The Untitled Sam Mullins Project (Venue 7, Cinematheque)
I’m realizing now that I seem to be talking about storytellers a lot this Fringe. I have always had a soft spot for a really good yarn and Sam Mullins has quickly become a favourite. This year’s effort was every bit as good as last year’s Weaksauce and Mullins seems to be on track to become the new TJ Dawe now that Dawe doesn’t seem to be doing the fringe tour thing any longer. The show itself is centered around the artist identifying four personal truths and the humourous/affecting stories that explore them. It’s easy to see why he’s been getting a wider audience on The Moth and This American Life.
I must admit I’m curious why he split from the PTE promoted crew however as he seemed to be filling the playhouse studio venue last year no problem and his tiny cinematheque venue was sold out and near impossible to get into most of his run. Given that other companies that I know have dealt with them in the past aren’t there either I have to wonder if perhaps they raised their fees/cut this year. It’s also entirely possible that that was his fallback had he not got in on the lottery. Still if Sam comes back next year (and I hope he does) I really hope he ends up in a bigger venue as he could easily have filled Venue 1 or 6 by the sounds of it.
Canterbury Tales (Venue 10, Planetarium Auditorium)
Parts of this were really well done and the conceit was interesting but overall I was disappointed. I’d heard such great things about Erik de Waal and I think the abrupt changes of tone in this show just didn’t hit me right. I wasn’t the only one either as this was the first show I’ve been in this year where people left partway through the show. Still, what I enjoyed I enjoyed enough that I’ll give his effort next year another chance.
Die Roten Punkte: Eurosmash (Venue 25, Pyramid Cabaret)
Otto and Astrid return! It’s been four years since The Red Dots graced a Winnipeg stage but they appear to have not lost a beat. The ‘German’ duo had the house rocking from the first note even after a late sound tech kept everything from starting on time. As always their level of commitment was hilarious and the back and forth with the audience and each other made the show. That’s not to say that their songs aren’t catchy and hilarious as well though, you’ll likely end up humming one for the next few days.
Bonus points: being at the Pyramid this was one of those lovely venues where you can have a drink.
Great Battles in History (Venue 11, Red River College)
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this one man production. Twenty minutes in I still wasn’t sure exactly where things were going. Writer/Performer Mark Shyzer immediately draws you in to the tale of a Fringe production gone wrong, his character trying to hold everything together as it all falls apart. Yet as the show goes on and more layers reveal themselves you slowly begin to understand that there is a reason for the chaos.
Shyzer’s faux fumbling use of various media, goofy ukulele song and silly pirate voiced napoleon/obsessed Wellington are highlights of what turned out to be one of my favourites this year.
Overheard in line (day 10): “The sound guy is late… but when we let you in there will be alcohol”
Highlight of the Day/Recommendations:
Way too tough to choose, if you’ve never seen Die Roten Punkte before though it’s a very different kind of show.
Leaflets/handbills rec’d: 84 (I’m being environmentally responsible this year and turning away duplicates when I recognize them)
Outside Joke and DnD Improv final shows, perhaps something else.