FRINGE-COMA 2011 – Preamble

I’ve been feeling terribly out of sorts recently.  I know, it’s pretty much like clockwork with me, but it shouldn’t be happening right now!  It really shouldn’t!  I just wrapped up seeing and reviewing most of the shows for my very first MAGNETIC NORTH festival (and a ding-dang good time it were, even if they didn’t seem very much interested in a small fish like myself writing about their shows.  Ah well.), and am just about to wrap up an action-packed and very satisfying third ‘semester’ at the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama.  I have high hopes for my GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS this wednesday.

And yet still I feel troubled.  Can’t explain it, because…well, it’s almost time, isn’t it?  That most wonderful time of the year, that all the good little boys and girls wait for with anxious dreams and loaded 45’s.  FRINGE time.  It’s coming, THIS Thurday, and you know I’ll be there.  I’ve already got a hoped-for 20 shows plotted out for the first four days alone…it’s gonna be magnificent.  So what’s wrong?
Maybe I’m a little worried?  On account of seeing so many shows while simultaneously drinking and blogging about them almost killed me last year?  And here I am about to embark on that killer road again?  Or maybe I’m concerned about the expectations…I won’t say here, but I got something this year that makes me feel like I really, really have to do a good job with the writing this time around.  No slacking, no sirree!  Maybe that’s it.

It certainly isn’t any concern over the caliber of shows coming my way this year…are you fucking kidding me?  Check it out, meatbags…

MI CASA IS BACK.    Oh yeah…after two sellout shows in the ’09 Fringe, COUNTRIES SHAPED LIKE STARS and INCLEMENT WEATHER, Emily and Nick return with the insanely anticipated LIVE FROM THE BELLY OF A WHALE, itself playing live from the belly of St.Pauls Eastern United.  If it’s any indication, the show hasn’t opened yet and I ALREADY have one of the new songs stuck in my head.

PETER ‘N CHRIS ARE BACK.  The knocked it out of the comedy park last year, won an award, kissed Cat Leger, and now they’s back for more.  PETER’N CHRIS SAVE THE WORLD hits Cafe Alt this Fringe, and I couldn’t be more stoopid with anticipation.

MY PALS HAVE SHOWS.  Yes, I have things called ‘friends’, or at least ‘quite friendly acquaintances’, and some of them have shows hitting the Fringe that I’d push your dear old Grandma down a flight of stairs to see.  Things like May Can’s SOUNDS FROM THE TURTLE SHELL, from the mad minds of Tony Adams and Cory Thibert.  Or Adorkable ™ Nadine Thornhill’s latest COMPLEX NUMBERS, a show so obviously incredible they flat-out refused to allow me to be a part of it!  That spells quality, folks.  My wee OTS gangsters reunite for GLITCH…although it won’t quite be the same without Henry. 😦  And Smooth Tim Oberholzer teams with Salamander Shakespeare for a little open air OTHELLO, which has just got to be good for your circulation.

ZOMBIE PUPPETS.  Shit, yeah.  Dead Unicorn Ink, a gaggle of student-type players have what looks like my early pick for sleeper hit of the Fringe with PLAYING DEAD, sharing Cafe Alt with Peter ‘n Chris.  Courtesy of Mike and Jeremy Doiron, the shrewd duo who brought on 2009’s ridiculously fun DUEL, comes this time-honoured tale of humans versus undead puppets.  Go on, TELL me you’ve got something better to do that day.  Fucking liar.

IMPROV.  Last year at this time, I’ll be honest, I didn’t give a toss about Improv.  It’s true!  But CRUSH IMPROV and the Elmdale Tavern helped me with that little problem, and now I’m itching for all three shows…including Crush’s own SPOTLIGHT ON…, featuring a different guest monologist every performance.  The gang gave us a sneak preview of the format at the last Elmdale show, and sometimes we can forget what a threefold engine of awesome Brad, Cari and Al really are.  Shit’s gonna get real.  Plus Toronto’s SEX T-REX is in town for CALLAGHAN!, and our own INSENSITIVITY TRAINING kicks in with SOMETHING WITH VIRGINS AND CHAINSAWS.

STUFF I’VE NEVER HEARD OF.  Yay, my fav’rit!  Yes, out of this pile of stuff I’ve never seen or heard of before, some or all of it is going to rock my world, shatter my thoughts and potentially change my life.  Theatre can do that crazy kinda stuff, kids.  So whether it’s Matt Smith’s ALL MY CHILDREN, Rob Gee’s FRUITCAKE, Elizabeth Blue’s AM I BLUE, Allan Girod’s WHEN HARRY MET HARRY, Katie Hood’s ANIMAL SHOW or Luna Allison’s FALLING OPEN, I don’t know and right now I don’t wanna know.  Surprise me, yeah?  That’s always best.

MORE.  Still plenty else a-coming, including lots of familiar (to me) names…Gentleman strummer Colin Godbout returns with THE LAST GIG OF LENNY BREAU; Sharon ‘Prairie Fire’ Nowlan and Paul Hutcheson are back and teaming up form CANUCK CABARET; Jimmy Hogg is set to destroy with CURRICULUM VITAE; Black Sheep Theatre and Orleans Young Players both make it 15 for 15 with this year’s Fringe, still never missing a year; Brownwyn Steinberg sings in MOMMA’S BOY; and Dunk a Sok follows up their delightful TRIBULATIONS OF A FAILED VIGILANTE with VAGABOND, in the Hostel parking lot no less.

OH…AND THIS.  See this picture?

By Andrew Alexander, a photographer I don't credit anywhere near enough.

You might mistakenly assume it’s just some insanely awesome image your brain conjures up when all hope is lost, and it needs to convince you to keep fighting no matter what, but you’d be wrong.  This is a SHOW.  This is a thing you can go and SEE, in PERSON.  It’s called ROLLER DERBY SAVED MY SOUL, FamousActressNancyKenny made it, and if you don’t already want to see it more than anything, then I’m very sorry your side lost the war, because you’re clearly a Nazi.  Fringe was MADE for shows like this.  Go, and tell her The Visitor sent ya.  I just may see you there.

…okay, NOW I feel better.  And just in time, as I have to go practice lines with my scene partner in prep for wednesday’s class.  “I can’t do it, Shelley’, ‘The leads are assigned randomly…‘  Yeah, I got this sucker.  Wish me broken legs, kids, and then…wish me stamina.  I’m hoping to outdo my 48-show total from last Fringe this time around, and it just might kill me.  But hey…what a way to go.  Check out the OTTAWA FRINGE FESTIVAL website for show times, prices and venues.  And I’ll see you around the courtyard, hey?  Peace, love and soul, Fringers,

The Visitor (and Winston)

One comment

  1. Thank you for the ‘Complex’ shout out! Looking forward to chatting, gossiping and comisserating over coffee-esque beverages today. In the meantime…


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