It’s #wpgfringe time, set off the fireworks y’all!

Day 9: Puppet Murder and Roller Skates

Day 9:

In an update on the pizza truck let me say that the Pesto, Spinach and Provolone creation was a much better experience. The Lovey’s BBQ Poutine was a letdown though as it’s considerably smaller than the restaurant version and much stingier on the meat/sauce.

 

Roller Derby Saved my Soul (Venue 8, Rachel Browne Theatre)

First off, what happened to this theatre? Did they redo the seating? While the seats are fantastic the legroom is simply ridiculous. If it had been a full house my knees would have been pressed against the seat in front of me all show (and my legs are probably around average length for a guy.) Anyway…

I adored this show. Amy is an introverted young woman who spends her days at an uninspiring job and her nights revisiting her pop culture heroes and wishing her life had some of that meaning (as I fervently pretend to have no insight on that experience.) When she receives a chance introduction to Roller Derby, it’s the beginning of a journey that unleashes the ass-kicking ‘warrior princess’ within her.  Writer/Performer Nancy Kenny was fantastic in the role of Amy. I particularly loved the occasionally cheeky/blushing grin that she’d let escape from shy Amy to convey those unguarded moments we all occasionally have.

Seriously, go see this show.

Who Killed Gertrude Crump? (Venue 4, Alloway Hall)

For some reason I feel like Monster Theatre has been around as long as I’ve been going to the Fringe. Taking a quick look at their history I can see many of my favourite comic plays over the past 10-15 years. The Canada Show, Jesus Christ the Lost Years, Napoleon’s Secret Diary etc…  More recently there was Assassinating Thomson and Til Death: The Six Wives of Henry VIII and the latter was the first time I saw a showpiece for Tara Travis.

This time Tara Travis is serving as puppeteer/narrator/winker for a puppet based murder mystery in the Agatha Christie vein. The puppets themselves are adorable and the stage/scenery are designed in a way that a few waves of her hand and a comment from Travis are all it takes for a scene change. This is usually one of my biggest problems with Puppet Theatre for Adults as many productions overdesign their staging to the point where there are fully 30+ second interludes that completely destroy the pacing of the show. Kudos to the team for keeping the action moving smartly. The dialogue moves at a sprightly pace as well with Travis showing the same flair for quickly swapping between characters/accents that she showed in Til Death. It was a lot of fun. My only complaint would be that Alloway Hall is a particularly poor venue for them as it’s very much in the vein of ‘Make the stage and the seating as wide as we can to use up the room’ fringe venues that kind of destroy the ambience of smaller more focused acts. Nothing the performers can do about that of course with a lottery spot.

Rumble Pak Improv (Venue 7, Cinematheque)

Not a lot to say about this one. Some funny/inspired moments, a fair bit of pointed silences for thinking though. Perhaps the performers were just dragging a bit at this point in the festival. Perfectly fine, but certainly not at the level of Outside Joke, Hip Bang or some of your other long form choices.

Overheard in line (day 9): “You’re a wonderful man sir” –Fraz (after I responded to his flyer saying I’d been there last week)

Highlight of the Day/Recommendations:

Roller Derby Saves my Soul was the standout for me, and it won Patron’s pick so you have an extra chance to see it. Do it!

Leaflets/handbills rec’d: 82 (Mostly getting offered repeats at this point)

Up Next:

The Untitled Sam Mullins project at Lunch followed by… err… I’m honestly not really sure why afterwards. Friday’s right after work schedule seems a bit devoid of things I really wanted to see.

Day 7: Pizza and Beer are highly recommended.

Slightly laid back day today as nothing really leapt out at me on the schedule to finish off the night (plus I was already off the main site at the U of W.) Praise be to Garbonzo’s in the U of W annex for their cheap beer special and 15% fringegoer discount. An excellent idea when you can imagine they suffer a bit during summer session.

 

Anatolia Speaks (Venue 3, Playhouse Studio)

Despite being able to see the line from a nearby office window I almost didn’t make it here in time to get tickets. In the end I think only six people or so behind me got tickets and I’m lucky no one in front of me was buying large numbers. I wasn’t surprised though. Shows written by Kenneth Brown have consistently been among my favourite dramas for the past decade of fringes and this one was no exception.

The one woman shows follows a young Bosnian woman’s journey to becoming a New Canadian after fleeing the Yugoslav civil wars. Candice Fiorentino tells Anatolia’s story superbly and manages to show an indefatigable spirit while still letting the deep wounds of her past occasionally crack through. A lesser Actress would have gone overboard with the hysterics at points but giving the character that quiet strength made the story all the more powerful. Highly recommended.

