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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Fringing on Day 3

Six very different shows equal something for everyone

Posted By on Sun, Sep 4, 2011 at 10:39 AM

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I can’t say enough about the sheer variety, and quality, of shows of I’ve seen so far at The Fringe. On one sunny Saturday, I managed to take in six shows with topics as varied as homicidal fairies and randy, bitter barnacles. In between, I had time to indulge in sushi on the waterfront and I ended my evening with rockin’ party at the Bus Stop. Does summer in the city get any better than this?

My first show of the day was a polished piece of Fringe artistry entitled Visa Called this Morning. Toronto comedian Jen Gallant does this one-woman show about her love affair with credit…an affair that ends very, very badly. Gallant is a funny lady with malleable face that allows her to transform herself into a myriad of characters. The material, which is expertly woven into a well-paced show, got lots of laugh. Visa is traditional fringe fair done right.

Next up was the completely charming and very amusing In the Valley written by local actress/playwright Natasha MacLellan and produced by Forerunner Theatre. Samantha Wilson plays a woman in her thirties who turns to speed dating as a way to meet a man. In one evening, she meets five very different would-be suitors who reveal a lot about themselves in their three minute “sales pitches”. This is one of those plays where everything including the acting, directing, writing and even the venue come together to create a match made in heaven.

The hottest ticket of this festival is proving to be an eight-minute piece called The Barnacle’s Tale that is creatively staged in a tiny portion of The Plutonium Playhouse lobby. This little show starring Ryan Doucette is full of surprises which I won’t reveal, but suffice it to say the laughs are worth way more than the toonie you’ll spend to get in.

Rejection hurts, but it can also be pretty entertaining, at least when you sit in the audience and watch something like The Rejection Chronicles. This is a show that uses voice-over and short scenes to bring to life actual letters of rejection. Some of the scenes are sad (a young girl writes to her aunt to explain why the Facebook tribute page to her dead mother is just too hard to view), some are funny (a girl dumps her lover on his birthday with zany, over-the-top style) and some use personal rejection to make a bigger comment (a young woman in the 1930’s receives a letter explaining that women are simply not hired to be animators at Disney Studios.)

It’s no easy feat for a writer to honestly review the work of not one, not two, but three of her editors, as I have to do with Sirens: The Musical which is written by The Coast’s Tara Thorne (my first arts editor) and stars Stephanie Johns (my current editor) and Allison Saunders (Listings Editor). Fortunately, I can be completely truthful when recommending this campy cop musical comedy. If you like your women cute but hardboiled, your music catchy and your shows light and laugh-filled, you’ll like this show. Phew!

The evening wrapped up with another magical offering called Waltz of the Fae: Sure as Death by the talented young women of Once Upon a Theatre Collective. The story weaves together an ancient fairy tale and the lives of four friends who share gossip, games and plenty of red wine. Actresses Gina Thornhill, Lesley Smith, Jessica Barry and Meghan Hubley share an easy, natural camaraderie which is apparent in the first half of the play. When things take a darker turn, the four reveal their power as singers and actors. This show stands out by virtue of its originality.

For shows times and locations visit www.atlanticfringe.ca

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