Here's what's on today at The Atlantic Fringe Festival. Don't say there's nothing to do, because there is.

Attention Seeker
written and performed by Gerard Harris

A year after Gerard Harris' 2015 Fringe show, A Tension To Detail, we find that time has not changed Harris much, nor slowed him down. He still paces around and bounces in his seat on his own imaginary coals. He's still, undoubtedly, the master of spinning yarns, sometimes losing track of the threads he weaves. Harris still battles against the clock and time management, and he still speaks with lightning speed accessibility, forging a Fringe show that is uniquely his.

In this chapter, we have a show that feels both immediately familiar, yet stands as its own separate beast. While Harris still engages the audience with his own eccentric warmth, Attention Seeker is something we haven't seen before. At the show's onset, Harris confides that, despite his inner grappling and anxiety, he has always sought to be the centre of everyone's attention. Harris loves sharing his rapid-fire personality with those around him and that is precisely what the audience is given here. Ditching the more intimate storytelling style of his preceding work, he anchors his newest performance with a centrepiece story regarding his rocky journey delving into the world of stand-up comedy and finding some semblance of success. As a result, Attention Seeker presents an interesting combination of amusing personal anecdotes, a somewhat centralized storyline, and actual funny (and less funny) jokes straight from Harris' stand-up vault. The stand-up motif is a particularly clever thematic device, and subtly harkens back to Harris' inherent need to acknowledged and appreciated.

Although the performance could definitely benefit from being less chronologically disjointed and tighter in terms of narration, Attention Seeker is an interesting step of evolution for Gerard Harris' comedic brand of story-telling; he's clearly in his element, brandishing his cringe-worthy humour and shameless self-deprecation. Harris is definitely one to check out this Fringe season for although it may not have quite the same heart of his previous work, it definitely has a whole lot of nerve. —Carey Bray

The Bus Stop
2203 Gottingen Street

Thursday Sept 8, 11:30pm
Friday Sept 9, 9:45pm
Saturday Sept 10, 12pm & 9:40pm
Sunday Sept 11, 2:40pm

***NEW REVIEW*** A Bitter Shrew
written and performed by Gillian English

In A Bitter Shrew, we learn a LOT about Gillian English’s sex life. In fact, since her story runs from the time she first became sexually active to a few months ago, I’d say we pretty much cover it all. (There are a few missing years, but the gap is covered in English’s other show, Drag Queen Stole My Dress, which, on the night I attended, started a half hour after Shrew finished.)

English is very much what gets called a “honest” performer, which is to say she’s not afraid to go into detail which is both physically and emotionally graphic. Whether she’s talking about the flaccid lover who tries and fails to “thumb it in,” the man who’s okay with period sex but repulsed by farts, or the guy who, without asking, replicates a disgusting move he learned from watching porn uncritically, English heads fearlessly forward, not shying away from even describing her own sexual misdemeanours (“I know, I know, but this is what I did.”)

A lot of English’s humour is of the “fuckandfart” variety (or here more specifically, “fuckthenfart”), of which there’s always a plethora in Fringe shows. It’s attention-getting, but I was more struck by the theme of maintaining strong self-esteem in the face of rejection and disappointment that ran throughout the stories. I wish this theme had been more strongly emphasized.

(I also wish there had been a bit more of the regional humour, as when she talks about her father describing “a hard-looking woman,” or her Grandmother’s revulsion at the idea that English might be dating a ”traitorous” Campbell. This type of material is often seen as “tamer” than sexual and scatological jokes but I think that in the current environment, it’s often fresher.)

English clearly excels at the one-person-telling-funny-stories-from-their-own-life form, a form that’s increasingly dominant in the Fringe (whither drama?) She had two sold-out productions last year, and I anticipate her having similar success with this year’s two offerings. —Martin Wallace

The Company House
2202 Gottingen Street

Thursday Sept 8, 6:30pm
Friday Sept 9, 8pm
Saturday Sept 10, 10pm
Sunday Sept 11, 6pm

Dark Matter
by Colleen MacIsaac

At only 15 minutes, this is a delightful, pensive little Fringe treat, easy to squeeze in between your other shows. Three characters orbit each other closely on a tightly cramped stage, but emotionally, of course, they’re each worlds away, navigating grief, the tension between science and the supernatural, and the logistical challenges of breakfast.

