There has been more concrete rumblings about the sad state of Fringe reviewing in the city this year. Due to recent choices by the freep CBC has become the defacto Review importance champ but they are either not reviewing EVERYTHING or doing what they’re doing extremely slowly, having the Metro as a print partner is a nice choice though. And while the Winnipeg Free Press IS reviewing every show this year, they are maintaining their infuriating pay wall. That said, at least they have mechanisms to sort and filter reviews whereas CBC is one long “press to load more” page of nonsense. The CBC actually used to have a pretty great fringe site but either by lack of budget or non-flexibility of their CMS (most likely both imo) they now have a garbage web experience.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand why the Freep feels the need for a paywall as they struggle in this day and age, but they need to make an exception. As our only ‘good’ newspaper it would be really nice to see them make this SPECIAL section a free feature of the website. Not only would this make them relevant again (right now people are only mentioning the WFP reviews if they got a bad CBC one,) it would be better for out of town visitors and might be a good showpiece on why locals (young people in particular) might want to subscribe for their arts coverage.
In terms of general fringe health, attendance was down a fair bit for the first few days but that’s likely at least partly a product of pretty changeable weather for chunks of the weekend. Things definitely won’t be setting a new record but seem healthy at least.
Everybody Dies In December – Venue #11
The new show from Nancy Kenny creator of ‘Roller Derby Saved My Soul’ and the documentary ‘On The Fringe.’ It’s a very different show than Roller Derby and I think that might be what made her reviews a bit less than stellar. We join Claire the Mortician as she bares her soul while preparing her clients for their last visit with the living and enjoys a last conversation with them as well. It’s a slower paced, darker comedy and one I quite enjoyed, though I can see why it wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea.
Curious Contagious – Venue #1
My second shadow puppetry extravaganza of the fringe. I’m ashamed to say I dozed off at one point. That’s mostly on me and my somewhat ragged state sleep-wise. That said, as gifted as these two women are at the various techniques they use in their unicorn tale I felt as if certain sequences went on a bit too long. Again that may be on me as this definitely shaded more towards the dance side rather than the story/comedy side of Space Hippo. Still, I really enjoyed it and the music was great too.
Falling Awake – Venue #2
Two gifted performers delighting the packed audience with a show that’s all physical comedy with elements of magic, mime and mystery. What’s more they survived a near catastrophic set collapse with grace and a lot of laughs. I hope we see them again next year.
President Bear – Venue #8
Their 2 star review might have been a bit harsh but it was also pretty on the nose. There’s a lot of potential here, particularly amongst the female cast members, but not a lot of polish. Most of the sketches outstayed their welcome to some degree and could have benefited from either more ruthless self editing or a workshop with an outside writer. Three or four more quality sketches and probably around 25% cut from the existing ones and they’d be looking at a 4-5 star review. Their filmed interstitials were great but you can’t rely on those too much. If they take their experience at this festival and learn from it we might have another great sketchcom group on our hands.
As for that laundry pile… let’s just say if you don’t hear from me after the Fringe it probably became sentient and ate me.