Friday, 3 June 2016

26th Montreal Fringe Festival, 2016

reviews by Nancy Snipper 


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For more information regarding programming, venues and tickets please go to:
http://www.montrealFringe.ca/ or call 514-849-FEST (3378)
{Last update – Most recent entry at bottom of page: June 19 2016; Nancy Snipper has seen 14 shows/events in all} 
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Shows reviewed by Nancy Snipper

The Passage
at Freestanding Room, June 2, 6:30 p.m.

Impeccable Performance of a Flawed Journey


In 1897, 27-year-old Nelly Garner from California, joined a group of men on an impossibly difficult trek (to dig for gold) to the Klondike via Edmonton. The play, written by the highly talented Adriana Bogaard presented stunning language taken from Garner’s diary. A lot of rewrites over a period of years went into the making of this 60-minute piece.
Actor, Jen Viens was mesmerizing in her one woman show that relied on a few props and projected images of harsh weather and barren landscapes (created by Osheen Harruthoonyanon) on a huge tent cloth strung on the back wall. Most importantly,Viens had a riveting emotional connection with this feminist whose trek to the Klondike was ripe with tragedy.
The lighting, dark tone and sparse staging enhanced the rawness and courage of this woman now made famous by this performance whose talents come together in their company, Itinerant Tinker Theatre Collective.

The show runs until June19.
Check the Fringe program for performance schedule.
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Origin
at Freestanding Room, June 3, 6:30 p.m.

An Intensely Interesting Ensemble of Vocal Dexterity and Voracity


Four highly focused female actor/singers merge their voices to recreate the beginnings of humanity. Symbolism with the eating of the apple harkens back to Eve, and a lullaby sung takes us into babyhood and the reality of growing up and the wonder of hurt, work and love come together in over 30 acapella songs ranging from blues to ethereal and haunting harmonies

Director and actor Caroline Gauthier revealed some of the songs were written a long time ago, but the last song about freedom was written within the last four weeks. The three other actors were: Melissa Toussaint, Ingunn Omholt and Elodie Dupuy. All meshed well together. The rhythms and interesting clapping and tapping in some songs added further empowerment to the work. It’s no easy feat to take one hour of acapella theatre style and move us, but these women did. Their classes and connection forged at Straeon Acting Studio on Parthenon Street in Montreal surely enhanced the comfort these women displayed on stage. Caroline actually trained in opera. She left it to create her own ensemble where writing and singing bring to life themes of superb intensity. A performance of primeval implications morphing into modern life that proved to be compelling and interesting. There is nothing more powerful than the human voice. 

 


The show continues until June 19.
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Atomic City
at Freestanding Room, June 3, 6:30 p.m.

Anything but a Bomb

Written by and starring Jeff Gandell (Dr Berg) and Mariana Vial, this entertaining snappy piece pits two characters in the same room working on creating something very important that will put an end to WWII. As Dr Berg’s assistant, she does not know that the brilliant physicists’ work is about creating the atomic bomb. Set in Oak Ridge, Tennessee (no accents for the actors in the performance), the town of 75,000 residents was composed of women – most of whom had no idea their secret reserve in which they were working was built for this purpose alone. The pair accuses each other of sending secrets about creating the bomb to agents in Russia and in America. It is a case of she said and he said, and both end up bickering and falling in love. Cute and fast-paced, the one-hour theatrical work with witty dialogue is well-written. Moreover, despite its lightness and entertaining value, it touches upon important issues; it deserves to become a three-act play on the big stage.

The show continues until June 19.
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Me, the Queen, and a Coconut
Black Theatre Workshop, June 09 06:00

A True Confession
Andrew Bailey had a gifted loving grandfather who was a classics scholar and a religious figure. Midway on his religious journey, he loses his beloved granddad.
Andrew was greatly influenced by him and wanted to be a priest. In fact, he was the serious sachristan carrier of the huge cross wearing his cassock in church and did other tasks associated with that responsibility. 


He ended up at Windsor Castle living in Cloister 3 there performing similar duties. This play gives us a confession about his non-belief in God and the love he had for his grandfather and being torn between wanting to be a priest, working in the church in London and both following and rejecting his grandad’s beliefs.
A one-man show of great interest that shows Andre’s marvellous ability to hold our attention, his knowledge of the church and his final confession that leaves him in a stable place spiritually and emotionally. Funny and also serious, the piece is meaty without being preachy or pedantic as Andrew shares his deepest struggles with humour, sincerity and self-deprecation with the audience.

