Ottawa FRINGE-COMA 2014 – Preview


And, we’re back. The whole reason I started this filthy blog in the first place, the great and inspirational OTTAWA FRINGE FESTIVAL is here again. This will be my 7th Fringe (well, okay, I did Victoria Fringe a few years back, and butted in to Toronto once, but 7th OTTAWA Fringe), and if there’s any sort of burnout or ennui that’s supposed to set in regarding it, I happily haven’t experienced it yet. In fact, I think the lineup for this year’s fest looks as solid as could be, and if you can’t find a show or ten to love the merry Hell out of here, then please stop hitting puppies, because that must be the sort of thing a monster like you loves to do.

Think of the puppies..!!
Think of the puppies..!!

And okay, okay, this so-called ‘preview’ post is abominably late.  Sorry, my whirlwind tour of the Montreal Fringe Festival this past weekend kind of distracted me, but in that good kinda distracted, you know?  Besides, the previews are just a bit of fun!  Like the Katy Perry of blogposts.

This is also the first Ottawa Fringe with veteran producer and new dad Pat Gauthier at the helm, and I can’t wait to see how things go under his stewardship. At the very least, expect hourly baseball score updates.  But let’s get started, I gotta be at work in an hour!


Lots of things at the 2014 Ottawa Fringe have me chomping at the metaphorical bit…like IREDEA from Woo me Myth, a sci-fi dance adventure from the team that blew my mind years ago with THE DUCK WIFE.


Then there’s LOVE + HATE courtesy of local Ottawa music deities The Peptides, in what is sure to be a super-fun and, most likely, sold the fuck out run. Getcher tickets early…I plan to.

Love + Hate (cred Bonnie Findley)

Jessica Fitzpatrick and her solo show CUPIDITY come highly recommended to me, as if she didn’t already have me at -one-woman show’.

Cupidity (cred TheatreInLondon)

After a few years’ absence from our wee town, the legend JEM ROLLS is back with his latest performance poetry powerhouse, ONE MAN TRAFFIC JAM. If you’ve never witnessed the Jem in action before, you’re in for a serious (well, not THAT serious) treat.


Making a triumphant return to the Fringe stage, Natalie Joy Quesnel has teamed with director and dramatug Emily Pearlman to being her amazing one-woman show FIRST WORDS to the Academic Hall stage, and I couldn’t be happier.  This one’s gonna be something special, folks.

First Words 5 (cred Trevor LaForce)

After last year’s smash DIE ZOMBIE DIE, one wonders what Richard Hemphill and Punchbag Playhouse would come up with next. The answer is WUNDERJAMMER, a 4-hand sketch comedy extravaganza with four great actors playing sixty characters in I don’t even know how many sketches.


Need more sketch comedy love? Then make time for DICKY DICKY from Garkin Theatre, featuring Ray Besharah and David Benedict Brown, directed by Melanie Karin Brown and featuring sketches written by a host of brilliant writers! Too good to be true? Probably! But buy a ticket and find out, just to be sure!

And plenty of them, like Tess McManus, Madeleine Boyes-Manseau and Nick Amott, aka the Fresh Meat 3…good eggs one and all, and each creators who are taking works they premiered as shorter pieces at Ottawa’s Fresh Meat Festival, and relaunching them as hourlong shows in this year’s Fringe. TALES SHE TELLS, TO HELL IN A HANDBASKET and WAKE…must-sees all, and all seriously good reasons why you should check out the NEXT Fresh Meat Festival in the Fall. Good things happen there.

tales she tells posterTo Hell in a Handbasket 1 - (cred Cory Thibert) (4)wake poster

And of course, the Ottawa Theatre School lives on at the Fringe…Recent OTS grad and Foofarah champion Madeleine Hall can be seen amidst stellar company in the new play BY ANY OTHER NAME. Other Ottawa Theatre School gangsters abound, in awesome shows like RACHEL & ZOE from PrettyUgly Productions, and GETTING THROUGH from Loose Cannons Collective. Here be Dragons returns with Caitlin Corbett’s IMMOLATION, the follow-up to her supercool MORNINGSTAR

R&Zgetting through

Good guy Alain Chauvin has a new piece, OCEAN’S APART tackling the difficulties facing returning soldiers. Elise Gauthier’s Filament Theatre debuts with L’ARAIGNEE, which promises to be some beautiful damn theatre. Dave Dawson and Black Sheep theatre have assembled a crackerjack cast to tackle Martin Dockery’s PACO V PUT TO SLEEP. And Dockery himself is back again with a solo storytelling adventure THE SURPRISE, and a team-up with THE PIT partner Vanessa Quesnelle for MOONLIGHT AFTER MIDNIGHT.

