And to think on Friday I was planning to take the weekend reasonably easy show-wise. Now it’s Monday morning and my Frequent Fringer pass is almost gone. Twelve shows down already despite the late start.
One Man Back to the Future (Venue 9, Eckhardt-Grammaté Hall @ U of W)
Shelby Bond has long been a favourite of my group of fringe-going friends back from his days as the goofiest of the Sound and Fury crew. His one man shows the past couple years have been great as well and though there were a couple ragged bits (perhaps to be ironed out by the time you see it) they were easily outstripped by his manic energy. I don’t want to spoil any of the really odd moments but let me say this: if you feel like being part of his special effects crew sit in the front row.
The Surprise (Venue 9, Eckhardt-Grammaté Hall @ U of W)
People have been recommending Martin Dockery’s shows to me for a while now but I had never been able to fit one in (especially when they were bigger hits) yet coming straight out of BTTF put me at the right venue in time to buy tickets.
The Surprise is Dockery’s (true) tale of the journey he took upon discovering that he has two brand new half-siblings in Vietnam. It’s difficult to write much about without spoiling the performance itself so let me just say that Dockery is truly a gifted storyteller. If you’ve seen and enjoyed TJ Dawe (or Sam Mullins) in the past you owe it to yourself to check out this show. It’s touching, it’s funny and Dockery’s delivery has you hanging on every word. I’m now hoping to see one of his other works before the festival ends.
Slaves to Starbucks (Venue 10, Planetarium Auditorium)
‘Slaves to Starbucks’ is a series of dark satirical sketches on the nature of life in the 20th century. Some were wickedly funny, some felt as if they were treading on more well worn satirical territory. From the program and from something another person in line said I got the impression that this show may perhaps have been written quite some time ago. Even with a few misses this was a very good show and writer/performer Peter Aterman is an undeniably talented guy.
Watch Out WildKat! (Venue 4, Alloway Hall)
One of my favourites of the fringe thus far, this was a fantastic western farce. We follow the adventures of WildKat McReady as she hunts down her father’s murderer but gets more than she bargained for. A little bit True Grit, a little bit Man with No Name and a little bit blazing saddles combined with a talented cast made for a very happy audience on Saturday. Easy to see why this one is selling out consistently and why Sex T-Rex are so highly thought of by other comedy performers I talked to.
I really don’t want to say much more about it lest I spoil anything but the pace is frenetic, the jokes are non stop and the performers make every scene come alive.
DnD Improv Six (Venue 18, Gas Station Theatre)
An old favourite and still a hit that sells out almost every performance. Not much to say about this one other than there’s no need to know anything about (or like) Dungeons and Dragons to enjoy it. It’s just balls out heroes and villains in goofy costumes, weird monologues and all around mayhem. At this point it’s a given that I’ll always have a ticket for the last performance (where they often go nuts with the special effects and blood they have left.)
Favourite name this year: Enron Monsanto, a villain naturally.
Sound and Fury’s Hamlet and Juliet (Venue 26, West End Cultural Centre)
I’ve quite honestly lost track of how many of their shows I’ve seen or how many cast members head SnF guy Richard has had over the years. Amazingly this is their tenth year here and they’ve since gone on to tour far more extensively yet they always say (with convincing sincerity) that Winnipeg has a special place in their heart. My only complaint is that they now call the West End home and honestly I hate going over there on a night where I’m seeing anything anywhere else.
If you’ve never seen them they do what they call a “Vaudeville Nouveau” take on various genres, often Shakespeare (as it is this year.) It’s high energy, full of punny and silly humour and a whole lot of fun if you’re in the right mood. Personally this wasn’t my favourite of their efforts but it was fun and kudos to the guys for letting the audience into the nice cool theatre rather than the overheated terrarium that is the lobby at the WECC on a hot day. Could have done with less talk of urinal beer though. 😉
Mr. and Mrs. Alexander: Sideshows and Psychics (Venue 26, West End Cultural Centre)
I freely admit the only reason we really ended up at this one is that we were at the WECC anyway, tickets were half priced and I’d heard vaguely good things from one random person. Boy are we glad we did. The New Zealand based crew of Lizzie Tollemache and David Ladderman take the audience on a journey into Victorian magic and mystery. They had the audience with them at every turn and I hope more and more people discover how talented they are.
ImproVision: Mondo Mascot Meatdraw (Venue 23, Duke of Kent Legion)
The best local short-form improv returns yet again this time with all three original members back in the fold. The venue is not ideal in stage area, but it certainly is ideal for drink prices (beer = $3.25) and the guys are very much on form. My particular show wasn’t so great on the audience participation (including my own contributions, but seriously what else are two planes going to do without resorting to a random word) but it was still a blast.
Overheard in line (day 4): “Was that a stormtrooper on a motorcycle going down Main Street” (Yes,yes it was)
Overheard in line (day 5): “Jesus why don’t I drink here all the time” (on the cheap beer prices at the Legion)
Highlight of the Day/Recommendations:
Mr. and Mrs. Alexander was just an unexpected treasure and is probably having a bit of trouble filling much of the house as the late show at the west end. Please go see it.
Leaflets/handbills rec’d: 56
May catch Ruby Knockers… this afternoon and High Tea later this evening.