The show continues until Sunday, June 19th.
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Shake
Petit Campus June 09, 7:45

Aussie Beauty Sends Up Her Own Burlesque
Becky Lou is an awesome Burlesque queen who sends up moments in her own strip-down bare act. Dazzling us with over 7 different ways to take off the glitter, striking poses and moving with her own funny comments about her own act, Becky is a brilliant Marilyn Monroe look-alike (save for Becky’s gorgeous red hair), and she has the same come-and-get-me girlish vulnerability and comedic nuance of the late actress. Becky shares with us how she loved – as a little girl – to roll on the floor, strip down at the waist, and how she came into loving her own body and being proud to “bare it all” – curves and all with the audience. She’s a global sensation; she’s not just beautiful on the outside, but on the inside as well, as this reveal-all show proves.

The show continues until Sunday, June 19th.
Don’t miss it!
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A Perfect Picture
MAI, June 10th, 12:00 p.m


One-man show with freeze-frame pictures.
A small group of photographers in South Africa captured poignant pictures of the savagery going on the during the Apartheid period. Lively actor Laurent McCuaig-Pitre
highlights the Pulitzer Prize winning photo taken by Kevin Carter whom McCuaig-Pitre emotionally portrays. It shows a vulture that has just landed and is about to feast on a baby who is alive but starving. A lot of flashbacks and fast forwards with audio sounds to key us in prove confusing. The play is a pastiche of the photographer’s life and what it means to be out in the field. A noble heart-felt performance that holds our attention, but too abstract for my taste.
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Get Lost
Mai, June 10th, 1:00 p.m

Knowing oneself can only happen when lost
A super speedy witty delivery by Brit, Fringe favourite Jem Rolls. In this unique, says piece, he travels to hundreds of exotic places, offering descriptive vignettes, without any intention of ever staying or finding specific landmarks in each one. He believes in the wonder of getting lost and the feeling he gets of liberty by doing so. What he feels and perceives is utterly insane and exhilarating. It’s all part of being human. He’s a true peripatetic traveler who aha cast aside all earthly possessions to live in the here and now in a plethora of different lands. An occasional stumble on lines on his part, but what else can you expect when you are lost? I suggest that this actor use some slides with him striking some funny pose for some of the places he mentions. It would enhance the humour, and give us a visual reference to what place he refers to.
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Messy Bitch
Black Theatre Workshop, June 10th, 4:00 P.M.


More Maven Madness Than Messy
Cute life-size mannequins manipulated by actor Jessica Rae who uses one to be an apologetic gal, and the other to show her assertive, feisty side. A short show that is amusing and entertaining. Rae is a dancer too, and it shows.
A breath of fresh air, this silly, fun show with its personal message with universal female truths makes this show a delight to watch.
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Captain Aurora
La Chapelle, June 12, 02:30 p.m.

What a wonderful sci-fi musical with an ensemble cast whose characterizations are witty and most entertaining.
The plot of course is about good versus evil, specifically an extraterrestrial planet whose super powers and tech wizardry have allowed them to colonize Earth. They want to control SkyGuard – good heroes who are led by Dawn AKA Captain Aurora, backed by her heroic team; they have extraordinary powers themselves.. They must fight against the evil powers, and with the help of The Phantom – creator of the original SkyGuard team of super heroes who have now vanished – this new group may indeed conquer the mighty force of The A’aru, led by President Aria, who now heads the Republic of Earth, is stunningly played by Nadia Verrucci.
Written and directed by Trevor Barrette, this musical offers a great trio of musicians, colour and special effects that simply dazzle and entertain. It’s funny, wondrous and the singing is excellent. However, I would have liked to have seen Rosie Callaghan project her singing voice more; after all she is the leader. Zachary Creatchman as Talos and then benevolent Ben was excellent as was David Noel in the role of Jack. Kenny Wong wrote the music with Trevor, and band leader, Luce Belanger also was part of the music at the end of it all. A fun Fringe Show for the entire family!
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Thunderfoot
La Chapelle, June 12, 4:30 p.m.


A play that needs more than a giant to save it
Too bad this ridiculous waste of Aaron Malking’s talent was lost here; he played James in “High Tea” performed in last year’s Fringe’s famous duo of James & Jamesy. Unfortunately, “Thunderfoot” was lame in story and limp in impact. As Aaron’s first solo show, I was disappointed and confused, and at times, he seemed to be so, as well. For example, he spoke in his regular voice to the audience for reassurance asking if we were following him – stepping out of character when he did this. At times he seemed a tad confused. His eccentric characters are great in vocal and movement execution, but the story whose crux comes late in the play when a giant and a little boy meet was silly. Finally, when the ending comes – it seems to all make sense, but the ending should have come a lot sooner.
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Bushel and Peck
La Chapelle, June 12, 6:15 p.m.


