Monday goes to the Fringe

Monday writers review more than half the 70+ shows at the 25th anniversary Victoria Fringe Festival

Attendance records are being smashed as Victoria's Fringe Festival rolls into its second week. Here's a look at just some of the shows that you'll want to either see or avoid.

The Birdmann

 

The Birdmann himself described his act to me as “part Tom Waits, part Muppet Show.” What an understatement.

Hard to describe and impossible to summarize, The Birdmann will blow your mind. Think vaudeville with a hint of LSD and a bar of soap.

From the moment the Birdmann steps to the mic, it’s impossible to look away. His tight black pants, tuxedo jacket and shirt, gravity-defying hair-do and inescapable presence will have you mesmerized and giggling. All set to a background of jazz and black curtains, the experience is surreal.

Aside from being a mind-bending experience, this is a polished and professional show that would be a shame to miss.

Courtney Bard Smith

Venue 5 St. Andrew’s School Gym

Thurs. Sept. 1, 6:30 p.m.

Sun. Sept. 4, 3: 45 p.m.

 

 

 

 

BFA: The Musical (5 out of 7 Hipster Toques)

 

If you often find yourself dreaming of Music Man and Tommy, consider taking in BFA: The Musical. This musical follows five BFA majors through their post-graduate struggles to attain success.

As a musical, it has all the right stuff: catchy tunes and well choreographed dance numbers. The cast performs like it’s what they were born to do. But, if you’re looking for well developed characters and plot, you might be a little disappointed.

The lead characters, Willow and Phil, are rather flat and can’t seem to find common sense with a road map and two hands. As a result, the supporting cast steals the show. Even the hipster villain, Stefan, comes across as likable and his main personality trait is “smug.”

Certainly worth a watch, if only to see the “No One Has More Charisma Than Stefan” number.

Courtney Bard Smith

Venue 8 Langham Court Theatre

Fri. Sept. 2, 7:30 p.m.

Sat. Sept. 3, 5:30 p.m.

 

 

 

 

Canterbury Cocktails

Before there was our English language and Shakespeare there was Middle English and Chaucer, the bawdy bard whose Canterbury Tales brought the 14th century alive with stories satirizing English society. Victoria-by-way-of-Toronto actor Julian Cervello presents an edited version of the General Prologue, playing 29 characters in the process. Performing entirely in Middle English, which sounds like melodious German and has many words in common with the language we speak today, Cervello readily conjures up a succession of recognizable characters: nuns, priests, the miller, a merchant, a “doctour o physik.” The liberal use of hand gestures provides charades-style clues to what is going on with the narrative, and Cervello’s marvelously fluid acting provides further context and differentiation. Nobody is likely to walk out of Canterbury grappling with Chaucer’s world view, but the tour-de-force performance is persuasive and even mesmerizing. Middle English gets a top-of-the-class interpretation!

Robert Moyes

Venue 4 VCM Wood Hall

Wed. Aug. 31, 6 p.m.

Fri. Sept. 2, 4:15 p.m.

Sun. Sept. 4, 8:30 p.m.

 

 

Charles Presents: A Trip Through The Multiverse

Although Seattleites Charlie Stockman and Chuck Armstrong bill themselves as sketch comics, that hardly does justice to their intellectually playful and creative amble through a skewed world where postmodernism gets more than a few jolts of quantum mechanics . . . and even a “time travel vasectomy” meant to retroactively head off an unwanted pregnancy. Not everything works equally well, but after they’ve milked a reading of Beowulf for some hearty laughs – not easy when it’s performed in Old English! – and customized a wall-mounted singing bass so that after warbling “Take Me To The River” it takes a lead speaking role for five minutes of very crazy theatre . . . well, you may just be prepared for a harrowing college commencement speech from the apocalyptic future. Or maybe not. Regardless, this is classic off-the-wall Fringe that you’ll never see anywhere else.

Robert Moyes

Venue 7 Fairfield Hall

 

 

 

Dianne & Me

 

Chelsee Damen is adorably fantastic in Dianne & Me, a one-woman show about teen pregnancy and sacrifices.

Winner of the 2009 Canadian National Playwriting Competition, Dianne & Me will relate to anyone who’s ever been a teenager.

Damen plays a naive girl who gets sucked in to her first relationship and ends up pregnant. She speaks of her mother, Dianne, the entire time throughout the play, first with disdain and then with admiration as Dianne offers to quit her job and move across the country so her daughter can be more comfortable.

Damen plays the part of a teenager convincingly with the awkwardness of first-time sex and difficulty of raising a baby. Her transition to motherhood helps her understand Dianne’s unconditional love towards her as she now has that for her own child.

The characters move from Vancouver to Toronto and back, and anyone that has ever been to either of those cities will appreciate the references to each.

Damen shines in this show and her performance (as well as her ability to work through the stifling heat of the CCPA gym) is worth a look.

Kim Magi

Venue 12 Canadian College of Performing Arts

Sat. Sept. 3, 7:45 p.m.

Sun. Sept. 4, 2 p.m.

 

 

 

The Disinhibition Effect

 

This is a story about three Internet friends who have never met one another. As you watch as they interact with one another ‘online’, you are entertained by the socially awkward 20 something year old gamers talking about relationships and sex. This play starts out entertaining and hilarious but looses steam about half way through. The ball jokes get old, the scenes start to not really follow one another and it begins to drag on. There are a few good jokes and stories and will definitely make you laugh but the ending is so terrible it almost makes the entire show not worth it.

Alison Heard

Venue 7 Fairfield Hall

Fri. Sept. 2, 7:45 p.m.

Sat. Sept. 3, 2:15 p.m.

