Victoria FRINGE-COMA 2011 – Day FOUR

It’s Monday.  Which I guess means I’m back to trying to figure out how to fill these 8+ hour voids of non-Fringing in my Victoria-vacation days.   You’re going to bore me into looking at whales, aren’t you, BC?

Fine, fine. At least I’ve got my trusty Chud to fill a few hours, because if today is Monday that means yesterday was Sunday, and I hit 5 whole shows on Sunday!  Meant to do 6, actually, but ran into a little snag.  Stay tuned.  I got off to a bit of a grumpy start yesterday, tis true (don’t worry, it’s just my natural state), but still hauled myself over to St.Andrews, where a modest crowd was gathered for the early-ish show of STALEMATE by Marcus Stusek, and starring…two…actors?  Seriously, guys, PROGRAMS.  Get with them!  But anonymity aside, we entered the space to two gentlemen in suspenders and bow ties, one black, one red, engaged in a game of chess.  As the show began, a snappy verbal sparring got underway that lasted the whole smart, slightly vicious playtime.  STALEMATE is a shorter piece, but has a nice way of getting under your skin, and contains what may be the most cerebral fart joke I’ve ever witnessed.   Our two leads were solid, and the solipsistic script never gave them any troubles.    A good, fun little show.  Worth it.

Over to the Metro then, one of the more proper actual-theatre venues in the VicFringe, for RERENTLESS.  Starring what appear to be local legends Wes Borg and Morgan Cranny, it’s a straight-up, full-on slacker/stoner comedy with no apologies.  The elderly couple next to me abandoned ship in the first quarter, but the remaining near-full house had a fine, rausous time.  Borg and Cranny are funny fuckers, and they play well off one another in a well-staged production…the KOYAANISQATSI bit is sheer genius.  And yes, the rest of it IS pretty juvenile humour, some easy gags, some over the top, and while that’s not entirely my thing, I did have a very good old time.  And if it IS your thing, then your Nirvana awaits, ladies and gents.  You’ll get a wicked good contact high off this show.

And then…then it was off on the road I go.  Yes, it was time to venture into the wilds of Victoria, risking life and limb to find the lost city of Venue #12, aka the Canadian College of Performing Arts.  After one wasp sting (ow) and 30 minutes trekking, I came across it…Oak Bay.  And folks, let me say, if there ever really is a Zombie Apocalypse?  I’m heading to Oak Bay.  Because the undead hordes will take one look at it, naturally assume that they’ve already long-since conquered this territory, and shamble off for greener pastures.

But sleepy or no, I was here, for a planned triple bill in the venue that time forgot.  First up was a one-woman show (yay!), DIANNE & ME.  Written by Ron Fromstein, directed by Jer Banks, and starring the truly impressive Chelsee Damen, who commanded all of our attentions with a soft voice, genuine charm and one comfy-looking easy chair.  The story of Emma, a young girl fumbling through her first sexual encounters, crossing paths with her ever-attentive Mother Dianne, and making mistakes and missteps that will change the path of her life.  The premise is simple and universal, and the script is smart, funny, and merrily risque in a more than a few places.   Chelsee conveys wide-eyed innocence, but never loses Emma’s strength and wisdom…she’s a natural.  I especially giggled at her renditions of the boys, Kyle (dude!) and Bryan.  So very worth the trip out to the CCPA, I can’t tell ya.  This show deserved MUCH better crowds that it’s getting.  Get moving, you lazy bastards!

Hung about the Bay (tried to sit down and enjoy a coffee, but in THIS part of Victoria the coffee shops close at 6 in the god-damned afternoon..!) until the next act was ready to go, this time a one-manner (also yay), THE DONNELLY SIDESHOW.

Directed by superstar Jayson ‘Giant Invisible Robot’ MacDonald, and written by and starring Gentleman Jeff Culbert, the same team behind the amazing ARCHY AND MEHITABEL.  This one is based on some infamous Canadian history stemming from  Jeff’s own hometown of Lucan, Ontario.  The story of the Donnelly family (aka ‘the Black Donnellys’ of Stompin’ Tom song fame), and their feuds, vilification, and ultimate massacre at the hands of a vigilante mob, Jeff lays the whole sordid tale out for us with word and song, and never fails to engross and entertain.  His empathy with the much-maligned Donnelly clan is palpable, and he explains his case (in the guise of a grown-up massacre witness) with surgical precision.  It’s a joy to watch, the songs are a hoot (Jeff has cd’s by donation…I’m getting me one!), and the Sideshow is a winner.  Jeff’s a great storyteller, so go and get told.  And keep your enthusiasms up!

One last stretch at the Bay, and this time a hefty crowd made it out.  I wasn’t surprised…the hotly anticipated 3rd installment of a Canada-wide Fringe fav’rit, and local boys to boot.  It was time for PETER N’ CHRIS AND THE MYSTERY OF THE HUNGRY HEART MOTEL, and I was pretty stoked.  And my huge expectations (I’ve caught their previous two shows twice each…fanboy!) were met, surpassed, and actually roughed up a little.

With a new introduction (but still some dancing), new characters, insane physical comedic prowess, and music borrowed from the kick-ass SCOOBY DOO ON ZOMBIE ISLAND soundtrack (perfect), the lads present a blindingly funny murder-mystery mindbender that must be seen to be believed.   I’m still amazed at how P&C can so stunningly recreate things like a car crash or a slow-motion knife fight right in front of my eyes, and somehow be both unusually believable and gut-bustingly funny at the same time.  But they do it, time and again, and they floored the joint.  Funny as funny gets.

I WAS planning on seeing one more show that night, but I just couldn’t make it back to civilization in time, so I hit up the club (Cameryn Moore KILLED it on stand-up duty) instead.  Now I’m trying to figger out how to kill the 6 hours between now and my NEXT show…I’m thinking…Fish’n Chips.  What the Hell, it’s a start, right?  Peace, love and soul, Fringers,

The Visitor



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