A peek into a pair of mesmerizing misfits living in symbiotic weirdness
The show displays the ingeniously dexterous interplay of movement and vocals between actors, Alastair Knowles and choreographer, Stephanie Morin-Robert. It’s an unclassifiable collage of two strange entities that tease, mimic and torment one another using a huge plywood board, a light bulb in a small lamp stand, a balloon, a stapler and a book. I loved how they used their shirts to create characterization and tallness. There is no real plot to this virtuoso piece, but I was wowed by the dancing and acting of Stephanie and how well Alastair played off her. Their impeccable timing, fluidity and feats of balance (watch how they manage that big board) rank these two-of-a-kind stage performers as tops in my “pecking” order.
For Alistair, it was an unusual, daring piece. Performing Bushel and Peck is wildly exhilarating. For the past 5 years I have performed over 300 comedy shows as part of James & Jamesy, but this collaboration with Stephanie Morin-Robert requires me to perform in ways that terrify me on a personal level. It's wonderful to feel my capacity as a performance artist swell.”
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Rashômon
MAI, June 17th,  1:30 pm
(in French)

What a lovely show! What a dark story!

Seven suspects (not including the final supernatural one) are interviewed by the inspector of a Japanese village. He discovered a corpse on the mountain. No ordinary case, each suspect claims to have seen the culprit on the road with a woman on a horse, but each tells a different witness-like tale with testimony ambiguity. Like a puzzle with missing pieces, these suspects don’t reach the same conclusion. Where lies the truth?
What makes this production so interesting is the ensemble of performers who create ritualistic kabuki/yoga/tai chi movements – all synchronized in graceful harmony
wearing traditional Japanese costumes.

Each ensemble player also doubles as a suspect, and each actor is convincing. The witch at the end eerily reenacts the different versions with truthful conviction. Still, at the end, we doubt that what we heard and saw is indeed truthful.

Elegantly directed by Miguel Doucet, the play with its stylized performance is based on the short story, Dans le fourré, written by the Japanese writer, Ryūnosuke Akutagawa. 
We started rehearsing in March, but the idea to turn the story into a theatre piece took its genesis about ten years ago,” said Miguel. This director has a great talent, and the actors he used to bring murder lies and intrigue onto the stage were compelling.
Now in its tenth year as a theatre company, Théâtre Globe Bulle Rouge creates a unique stage production based on texts by foreign authors. This original company is gifted at transforming written stories into the theatrical vernacular.
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The Jupiter Rebellion
Black Theatre Workshop, June 18th, 5:30 p.m.

Shooting for the stars: a galaxy of great acting

This is a ridiculously far-out zany plot with a brilliant delivery of a multitude of characters working on a moon station where miners are collecting asteroids and getting bored out of their wits in their private pods. It’s all being filmed. The only fun part is the drinking in the Milky Way Bar. Things perk up though when miner, Zak Zultana – played by Jeff Leard, the entertaning solo actor presenting this sci-fi space fantasy. 


Zak meets sultry Alex in the bar – who-just happens to be the big cheese’s wife; he owns this space mining asteroid collecting company, so when Alex and Zak have a sexy space ride in more ways than one in Alex’s own space ship, and her hubby finds out, things go from sky heaven to hell. Zak is forced to work in the waste collection department, and he deteriorates from the heavy loads and chemicals. However, a rebellion, led by him – who is now called Zak the space gigolo, brings it all to a happy conclusion.
Aside from Zak Zultana, Leard has so many character voices; and his hilarious facial expressions border on classic comic-book style fun. His movement is deliciously controlled, and his non-stop fast-paced talking is amazing. The play – a collaborative writing effort between Ron Fromstein and Leard, and directed James Leard, needs some cutting though; it goes on too long in some parts. Nonetheless, the lighting was spot on and Jeff Leard soars sky high with his stage presence.
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Naked Ladies
Montreal Improv Theatre, June 19th, 4:15

Nakedness in true form, yet lies and secrets lie hidden
Naked she is as are the other ladies shown on the projection – famous ladies from famous paintings. The actor explores the subject displaying a range of emotions: vehemence, tears, pathos and vulgarity the difference between the nude body and the naked one – the former always objectified and used.
Her own personal testimonial, but disconnected episodes about her feelings of nakedness and how she got into it are also revealed. Yet, we leave the room questing to understand what this lady is really about. Full of thematic irony, wit and dare, brash and bold actor, Thea Fitz-James, Naked Ladies seeks to answer the question why women get naked on stage. A combination of performance art, history lecture and storytelling, the compelling show speaks to the crisis around the naked female body, trying to understand its contested position between stigma and celebration. Naked or not, Woman will always be “secreting” in both ways. It’s a mystery.