 

 

Fortunate Son

 

This is highly entertaining and emotional drama about the death of Pierre Elliott Trudeau and his son Justin Trudeau’s struggle with inheriting the entire Liberal Party of Canada. A politically educational performance, this show was remarkably captivating and felt so real. Set in the Trudeau’s home, the audience could feel a son’s pain of just loosing his father. In this one-act, two-man play, Drew Staniland plays Justin Trudeau and Micheal Armstrong plays Pierre’s best friend, Cal and first in command. As Cal tries to pressure Justin into a life of politics, the two engage in emotional and often heated dialogue that hypnotizes the audience. This is a smart, funny and suspenseful play that is worth every one of the 50 minutes spent with these characters in this truly heart-wrenching story.

Alison Heard

Venue 4 VCM Wood Hall

Sat. Sept. 3, 4 p.m.

Sun. Sept. 4, 2:45, p.m.

 

 

 

 

Giant Invisible Robot

 

Jayson McDonald must be out of his mind: this performance is likely one of the tightest and most mentally & physically exerting ones for an actor in the Fringe.  The man runs a solo gamut of personas, voices and sound and visual effects to the point where you end up just watching in awe at his flawless delivery of one hour’s worth of theatre.  He provides his own interlude music; he renders each character with their individual essence and he even goes so far as to perfectly emulate the giant invisible robot for a few minutes in the dark, standing on a chair and using only a red light in each hand to represent the robot’s eyes.  Every dip of the robot’s solemn head, his resonating monologue that almost reads as a lonely song, and the sentiment of recognizing the monstrosity in human nature are applied in sweat and fervor to the collective mind of the audience.  We got to see a talent that deserved 100% of his stage time.  Immaculately performed.

Brody Slater

Venue 5 St. Andrew’s School Gym

Fri. Sept. 2, 9:45 p.m.

Sat. Sept. 3, 8:30 p.m.

Sun;. Sept. 4. 2 p.m.

 

Giving into Light

 

A mother tells the story of her existential journey from independence to motherhood. After giving birth to her son, Leo, she finds she’s suddenly hyper-aware of all the perils and pitfalls of western civilization: from smog and over-medication, to church basement playgroups and TV obsession. Her solution? Fleeing to Mexico to live a more “wholesome” life. Through her immersion in Mexican culture, she learns how to appreciate the simple things and comes into her own as a mother.

This story is brought to life with rich imagery and poetic language. Her words gently pull the audience along, bringing them smoothly from tears of laughter to silent awe. There are a few particularly sentimental scenes where the poetic language gets carried away and some intermittent scenes of singing and interpretive dancing that seem largely unrelated to the plot. But these few faults are easily forgiven after considering the strength of Alison Wearing’s performance and the depth and wit of the script.

Courtney Bard Smith

Venue 8 Langham Court Theatre

Sat. Sept. 3, 3:45 p.m.

Sun. Sept. 4, 7:45 p.m.

 

 

 

 

God is a Scottish Drag Queen

 

There is no disappointment when you go to hear GOD speak: Mike Delamont delivers seventy minutes of ripe social commentary in the back of the fabulous Fort Café, and he does it almost every night of the Fringe.  This is stand-out stand-up, and it would do you good to get down there eeeeearly, as it’s likely going to be sold out for its run.  I didn’t look too hard at my Fringe program guide before sitting down for the show, and I thought this chap actually was Scottish.  Guy is from Victoria!  He ripped so hard on Pope Benedict that he had us crying and he shredded Easter, Lent, and hipsters at the Market on Yates up into little pieces.  Aided only by a few hilarious projections on the wall behind him and a little piece of paper taped to the ceiling to ensure he didn’t fly too far off track, GOD bestowed us with mirth and kept the capacity-crowd falling about their chairs & pints.  And by the end he was earnestly reminding all of us: heaven is right here, all around us.  Get. In. To. This. Show.

Brody Slater

Venue 14 Fort Cafe

Wed. Aug. 31, 9 p.m.

Thurs. Sept.1 9 p.m.

Sat. Sept. 3, 9 p.m.

Sun. Sept.4, 9 p.m.

 

 

 

 

Grim & Fischer: a deathly comedy in full-face mask

 

The beauty of this masked production is that so much precision must be exercised with regard to the motions of the body.  The facial expressions on the masks are ambivalent enough that the body language of the actors mostly determines the audience’s interpretation of each character’s feelings (as well as the setting, music, lighting, etc.).  At any given time, the fixed expression of the Grim Reaper (meticulously played by Andrew Phoenix) is entirely construed via the body as being heartless, confounded, surprised or dreadful.  Mrs. Fischer’s quirky half-smile can be observed from several different perspectives as well, just based on the motions of Kate Braidwood’s excellent physical acting: the character is revealed as wily, pensive, bereaved, joyful, anxious and completely batty.  Her little shoulders bounce up and down, she shuffles across the floor, and she even assumes the guise of Rambo for some time.  The lighting and sound impressively cultivated the atmosphere of each scene.  The third character of the deliveryman was dopey and hilarious.  Phoenix & Braidwood exercised command.  It was a very very very physical show, and it was put on brilliantly.

Brody Slater

Venue 3 Metro Studio Theatre

Fri. Sept. 2, 6:15 p.m.

Sat. Sept. 3, 2:45 p.m.

Sun. Sept 4, 5:15 p.m.

