I’m starting to get a morning ritual down here in Victoria. Clamber out of my hovel.hostel, shamble down to some local coffeeshop (Serious Cofee, more likely than not) fr a heaping cup of java and perhaps a wee snack. Then off to Stain for my precious internetting time, and then away to find someplace to splurge on a big lunch. Maybe some Chinatowning this aft…cookies for lunch with Katie Hood and Kath Greenfield (director extraordinaire of LITTLE ORANGE MAN) yesterday was adorable, but not really filling.
Still, it WAS a spectacular cookie (chocolate and caramel, and big enough to plug a colon or two), and it gave me enough of a rush to get started on some fringing, once shopping and stuffs was over. Today it was a return to the Wood Hall not far from the hovel/hostel, for AN INCOVENIENT TRUTHINESS. Brainchild of writer/performer Sharilyn Johnson, and directed by Fringe superheroine Laura Anne Harris, this show tells the tale of Sharilyn’s deep and abiding love for the comedic arts, how it led her to follow the paths of fake news giants Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, and a few of the unexpected twists and turns that path brought her to. Along the way, there’s some steamy fanfiction excerpts not for the faint of heart, disillusionment, and even an internet scandal or two.
The show is staged very simply, with Sharilyn’s straightforward and honest storytelling aided by a few A/V clips along the way. And this is obviously a labour of love for her, as the events of the story literally changed the course of her life. I’m afraid the play didn’t really connect with me like I’d hoped it would (I blame myself)…a lot of the dramatic notes in the story sort of fell flat for me. But Sharilyn’s passion for what she does is impossible to ignore. And if you’re a fan of comedy, or the Daily Show/Colbert Report, this show might still be something you should see.
A scoot down the street after that one led me to the Fringe Club, aka the Victoria Event Centre for my first actual show in that venue, this time from the lovely lads at HIP BANG improv. I’d seen them once before in Ottawa a month back, when they went head-to-head with CRUSH IMPROV in some ‘Bout Time action at the Elmdale. Devin and Tom are Vancouver performers, now on the last few legs of a cross-country tour, and it was good to see them again. They performed a shorted, non-stop set at the club, taking a single suggestion off the top (in my case, ‘Monsters’…good one) and rolling with it for the next 45 minutes or so. As with all improv, it had its ups and downs, but I did plenty of laughing…and heck, it’s the parts where they stumble that usually makes the audience giggle the most anyhow. There was a particularly fun bit about two octegenarians meeting for a glass of Scotch and sicussing the merits of moving to Florida (“You’ll end up looking like a baseball glove”) that had some cool, slow pacing to it. Devin and Tom are good at what they do, and it was a fine, fun time. The bar was open too. Plus.
A final dart out after that, past the Fort Cafe (Mike Davenport’s still selling out? Check. Moving on…), and on to St.Ann’s Academy, for THE SPARROW AND THE MOUSE: CREATING THE MUSIC OF EDITH PIAF. Written by and starring Melanie Gall, who it was nice to see again outside of the airport shuttle bus, and directed by Karen Gall (her sister, I do believe), SPARROW tells the rags to riches story of Edith Piaf, one of the most popular French singers (if not THE most popular) of the early 20th century. Well, her story, and that of her all but forgotten half-sister Simone, through whose eyes we learn all the sordid details of growing up penniless on the streets of Paris. It’s a fascinating story, and is told with a very heavy use of song…Melanie can belt out Edith’s legendary tunes with amazing ability, and the show is as much a concert as it is a play. And okay, I’m a Ramones/Weird Al Yankovic man by upbringing, so operatic French is not exactly my personal music of choice…but Melanie’s got killer pipes, and no fooling. I could have used a little more theatre to accompany the music, personally, although she still managed a few sparkly costume changes, and when she belts out a tune, she really is still telling a story. The show is very solid, and Mel’s crowd was duly impressed.
Headed out feeling fine…caught a slice at the Brickyard with Ben (whose MY FIRST TIME I’m off to tonite…anyone else for venue 10 this evening?), then finished off the evening back at the club. By the way, if you’re ever looking for me there..? I’m the idiot sitting alone, talking to nobody. Crowds still aren’t my ‘thing’, okay? But feel free to say hi. Peace, love and soul, Fringers,