Performers alternate which role they play nightly, so keeners can go twice to get a nuanced experience. See this if you’ve ever felt lonely when faced with the vastness of the universe. —Nicole Maunsell

Plan B
2180 Gottingen Street

Thursday Sept 8, 10:30pm
Friday Sept 9, 6:45pm
Saturday Sept 10, 12:45pm & 9:45pm
Sunday Sept 11, 2:35pm


Drag Queen Stole My Dress

written and performed by Gillian English

Gillian English doesn't need my help to promote her show Drag Queen Stole My Dress. Before performance time she had a line out the door, and people a buzz with excitement—for a moment I even questioned if I would get in. She's a pro on stage and delivers personal anecdotes with a sarcastic humour many would kill for. She would teach you how to hide the body (a family joke she candidly admits during the show).

English's betrayal is very much fixed in Halifax and as she winds us through the names and places changed to protect the innocent she gets more willing to share what the "true story" is, slipping playfully back into the real place names and what might be her genuine feelings about what may sting more harshly than she reveals. This is a crowd-pleasing familiar journey that is a success because of English's larger than life personality and her ability to spin a story with the best of them. —Ian Mullan

The Company House
2202 Gottingen St.

Friday Sept 9, 9:30pm
Sunday Sept 11, 4:30pm

Everybody Dies in December
written and performed by Nancy Kenny

Nancy Kenny steps easily into the role of Claire, a third generation funeral director with a warm smile and comforting voice who talks to the deceased on her table with a generosity rarely paid to her in life.

Kenny's choice to address the audience directly gives an unsettling reminder that death is something we will all face, and her cheeky suggestion to "wear clean underwear" is the sort of dark humour that peppers the show. Her voice as Claire has an unsettlingly familiar tone of a person delivering bad news with a positive spin as she reveals her secrets.

The world Claire inhabits is claustrophobic, with friends and acquaintances appearing frequently on her table giving the impression that she lives in a small town with few choices. Claire lives with the expectation she will inherit the family business, get married, have a child, and it's assumed that she too will find herself on this table being prepared for her funeral.

Though the story is a familiar one at its heart, its unique telling is deliciously clever and funny and will leave you wanting to live your life to its fullest, because none of us are getting out alive. —Ian Mullan

The Bus Stop
2203 Gottingen Street

Thursday Sept 8, 10pm
Friday Sept 9, 5:15pm
Saturday Sept 10, 4:40pm
Sunday Sept 11 8:50pm

The Fear Project
written and performed by Kristi Anderson and Garry Williams

A new music theatre creation by DaPoPo Theatre. Kristi Anderson and Garry Williams explore personal and cultural fears from June bugs, clowns, and terrorism to gentrification, anal sex, and the utter meaninglessness of existence.

Fear features original songs by Anderson and Williams, and was workshop directed by Guillermo Verdecchia as part of DaPoPo Theatre’s 2015 Live In Festival. The creation of this piece has been supported by Arts Nova Scotia.

The Waiting Room
6040 Almon St.

Thursday Sept 8, 6:10pm
Saturday Sept 10, 10:45pm
Sunday Sept 11, 4pm & 9:15pm


Going West

by Jake Planinc

A play about the persuasive allure of a drunken story. Michael has been in the same shirt and the same bar for 10 years, but he still feels like an outsider in the small New Brunswick town he’s trying to call home. Every night he pours drinks for the affable Donny, a tall-tale teller who is about to get off his hunting suspension and go in search of an elusive tree stand he once stumbled upon by accident. When Mike’s university roommate, a walking cliche of a “wheeling and dealing,” “make time don’t waste time” businessman rolls into town and paints him what I guess is supposed to be a convincing picture of expensive watches, willing women and his own parking spot on Bay Street, Mike has a chance to sell the bar and start over.

