Day One of Fringe 2012 has finally, FINALLY arrived…it started off with an opening party the previous night, which I merrily went to, and just sobered up from about 20 minutes ago.  It then continued with a bit of terrible news I received, personal-style, which will sadly impact part of my planned coverage for the fest.  But it’s the kind of bad news that supercedes even things Fringe, and if you know me, you know that’s saying a lot.  So, bad news.  Sigh.

But, FRINGE!  I headed out today right after work, and bought my first ticket of the year over at Arts Court, and BOY but it felt good.  And tho it was a little weird seeing the iron fence around the Court so bereft of Fringe-posters (some silly new rule this year, which I do not care for one bit, no sir), picking up that first ticket made up for it all.  I ended up seeing a solid 5 shows on day one, and even managed some down time in between a few of them, and a few drinks afterwards.  I saw lots of familiar faces, met the visiting Celeste Sansregret, who if you don’t know is bloody goddamn wonderful, hugged some pretty girls, and happily saw several members of TEAM VISITORIUM out and about, strutting their stuff and doing their bit.  It was inspiring stuff, kids, and I suppose I had just as well get to it.   Fabulous Fringe shows aren’t gonna write themSELVES up, which is the only reason anyone’s here!  And those first five shows..?


–  DON’T MAKE ME ZEALOUS by Matt Minter.  From Fringe veterans ERUDITE THEATE (they were last in the fest with 2010’s ‘DENTITY CRISIS, and recently teamed with Sock’n’Buskin for a wicked cool version of MACBETH at Carleton U.)), ZEALOUS tells a weirdly dark, but pretty damn funny tale of a clash of religious beliefs.  Intellectual agnostic Tom (Brennan Richardson) is more than a little uneasy about his planned church wedding with Catholic girlfriend Jackie (Emily Bradley).  A few angry speeches and soulful confessions lead to Tom having a religious epiphany in the street…but maybe not the one his fiance could have hoped for.

The best part of having a religious vision is you get to drink mead RIGHT out of the horn.

Richardson and Bradley are both very strong as Tom and Jackie, and third cast member David Rowan does good triple duty as a friendly priest, wedding planner, and Mark the…but no, I won’t give away his full title here.  ZEALOUS is Edudite’s first go at an original play, and has a lot going for it.  It takes a marvelously skewed look at belief and faith, flirting with being too heavy-handed at times but always staying on the fun side of satire.  And it probably features the best Zeppelin cover you’re going to see at Fringe this year.  I do wish we’d gotten some scenes featuring the young couple at the heart of it all actually, you know, getting along…they mostly just argue the entire time, and I thought Emily Bradley could have been involved in the plot more.  But a good show, and Matt Minter’s direction was spot-on.   A good time.


–  IN WAVES by Jonah Allingham.  I actually was going to see this show a little later on in the fest, but I missed my planned connection, and ya gotta be flexible in this game of Fringe, folks.  So a quick dart to the basement of the Laurier Oak later, and I was snug and ready for a little one-man theatre.  I’d already chatted with good guy Jonah about this piece, and was stoked to actually see it (I wasn’t the only one, as he packed the little space downstairs on opening night).  With zero set and some jury-rigged lighting and sound (courtesy of BACKPACK THEATRE friends Jack Terrion and Louis Caunter), Jonah’s sweet (and occasionally naughty) show told the tale of a lonely sailor, conscripted into Henry Hudson’s 1610 expedition to find the Northwest passage.  Amidst the brutal labour and harsh conditions, our hero dreams of his wife back in Canada…and has strange visions of another woman, somewhere in the water…

IN WAVES is a beautiful little theatrical gem, clearly a labour of love for Allingham.  The language is classic and poetical and, more often than not, raw.  There are some almost uncomfortably frank moments in the script, capturing the numbing solitude of a harsh life at sea.  And our hero’s visions of beauty in the deep blue sea are just understated enough to lend the show a magical quality.  When things take a dark turn, Jonah is more than up to the task and makes his character’s trials all too believable.  The show is short at around half an hour, but it’ll stay with you for much longer than that. Shoutout also to director Cat Leger, who helped Jonah bring this piece to fruition.  Great job all around!