Moonlight after Midnight (Venue 13, Asper Centre for Theatre and Film)

This one was interesting but more or less impossible to describe here. Absolutely one of those plays where your interpretation may be fully 180 degrees from the person you saw it with. Two people come together in a hotel room, is your first impression right, is your second? Both performers were quite good but it was definitely something that needs to sit in my brain a bit longer before talking more about it.

Overheard in line (day 7): “Boy is he sweaty, must be the ginger.“ (Older Lady re: Shelby Bond after he came by drumming up interest in One Man BTTF)

Highlight of the Day/Recommendations:

Anatolia Speaks was phenomenal but tickets might be a problem.

Leaflets/handbills rec’d: 75 (Mostly getting offered repeats at this point)

Up Next:

Day off from Fringing due to softball and other things (like rest,) back at it Thursday with Roller Derby Saved my Soul at lunch followed by other things.

Day 6: Won’t someone please think of the lineup???

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Unlike Friday’s rainstorm which very intense but brief enough that people came back out, last night’s constant drizzle is the annoying rain that can really hurt Fringe attendance. Hopefully everyone grabbed their umbrellas and still got out there.

I realized the other day that I’m most likely not going to see anything at Warehouse prime for the first time in ages. There’s nothing that has really leapt out and grabbed me from the schedule there except for the early and impossible to get into God is a Scottish Drag Queen sequel. Speaking of which it’s a pity Mike Delahunt had to go because it’s shitty to see that gap his show left in what is arguably the fringe’s best core venue.

In other curiosities, is venue 19 a BYOV after dark? I get that it’s the kidsfringe during the day but only having two shows in the evening in what is a reasonably comfortable central venue seems like a waste to me. (though I suppose they could really only add one more primetime show.)

 

High Tea (Venue 19, School of Contemporary Dancers)

4star

That last question came to mind of course because after failing in my quest to see Two Ruby Knockers… (simply couldn’t get away from work to get in line early enough) my first show of the evening was High Tea at Venue 19. James and Jamesy’s Two for Tea was a breakout hit last fringe despite being in the terrible Son of Warehouse venue. Despite their short holdover I wasn’t able to make it though and thus was eager to check out their second tea-based adventure.

I’ll admit, after a terrible day at work I just wasn’t feeling it at first. Though I thought they were great performers I wasn’t really in the mood for something ‘cute.’ Luckily my grumpy brain was pretty quickly overwhelmed by the sheer commitment of their performance and by the end of the show I was completely drawn in to the fantastical journey into a world flooded by tea. The energy of the show just keeps building until the chaotic climax sends the audience into a frenzy. That said I’m glad I declined the offer of tea on the way in as I had to occasionally laugh at people either holding empty teacups awkwardly or carefully trying not to kick them once they sat upon the bleachers.

 

Nashville Hurricane: A Curious Tale of Fingerpickin’ Fury (Venue 16, PTE Mainstage)

4star

As previously mentioned in this space Chase Padgett was one of last year’s other breakout stars. MTC even brought back his ‘6 Guitars’ show as a fringe fundraiser this spring. I was curious to see if he lived up to the hype but when I emerged from High Tea and it was raining I knew it was questionable if I’d make it. I had already guessed that my chances of getting back to my car, parking at Portage Place and getting a ticket in time were about 50/50 for such a popular show adding the allure of a venue where one doesn’t have to wait in the rain was going to make things much tighter. In the end I lucked into a street parking spot right by the mall, ran up both escalators and hustled past a few more slowly walking people to get literally the final ticket for sale that night (and finishing off my Frequent Fringer in the process.)

Once settled down to wait I found myself laughing yet again at the melodrama that is PTE at fringe time. The design of the mall admittedly forces a rather stupid setup on PTE itself and the long narrow ‘lobby’ for want of a better word is far from an ideal setup for plays. Despite this I cannot help but be amazed every year as the fact that there are sometimes concurrent lines for the two Fringe venues in PTE completely destroys (usually the older) people’s minds. While I was grabbing my ticket a woman came out, grabbed the team leader’s arm and started asking when he was going to come make sure people were in the right lines because it was ‘anarchy.’ Keep in mind there was at least 40 minutes before the next performance of any kind at this point. The same woman was still flitting about an hour later when I finally got into the actual line for Nashville Hurricane and it was all I could do not to laugh at the various people completely flustered by every part of the experience. I couldn’t help but wonder how they’d manage at one of the venues I went to at the Edinburgh fringe that had at least 8 venues in one building with their attendant lines and a large busy bar.