There are some stilted moments in the performances, but some endearing ones too, like Ian McMullen as Donny animatedly telling a hungover Mike about a mystical albino buck. Like many drunken stories, the material here feels pretty familiar. Sam’s motivations are pretty clear from the beginning and we’re never in much suspense about where Mike’s loyalties lie. Skip this if your attraction to the Fringe is the edgy and unpredictable. But like the best drunken stories, maybe it doesn’t matter if we’ve heard this one before. As any of us come-from-aways know, it’s the people that anchor us to the east coast, and Mike and Donny aren’t the worst ones to spend an hour with. —Nicole Maunsell

Plan B
2180 Gottingen Street

Saturday Sept 10, 10:35pm
Sunday Sept 11, 8:40pm

by Taylor Olsen

In Heavy Taylor Olsen wants you to like him; this is made very clear by his theatre program which contains some favourite quotes, a shirtless selfie, his entire CV (or what seems like it), a back page which asks for your critiques and the line "hope you don't hate it" in his introduction.

All of this seems in opposition to the confident attractive presence Olsen holds on stage as soon as he walks on before proceeding to weigh himself down with 100 pounds of very real physical weights, sinking himself into the self-conscious larger previous self he seems so desperate to escape.

While most one-person shows add a trivial gimmick, set piece or costume, the weights Taylor Olsen wears and sheds to tell the story of his weight loss make a profound thud on the ground when he tosses them off as he sheds the pounds, reminding the audience that every push up, every lunge is a real physical strain and not just staged breathlessness.

His journey is not just about the physical weight, but also the heavy burden of finding self-love that all people must learn to find in themselves, and is a struggle he adeptly conveys.

Olsen points out in the program that this is a workshop production, with a full production to come in the late fall and indeed some choices could be tightened up, but hopefully any finessing to the over-all show avoids upsetting the vulnerability shown in this production. —Ian Mullan

The Living Room
2353 Agricola St.

Thursday Sept 8th, 8pm
Saturday Sept 10th, 7:35pm

with Emily Jarvis and Sean Baker

Much enjoyed. The blurb in the Fringe Guide and stage manager's preamble before the play are a bit too didactic and self-serious but Hummingbird itself (and the work by its two actors) has a very nice sweetness alongside its depiction of anxiety disorder. Louise has the disorder but both she and her partner Gus feel the pain of it in hard times and the relief and lightness when times are better. Great use of the small limited stage showing Louise and Gus's apartment and garden. Adept sound design by Liam Cole. The funny yoga sequence resonated with the whole audience.

Anxiety disorder affects many people (including this writer) and those around them; both are shown very nicely here. Hummingbird is for everyone: beyond the trials and triumphs of the disorder, there are terrific vignettes here of a relationship's give and take.

There are only two more shows in a small venue. Don't lollygag about getting tickets. —JK

Plan B
2180 Gottingen Street
Thursday Sept 8, 8pm
Sunday Sept 11, 1:15pm

Illustrated Lady
written, performed and tattooed by Sophie Postcroteau

Charming. Postcroteau is a great storyteller. The details of the shopping expeditions of her childhood, the foods she ate, the friends she met and kept or met and lost are all shared in what feels like a calm heart-to-heart chat with some you're comfortable with and like very much. She has chosen to memorialize minutes and milestones of her life with tattoos, and her reasons all make terrific sense.

Before the audience goes into the show, each is asked to draw a little something that makes them happy. (I drew a cat.) Then in the show, Postcroteau reviews them, again explaining why this one or that isn't the one she will tattoo today (she already has two cat tattoos). In this show she chooses a cupcake and proceeds to tattoo it onto her inner calf, where it will stay forever, along with the tats (a sun, a record, a chicken leg) she chose in other shows. Postcroteau explains every step of the tattooing. It feels just as if someone were showing you how to knit one, purl two. —JK

The Rainbow Room
2184 Gottingen St.

Thursday Sept 8, 7:30pm
Friday Sept 9, 10:10pm
Saturday Sept 10, 6pm

written and performed by Bud Hunter

Best four bucks you could spend.

I come out of Bud Hunter's solo show feeling like I've just seen a movie – the imagery and story telling are that vivid. At the same time, the murmurs are true: it's rough. But good rough, twinkly rough, diamond in the rough stuff. He has no director, no dramaturge, no stage manager, no lighting designer. It's all him. He seems alone but not lonely. As Saint Gandalf said, not all who wander are lost.

