Okay, so i did five volunteer shifts (4 hours each) at the Winnipeg Fringe (July 16-27), and ended up seeing 14 shows out of a possible 140.
Shows i saw, in addition to the ones reviewed below:
- The Green Zone — I saw Winnipeg modern dance icon Jolene Bailie‘s solo show at the Vancouver Fringe years ago, and i just didn’t get it. All those shrugs, dramatic pauses, flailing limbs … i just didn’t have the movement vocabulary to make any sense of it. This time around, though: gorgeous. The movement was riveting, the lighting highly dramatic (something missing from every other Fringe show i saw), and it all somehow made sense. Jo has matured as a performer, and maybe i have too as an audience. Five stars.
- Totem Figures — Vancouver’s TJ Dawe, perennial Fringe workhorse, tells how it’s been for ten years of Fringing, in 90 minutes of wide-ranging, rapid-fire monologue that’ll make you listen closely and think hard to keep up. Impressive, but i’d like to have see a bit more theatricality (i.e. motion, lighting, variations in tone of voice). * * * * nonetheless.
- sucker — Truly creepy show about pedophilia, but not like you’re thinking, you fucking pervert. Men, stay away if you are anywhere near mid-life crisis. My gut wants to say two, but four stars for Fringeworthy impact.
- The Red Handkerchief — an ambitious pas de deux (quatre if you count the mannequins). Relationship story with ingenious theatrical twists — maybe too much so. Three stars.
- Manners for Men — I have to acknowledge this was well acted, by Justin Sage-Passant; it takes skill to maintain such a d-e-a-d s-l-o-w pace throughout, along with such rock-steady characterization of a wingeing momma’s boy. Not much of a story, though. I wanted to shake the piss out of the guy after five minutes. 3 stars.
- American Squatter — American humourist Barry Smith basically gives a PowerPoint show about his growing-up years, including living in a London squat. The delivery was smooth, the PowerPoint slides were okay, but really … PowerPoint? 2 or 3 stars, depending.
And more importantly, shows i want to see at the Vancouver Fringe, based on reviews and scuttlebutt heard on the Winipeggy streets:
- jem rolls: How I learned to stop worrying and love the mall — the best of spoken word and storytelling
- The Tricky Part — a tough subject (child abuse from the abusee’s point of view), but powerfully written and superbly acted. Played to rave reviews.
- Guernica — Deep, dark dance, a.k.a. physical theatre.
- The Aethernomicon — it’s got puppets. Can’t resist that!
- The Shakespeare Show or, How an illiterate son of a glover became the greatest playwright in the world — because it ain’t da Fringe unless there’s a Shakespeare angle.
- Yorick! See mandatory Shakespeare reference above.
- Crude Love — “a cynical eco-warrior falls in love with a Newfie woman dump truck driver in the harsh Alberta oil sands”
- How to Fake Clinical Depression — ’cause i might need to know about this sometime.
- ImproVision: Fast, Loose & Lovely — had the best posters, and ya gotta see at least one improv.
- The Wrong Hole — because i can’t resist the title. Sketch comedy.
- Sherlock Holmes & the Saline Solution — top marks from critics and audience.
- Demons of the Mind — ‘Cause i’m a sucker for dance.
- Spiral Dive — cousin Jim liked it.
- It’s a Gay Gay Gay Gay World. Maybe if i’m in a gay mood.
Plus about 30 others, of course. It’s the Fringe, it’s s’posed to be a crapshoot. Be adventurous.
Most of these shows are heading west for the Calgary Fringe (Aug. 1-10), Edmonton Fringe (Aug. 14-24), Victoria Fringe (Aug. 21-31), and Vancouver Fringe (Sept. 3-14). Catch them — and a dozen more — when you can!