 

 

 

 

Hip Bang! Improv

 

Hip Bang! Improv are two hilariously charming guys from Vancouver composed of Devin Mackenzie and Tom Hill. This unscripted duo provides an evening of great entertainment. Mackenzie and Hill have a really good sense of humor and on stage they tend to be playful with one another, putting each other in awkward hilarious situations. “Why don’t you describe what it looks like?” Mackenzie says to Hill when referring to an upside down stool that is supposed to an ancient Siberian map that J.K. Rowling stole the plot for Harry Potter from. The amount of energy these two young men have is incredible and brought a comforting sense of immaturity to the stage. You can tell they are more than just performers, they’re friends. On stage, they’re mischievous with one another and if the one of them ‘messes’ up, the other cattily corrects them or calls them out on it in a comical manner.  They did a good job of keeping the ideas flowing ad if they couldn’t, they made up for it in funny voices and characters. Different every time, this duo is definitely worth checking out, sipping on a cold Phillips and having a good laugh or twelve.

Alison Heard

Venue 2 Victoria Event Centre

Fri. Sept. 2, 5 p.m.

Sat. Sept. 3, 12:30 p.m.

Sun. Sept. 4, 8 p.m.

 

 

 

 

The Human Body Project

 

This show will challenge you.  As Tasha Diamant vulnerably stands before you, your own helplessness opens up and you are left in this pause to contemplate on the nature of your, and our, actions.  “It is an urgent point in time, for human kind.”  This truth saturates from the bottom of your belly.  Our life and lives, being full of light, love and consciousness, and allowing our misdemeanors to pass us and end all abusive behavior: these are the things that are most important now.  The end of the century of violence, the end of our rampant dissociation with life in general and our obsession with disconnection all are present with the naked awareness that the naked body encourages in our minds.  Tasha tells stories of her own life, of depression, of “not wanting to be here,” of maternal nature and of the meditative state required to engage your inner self, in order to heal and transcend.  The raw truths that are conjured by a room full of thoughtful people will help us all.  This is the most relevant and powerful work at the Fringe and Tasha Diamant is deserving of a full audience every night.  Absolutely I cannot urge you enough: go out and experience it for your Self – life becomes better here.

Brody Slater

Venue 4 VCM Wood Hall

Fri. Sept 2, 9;30 p.m.

Sat. Sept. 3, 7:30 p.m.

Sun. Sept. 4, 4:30 p.m.

 

 

 

 

It’s Been Taken (3 out of 5 Power-Ups)

 

Follow the lives of two comic book nerds working at the local comic book store as their lives fall apart in this 60 minute show.  The comic book store where they work is threatened by a bigger store, they face eviction from their apartment and just about anything else that could go wrong for two socially awkward 20-somethings.

Along the way, this show also pays homage to some of generation Y’s favourite video games and pop culture icons. They perfectly re-enact a Mortal Kombat battle scene and a scene of Home Alone style shenanigans left the audience roaring with laughter.

This play has potential, but becomes bogged down by a slow and confusing plot, and characters that have unexplained personality shifts. With a thorough logistical rewrite, this play could be a fun romp through nerd-dom.

Courtney Bard Smith

Venue 5 St. Andrew’s School Gym

Thurs. Sept. 1, 10 p.m.

Sat. Sept. 3, 3:15 p.m.

 

 

 

Jem Rolls Is Pissed Off

Sweat-shiny Jem Rolls is still the hardest working poet in show business. Although this Fringe veteran has in the last few years been incorporating more theatrical tropes into his shows, Pissed Off

is mostly a return to his word-drunk and gesticulatory rants of old. He begins with “Stephen Harper Saved The World,” which isn’t the obvious jape you might think but rather a scathing assessment that we are all so mediocre that we don’t deserve to be saved by someone as exceptional as, say, Nelson Mandela. Jem’s crisis is that he now struggles to find his angry muse because he’s engaged to a nice Canadian gal. The narrative explaining this irony is a bit laboured, but Jem soon gets down to business as, talking like a wacky holy man, he ruminates on how all of us are prey to ever-evolving forms of stupidity that can sabotage whatever learning we do pick up along the way. Powerful, wise, and funny, Jem still combines the smarts of a wayward philosophy grad with the energy of punk rock.

Robert Moyes

Venue 9 University Canada West

Wed. Aug. 31, 5:30 p.m.

Thurs. Sept. 1, 9:30 p.m.

Sat. Sept. 3, 4 p.m.

 

 

 

 

Limbo

 

If Andrew Bailey has learned anything from six years performing confessional monologues about growing up an obsessive, religious outcast in exotic Langford, it’s that you need to pepper your show with David Bowie jokes to keep things light and relatable (even as you’re talking about being possessed by evil spirits). And you should do something impressive, like solve the meaning of life, to give reviewers something to rave about (then go ahead and talk about your aborted suicide). Bailey has perfected the formula for funny, and keeps the audience laughing for nearly an hour, while still managing to pack in a good take-home message about how desperately people long to relate to one another. This guy is good.

Sam Van Schie

Venue 9: University Canada West

Wed. Aug.31, 7:15 p.m.

Thurs. Sept. 1, 6:00 p.m.

Sat. Sept. 3, 2:15 p.m.

Sun. Sept. 4, 7:30 p.m.

 

 

 

 

Little Orange Man

 

A beautifully charming and tragic evening with Kitt, a little girl whose imagination is filled with dark old-school fairy tales and internet fueled information overload. Follow her as she discusses her Dutch grandfather, the kids at school and her experiments with dreams and astral projection. Sandwiches become puppets, celery turns into slug men, and a bike helmet becomes a brain focusing device.

Ingrid Hansen creates a real and believable character in her performance, from her speech patterns right down to the girl’s physical mannerisms and childish movements.

Well written and performed expertly, it’s easy to lose yourself in Kitt’s world. Little Orange Man is a must see performance.

Courtney Bard Smith

Venue 5 St. Andrew’s School Gym

Thurs. Sept. 1, 8:15 p.m.

