Chris Klimek is not freaking out. Me? If I had Klimek's schedule I'd be a mess. D.C.'s most flexible critic is organizing an uncountable corps of freelancers to cover Capital Fringe Festival for City Paper. He has a day job that keeps him quite busy. He freelances for the Washington Post, TBD, and DCist. He teaches boxing at the Results on Connecticut and L. And on Thursday night, the very night Fringe kicks off, he'll be at the Phillips Collection, helping out TBD at the Phillips After 5 event (buy tickets here) by appearing on a panel about the play Six Degrees of Separation.
"It got here an hour ago," Klimek says of his copy of John Guare's most famous play, which he ordered via his membership in Amazon Prime. (He's also got the 1993 film version, starring Will Smith, coming via Netflix.)
Such solid boning-up techniques are a Klimek trademark, one of the reasons he's as at home reviewing an R. Kelly show as he is a wordless King Lear. "I am sometimes afraid I have run my career as a dilettante," he says.
I have hired Klimek quite a few times, so I'm a little biased here, but I think being able to make sense of almost any cultural event is kind of a critic's job, which is what I like about him. "The tools are the same, though you probably want to have a certain depth of onboard memory," Klimek says, either agreeing with me or trying to get me off the phone. "I try to read plays other than the ones I go to see."
Hence the book that just came to his door. Thursday night, Alan Paul, the Shakespeare Theatre Company's associate director, is going to lead 17 actors through a reading of the play, which has as its center a Wassily Kandinsky painting (not coincidentally, the Phillips Collection just opened a Kandinsky exhibition last month). "I will probably try to think of two questions to throw out to the panel," Klimek says.
He will not reveal these questions, or any jokes he might make, in advance: "I will have to gauge the room, Andrew," he says.
After the Phillips event, Klimek is heading down to Fort Fringe to make sure there's enough material heading toward City Paper's blog. He's not scared of being onstage, or organizing the blog. Judging by his clips, he doesn't seem to really be afraid of much.
"I started boxing because I was afraid," Klimek says. I was afraid of getting punched in the head. I'm not unafraid of that now. I think that's an entirely appropriate thing to fear."