The sheer variety of shows at this year's Fringe is mind-blowing. And after yesterday's smorgasbord, I feel pretty confident in saying there is something for everyone's taste.
Grumble by Luciana S. Fernandes
I love it when shows like Grumble give parents an opportunity to foster a love of theatre in their children. This "contemporary fairy tale" centres on an unconventional family made up of a rebellious fairy, her trouble-making ogre brother and their mother, the un-motherly witch.
Though the audience was mostly made up of adults, there was one small girl (maybe four years old) whom I watched intently throughout this play.
She was, at first, a little scared. Chris O'Neil gives a delightful performance as the plodding ogre who mumbles incoherently and consumes sweets with messy glee, but he is big and he is green.
She watched intently as the Jozel Bennett's flighty fairy sparkled and pranced around the stage.
There were long periods of dialogue using complicated vocabulary where she looked restless, but she was pulled back in each time Ogre appeared on stage.
Eventually, as Ogre danced and harrumphed around the stage, she laughed out loud. Pure magic!
Museum of Natural History, 35 minutes, $8
September 3 @ 6:30 PM
September 4 @ 6:30 PM
September 8 @ 2:00 PM
Spike Heels by Theresa Rebeck
If you're looking to see one of the best performances by an actor in this year's Fringe, Spike Heels is the show for you.
Marina Maye Gwynn shines in this modern-day Pygmalion as the street-wise Georgie who's being tutored in the good life by the idealistic Andrew (Sean LePine).
During the first Act, Spike Heels was on track to become my favourite play of the Fringe. Georgie's self-awareness, her in-your-face sexuality, her filters-off language and her just-below-the-surface vulnerability impressed me. I was awed by Marina Maye Gwynn's no-holds-barred portrayal of this fascinating character.
The story becomes less compelling with the addition of other characters who take away from the exploration of Georgie and Andrew's complicated relationship.
While Megan Mckay and Jimmy Jazz do a fine job as Andrew's uptight fiance and sleazy best friend respectively, the play just seems to lose focus.
While the writing ultimately disappoints, the performances and direction do not, making Spike Heels a fringe must-see.
Museum of Natural History, 80 minutes, $7
September 8 @ 5:45 PM
Backstage by Johnelle Sciocchetti
Wildfire Theatre Company is a new group that was formed to offer the opportunity to be part of live theatre productions to everyone, regardless of their experience or background.
Backstage, written by local playwright Johnelle Sciocchetti, is Widfire's first production, and while its execution is not as slick or polished as shows by seasoned theatre makers, there is a joyousness in the performances that make them fun to watch.
The play itself makes many references to the local theatre scene, and the audience may well leave debating as to who Halifax's Meryl Streep really is.
Museum of Natural History, 50 minutes, $6
September 3 @ 8:30 PM
September 6 @ 8:30 PM
September 7 @ 8:30 PM
Silver Dagger by Rebecca Schneidereit
Silver Dagger is the kind of thing I love to see at fringe. There's something very exciting about being in on the ground floor of a new work that you know is going somewhere. And I'd say this play definitely is.
It's the story of Crystal, a small-town girl who's lived a tiny life that's been laid out for her by her mother and by society. When a mysterious stranger blows into town, her world suddenly opens up.
Playwright Schneidereit (who also plays Crystal) has set the story in Wolfville in 1971 and a lot of the drama centres on the struggles of living life in a university town where appearances matter.
Ciarán MacGillivray is charming and magnetic as Isaac the drifter, although his "Italian" accent did not ring true for me.
There are too many scenes, too many set changes and too many cups of coffee in this play, but one senses that these problems ill be ironed out in its next incarnation. An incarnation I really want to see!
The Living Room, 90 minutes, $5
September 2 @ 9:00 PM
September 7 @ 8:15 PM
September 8 @ 3:45 PM
Math for Actors by Emily C. A. Snyder
Short, sweet and lots of fun, this is a fringe offering that's perfect to fit in among some of the heavier plays.
It stars Valerie MacKenzie and Russ Storer as a couple of hormone-riddled teens who long to connect but can't seem to get past their essential differences. (She's a math nerd, he's a drama geek.)
MacKenzie and Storer are not teens and I can't decide if it was amusing or distracting to watch them play such young characters.
That aside, this show is entertaining and you'll be rooting (as in square "rooting") for these two to lock lips.
Do they? Go and see...
The Living Room, 30 minutes, $7
September 2 @ 8:00 PM
September 3 @ 8:15 PM
September 4 @ 7:15 PM
September 5 @ 9:00 PM
September 6 @ 8:30 PM
September 7 @ 7:15 PM
September 8 @ 5:45 PM
B Side by Arlin Dixon
Weird can be wonderful and in Arlin Dixon's B Side, it is.
This short play is a love story of sorts between two people who connect through words.
The unseen Olivethea dials strangers randomly and pours her life's story into the ear of any who will listen. Matthew Gorman plays the willing ear who falls for this telephone siren and expresses his love for her through letters.
Watching Gorman is like watching a bag of cats. (And this is a good thing!) All his energy and tension lies very close to the surface, poking through at random moments.
There's a technical aspect to this piece that I loved. Gorman syncs many of his speeches to dialogue on a record, and his timing is flawless.
Watching B Side is like stepping into some quirky, fabulous love poem.
The Living Room, 20 minutes, $5
September 2 @ 7:10 PM
September 3 @ 6:15 PM and @ 9:10 PM
September 4 @ 8:10 PM
September 5 @ 7:00 PM and@ 10:00 PM
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