Sat. Sept. 3, 6:45 p.m.

Sun. Sept. 4, 8:45 p.m.

 

 

 

 

The Magic Soup Stone

 

Please do yourself some good and get out to see a show put on by The Story Theatre Company.  I bust my gut for nearly the entire 55 minutes of this performance.  The appeal is bred of two sources: writer/director Jim Leard’s insight into the hearts and minds of children and adults alike, and the absolute fervor in which the act is delivered.  The three actors blasted through situations rife with underlying humour, all the while conveying actual values to the audience.  It is deftly written, and the interaction that occurs reminds oneself of the very nature of the Fringe: human excitement and exploration; being strong; finding humour so sweet amidst the craziness of the world; becoming like a child (if you aren’t already one); interaction and surprise.  Starting off scripted and then letting the stories travel where they may via audience interaction, we were treated to tales on greed, conservation, trickery, a Chihuahua dog-sled team and Spider Man’s breakfast adventure with stewed liver and yoghurt.  Who knows what you’ll see?!!  Just make sure to get yourself, your kids, your uncles and your synchronized swim club out to a show by this local troupe (this one, or Aladdin’s Secret Voyage) because they are bursting with magic energy, and you will all be sure to come out of it so happy to be alive.  The talent is astounding.

Brody Slater

Venue 3 Metro Studio Theatre

Wed. Aug. 31, 11 a.m.

Thurs. Sept. 1, 11 a.m.

Fri. Sept. 2, 11 a.m.

Sat. Sept. 3, 11 a.m.

Sun. Sept. 4, 11 a.m.

 

 

 

 

My First Time

 

Within the first five minutes of entering the room, greeted by a young brunette in black stocking and luscious curves, it was apparent that everyone here was thinking the same thing; sex. Not just any regular bumping and humping but that first-time awkward, romantic, accidental, out of this world encounter that can never be lost with time.

My First Time is based off of the website myfirsttime.com where thousands of people from around the world have posted the juicy details of their first sexual encounter.

The night was an arousing photo album brought to life through short monologues by actors, Nicoal Berg, Ben Wert, Matt Janzen, Mandy Dyck. It allowed the audience to peer into that dank, moldy basement of the teenage couple boning for the first time on a pile of dirty laundry. At make-out point we shook our heads in disbelief when a bottle of cola was opened, shaken, and inserted as a douche fabled to prevent pregnancy. We rode the crowded subway with the man who accidently bumped, and bumped, and bumped the stranger in front of him who later thanked him for the ride but did not provide a name.

This talented cast effortlessly balanced humour, tragedy, passion, and longing. Notably, actor Janzen used a range of spot-on accents and fabulously flamboyant gestures to enthusiastically bring his characters to life. At one point he ran boisterously into the crowd for high-fives after joining the Mile High Club. At points, the crowd burst into laughter, nudging their partner beside them with winks, as if Led Zeppelin, NFL bed sheets, and Disneyland somehow conjured up long forgotten memories. And although the entire 60 minutes had been completely about sex for the first time, I’m positive once the audience left, the rest of their Saturday night was dedicated to ‘the next time’.

By: Nicky Nadeau

Venue 10 Dance Victoria

Thurs. Sept. 1, 9:30 p.m.

Sat. Sept. 3, 4:15 p.m.

 

 

 

One Man’s Trash

Vancouver comic Andrew Barber packs a lot into his show: he plays four different characters in serial fashion, and screens wacky home movies in between costume changes. His first character, a paralyzingly unfunny stand-up comedy nerd, becomes sort-of funny, despite himself as it were, but the material seems forced. Next up is a “serious” – or seriously deluded – ACTOR who condescends to the audience from the lofty heights of someone whose stint with the Vernon Theatrical Society has made him the new Brando. Next up is a creepy Lawrence Welk-style singer who works exclusively in seniors’ homes. Then comes an insufferably self-absorbed 16-year-old girl who redefines narcissism. Barber is clearly talented and creative, but the people he plays are closer to sketch-comedy stereotypes than the deeper “characters” he aspires to present. That said, he definitely won over the rambunctious audience, and threw in a few clever surprises to boot. If you don’t mind your laughs on the broad side, take in this Trash

.

Robert Moyes

Venue 2 Victoria Event Centre

Thurs. Sept. 1, 7 p.m.

Sat. Sept. 3, 5:45 p.m.

Sun. Sept 4, 4:30 p.m.

 

 

 

 

Out of my Head

 

Victoria’s Random Samples Theatre provide a random set of sketches for this hour-long variety show, which is being filmed for a online television pilot.

There’s dance, comedy, integrated videos and audience participation; even coaching on applause and a chance to be part of a a real-life laugh track.

I saw the first of three episodes being filmed for the project, each showing for two nights only. Audiences on Wed. Aug. 31 and Thurs Sept. 1 will see “Hey Baby or The Women” and Sat. Sept. 3 and Sun Sept. 4 audiences will see “The Christmas Show.”

Be glad though, that you didn’t see Episode 1 “Around town,” with a confusing CBC spoof called “The Guy White Show” about a goateed grandmother and her test tube babies and other distasteful jokes about Alzheimer’s and handicapped beggars. The saving grace was the theatre sports style improv with audience suggestions at the end of the hour.

This show has potential to be entertaining, but the opening night was dull and a little confusing. I hope they turn it around for future audiences.

Mary Ellen Green

Venue 3 Metro Studio Theatre

Wed. Aug. 31, 6:15 p.m.

Thurs. Sept. 1, 9:45 p.m.

Sat. Sept. 3, 8:15 p.m.

Sun. Sept. 4, 6:45 p.m.

