Victoria FRINGE-COMA 2011 – Day SEVEN

We’re past the halfway point of both the Victoria Fringe, AND my vacation, and that’s as good an excuse as any for feelin’ glum, right kids?  Most of my time spent in Victoria is a sad collage of wandering the streets alone, muttering to myself, or writing about sweet Fringe shows to an online audience that diminishes more and more every day.  Ah, well.  I suppose as soon as people starting identifying me as ‘blogger’ I knew that was all she wrote.  Not, of course, all I wrote, as I’ve got three more shows to babble about before this entry is over!  So just  what the Hell DID I do yesterday in the Vic?

Well, after a killer bee Mac’nCheese at MoLe, I did some epic wandering (you can pretend I did NOT mutter to myself at this time, if it paints a happier picture for you :)), before settling in the quaint and predictably sleepy Quadra Village and the Dance Victoria Studio for a triple-bill of Fringe. First up was MY FIRST TIME, a four-hander by Ken Davenport, adapted from the stories on the website of the same name (an online repository of ‘first time’ sex stories of all shades and stripes).  I think that makes this verbatim theatre…or at least, close enough for me.  Starring my occasional pizza and beer mate Ben, along with Nicoal, Mandy and Matt, they all take turns on stage telling rapid-fire stories of losing various virginities, sometimes microscopic snippets, others long tales of joy, regret, and everything in between.  A nice gimmick at the beginning, where a lovely lady whose name I did not get entices us all to fill out a quick survey on arrival, makes our own experiences part of the show.  Now, this isn’t the most polished of shows you’ll see at the Fringe (but who goes to the Fringe for polish?), but there’s an obvious goldmine of material on hand, and the gang does well delivering it to us, the odd bobble aside.It makes for a funny, unusually honest show, and a good time out.  Kudos to the gang, and if you’re sitting up front, watch out…Matt doesn’t kid around with his high-fiving (ow).

A quick slice of pizza later, I was refuelled and ready for round two, this time from Found in New York Productions, and THE HYSTERIC.  Starring dynamic duo Carol Lee Sirugo and Jonathan Kaplan (and written by Sirugo herself), the Hysteric tells the darkly comic story of a young couple in the late 19th century, their decidedly pet-unfriendly servants, and a mysterious woman who may or may not be real.  Digging into the staid sexual politics of the era (and wondering just how far we’ve really come in the meantime), we watch as Kaplan’s husband tries to drive his young wife (Sirugo) totally bonkers, with surprising success.

Sirugo and Kaplan are both very effective comic performers, and jump between characters and scenarios with merry ease.  Under the direction of Brian Foley, and with set and costume designers who must have interned on Cybertron judging by the transformational qualities of their creations, HYSTERIC puts on a grandly entertaining hour of gleefully grim  physical comedy.  My only quibble wouldn’t be directed at the show itself, but at their venue…it doesn’t quite fit them as well as one would hope (that giant dance mirror adorning one wall doesn’t help much).   But they do spectacularly with what they’ve got, and the show is more than worth the trip.  This is a sweet,  meticulously crafted show by some right and proper clowns.  Go.

One last show (still getting used to only seeing 3 Fringe shows in a night…weird) for the bill, and it was one I was anxious for, after seeing its star doing some hysterical stand-up at the Fringe club a few nites earlier.  I was primed for this one,this one being ALL MY DAY JOBS, by and starring Kirsten Van Ritzen.  Now, day jobs have been a mine of material for other Fringe performers in recent years, from Barry Smith (EVERY JOB I’VE EVER HAD) to Jimmy Hogg (CURRICULUM VITAE), and it looks like great minds think alike…also, Fringe performers tend to accumulate loads and loads of really fucking shitty jobs.

The most accurate picture of a working actor you'll ever see.

Kirsty takes us from her first job at 15, spilling milkshakes for roller derby money, thru govt. telemarketing, food tasting, being a Carnie and enumerating in slums.  Every new adventure in abasement is presented with wit and charm, in a show that’s lovingly staged by an obviously wicked talented actress.  The laughs are plentiful, with the odd jolt of jarring reality, as Kisten watches her childhood friend forge ahead with a dream life, and she can only move on to the next temporary gig, a life of endless searching, as she so aptly describes it.  The whole otherwise hilarious show is given a lovely, bittersweet aftertaste that reminds us this isn’t just a goof of a show…it’s life for a lot of actors.  Most of them, even.  And it’s wonderful to have it presented to us by such a great performer in such a killer play.  The show I went to was woefully underfull, and Victoria, I’m serious when I say you need to correct this error.  Don’t make me wander your streets muttering to myself EVEN MORE, goddammit!  Don’t think I won’t do it!!

But in the MEANTIME, get out and see some Fringe while there’s still time…four full days, yo!  Let’s pack some houses, YYJ, ridiculously far-flung venues or no.  Make me proud.  Peace, love and soul, Fringers,

The Visitor


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