–  FNL: FRINGE NIGHT LIVE from Fish Schtick Productions.  Set up at Cafe Alt (yay, couches!), I was very much looking forward to FNL…I’d seen some of this gang previously at Sock’n’Buskin’s One-Act Comedy Festival a while back, and had a freakin’ great time.  And I loved the idea of the show, which I’ll let the lads explain to you:

The cast stars Jon and Jaime Champagne, David Rowan (yes, the same guy I just saw in DON’ MAKE ME ZEALOUS…so many people are doing double-duty in the Fringe it’s ridiculous. And AWESOME.), Adam Smith and Hisham Kelati, in a rapid-fire series of comedy sketches, interspersed with some digital shorts played on  a vacant wall.    Inspired by SNL, Kids in the Hall and the like, the FNL boys are fairly fearless with their comedy choices, and are pretty goddam fucking funny guys to boot.  Like any sketch show, some bits hit better than others…but that’s also the beauty of it.  If there’s a clunker, nevermind…a new one will be along in just a few minutes!  The boys have some pretty hilarious takes on cats and wedding singers, I can tell you that, and the Yoga sketch should have EVERYONE cracking up.   If there’s a show this year to catch after you’ve had a few drinks at the courtyard, well Hell, this is it.


–  DONKEY DERBY by Tess Mc Manus (Little Green Hat/Black Sheep Theatre).  Hey, someone ELSE I chatted with, huzzah!  Now, I’ve dug the onstage styling of wee lady Mc Manus since I first saw her in Youth Infringement a couple years back, and was super-stoked to see her new, and first ever, one-woman show (aka my fav’rit kind of entertainment).  Set in Letterkenny, Ireland, the show listens in as our reluctant heroine Mary, hiding in a barn, relates her woes after she’s been drafted into a mad local tourney known as a ‘donkey derby’…participant are forced to try and race donkeys, contrary animals to say the least, for the amusement of everyone but themselves.  If you’re lucky, you win a turnip.  If you’re UNlucky you get hurled into shite.

Are you starting to get the ‘reluctant’ part yet?

Mc Manus’ Mary is an instantly endearing character, slowly spilling the truth of her lifetime of living out of the spotlight and away from possible harm, even as the tries to talk herself either into or out of participating in the quite insane derby.    When it all ties into the ongoing strife in her beloved Ireland, it makes perfect sense.  With directorial assistance from Dave Dawson of Black Sheep Theatre, DONKEY DERBY is a rapid-fire, highly entertaining tale about a young girl trying hard to come out of her shell.   Tess’ performance is wonderful, and I think will only get better as the show goes on (she only finished building the set, like, yesterday).  DERBY is completely charming and so foolishly likeable I already wanna go back.  And if you know me, I just might.


–  THE OPEN COUPLE by Dario Fo.  My last show of the night was courtesy of Theatre Sasa, and director Jodi Sprung-Boyd (I talked to her too!  I never realized I was so chatty!), and this remount of a show she put on a year or so ago in Studio Leonard-Beaulne.  I missed it then, so I was thrilled to hear it was returning in the Fringe.  A play with a curious origin indeed (Fo wrote it as an apology to his wife for his many infidelities, and never intended it to be mounted as a play), the show stars Sean Sonier and Mado Boyes-Manseau as the couple in question.    After his wife threatens suicide more than once as a response to his unfaithful ways, the man in question  proposes she dimply do the same…ie, they become an open couple.  Which works in theory, but…

Yeah, sometimes these things don’t go as smoothly as they sounded in your head.

Jodi’s direction (which I’ve enjoyed in past productions EURYDICE and MAMAMOUCHI) shines here, and THE OPEN COUPLE is constantly engaging, exciting and fun.  Sean Sonier, subbing in for Ken Godmere who played the part in the original, is perfectly smug as the self-satisfied Man, so sure of his charm that he can hardly believe it when things start to crumble.  But it’s Mado Boyes-Manseau who shines the brightest as the Woman, giving probably one of the best performances you’ll see at this year’s Fringe.  I’m starting to get that she’s one of the best actors we’ve got in this town, and let’s all hope more people figure it out too.   This show is more than worth the epic upstairs trek to Studio 311…a big thanks to the Sasa gang for bringing this show back.  I owe ya one.

Right, that’s it for me for day one…I’ll be back tomorrow with five MORE reviews (and stay tuned for some more coverage, as the writeups start coming in from my Angels on TEAM VISITORIUM!), and I’ll have’em up quicker next time, I promise .  I’ll have to, I’m seeing shows starting at 12:30 tomorrow!  Yikes!  Stay  frosty, Fringers…peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s