 

 

 

 

PETER ‘N CHRIS AND THE MYSTERY OF THE HUNGRY HEART MOTEL

 

Fringe veterans Peter Carlone and Chris Wilson are back for their next installment of the Peter ‘n Chris Show. This time, the pair is on the run from a murderous hotel manager when they’re forced to spend the night in a motel due to a car accident.

Carlone and Wilson immediately had the sold-out audience in stitches and this continued until the very end. The friends play well off one another and their physical comedy and perfect timing push the momentum of the show along well.

Carlone and Wilson play themselves as well as other characters in the Hungry Heart Motel and have no problem poking fun at themselves or each other. Carlone’s portrayal of a hipster artist received the most laughs from the audience but everyone giggled throughout the show.

This show is hysterical and fun, but also extremely popular. If you decide to make the trip to the Hungry Heart Motel, make sure you show up early or you’ll be disappointed.

Kim Magi

Venue 12 Canadian College of Performing Arts

Wed. Aug. 31, 7:30 p.m.

Fri. Sept. 2, 5:45 p.m.

Sat. Sept. 3, 5:45 p.m.

Sun. Sept. 4, 7:15 p.m.

 

 

 

Phone Whore

This one-woman play takes the concept of “talk dirty to me” to an unsettlingly explicit level, including referencing normally taboo topics like coprophillia and inter-racial gangbangs. Imagine sex columnist Dan Savage as a chubby brunette in a flouncy dressing gown and fuzzy slippers and that’s Boston’s Cameryn Moore, a real life phone sex worker, who lets us eavesdrop as she doles out lurid sex fantasies to her clientele. In between calls she talks to the audience about what she does for a living, how the phone-sex business works, and who her clients are – many of them straight men who somehow need a big dose of fantasy gay porn in their lives. Her intent is not primarily to shock, at least until the final sequence, which ventures into truly disturbing territory. “You’re pretty quiet,” says Moore afterwards. It’s been a deliberate provocation, and a lead-in for her to talk about the difference between fantasy and reality and how phone sex can serve as a safety valve (one hopes). Bravely refusing to judge her clients, Moore presents as a sane therapist-enabler who feels comfortable in the darker corners of human sexuality.

Robert Moyes

Venue 2 Victoria Event Centre

Wed. Aug. 31, 6 p.m.

Sat. Sept. 3, 4 p.m.

Sun. Sept. 4 2:45 p.m.

 

 

 

 

Pickin n’ Shtick

 

In this 55-minute stand up, performer Tony Molesworth strummed the banjo and told cheesy one-liners to an unimpressed audience.  It reminded me of having dinner at a friends house whose father continues to make bad jokes that embarrass her and make the rest of the family feel uncomfortable. He seamed pretty uncomfortable up there at times because no one was really laughing. That’s what happens though when you make poor jokes about touchy subjects such as religion and race. He preformed a few hilarious songs while picking away but even then they didn’t sound very original, often putting lyrics over already existing melodies. The only thing that saved this uncomfortable show was his amazing juggling act at the end that included a green pepper that he proceeded to eat while still juggling.

Alison Heard

Venue 4 VCM Wood Hall

Wed. Aug. 31, 7:45 p.m.

Thurs. Sept. 1, 9:30 p.m.

Fri. Sept. 2, 6 p.m.

Sat. Sept. 3, 12:30 p.m.

 

 

 

 

Pink Shoelaces

 

A teen-age girl recounts the events of the last month and the related suicide of her friend in this spiritual tale of bullying, depression and the desire for acceptance. Not what you’d call the most original story, but the choice of narrator as a confused and flawed teenager does set this story slightly apart from others, along with it’s use of humour and high school wit to balance out this play’s dark overtones and help to humanize the cast.

While this play covers difficult subject matter, it never feels particularly deep. The characters are portrayed competently and the script is functional, but it lacks finesse. The potential of this piece is obvious, but needs a little more reworking to let the emotional impact really sink into the audience.

Courtney Bard Smith

Venue 8 Langham Court Theatre

Sat. Sept. 3, 2 p.m.

Sun. Sept. 4, 4:45 p.m.

 

 

 

Rerentless

 

M-Award comedy winner Wes Borg and Atomic Vaudeville’s Morgan Cranny star in this brand new bromantic comedy about two video game obsessed roommates who let time fly by— oblivious to the fact that just like last month, rent will eventually have to be paid.

After an amusingly blurry 23 straight days of video games and pizza runs, they find themselves flat broke and in mourning— their beloved benefactor Grampy Gramps has passed away, leaving the power bill unpaid and the roommates in the dark with not much more than a couple of light sabres to guide their way.

Between bong hits, fart jokes and awkward morning wood discoveries, the two spooning underachievers come up with a few sordid plans to make rent. Hilarity ensues.

Will they sell pot? Will they make gay porn? (yes!) Will they make money (and free food) blogging about pizza? Will they ever make rent?

Borg’s quick wit and Cranny comedic timing make Rerentless more fun than barrel of stoned monkeys re-enacting a slow-motion killing spree in a scene from Resident Evil.

Directed by J McLaughlin, this production by One Dead Troll and a Cranny will make you laugh relentlessly.

Mary Ellen Green

Venue 3 Metro Studio Theatre

Wed. Aug. 31, 8 p.m.

Fri. Sept. 2, 9:45 p.m.

Sat. Sept. 3, 6:15 p.m.