In the end the show itself was everything it was hyped to be. Padgett is one of those annoyingly multigifted people who can convincingly play all four diverse characters of his play while still able to play guitar at a level I can only dream of. The story follows the life of a gifted youngster as he finds himself the pawn of first his trailer trash mother, then a huckster talent agent before his eventual escape to a life on the road with a blues musician. Padgett manages a variety of accents and dense dialogue with aplomb and still manages to incorporate some back and forth with the audience without losing stride. The guy is just ridiculously talented.

If you’re hoping to catch the show you’re probably best off grabbing advance tickets for Tuesday or Thursday as I believe at this point advance tickets for all the earlier shows are all gone. If you’re going to try to grab door tickets be early as they were gone around one hour before show time last night.

 

Overheard in line (day 6): “WHEN are you going to get in here and organize things” (Think Helen Lovejoy level of hysteria)

Highlight of the Day/Recommendations:

Both shows listed above were fantastic.

Leaflets/handbills rec’d: 71 (almost at the halfway point for total shows!)

Up Next:

Hoping to catch Anatolia Speaks right after work.

 

Day 4 and 5: Why yes, that was a stormtrooper on a motorcycle!

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)

4star

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)

4star

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)

3star

‘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)

4star

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)

4star

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)

3star

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)

4star

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)

3star

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

Up Next:

May catch Ruby Knockers… this afternoon and High Tea later this evening.

Delayed Day One: The Night of the Flight Suit

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This has been a busy week. Work has been intense, I’ve had things to do every night (that weren’t fringing) and to top it off haven’t slept well since Monday. In short everything was somewhat aligned towards making me a grump and not letting me enjoy my first night.

Happy surprise then that I had a blast of a day. Despite mother nature trying to blast us with rain, hail and a funnel cloud I managed to pack a full day of work and four full shows in and probably would have done one more had my body not said: ‘enough.’

First up: Fraz vs. the Future (Venue 5, Son of Warehouse)

4star

I snuck in what might be my only noon show of the fringe this year (start times seem overall later and noon starts particularly rare) by catching Fraz Wiest’s new show. This is a show that, at first, doesn’t seem quite as introspective as his previous one-man effort (FRAZ:Lonely at Last) but as the hour unfolds we begin to learn just what is motivating these ruminations on the nature of time.  Fraz is a gifted performer with a manic energy that manages to rescue the parts of his show that don’t quite work or that go on a bit too long but overall I really enjoyed the show. His scruffy beard and flight suit made his quite satisfactory Charlton Heston a highlight for me but I was also tickled that someone clearly loves the Schwarzenegger vehicle ‘The Running Man’ as much as I do.

Note: Smallish venue with not great ventilation (though they appeared to have improved on previous years a bit)

Sadly it was back to the salt mines after that but I’d already planned to stay downtown all night.

 

Chase and Stacey’s Joyride (Venue 1, MTC Mainstage)

4star

Chase Padgett was one of the breakout stars of last year’s fringe with his 6 Guitars show. Sadly I never got in to see it even when MTC brought it back as a Fringe fundraiser but numerous people I trust absolutely adored it. This year he’s performing in two shows, one of which is this sketch/improv effort with fellow performer Stacey Hallal. Oddly these two were in flight suits as well, perhaps that’s the kooky low effort attire of choice this year for non costume performers. Their mix of sketch and improv mostly worked really well and a number of clever callbacks gave more savvy audience a good chuckle. The audience was about 3/4 with them but there was definitely a contingent that despite the festival program description were disappointed it wasn’t more 6 Guitars. I myself felt a bit of disappointment that there wasn’t more musical content after Hallal began the show by playing a cello that lay more or less unused after the opening bit (and seems like a hell of a waste to bring from Portland)

All that aside it was an entertaining high energy show. My only comment would be that each of the Pickle Stand improv sections could easily have lost 30 seconds to a minute without losing anything. As with all improv your mileage may vary if that scene is really cooking though.

Dinner:

Tried out the wood fired pizza truck sitting near Pita Pit. Tasty crust but toppings a bit meh. Ham bits were a bit too big to really get well crisped by the fire and a couple of them were a bit gristle-y. Italian Sausage needs to taste like italian sausage, not just salty pork.  I’d give them another shot with a different pie.  That said portion sizes are quite good

 

Hip.Bang! Improv (Venue 20, Rudoph Rocker Community Centre)

4star

(This venue is a sweltering shitbox if it’s at all hot or muggy and for some reason they don’t have the fans they had last year. Despite that I think all of us in line were very thankful that we got inside before that massive rainsquall hit. A couple of those lightning strikes felt as if they were the next building over.)

