Shain, Winnipeg or Bust

So I hit the road today despite the moiderous heat (and yes, yes, I know what our man Switters said, that there’s nothing more useless than complaining about the weather.  But when said weather comes with a health advisory, I feel somewhat justified) to catch me some much-needed theatre.  My post-Fringe ennui is setting in hard, and I needs me a stage to set it right!  So it was off to the GCTC studio to catch the preview show of Alan Shain’s new comedy, TIME TO PUT MY…

…wait, sorry, did you say ‘sold out’..?  Oh.  And tomorrow, too??  Uh, how about Friday, is Friday…?  Oh, Friday’s good?  Great, great.  See you Friday, then.  Great.

So what the FUCK do I do tonite, now?  God-damned charmng bastard Alan Shain, packin’ em in like that…I was all psyched to see a show, and then write a proper review of it!  Because, as much as I enjoyed the booze-fuelled and sleep-deprived madness that was my eleven days of Fringe-Coma, I do feel like I maybe gave more than a few of the shows I saw the short shrift, review-wise, as a result of the crazy pace I set myself.  Will I slow it down next year?  Mayhaps, I think.  But then again, I do plan on seeing at least two Fringes next year, so there’ll be plenty of half-assed theatre talk coming from me, don’t you worry (and I just picked up my train tickets to catch SUMMERWORKS for a week this August, yay!).

So, with all this pent-up blather denied its Alan-Shain-outlet for tonite, what to do?  Well, I realized that, this being a site on the intertubes, peoples who live places OTHER than Ottawa might chance upon readingt this, and maybe I could use my feeble powers for som good.  So I’m gonna start making up for my drunken, late-nite reviews from the Ottawa Fringe and see what I can do for the Fringes still to come.  Toronto is well under way by this point, so I’m turning my sights to the next big boy on the block…Winnipeg.

Where Guy Maddin goes, I follow!

From what I hear, this is one tough Fringe on perofrmers, a make-or-break kinda town.   So after checking out the July 14-25 playlist for this festival (and dearly, bitterly wishing I was going too), I wanted to give any attendees who stumble upon this post (Winnipeg Fringe Festival!  Take that, Google) my several cents on what to catch during your stay.

First of all, god dammit, is there ever a lot going on at the Winnipeg Fringe.  It SOUNDS great,  but it also exponentially increases the average Fringe Fan’s chances of missing something balls-to-the-wall awesome.  Like, for example:

7 (x1) SAMURAI by David Gaines, a positively breathtaking clown/mime retelling of SevenSamurai.  I’ve raved a couple times here at the Visitorium about this show, and will gladly do so again.  Gaines is not to be missed, but tickets alsoys sold out early here, do what you gotta do.  Same goes for…

CACTUS: THE SEDUCTION, because it’s Jonno Katz, for pitys sake!  Katz is a cruelly talented and funny performer who generally has audiences eating out of his hand by about the end of the first minute.  His physical comedy is fantastic,  and occasionally death-defying, like if Harold Lloyd had been a prima ballerina.  The story stretches impressive comedic and romantic ground, treading bravely onto the plainly naughty and loving every moment of it.  When not performing, Katz is also a pretty gifted director.  he helmed Ellison Zasko’s brilliant show THE SPUTNIKS, as well as music videos for the next folks…

DIE ROTEN PUNKTE: KUNST ROCK  Now, I haven’t seen this particular show, but Otto and Astrid Rot are a good time, period.  Did you watch the video up there?? Get out to catch this show, and be ready to rock bang your heart out.  And then prepare to lose that heart (are you loving these seques or what??) to…

COUNTRIES SHAPED LIKE STARS, from Ottawa’s own MiCasa Theatre.  The darling of last year’s Ottawa Fringe, and deservedly so, Countries tells the fairytale story of the meeting of Gwendolyn Magnificent and Bartholomew Spectacular, with theatre, song, playful lighting, audience interaction, cookies, balloons, and some occasionally cranky dragonfruit.  You will never forget this show, I promise you. 

PHONE WHORE is one I’ve been ruminating on a lot this last week, and not just because creator/star Cameryn Moore is wicked cool (which she is).  But because this show, with its bare bones and holy-shit honest look at this occasionally forgtten aspect of the sex worker industry, is so fucking smart.  It keeps on making me think.  and trust me, I need intellectual stimulation, folks.

AOMEGA is an interesting one, beyond the trippy story about a triplex transdimensional being of pure consciousness invading our reality for who-knows-what purpose.   Performed (which seems like too small a word here ) by Aussie Daniel Nimmo, and for goodness’ sake, do your brain a favour and catch it.  Turnout was actually not great here in Ottawa for Nimmo (a scant dozen at the performance I saw), and I think people are just plain scared of the intensely weird vibe he can hardly contain.  An obviously born entertainer, the man practically defines ‘Fringe’ just by existing, and I’ll say it now…someday this madman is gonna pop HUGE.  And I for one am gonna sit back all smug-like and say ‘Shit, I saw that guy at the SAW gallery once!’.  Daniel Nimmo.  Try not to be afraid.  He comes in peace.

Shit, I’m falling behind, so much to cover…so much for in-depth!  Winnipeg, you’re just too huge! 

...yes, thank you, The Office. Didn't see that one coming.

So what else?  Well, there were must-sees from the Ottawa Fringe like THE PETER N’CHRIS SHOW (the Die Hard of theatrical comedy), A DAY IN THE LIFE OF MISS HICCUP (the Die Hard of one-woman Japanese clown shows), ARCHY AND MEHITABEL (Jeff Culbert’s grand tale of anarchy, rebellion and lust through the eyes of a cockroach and a cat).   And before I forget again, the dee-liteful DALE BEANER AND THE TURTLE BOY, a two-manner with rapid-fire comic godness.

Then there were rock-solid ensemble pieces like IT’S RAINING IN BARCELONA and BILLY STUTTER,  sneaky but brilliant romantic gems like HEART-STRINGS and SEEKING…

And musical goodness!  If Die Roten Punkte aren’t your scene (and what’s wrong with you if that’s the case?), check out crooner Bremner Duthie’s ace cabaret show THE PIG OF HAPPINESS. for the most fun you’ll experience involving a concertina this year.  Colin Godbout, who hit Ottawa this Fringe with his Trans-Canada ’69 show, does Winnipeg with ROUTE ’66, and he’s a genius with the guitar, besides being fiendishly intelligent.  And Randy Rutherford, who I saw a couple years back in Singing at the Edge of the World,  with THE GUITAR TEACHER.  He’s got plenty to teach, so check it out.

And there’s still more!!  Alex Eddington in TIRED CLICHES, Jayson MacDonald in a new solo piece GUNPOWDER (explain to me again why I’m not going to Winnipeg this year..?), SPIRAL DIVE – EPISODE THREE…Episode Three???  I still haven’t seen episode TWO!

This is not even mentioning THIRD TIME LUCKY, by the hilarious Paul Hutcheson of On Second Thought, and Laura Harris’ positively brilliant and beautiful PITCH BLOND, an amazing one-woman show about actress Judy Holliday’s run-in with McCarthyism.  Or any of the other shows at Winnipeg this year that I know nothing about, and which are likely fantastic in their own right.

Okay.  So I didn’t exactly get to go full-on review mode with this one, either…it kinda got away from me, but I hope I did some good.  I’ll be back with, hopefully, a review of that new Alan Shain show (now that I’ve actually got a ticket), and then some more Fringe-across-the-country previews, to the best of my own limited purview.  Windsor, Calgary,  I’m looking at you.

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