 

 

 

 

The Return of Love

 

Engaging our current obsession with technology, The Return of Love takes us to the year 2072, a time when laws have been instated to keep humans from touching.  Dr. Dipuc (Cupid backwards :P) addresses the audience as a seminar that he is giving after the opening of a time capsule from the 1970’s.  His character is awkward, stiff and chortling in his white lab coat.  I really couldn’t tell if that was the true intent or that actor Mitch Barnes felt nervous on opening night.  I would wager that he could loosen up a tad and the whole performance would lift pleasantly.  Dr. Spencer, played by Barnes’ real-life wife of 29 years, Jo, stands up from the audience dressed in black silk and a red leather skirt.  The actual relation between the two actors makes for a pleasing dynamic in the characters themselves.  Jo Barnes commands her role as Dr. Spencer opines that human sex life is far better, now that “Human Replica Sex Androids” are in place, where you can sleep with anyone you like at all.  Rounding out the cast was Claire Pepper, playing the clinical Dr. Windsor with ebullience.  With just the tightening of a few screws, this could be a pleasant show after all.

Brody Slater

Venue 4 VCM Wood Hall

Thurs. Sept. 1, 6 p.m.

Sat. Sept.3, 2:15 p.m.

Sun. Sept.4, 6:45 p.m.

 

 

 

THE SERVICE

 

Walking into The Service, the audience is greeted by Melvin, the manager of a coffee shop who takes his job far too seriously. Played by Jesse Cowell, Melvin turns out to be the most dynamic and believable character who strings the show along.

At the beginning of the story, Melvin hires Joanne and encourages her to read the company’s policies (a binder which she can barely lift because there are so many). The storyline briefly explores the way corporations treat their staff and their uniform expectations, but then Joanne is left to deal with customers that range from normal to outrageous – including a time traveler.

The story takes a turn for the weird when ex-employees uncover the company’s secret and enlist Joanne to help them take the coffee shop down.

Unfortunately, each of the characters in The Service is over-exaggerated, which only works well for Melvin, who, as the antagonist, isn’t supposed to be the most likeable character in a story.

Kim Magi

Venue 5 St. Andrew’s School Gym

Wed. Aug. 31, 8:15 p.m.

Sat. Sept. 3, 5 p.m.

Sun. Sept. 4, 5:30 p.m.

 

 

 

 

SmartArse

 

When he’s not fast-talking his way around the international Fringe circuit, UK performance poet Rob Gee teaches his craft to school kids—the things an artist needs to do to get paid these days! His time in the classroom has brought him to an important conclusion: kids are universally more entertaining then all his Facebook friends combined (the audience will get to attest to this with he performs poems composed be each of them). Gee’s show takes the audience back in time, with stories of his upbringing, to drive home the point that we all lost something as we grew older. His always-hilarious monologues will leave you wishing you weren’t too old for a good game of tag. You’ll want to plan ahead to make sure you get a spot for this one, nearly all 300 seats were full for his opening night.

-Sam Van Schie

Venue 6: St. Ann’s Academy

Wed. Aug. 31, 8:15 p.m.

Thurs. Sept. 1, 9:30 p.m.

Sat. Sept. 3, 4:45 p.m.

Sun. Sept. 4, 7:45 p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

The Smell of the Kill

 

Discover married ladies deepest darkest demons in The Smell of the Kill. This hilariously dark play about three friends who could not be more different finding some things in common—a love of gossip and a hatred for their husbands—isn’t your typical falling out of love story.

The play starts off with the kind of tension and bickering you’d expect to find on a Desperate Housewives episode: three ladies in the kitchen cleaning up after dinner while their husbands (who remain off stage and out of sight for the whole play) practice their putting in the dining room while calling out requests to their wives.

As each lady takes turns leaving the room for one reason or another, the other two set right into gossip, unearthing their darkest family secrets; one husband being unfaithful, another indicted for embezzlement, and the last an asexual relationship covered up with ‘I love yous’.

As the show progresses it becomes clearer that something sinister is going to happen. Nicky, played by Lorene Cammiade who is very commanding in her role as the career minded and frustrated new wife and mother, leads the team of ladies in an exit strategy when the opportunity presents itself to dispose of her meat crazed husband, along with the other two men, without having to deal with the headaches that come along with divorce.

The Smell of the Kill is the perfect date night for those guys who hate going to romantic comedies.

Mary Ellen Green

Venue 3 Metro Studio Theatre

Thurs. Sept. 1, 6:15 p.m.

Sun. Sept. 4, 3:15 p.m.

 

 

 

 

Sonnets for an Old Century

On their way to the afterlife, the recently deceased line up for their final chance to say something about their lives. Their last words, a series of 17 mostly-unconnected monologues, offer a glimpse at the pride, anger or remorse they carry to their grave.

Adapted from a 30-character script by American playwright José Rivera,*Sonnets for an Old Century* isn’t your typical Fringe fare. It doesn’t try to be an instant crowd pleaser. There’s no chance to connect with the characters that come and go in frustratingly fast succession (like life itself, perhaps).

The all-local cast embodies their multiple characters well, under the direction of Holly Jonson who also takes a few roles in the show (including my personal favourite, a bitter Puerto Rican mother of 16 children) with music mixed live by Soma Sound’s Eric Hogg.

There is a common thread of suffering in this stories—whether with disability, addiction or poverty—that gives the sense that they may not all entirely regret having it all over. There were several wet eyes among the appreciative audience on opening night.

Sam Van Schie

Venue 8: Langham Court.

Wed. Aug. 31, 9 p.m.

Fri. Sept. 2, 5:30 p.m.

Sun. Sept. 4, 12:45 p.m.

 

 

 

 

The Sparrow and the Mouse: Creating the Music of Edith Piaf

Famed French singer Edith Piaf’s life has been the subject of no fewer than eight English plays, four feature films and four autobiographies, never mind everything that’s been produced about her in French. Suffice to say, her rags to riches story is a compelling one.

