OF CHOICE'

WHAT A group of roommates face eviction due to construction of the Second Avenue subway in Chad Beckim's close-to-home comedy.

WHEN | WHERE Friday at 5 p.m., Saturday at 2:15 p.m., Soho Playhouse, 15 Vandam St.


2. 'MY DAD'S CRAZIER THAN YOUR DAD: A SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY'

WHAT Katharine Heller really does apply the scientific method in her multimedia research into paternal nuttiness.

WHEN | WHERE Friday night at 7, Saturday at noon, Dixon Place Theater, 161S Chrystie St.


3. 'LETTERS TO CLIO - PART II, MARGARITA'

WHAT Jennifer S. Jones recreates the voices of many women during the military coup in Argentina.

WHEN | WHERE Saturday at 9:30 p.m., Studio at the Cherry Lane Theatre, 38 Commerce St.


4. 'WEST LETHARGY'

WHAT Modern people and an old pioneer couple search for meaning from the Empire State Building to gold-rush California in Stephen Kaliski's journey.

WHAT | WHERE Saturday at noon, Kraine Theater, 85 E. 4th St.


5. 'JULIUS CAESAR: THE DEATH OF A DICTATOR'

WHAT The Gangbusters Theatre recreates Orson Welles' 80-minute distillation of Shakespeare.

WHEN | WHERE Saturday at 7 p.m. Kraine Theater, 85 E. 4th St.


6. 'LOVE IN THE TIME OF SWINE FLU'

WHAT The Stupid Time Machine offers a comedy about "sex, dating and everything else terrifying."

WHEN | WHERE Friday at 5 p.m., Sunday at noon, Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie St.

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