I swear I’ve seen these guys before yet for the life of me I can’t tell you what year, what venue or if I liked them.  They are undeniably talented guys who this evening felt if perhaps they were a tiny little bit off? There some really inspired bits but also a few too many blank moments and a ton more corpsing than you can really get away with with a two person cast. Perhaps they were on the verge of heatstroke, I certainly wouldn’t blame them, I know I was. They were still fantastic, I just couldn’t agree with the person who told me earlier that they were the equal of Outside Joke.

 

Outside Joke Breaks all the Rules (Venue 20, Rudoph Rocker Community Centre)

4star

Pretty much my favourite long form improv troupe (though sadly sans Toby)  the OJ crew had another rocking house tonight. For those that haven’t had the privilege of attending one of their shows Outside Joke creates a new musical comedy every night based on a couple of audience suggestions (speaking of: kudos to the weird old dude in the front row for shouting out INCEST as a ‘rule you wish there was.’  I prefer not to know if he meant there should be a rule for or against.)

On this evening we were treated to the story of a rapper (Andrea del Campo) and the freakish pony (RobYn Slade) genetically engineered for him to make his image. Misguided scientists, shetland pony sex scandals and a bout of hand swapping followed as they worked their way to the big finish. A particular highlight: Leif Ingebrigtsen’s look of absolute disgust at the suggestion that the rap character try for a more ‘Kid rock’ feel when returning to his country roots.

I will probably see OJ again as usual as they are an improv group that truly takes the show in a completely different direction every night. If you’re planning on going just keep in mind that they often sell out early and the venue is not huge. Consider advance tickets or at least showing up fifteen mins after the previous show starts for first dibs.

Overheard in line (day 3): “Just how much do you think toonie sized hail would hurt?”

 

Highlight of the Day/Recommendations:

Outside Joke Breaks all the Rules. Still, genuinely enjoyed everything today, would encourage people to check out all four if they’re looking for some funny.

Leaflets/handbills rec’d: From a standing zero we’ve now hit 23! Including a pretty wild 12 in one lineup

Up Next:

Hoping to catch a few shows tomorrow including the Surprise and One Man BTTF

 

 

 

Nope, we’re just missing out.

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A friend pointed out to me that Peter n’ Chris have a new show after all but that it’s only playing Toronto/Vancouver for some reason. I’d assumed they just hadn’t written one for this year, not that we were missing out on a new one. Extra bummer. 🙁

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Adulthood is a bitch isn’t it? It used to be that I could basically live in the exchange district for the duration of fringe subsisting off india palace samosas and scotch eggs at the king’s head. I might have to work a retail shift or two during the festival but I could usually keep that minimal (or swap a shift for a day, or some night where not much I wanted to see was on.) Not so much now that I’m responsible and all. Actually, strictly speaking that’s not true. I do live in the exchange district, only now it’s because I’m here all day for grown up work, painfully close to Old Market Square but locked away from all the fun during the workday.

Despite the horror of wearing pants in the summertime and playing at being some sort of professional guy the Winnipeg Fringe Festival remains my favourite part of living in Winnipeg.  The heady combination of the great theatre (drama, comedy, improv) and the infectious energy that spreads through the exchange revitalizes me every year. I simply don’t understand the large number of people I meet who have never been to a single play, nor even come down to watch a band and sample a food truck. As Winnipeggers we have a truly world class festival and in all honesty it should be twice the size.

Long time readers (hey you 3!) will know that I’ve actually been an amateur reviewer for the CBC in the past and have dabbled from time to time since then. As I know there are a few friends who expect it I’ll be continuing my annual tradition of posting short reviews of the shows I take in this year. That said, as my terrible writing so far will demonstrate, I am severely out of practice.

What’s new!

The festival has made a number of changes again. Some positive, some less so.

YAY:

No more buddy pass: They combined the Frequent Fringer and the Buddy Pass into one pass and made it 12 shows for $94. Each pass can be used for multiple tix to the same show as the buddy pass was. Good call as it was a needless complication, even for people like me who simply used it as a giant size FF pass. At a savings of ~$26 it’s a steal of a deal.

New Venue @ U of W: The fringe is making strides to finally following through on that whole ‘second hub’ thing they’ve been going on about for a few years. With 2 UW stages, the WAG and PTE you at least have a cluster of things to visit. It will always feel disconnected from the festival proper though without the square experience.

All time record number of indoor shows: Enough said, if you can’t find something that interests you I think you’re a robot.

BOO:

Fringe Shuttle no longer goes to Forks Stages: Not a deal breaker for me but definitely a hit to trying to pretend that those two stages are a satellite hub. According to the Free Press this was so that they could hit a more guaranteed schedule on the bus which would be helpful for people trying to schedule shows.

