Fringe ’09, Part 1

Because I’m bored and don’t know what to post for the next week…the 1 Year late FRINGE ‘09 REVIEW (Part 1)!

It was the summer of 2009, and…oh, who cares.  I tried this bit the last time, and it didn’t fly, so let’s get right to it.  Except that my Fringe experience THIS time actually got off to an early start.  I work at a pub on Bank st. called the Clocktower and, about 3 days before the Fringe started, I was on my bike and heading up the street to start the ride home after work.  I was on the sidewalk at the time, just for a block to get to the crosswalk and everything, when I passed someone and skidded to a halt.  She noticed, and I turned back, and I was right.

It was Amy Salloway.

So I asked her, ‘are you Amy Salloway?’  To which she, a little surprised, answered yes, and I told her I’d seen her in CIRCUMFERENCE the year before and loved it, and would be definitely seeing her new show this year.  She merrily thanked me, kind darling that she is, and I sped away, taking this sign as a good omen for Fringe to come.  And since Fringe can, as yet, do no wrong, I was right.

It turned out, in fact, that Amy’s new show HEEBS AND DWEEBS, was my very first turn at the ‘09 Fringe.  Sold out, because Amy Salloway fucking OWNS Ottawa and that’s all there is to it, and she killed it even WITH an unfinished show.    A good start.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Queen of O-Town.

Met up with the Jammy then, and we hoofed it up all thirty flights of stairs to Studio 311 for GOOD PEOPLE, a very cool and very physical two-hander about why good folks do bad things.  Then we ran right back down for the opening of NO EXIT UPSTAGE, a show involving someone with the awkward name of FamousActressNancyKenny, which just happened to be kinda sorta awesome (tho I wish it had been longer…keep working it, Kenny!).  I finished opening night off with ANTIQUE BLISS, an ensemble piece about what may have been an alternate future thing, or maybe a historical piece…it was kinda cool, but I didn’t really get it, so I’m just gonna say it was good and leave it at that.

Day 2 started with SAVE POINT, a play cooked up by a Mom and her sons about falling into a video game world, and…okay, I like to be kind in these things, and that’s because I have fucking ENORMOUS respect for anyone who gets up on stage, live, to entertain my ass…but Save Point was, shall we say, not Shakespeare.  But still, it WAS charming..!  Everyone in the audience loved these people, and saw the fun they were having, and that MADE it fun for all of us.  It was shambotic amateur madness at its finest, and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

It also ended sooner than I expected, so I hustled it to Café Alt and managed to catch INCLEMENT WEATHER.  This was the first of two MiCasa shows at that years Fringe, and…wow.  Especially for a silent movie fan like me?  Fucking WOW.  Nick DiGaetano deserves some major respect for that show, and at least from me?  He’s got it.  I would end up being lucky enough to see it again, later that year.
Next was WILD ABANDON at the SAW, a Dan MacIvor play starring Zach Counsil.  It’s playing again this year, with Zach again, so I won’t give anything away, but see it.  Counsil has NO problem mesmerizing an audience for an hour, believe me.   Finished day 2 off with SPIRAL DIVE PART 1, and almost too-perfect 3-hander war epic, which…shit, just put it in the NAC and charge me money for it now, I’ll SEE it.  These fuckers are in a bloody league of their own.  The lady miss Laura Harris (of whom we shall speak more later) told me their show belonged more in the Magnetic North festival than Fringe.  Having never been (tho now I want to), I will take her at her word.

The first Saturday of that ‘09 Fringe started with CHATROOM, by the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama crew.  It was quite fun!  They missed the closing line,  I think…one wannabe writer to one real one, and all…but it was still a cool show.  Next was Laura Harris’ (see?) PITCH BLOND, about the life and McCarthy-turmoil-ism of actress Judy Holliday.  It was a fucking smash, and I was blown away.  When I met her the next day in a coffeeshop, and we chatted, it was like normal people meeting Julia Roberts.  That’s what people don’t understand about me.  Fringe performers?  They’re my movie stars. FUCK movie stars.  They’re filthy rich, I know why THEY do it.  These Fringe cats?  They just need to be on stage.  They NEED it.  If they have to work a day job to get by, so be it.    That’s why I’ll never be overly critical here, unless there’s some nazi or baby-raping shit involved.

Seriously, don't go there.

Back on topic.  After Laura’s show was a local bit called DUEL, which I actually hadn’t planned on seeing.  I’m glad I did, it was hysterical and inspired madness with exploding tomatoes.  I actually talked to one of the performers from that show today (as I write this), and reminded her how much I loved that show.  And there’s that.

And then there’s CATGUT STRUNG VIOLIN.  That’s the next show I saw that day.  I hadn’t even planned on seeing it, I just had an opening…I didn’t know what to expect.  I’d met the boys from Albuquerque a few times already, in lines for other shows, and fuck but they were gents.  I didn’t know what to expect…

It was maybe the best thing I’ve ever seen in my life.  Insanely brilliant physical comedy mixed with historical satire and a twinge of drama…these guys have my love forEVER.
Okay, Im catching my breath…still miles to go, yes?  Hell, the night wasn’t even over!  Next up was THE BEER TENT, which happily took place at the Royal Oak, which meant I could drink.  And it was really funny!  I didn’t understand 9/10ths of the Ottawa theatrical references they were dropping, but I understood it was funny.  And I managed enough time to stagger off to the beer tent proper before the circus folk arrived to take me away. Namely, PIRATE JENNY’S CIRCUS, Bronwyn Steinberg’s show based on the wise and mad ramblings of Bertolt Brecht, mixed in with a little bit of the Doors for good measure. It was a grand bloody time. And it was a great show.  The pirates came in the night..!



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