It’s past 6pm and instead of prepping for a performance, actually performing, or sitting in a theatre watching a show, I’m just sitting in a regular bar and writing on my laptop like some regular noodnik. The worst has happened…Fringe is over.
This was a breakneck 12 days (counting preview night), and even more so, a crazy two months extending back to the start of rehearsals for Hannah & George, the original show starring myself and Madeleine Hall (and Rebecca Laviolette…directed by Jodi Morden) that just wrapped its inaugural 6-show run at Studio Leonard -Beaulne, at the 19th annual Ottawa Fringe Festival. Aside from 6 performances and a preview, I also was the guest-star on opening night of Crush Improv, and did a brief sting reading erotic fanfiction at the club one evening. In between I somehow managed to squeeze in a modest 31-show viewing total. Not my best, to be sure, but I hope it passes muster. Here’s the alphabetical list for this year:
the Adventures of Red Rascal
Bursting into Flames
Die Roten Punkte: Best Band in the World
Eft-Up: Just Like You
Free Beer Party (of Canada)
The Inventor of All Things
I Think my Boyfriend Should Have an Accent
Japanese Samurai Don Quixote Challenging Against English Giant Windmills
Keith Brown: Exchange
Magical Mystery Detour
the Orchid and the Crow
The Secret Life of Emily/Frances
Sh!t: I’m in Love With You Again
This Prison or: He Came Through the Floor
Three Men in a Boat
the Untitled Sam Mullins Project
Working Title Undecided
Zach Zultana: Space Gigolo
Obviously I missed plenty of shows (Elephant Girls is notably absent from my list…is it my fault Margo MacDonald is such a sellout?? That’s a joke), and I’ll be kicking myself about most of them for a while now. But of the shows I did see, I was ridiculously pleased with how great they all were. The quality was high across the board this year…I mean, I always think it is but WOW…no wonder the Fringe recorded a record 40 sold out shows, plus over 100 grand in payout to artists! All rockin’ good news. Here are a few of my personal fav’rits from the Fringe 2015 lineup:
Working Title: Undecided, starring the infinitely likeable (and just as talented) Tamlynn Bryson. A show that came from outta nowhere, but we should all be following Tamlynn, who walked away with a well deserved Emerging Artist Fringe award for her efforts, very closely from now on.
Hootenanny! Starring crazy amazing comic duo Kate Smith and Will Somers as a pair of Aussie children’s entertainers on their final tour and last few nerves, this was a laugh-out-loud comedy with terrific songs, great chemistry, and an honestly gut-wrenching core concealed within its considerable heart.
Magical Mystery Detour from the legendary Gemma Wilcox did not disappoint for one second, despite my own towering, fanboyish expectations. Gemma is one of my inspirations for getting into performing, and I expect she inspired a few more with this show, the third in a trilogy following her hapless, directionally challenged heroine Sandra through life, love and London.
The Secret Life of Emily/Frances from the stellar team of Laurie Fyfe, Michelle leBlanc and director Bronwyn Steinberg. An historical account of the life of playwright France Brooke, her maid Manon, and how a visit to the ‘New World’ of Canada changed both their lives. A very underrated show that will hopefully be back for a bigger and higher profile run.
The Sink from Nick Wade and Whimsimole. A knockout solo performance from Nick Fournier as a nameless worker in a virtual slave society of thee future, aided and added to by moody music and projections from director/designer Emily Soussana. Perfect in the intimate Tea Party venue, and a truly memorable Fringe experience.
Three Men in a Boat from Pea Green Theatre group. Pure unadulterated fun in this breezy tale of three fops on an ill-fated boat trip. Some of the crispest direction and ensemble work to be found anywhere at Fringe.
So much more to rave about, so many memories to revel in…the terrific Sam Mullins finally arrives at Ottawa Fringe with his four truths…Die Roten Punkte Rock Bang the house in a special midnight performance…Keith Brown tells the best tie joke I’ve ever heard on a stage…Hiroshi Shimizu puts smiles on the face of every person who crosses his path…Jamie Portman transforms himself into permanently damaged goods in only ten minutes…Junior Sleuths gets very dark, and very very funny…Theatre of the Beat breaks down the prison walls…Alli Harris and Kristine Shadid NEED to start making music together all the time…Pachiv teaches us how to dance like babies…it’s a snapping turtle…Threads gives us the best chase scene in years…amazing parties at open AND close (and in between) where things like this happened:
I was going to talk about my experience on Hannah & George, but I think I’ll save that for another post. For now, I’m just gonna shout out my love once again to Ottawa Fringe and this family that I love so much (even if I still don’t really…not REALLY…feel like I belong to, and likely never will. Sorry, head full of bad wiring, whatcha gonna do?). I miss you already, and am gonna start work soon on whatever comes next. Another post soon! Peace, love and soul,
Kevin Reid (Winston says he’ll be home soon!)