Victoria FRINGE-COMA 2011 – Day ONE

I made it!

It wasn’t easy, dear readers, oh Hells no…try getting to the airport at 5:30 in the AM and hearing that your travel agents have apparently cancelled your plane tickets without, you know, saying anything about it.  The folks at the Jet of the West managed to get me on the plane out, tho…albeit on the knowledge that I would not officially have a way BACK.  That sounded better than staying in Ottawa, to be honest, so off to the miracle of modern flight I went, for only the second time in my life.  Whoosh!!
…and, a scant few hours later, here I am, on the other side of Canada for the VICTORIA FRINGE FESTIVAL 2011.  And hey, it really does smell like the ocean out here!  Very neat.  I jumped on a shuttle bus to town (sharing it, cool enough, with Fringe performer Melanie Gall, who was knitting and stuff.  Awesome.) , had some of the very plentiful coffee they serve three times a block in this town (and bumped into superstars Cameryn Moore and Katherine Glover…twice the awesome), and checked into my Hovel/Hostel (it’s fine, really…sort of).

Made it out that evening for the Fringe Eve Preview show, with some fantastic dance performances from local troupes, including some ballet and a forklift, because that’s how they rock dance in the Vic.  Caught lots of cool mini-previews of Fringe shows, before being graciously invited out for late Chinese food with Katie Hood (the Animal Show), Cameryn Moore (Phone Whore), Jem Rolls(…is Pissed Off), Bob Braden and Suzanne Bachner(Spitting in the Face of the Devil).  It felt pretty sorta amazing, even IF they did slip some mystery meat into Vegetarian Katie’s Tofu dish…offside, guys, really.

I crashed shortly after a quick trip to the swanky Fringe Club located at Venue #2, pretty much a cozy indoor beer tent.  Really, it’s the ‘beer’ part of the sentence that matters to me, so I’m good indoors or out.  But, I didn’t overdo that first day.  Needed some sleep, for there was Fringing to be done anon!

…which would be the next day, and let’s get to THAT before I lose you all with my rambling.   I spent the day wandering and scoping out venues…took me a good while to solve the secrets of Humboldt street and find the mystical St.Ann’s Academy venue, but I did it!  And, ignoring the fact that it looked entirely too pretty a place for someone like me to ever be admitted within its walls, I returned that night anyhow for my first two shows of the Vic Fringe.  Starting up was one I’d been greatly anticipating…ZACK ADAMS : LOVE SONGS FOR FUTURE GIRL by Perth, Australia’s Shane Adamczak. Part of Weeping Spoon Productions, who put on GREED, the first Fringe show I EVER saw, so they hold a special place in my rotten little heart.  I was dearly happy to see one of that gang again, and he did not let me down.  ZACK is a personal one-man show, telling the story of what I’m guessing is a very thinly fictionalized version of Shane’s own love life, and our eternal search for ‘The One’…whatever THAT may be.  Zack tells his story mostly through a non-stop collection of hilarious songs, with properly heart-wrenching reminiscences along the way, mirroring they way most of US have probably fucked up along the way in our hapless longings for love and whatnot.

Shane’s a foolishly personable cat, so easy to like on stage it’s almost unfair…Hell, even I was starting to fall for him (it’s the accent)  For someone who claims poor luck with the ladies, it sure sounded like the gals in the opening night audience liked him JUST fine. 🙂  ZACK ADAMS is a sweet fun show with killer songs and a lovable schmoe of a protagonist…who could ask for more?  A perfect start to my first Fringe abroad.

Stayed put in the St.Ann’s Auditorium, complaints from my backside notwithstanding (seriously, them seats are a bit of a pain…lovely room, tho), for show no.2 of the evening.  I’ve already mentioned bumping into one Katharine Glover at a coffeeshop, and here’s an interesting sidenote before I get started: if I read a writeup on a website or the Fringe guide about a show, and it doesn’t do anything for me, I may very well give it a pass.  We all would, right?  But if I then meet you in person, and you’re all cool and stuff..?  Then I’m probably TOTALLY going to see your show.  It’s happened before, it’ll happen again, and it happened now with BURNING BROTHELS: SEX AND DEATH IN NEVADA.  I know, as if I needed extra incentive to see a show with sex in the title, right?

Okay, so I didn’t need MUCH convincing…

BROTHELS is Glover’s recounting of the rise of legalized prostituion in Nevada, as far as I know the only place in North America this has happened.  Involving numerous trips through different times and a cast of amazing characters (some of the names escape me right now…no one seems to hand out programs in Victoria, so I’m working off feeble, feeble memory right now), Glover charts the astounding ups and downs of the world’s oldest profession with easy charm and a very sharp grasp of the intricacies of the situation.  Legal, as  she points out, does NOT mean accepted.  Poor working conditions, social ostracism and outright bafflement await those who choose this path.  But the story is amazing to hear, and Glover tells it well, with the aid of a few costume changes and the borrowed voices of some key players in the saga.  At times I wished the show would bump the theatricality up a notch, but that’s neither here nor there.  BROTHELS is a wonderful hour of dark, funny, illicit storytelling that I can happily and heartily tell you to go and see, as close to now as possible.

I was off to a good start, and had to get moving if I wanted to make my final show of the evening and keep the fun going.  I huffed and puffed a little, but made it to Metro Studio for an eagerly anticipated local production, TARA FIRM AND THE LUNAR WAR CHRONICLES. There was a good lineup already when I got there, always a nice sight.

Possibly the only full-on Steampunk Sci-fi epic you’ll see at a Fringe festival for a good long while, Launch Pad Productions’ ambitious story tells the tale of the 1917 war against the Moon (fuckin’ Moonies!) , complete with all the antique-stylee space jargon, retro-chic uniforms and space weaponry you could ever hope for.  Narrated by a hilariously mismatched pair of British Historians, and aided by spot-on audio/video clips of militaristic propaganda spots, the story centers around bombshell Aethernaut Tara Firm (Christina Patterson) of Sparticle Squadron, trying to suss out just what REALLY lies on the dark side of the Moon while fending off advances from all directions…the Moon is a lonely pace, after all. The show has its tongue firmly in cheek throughout, some interesting twists and lots of good laughs.  And yes, there’s some action to boot…Tara delivers a pretty wicked cool uppercut that was a personal highlight of the show for me.  It’s the kind of geeky cool show you can only dream would happen, and how can you NOT take advantage of the fact that someone was crazy enough to try and pull it off? Check it out for a fun romp of a show, and then someone please get started on the fanfiction.

…Okay, fine, I’ll do it.  I AM bored during my days here…haven’t caught on to the whole ‘tourist’ thing yet.  But I’m glad I made it out…the Victoria Fringe is a good time so far (did I mention the karaoke after the shows at the Fringe Club last nite?  Cause that totally happened), and I’m eager for more tonite.  See you there, eh?  Peace, love and soul, Fringers,

The Visitor