So we’re on day six of the 2016 Winnipeg Fringe Festival and I haven’t posted any reviews here yet, what gives?
Truth be told I’ve just been too busy at work and combined with a late start (thanks so much to the CFL for scheduling two bomber home games this week) I just haven’t had time other than a few twitter musings. Still, I’m a bunch of shows in at this point so let’s do a rundown with some very very quick reviews.
One Woman Sex and the City – Venue 4
Super energetic performer, non stop energy. As someone who hasn’t seen SATC after season 2 except for the occasional ep I didn’t get as much out of it as a lot of the audience but the script and performance won me over anyway.
Jupiter Rebellion with Zach Zultana – Venue 7
Even four days later this is still the standout of the fringe for me so far. Jeff Leard paints a vivid picture and does his best to create his sci-fi epic right inside your head. The fact that he does this as one man on a tiny spare stage with a minimum of lighting and great physicality makes it a must see.
5-Step Guide to being German 2 – Venue 1
I’d heard good things about Paco Erhard’s previous effort and it was indeed an enjoyable time. Nothing too groundbreaking just a pleasant standup routine based on national perceptions. Is either being nice or at least overly generous with his credit on Canadian geography skills though (sadly.)
The Beguiling Buffoonery of Jim Chiminey – Venue 26 (the place with the stairs)
God I hate this venue, the stairs are one thing but it’s more the reaching the top and finding yourself standing there on the steps in an area with no a/c or even airflow. It’s a throwback to the bad old days of fringe (die forever Ragpickers upstairs venue) but then you get into the venue proper and the A/C chills you to the bone. Luckily everyone’s favourite Shelby Bond is there with an adorable physical clown show to lift your spirits to the rafters. There really isn’t any describing it, just go and smile.
One Man Dark Knight – Venue 1
Actually the Dark Knight trilogy. if you’ve seen a Charles Ross show before you know what to expect. Rapid fire, great impressions, great parody and asides. Being as I’m only really a fan of the middle film of this trilogy I enjoyed it less than his previous efforts but he’s still a gifted performer. That said, have to knock off some points for the sound, the combination of a lot of very whispery impressions and the less than stellar acoustics of the 3/4 closed off Mainstage made chunks of the show inaudible. This one would have been better suited for Warehouse I think.
Peter N’ Chris – Here Lies Chris – Venue 16
What at first seems like a departure from their norm into more of a standard sketch show is quickly revealed to have an overall narrative as well. I more or less stumbled into seeing these guys for the first time during the overnight fringe years back and haven’t missed a show since. This one is probably my favourite since the first. Their incredible physicality and seemingly effortless charisma makes this show just fly by.
Papa Squat – Venue 13
The sequel show to the fantastic Ain’t True & Uncle False brings us a touching love story folk tale from the trailer park down by the Pea Punching plant. It’s an indescribable mix of story, song and feelings dragged down by a venue I despise. I get that the fringe is hurting for venues this year with Alloway Hall shut down and Planetarium Auditorium not being used (not sure why? is the construction affecting it as well?) but putting official shows out off this far in an incredibly cold hall with threadbare broken spring seats is just sad (this made worse by the fact I saw three shows in a row there.) This is the kind of venue you use for a BYOV so that they can schedule a few shows to maximum effect not for a main venue. Of course now that I say that I realize I’m just assuming it’s NOT a BYOV.
Burn Job – Venue 13
It’s TJ Dawe’s latest, what more do you need? Ok, well if you need a bit more I’ll just say it’s a bit more of a return to a broader story and less focused on his personal involvement with new age personality stuff (though that comes up a bit as well.)
Best Picture – Venue 13
I’m finding it hard to say anything here. It was perfectly enjoyable and the cast certainly gave it their all but… I’ve seen Tara Travis and Jon Patterson be so incredibly great in other stuff that I found this somewhat disappointing. It might just be that it seems to have been a last minute replacement for the show that was supposed to be in this slot (The Paladin) and I believe Tara was only filling in for someone else. Between this and Fraz apparently being injured and unable to appear in 2-Hander it’s not a great festival for RibbitRepublic.
SiddiqiJones – Venue 11
These guys tried hard it was a weirdly dead audience even by sunday afternoon show and they were getting absolutely no energy back. I’ve heard from multiple people that they’re talented but it just wasn’t working on this occasion. I really don’t think this a great venue for improv either which doesn’t help. Would see them again but this particular performance was solidly meh.
Space Hippo – Venue 8
Last year I saw these two present the very weird but very neat show ONI a very very japanese shadow puppetry extravaganza. I thought it was great but needed some work on pacing/production. They’ve put in that work and this show is pretty darned fantastic. In fact I hesitate to even call it shadow puppetry because that doesn’t really do it justice/might scare people off. If that fantastic poster hasn’t convinced you to give it a shot then listen to me and try it out (and if you love the poster they have pristine ones available for a donation.)
Outside Joke – Venue 18
Brilliant as always. Jane Testar’s ridiculous expression as she presented then played the maracas made my day. Seriously see them this year as it’s the last time (officially) that Leif will be doing the music.
DnDImprov – Venue 18
It pains me to say it, but I really wasn’t feeling it this year, we’ll see if that changes next performance I go to. Part of that is a few of the die hards, one woman in particular yelling out crap pretty constantly like ‘FIGHT’ or commenting on a scene. We didn’t come here to listen to youDefinitely wasn’t helped by multiple people going to the bathroom or leaving via the front of the stage and letting the big door slam either. Performance wise it wasn’t cutting it for me either as people I consider the strength of the show didn’t seem to be given enough to do. I think they’re really missing Fraz Wiest too as his characters are always great at bringing the anarchy to the show.
I’m sort of torn on whether the multimedia stuff is really great either, the Windows 10 reminder was a pretty good unintentional laugh however.
Overall it’s been a good fringe so far but it has definitely felt ‘down’ attendance wise (sporadic intense rain can do that) so get out and see some shows! More to come!