Victoria FRINGE-COMA 2011 – Day THREE

So yesterday, that was a pretty good day of Fringing, I gotta say.  And I’m trying real hard to remember all that, and channel it, so I can power through this post, because there’s lots of good stuff to say about some amazing shows.  Just gotta shake off some mean reds, is all.  I should NEVER check Twitter.  Like, ever.  Blah.

But anyways!  I was talking about Fringing a second ago, specifically Victoria-style, and that’s what’s goin’ on.    Got a nice early start of it this Saturday with a leisurely stroll out to…Fairfield Hall, is it?  Nice, quaint little spot, and a great show indeed to kick off the weekend, with sketch comedy duo Charles and CHARLES – A TRIP THROUGH THE MULTIVERSE.  From the inspired beginning featuring a death-match of long-distance Jenga, to the intricacies of retroactive vasectomies and the ghost of Patrick Swayze (or IS it..?), CHARLES is some of the most ridiculously funny sketch action I ever done seen.  I’d call these guys a must-see act without reservation, because if you miss it you’ll never realize just how fucking funny BEOWULF really was.  These Chucks are the goods, folks, and you have to see their timing and madness to believe it.

Took a spot of down time then for lunch and shopping (found me a new Hasil Adkins lp for my collection!) , then scoped out venue #5, St.Andrew’s , for Snafu Dance Theatre’s LITTLE ORANGE MAN, starring Ingrid Hansen and directed by Kathleen Greenfield.  I’d heard good things about this show from the amazing Katie Hood, so I had high hopes.  And Ingrid Hansen pole-vaulted those hopes with room to spare.

On paper, LOM is the story of a hyperactive young girl called Kitt on a mission to help her ailing Grandpa, via dream manipulation and a few snappy song and dance numbers.  Off paper, however, it’s sheer joyous magic to behold.  I flew a few thousand miles to be at this Fringe Festival.  If I’d known how good this show was gonna be, I would have been happy to walk.  LITTLE ORANGE MAN is the kind of inventive, affecting, heartfelt and unique storytelling that you normally only dream about.  Just an utter, utter privilege…Victoria, you should be proud of this one.  Ingrid Hansen is a superstar in the making, or she damn well should be.  This whole trip is already worth it.  Thank you, Snafu.

Back to St.Ann’s for the next show, starring a pair I’d already managed to have late-nite Chinese food with in this town!  From writer/performer Bob Brader, and director Suzanne Bachner, SPITTING IN THE FACE OF THE DEVIL is every bit as brash and bold a show as it’s title would make you imagine.  From the opening line, now one of my fav’rit opening lines EVER, you know you’re in for a harrowing time.  For 80 minutes Bob tells us the terribly true story of his childhood growing up with a harsh and brutal Father, whose anger only hid an even darker, more twisted interior.  And manoman, are you rivetted for those 80 minutes.  Bob commands the stage with an unnervingly easygoing and friendly presence as he relates trials and downright horrors (with the occasional ray of hope and laughter creeping within…it’s not ALL doom and gloom, folks), giving the kind of frank and forthright performance that can’t help but jar you to your goddamned bones.  Lie detectors commit suicide when they get these levels of honesty, gang, and Bob lays it ALL out on the stage for you.  If you’ve got the nerves for it, you REALLY gotta see it for yourself.

He's not might want to hold on to something.

And yes, okay,I did feel the urge to lighten the mood a bit after that one, so I figured it was worth the sprint all the way back to Fairfield Hall to catch Yana Kesala’s one-woman tale THE UKRAINIAN DENTIST’S DAUGHTER.   I’d caught Yana’s enthusiasm and winning smile a few times at karaoke in the Fringe Club earlier, so I was eager to see what she could pull off in a solo show.  And the story, a true tale of her Mother Maya’s immigration to America with her family, Dentist father and all.  Flashing between her difficult early life, to her attempts at courtship with a handsome Doctor later on, Yana pretty easily charms the crowd with her portrayal of a spirited young woman looking to mold her life as SHE sees fit.  I found she particularly shone as the younger Maya, and as a strange old woman who bestows a curious gift upon her and her handsome Doctor many years later.  One or two awkwardly long pauses notwithstanding, It’s a charming, sweet and strong show with an eminently delightful star.  Just a damn treat.

I took a nice sauntering stroll back up to Fort street then, with plenty of time to secure a ticket to tonite’s performance of GOD IS A SCOTTISH…

…sorry, what’s that?  Sold out ALREADY?  God dammit.  I guess everybody really DOES love a Scottish drag queen.  Sigh.  Looks like I’m running again!  This time back to St.Andrews, where I just made it in time for the spikey-haired brilliance that is THE BIRDMANN.

I’ve seen him flyering  many a lineup, and was pretty excited to see what this odd specimen of humanity could conjure up on stage.  And there’s no easy way to describe just what it is THAT he did, but to say that it was fucking hilarious, an astounding hourlong comedic vacation into insanity, with nostril-tea, paper birds, knife throwing, and the best bone-dry non-sequiturs since Richard Lewis was alive (is Richard Lewis still alive?  Does anybody even know?).  Australian one-man shows are GOOD one-man shows, I’m coming to realize.  More, please.

Which left room for only one more show…and it was THAT show.  The one I’d been waiting 4 years to see, ever since I first heard about it (after seeing one of his other shows, BOAT LOAD, at the Ottawa Fringe).  That would be one Jayson MacDonald, and GIANT INVISIBLE ROBOT.  And as predicted, even though the poor guy had a cold that nite, he did not disappoint.  From the opening scenes of a kooky little kid watching EMPIRE STRIKES BACK at the drive -in with, indeed, a Giant Invisible Robot, the show barrels into every direction imagineable with a host of characters that Jayson dives into without missing a beat. An arrogant scientist, furious soldier and pastry-loving minx are only a few of the cast, as Jayson crafts the strange but surprisingly heartwarming (and laugh-out-loud funny) story of a boy and his robot.  And yes, the robot DOES have a scene to himself…and it’s the kind of glorious theatre magic that’s so simple, so wonderful, that you’ll never, ever forget it.  Pretty much a perfect show.  So there.

And there was a little more to that evening…bouncy castle in the bar and all, but I think I’m about done with this Chud for today.  Off to grab some real food afore another 6-show day, and then hey, maybe I’ll do this again tomorrow!  Hopefully, somebody talks to me in the meantime.  That might be nice, hey?  Peace, love and soul, Fringers, and I’ll see you in the club,

The Visitor

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