The Cabaret is in the program: So the super secret cabaret has gone mainsteam? Is there going to be a new super super secret cabaret? Seems kind of silly for a fun tradition. (Note: I admit this is jealousy as I likely won’t get to attend this year anyway)

A really significant number of repeat shows: Perhaps it’s just because they are performers I like but the number of performers returning with a show they’ve done quite recently is kind of depressing. At a quick glance: Ryan Gladstone, Penny Ashton, Peter n’ Chris, Bruce Horak, Chris Gibbs, and  Keir Cutler are all doing repeats of shows that have been here in the past 5 years, most in the past 2. Add in a number of sequels or at least spiritual sequels, a couple longer term restagings or more mainsteam plays and this year feels like a bit of a ‘same old, same old.’  Don’t get me wrong I understand the method behind the madness. Perhaps you were a breakout hit like Peter and Chris and coming back with the same show but a much bigger BYOV stage makes sense after turning away a ton of folks the first time. Maybe your show got a great review but later in the festival and you only sold out your last couple performances. The temptation to come back and get guaranteed box office has to be great and given the finances for most fringe performers I don’t begrudge them that choice in the least.  Yet for me as an audience member I feel a bit disappointed as I won’t be getting a new experience with old favourites. I do appreciate that most of them are in BYOVs at least meaning that they’re not taking a lottery spot from someone eager to show new work.

 

Personal Attack Plan:

I plan to try and mix it up a bit. See something random based on a recommendation or flyer every night or second night at least. With other commitments and work I definitely won’t be setting any new personal records for total shows seen but I still hope to cross the 15 show threshold.

Overheard in line (Day: -6): While waiting for someone after picking up my FF pass. “Is this guy funny at all?” –Older Lady to Tim Motley while holding a handbill with his photo (in character as Dirk Darrow) on it.

 

Leaflets/handbills rec’d: ZERO

 

Recommendations:

Since I haven’t seen anything yet I’ll recommend Peter ‘n Chris and the Mystery of the Murder Motel, This is Cancer and Outside Joke Breaks all the rules.  All are gifted performers at or near the top of their respective festival

 

Next up for me:

With softball and the Bomber game killing Wednesday/Thursday night I’m hoping to catch FRAZ vs. the Future Friday at lunch to kick off my fringing. Chase and Stacey’s Joyride may follow at 4:30 if I manage to drag my carcass in early enough Friday morning to escape from work early.

I also pre-bought tix to the final dnd improv show (i.e. the bloodfest) but have a bonus ticket if anyone wants to buy it off me and come with.

Thoughts on Godzilla

A friend and I took advantage of getting home from work at a reasonable hour and caught a 3D showing of Godzilla this week. While we’d both read several positive reviews we both had our doubts after Hollywood’s last attempt at a blockbuster involving the big guy. We were both pleasantly surprised when despite some issues we quite enjoyed it.

I think both Kym and I agreed that the film succeeded in spite of itself, probably due to some last minute editing. The core of the story is supposed to be the family dynamic between Bryan Cranston’s character, his son (played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and his son’s wife (Elizabeth Olsen) and son.  We are supposed to care deeply about the son getting home to his family after trying to help his dad in Japan. Unfortunately Johnson seems to have decided (or been directed) to play his soldier character as blandy stoic as possible (the guy is quite lively and likeable in other films, just not here.) Simultaneously his quest to return home from japan is an increasingly ridiculous deus ex machine to get him to pretty much every monster attack point in the film. Elizabeth Olsen is entirely wasted as the wife waiting patiently because her man said he’d come for her (/rolleyes.) Rather hilariously the marketing department seems to have realized how boring this plotline is as well and Johnson/Olsen are barely featured in the trailer, Johnson has one line and two focused shots while Cranston and Watanabe narrate the entire thing. Don’t get me wrong Cranston is awesome but the trailer makes it look as if he’s the star of the film, not a supporting character. Speaking of actors being wasted Ken Watanabe and David Strathhairn are both criminally underused. There are quite a few sudden time jumps in the movie that could have made for a more compelling narrative if the producers hadn’t felt the need to give half of the film over to family melodrama.

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Sunset

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In 2002 Puerto Vallarta was hit by the edges of a fairly large hurricane. Though no one was killed a large chunk of the waterfront was severely damaged by the storm surge and the gorgeous malecon (seaside walkway area) had to be more or less rebuilt to be safe. Though it’s no longer new to the locals I was curious how the waterfront had changed compared to my memories from my first visit in the late 90s. The answer surprised me…

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