So you can’t blame New York-based opera singer Melanie Gall for wanting to tell it again. Written and performed solo by Gall, *The Sparrow and the Mouse focuses on Piaf’s early years of, as seen through the eyes of her adoring half-sister Simone. She sticks to the known-facts and uses the narrative mostly to carry her from song-to-song.

Gall is best in this show when she’s singing. Her acting, however, is slow and appears forced at times. She struggles with transitions between her two characters, using an audio recording of her voice to help distinguish who you’re looking at on stage. But fans of Piaf will forgive her this and be glad she does a marvelous job with the music.

Sam Van Schie

Venue 6: St. Ann’s Academy

Thurs. Sept. 1, 7:45

Sat. Sept. 3, 1:15

Sun. Sept 4, 12:15 p.m.

 

 

 

Spitting in the Face of the Devil

The Devil, according to Bob Brander, is his father: the man that ruthlessly abused him both physically and verbally from a young age and, as he would learn as a teenager, also sexually assaulted some of the young boys he grew up with. *Spitting in the Face of the Devil is Brander’s true story of survival.

Don’t let the grim subject matter turn you away. Brander contrasts the reality of his home life with the humour and optimism of his boyhood adventures. He’s matter of fact about all that happened to him and how the adults in his life did little to prevent it.

Though he doesn’t dwell on it, *Spitting draws attention to the lack of social resources to support families trying flee abuse and our cultures blame-the-victim mentality. Brander’s father was never charged nor socially ostracized for his crimes; he died a popular man, well-liked man. Which makes this tell-all show all the more important and brave.

Sam Van Schie

Venue 6: St. Ann’s Academy

Wed. Aug. 31, 6 p.m.

Fri. Sept. 2, 7:45

Sat. Sept. 3, 6:30

Sun. Sept. 4, 3:45

 

 

 

 

Stalemate

 

Stalemate is a clever comedy playing off the style of Abbott and Costello. The show takes place around a chess match between two friends, but as the show carries on, it’s not certain whether they are in fact friends, or if they’re two people that met in the park to play a match.

The show’s young actors hold their own very well throughout the play, which has some extremely fast-paced dialogue, which kept the audience on the edge of their seats the entire time.

The costumes – dress shirts and pants with red and black suspenders – fit in well with the simple set and don’t distract from the dialogue. The lighting design – including the chessboard being lit from below – is fantastic.

The only bad thing about Stalemate is its short running time. It was over and done with in under half an hour. However, if you’re looking for a palate cleanser in between shows, this will do the trick for sure.

Kim Magi

Venue 5 St. Andrew’s School Gym

Wed. Aug. 31, 10 p.m.

Fri. Sept. 2, 6:30 p.m.

Sun. Sept. 4, 7:15 p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Struwwelpeter

 

Two young children find a book of nursery rhymes in the attic of their grandmothers home. At first they are weary of the oddly named Struwwelpeter but curiosity gets the best of them. They read aloud dark stories like Naughty Little Sucker Thumb who has his thumbs snipped off by sharp scissors, and Fidgety Phillip who can’t sit still at the dinner table causing the entire table to fall upon him.  Although the stories do have horrific fates, they are not particularly gruesome. The cast from the Suspicious Mustache Theatre Company put on a quality performance with minimal props and simple costumes. This performance is most suited for a younger viewing audience.

Nicky Nadeau

Venue 8 Langham Court Theatre

Thurs. Sept. 1, 7 p.m.

Sat. Sept. 3, 7:30 p.m.

 

 

 

 

The Suckerpunch

 

One word for The Suckerpunch: Wow.

Brent Hirose explores what would happen if you were given the chance to turn back time for five seconds through a few characters, including a money-hungry doctor, stuttering poet and troubled security guard. Every character in the show has experienced regret and turning the clock back five seconds either makes or breaks them. Hirose touches upon heartbreak, indecision, loss and betrayal and proves he’s a dynamic actor who can be charming and vulnerable at the same time.

The show’s momentum never slows down and Hirose’s precise physicality of each character makes it so you know which character’s turn it is before he’s even spoken. It’s unusual to be so drawn in by a one-man show with minimal set and lighting design, but Hirose manages to do this flawlessly.

Although the show has a serious theme, there are also parts that had the audience laughing out loud throughout.

Do yourself a favour and go see this show.

Kim Magi

Venue 5 St. Andrew’s School Gym

Wed. Aug. 31, 6:30 p.m.

Fri. Sept. 2, 8 p.m.

Sat. Sept. 3, 1:30 p.m.

 

 

 

 

THE TIRADES OF LOVE

 

The best thing about THE TIRADES OF LOVE and physical theatre in general, is that the story is completely up for interpretation from the audience. I brought a friend who had never seen a show like this before and while we both thought it was about two different things, we could both agree that we loved it.

A young cast featuring many of UVic’s Phoenix Theatre students and grads, Angie Lopez stands out as a young girl learning about love, including heartbreak, lust, betrayal and trust.

The addition of top 40 songs (Katy Perry and Rihanna for example) make this unique performance more accessible for audience members who are inexperienced in this style.

Andrew Barrett (also the director) and Emily Piggford are breathtaking in chalky white as they guide Lopez through the different variations of love.

Starting at 8 p.m., the show continues into the dark with white, blue and red lights illuminating the trees at Point Ellice House without giving the set too much of a cheesy Butchart Gardens feel.

If you’ve never seen physical theatre before – make this your first one.

Kim Magi

Venue 11 Point Ellice House

Wed. Aug. 31, 8 p.m.

Thurs. Sept.1, 8 p.m.

Fri. Sept. 2, 8 p.m.

Sat. Sept. 3, 8 p.m.