araignee lite

oaMoonlight After Midnight (cred Concrete Drops) (3)paco

More alumni from previous Fringes return, like Mark Shyzer of FISHBOWL with his latest one-manner GREAT BATTLES IN HISTORY. Chase Padgett of 6 GUITARS legendry returns in a team-up with Stacey Hallal, CHASE & STACEY PRESENT: JOYRIDE that is bound to be another hit.  The wonderful Howard Petrick is back with the magically named NEVER OWN ANYTHING YOU HAVE TO PAINT OR FEED. And for those of you with a penchant for mystery combined with illusion, check out Tim Motley in his latest, 2 RUBY KNOCKERS, 1 JADED DICK: A DIRK DARROW MYSTERY.

Great Battles In History (cred Tanja Tiziana)Never Own Anything You Have to Paint or Feed 3(cred Howard Petrick)2 Ruby Knockers, 1 Jaded Dick, A Dirk Darrow Investigation(cred James Penlidis) (2)


Yes, a whole category for them, because the puppets be representing at this year’s fest! Of course, Ottawa’s homegrown masters of the puppets are back as Dead Unicorn Ink brings us their darkest drama yet, KAVALIER’S KURIOSITIES…but with Ducks! Joining in the fun are international puppeteers Wishes Mystical Puppet Company with their own bit of dark merriment, THE DEVIL’S CIRCUS.  And the great Tara Travis hits Arts Court with a multi-puppet enhanced show WHO KILLED GERTRUDE CRUMP that you do not want to miss.

kk posterSONY DSCWho Killed Gertrude Crump (cred Jim Travis) (3)

Songsters galore at this year’s Fringe, to soothe your soul and stir you up as need be. Canadian Comedy Award-winner Chelsea Manders promises laughs and naughtiness in DON’T TELL MY DAD, and Bob Bossin brings gritty folk-styled memories of his Dad in SONGS AND STORIES OF DAVY THE PUNK.

Don't Tell My Dad 2 (cred Jennifer Rowsom)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dreamy-voiced Devon More takes to the solo stage with SILENT PARTY INTERLUDE, and French a cappella trio Les Cherries get the joint jumping in CHERRY ON TOP! Still not enough music for ya? I hear Rory Ledbetter plays a mean harmonica in MIND FULL OF DOPAMINE.

Silent Party Interlude 3 (Madhava Photography)Cherry On Top! 3 (cred Magenta Studios)A Mind Full of Dopamine (cred Stephen M Dowell)

New Zealand duo make their Ottawa debut with the vaudeville-styled MR AND MRS JONES, and from Vancouver comes Mind of a Snail with AGAINST GRAVITY, a shadow puppet adventure that comes very highly recommended to me indeed.  And Bradley Spann’s ME AND MY MONKEY looks way too charming to miss. So, you know, don’t miss it.

Mr & Mrs Jones 3 (cred Nick White)Against Gravity  (cred Mind of A Snail)Me & My Monkey (cred Karen Spies)


Kitt&Jane poster

I would be somewhat remiss if I didn’t mention that Ottawa gets to play host to this year to the follow-up show to the Bestest Fringe show of all time (no citation needed…that’s the gospel truth, son), LITTLE ORANGE MAN from Snafu Dance.  Yes, your dreams have come true and Ingrid Hansen is bringing KITT & JANE: AN INTERACTIVE SURVIVAL GUIDE TO THE NEAR POST-APOCALYPTIC FUTURE to Ottawa audiences.  With director Kathleen Greenfield and new co-star Rod Peters Jr (who just might be my top Fringe Crush from Montreal) along to make merry, I can happily say that KITT & JANE is a more than worthy successor to its predecessor.  Whimsical, imaginative, filled with heart and drama, this is the kind of show that makes it all worthwhile.  See it, and your heart will thank you for it.

You WILL want to sing along.
You WILL want to sing along.

So, so much more I’m dying to check out, but I’m running out of time to type this…ROYAL JELLY is gonna be amazing, STRIPS looks like a comic-book blast, EINSTEIN sounds brilliant (get it?), THE POE SHOW is gonna be a dark fun time, I can’t wait to see Carolann Valentino’s BURNT AT THE STEAK…and on and on and on.  See it all, you guys, see EVERYTHING.  Fringe is once a year, so make it last.  This matters.  This is Fringe.  See you at the beer tent.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid

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