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Day 9 at the Fringe 

In the back stretch

click to enlarge Josh Dunn asks you to leave your preconceptions at the door in The Shit Show
  • Josh Dunn asks you to leave your preconceptions at the door in The Shit Show

For anyone who's counting, it appears my Fringe binge has had two "Day 6's" and no "Day 8". You may blame this on a temporal disturbance, time/space dissonance or whatever fringey convention works best.

Invasion: A Musical by Steven Heisler

I gave this show a standing ovation.

Anyone who knows me, will know I'm pretty scroogey with these. I refuse to be cowed by the all-too-familiar Halifax crowd that seems to jump to its feet for most everything.

So what was it about this low-budget, campy apocalyptic musical comedy that got me off my seat?

It was fun, funny, fast-paced, well-written, and well-cast.

It features performances by Henricus Gielis as the perfect nerd hero, Brenton Hares as the boorish boyfriend who talks like Barry White and sings like Prince, Steven Heisler in various hilarious pre-recorded roles and powerhouse singer Becca Guilderson, who is simply outstanding as the damsel in distress.

Praise-worthy in my books.

Bus Stop, 40 minutes, $10
September 7 @ 4:30 PM

Alien by Annie Valentina

Sometimes a play can make you consider the world from a point of view that you never have before.

Annie Valentina's Alien is such a play.

The show is an autobiographical story that traces Valentina's life from her early childhood in Bulgaria to her family's unexpected move to Norway and her solo relocation to Halifax.

The journey is framed both as a literal and an emotional one. She is seeking a physical place to call home, but also a sense of identity.

The play is peopled with a variety of characters such as her beloved grandmother, a loquacious cab driver, her "fuck-you!" best friend and her intelligent, independent mother. Valentina sketches them beautifully with voice, bearing and accent.

The simple, evocative set is one of my favourites at the fringe. A criss-crossing of string speaks to the journeys in the play. The clothesline becomes both a timeline and a homey touchstone.

Emotion Picture Gallery, 50 minutes, $8
September 7 @ 8:10 PM

Together We Are More
by Mary Fay Coady and Ailsa Galbreath

Mary Fay Coady's character in Together We are More has a smile so bright that warms the heart, and Ailsa Galbreath's character has eyes so sad that they break it.

They seem at first to be polar opposites. Coady is open and child-like. Galbreath is introspective and guarded.

It's not clear what their relationship is. Are they friends? Lovers? Two halves of one person?

They share snippets of themselves through songs and monologues. And they argue over the mysterious "box".

The box is a bone of contention. It's been opened before, and its contents gave great pleasure and great pain. Will they risk it again? What will they find inside?

I loved this play for the big questions it asked and the quirky way it asked them. I loved this play for the answers it gave and the answers it didn't.

I loved this play.

Emotion Picture Gallery, 40 minutes, $7
September 7 @ 7:00 PM

It Trickles Down by Jake Martin and David Etherington

If you're interested in municipal politics, you're sure to find lots to like about It Trickles Down. Playwrights Jake Martin and David Etherington take aim at the politicians and bureaucrats who run any city, and the results are hilarious.

Nick and Gerard are two civil servants charged with finding a solution to their town's crumbling infrastructure. Instead of working on the problem, the two spend time discussing waffles and scandal and spin-doctoring their lack of action.

Martin and Etherington nail the little details, skewering every thing from feel-good focus groups to the excessive use of post-it notes.

It Trickes Down is clever satire that will make you laugh at its absurdity while acknowledging its truthfulness.

Museum of Natural History, 45 minutes, $5
September 7 @ 4:30 PM

The Shit Show: Misconceptions an Nuggets of Truth Deep Within
by Josh Dunn and Howard Beye

"Don't judge a book by it's cover". It's a saying we've all heard so many times that we've probably ceased to consider its meaning (if we ever really did).

Josh Dunn's cover is a man with cerebral palsy. A "cripple", as he likes to say. In The Shit Show, he asks the audience to take a closer look at the man that's inside.

Of course, as the author of the piece, Dunn gets to choose what pages he reveals. He gives glimpses of his loneliness, isolation and the frustration he feels at not being seen as a desirable, sexual being. At the same time, he reveals his own inability to look past physical appearance in his search for love.

If you're looking for an easy read, this is not the show for you. But if you're up for the challenge, you'll leave with plenty to think about.

Museum of Natural History 45 minutes, $10
September 7 @ 10:00 PM
September 8 @ 4:30 PM


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