 

 

 

 

[Title of Show]

 

This show was 87-89% tremendous (it lagged in the late quarter).  Each of the cast was certainly indelible in their own way.  The skipping runs & bouncing pageantry of live “accompanist” Phil Hallman were phenomenal, as well as his one-off lines as fifth character Larry.  The last musical I saw was probably Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in 1993, a fact which I’m sure when read by the cast or crew of [title of show] will prompt a slagging of my review skillz as a total newb.  But this was waaay better than Joseph.  Screw Donny Osmond.  Both Izad Etemadi and Pat Rundell were powerhouses of energetic comedy, and the timbre of their voices unified perfectly in the exceptional acoustics of the Victoria Event Centre (1415 Broad St).  Sarah Carlé and Stephanie Geehan provided the balancing force led by amazing pipes and feverish wit.  [title of show] dragged on through a portion of the last thirty minutes, but the remarkable flair with which the remainder was delivered made for a great day at the theatre.  To quote a number from mid-show: “The air freshener vampire doesn’t want you to write about bad language, love or blowjobs.”  I was humming the tunes for the rest of the night.

Brody Slater

Venue 2 Victoria Event Centre

Thurs. Sept. 1, 4:45 p.m.

Sat. Sept. 3, 8 p.m.

Sun. Sept. 4, 12:30 p.m.

 

 

 

 

The Troubles

 

Based on the conflict in Northern Ireland, The Troubles draws on the personal accounts of five different characters all played by Stephanie Henderson. This one act play takes place at a bus stop where Henderson emotionally describes her thoughts and reasons for wanting to get away from it all. In this historical and political drama the audience is filled in on what’s really going on in Belfast. Henderson acts with such emotion and is such an incredible storyteller. She really engages the audience while still keeping the overall mood to the play. At the end of the act she grounds everyone with a simple reminder, “If it’s not actually happening to you, you never know what is really going on.”

Alison Heard

Venue 7 Fairfield Hall

Thurs. Sept. 1, 6 p.m.

Sat. Sept. 3, 5:45 p.m.

Sun. Sept. 4, 7 p.m.

 

 

 

 

The Ukrainian Dentist’s Daughter

 

The beautiful Yana Kesala blew the audience away by her pure and seemingly effortless portrayal of a young Ukrainian bride waiting at the alter for her two-hour late husband. With spare time on her hands she recalls her life to this point. She regresses back and forth from her childhood as the daughter of a camp dentist in 1946 Munich, her move to America, the barriers she faced as an immigrant, her first love, and the harsh words and hurtful actions of her mother.

Kesala is a talented actress who not only plays the bride-to-be but also acts the parts of the secondary characters in her life. She captivates the audience with her smooth change from the thick Ukrainian accented father, to the inner city nun from New York.

Kesala is genuine and elegant on stage. This act of inviting viewers into her family’s past was greatly appreciated. Her story and performance pulled on heartstrings and is a must-see at this year’s Fringe Festival.

By: Nicky Nadeau

Venue 7 Fairfield Hall

Sat. Sept. 3, 12:45 p.m.

Sun. Sept. 4, 3:45 p.m.

 

 

 

 

Whiskey Bar: a kabarett with the songs of Kurt Weill

 

Actor Bremner Duthie plays a struggling, unconfident singer who is obsessed with the German-Jewish composer Kurt Weill. In this one man musical show, the audience plays the role of a reporter there to interview Weill for his comeback show. As he proceeds to get ready he answers awkwardly to the tough questions the reporter poses. The audience can’t help but sympathize with Weill’s struggles with alcohol and his career. This is an amazingly frantic and captivating 58-minute performance full of singing, dancing and a little humor.

Alison Heard

Venue 4 VCM Wood Hall

Thurs. Sept. 1, 7:45 p.m.

Sat. Sept. 3, 9:45 p.m.

 

 

 

 

Wonderbar!

 

Meet Katrina: a middle-aged German who immigrated to Canada to escape the self-loathing in her birthplace after it was defeated in war. She came looking for a better life, but hasn’t had much luck finding it. Her husband left her, one of her children died and the other ran off with a much-older man. And when the recession hit, she lost her high-earning job, her home and her savings.

She’s working in a dress shop for minimum wage when Rudi, a rich and charming art collector, begins courting her. Wanting to believe her luck is finally changing, and that she may finally be able to make her ex-husband jealous, Katrina allows herself to be cautiously wooed. But some things seem a bit good to be true.

This masterfully performed, 90-minute(!) solo show spans four countries in one woman’s search for happiness. A bit predictable in parts, the show still manages to be richly entertaining, and the time flies by.

-Sam Van Schie

Venue 9: University Canada West

Wed. Aug. 31, 9 p.m.

Fri. Sept. 2, 5:30

Sat. Sept. 3, noon

 

 

 

Zack Adams: Love Songs for Future Girl

 

Shane Adamczak brings his lovably awkward character Zack Adams to Victoria for the very first time. Although this is a musical show, the songs aren’t the star here— it’s Zack’s quick wit and clever jokes that kept the audience chuckling throughout the show.

His 55 minute musical comedy cabaret will take you on a journey through the loves of his life, from the innocent days of primary school, through the incredibly awkward teen years and finally into university days where he can finally call one of the many ladies he sings about, all named Laura, his official girlfriend.

Although all of the songs don’t have jokes, this Just For Laughs Award nominated show about a gawky musician and his bushy ginger beard will uplift you and tell you what (not) to do in the game called love.

Mary Ellen Green

Venue 6 St. Ann’s Academy

Fri. Sept. 2, 6p.m.

Sat. Sept. 3, 3p.m.

Sun. Sept. 4, 6p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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