I met Bud Hunter last week, got to sit down and talk with him and write about it. But I feel like the truer Bud Hunter is on the stage, reincarnated as Guevara. I feel I learn more about him when he isn't him at all.

The story of how Che Guervara comes to be concussed on the Bicentennial Highway has a lot of twists and turns and side roads and dark alleys. The jist of it may be that Che Guevara is shot nine times and then pumped full of pain killers by the Bolivians and is transported to a place (possibly a Holiday Inn or a residential facility for folks who are on medication that doesn't quite do it for them) with men in white coats who all look exactly like Ricardo Montalbán. At the same time, possibly in a parallel universe, Bud Hunter is in his car learning Spanish before he attends his nephew's wedding in Cuba.

Along the way there's plenty of good, sensible wisdom: Make a couple of car changes on the way to your secret hideout. (Now that right there is good advice for anyone.) Getting shot multiple times hurts like a bitch.

Hunter must have an incredibly rich interior life. On the road of life Bud Hunter is taking the scenic route. It's a gift, the part of it he shares with the rest of us. —JK

Plan B
2180 Gottingen St.

Thursday Sept 8, 9:20pm
Saturday Sept 10, 1:35pm

I'm Only One Man
written and performed by Jon Blair

Jon Blair's I'm Only One Man plays like a Saturday Night Live audition tape as he cycles quickly through at least 12 different quick comedic scenes (I lost count). Blair is comfortable on stage and knows how to get a laugh with characters and scenes that are smartly constructed for an audience that is used to television jump cuts. The shocking juxtapositions taking the familiar and turning it on its head is the mine from where Blair extracts his humour.

If you were one of the many who turned out for the local comedy group Picnicface in their heyday you will love this show; the fast-paced joke density is perfect for those looking for crowd-pleasing sketch comedy by a seasoned comedy professional. —Ian Mullan

The Company House
2202 Gottingen Street

Thursday Sept 8, 11:10pm
Friday Sept 9, 11pm
Sunday Sept 11, 3pm

Mel Malarkey Gets The Bum's Rush
by Cathy Petch

Mel Malarkey is the owner and host of The Vagabond, a Vaudeville theatre under threat from the increasing popularity of movies. We're with Mel (Cathy Petch) on the final night of the Vagabond's existence, a fact she's concealing from the implied audience, but not, of course, from the real one, as we are invited to see not only the flamboyant and raunchy onstage Mel, but the more solemn and emotional backstage Mel, who reads us odes she's written about the life that brought her to the Vagabond and about what will be lost with its closure.

It's the backstage Mel, I suspect, that has led other reviewers to refer to the play's "pathos," but I think it's Onstage Mel you'll enjoy most with her musical saw, her dildo songs and her period-specific jokes. Her often obscene and disparaging, but always vivid, introductions of the acts that are performing while we join her backstage make you wish you could see them, but  for my money the best Vaudeville act is Mel's interaction with the relentlessly mugging Dickie the Pianist (played by Director Em Glasspool). The mostly silent Dickie's exaggerated facial expressions are the perfect counterpoint to Mel's barker spiel.

At the heart of Malarkey, there's a lament for a form of entertainment that was superseded by the arguably less intimate formats of TV and movies. Where, one may ask, can we find entertainment that captures at least some of Vaudeville's riot, joy, and raunch? Well, with Mel and Dickie at the Rainbow Room, of course! Stop on by! While you're there, pick up a bottle of Elixir! (if Mel and Dickie haven't drunk them all already.) —Martin Wallace

The Rainbow Room
2184 Gottingen St.

Thursday Sept 8, 10:30m
Friday Sept 9, 7:10Pm
Saturday Sept 10, 4m
Sunday Sept 11, 7:50pm

Merrily We Prance About

written and performed by Ned Petrie

Ned Petrie has become an Atlantic Fringe favourite over the last few years and with his solo sketch show Merrily We Prance About this year Petrie is in finer form than ever. The show features an array of sketches, without an obvious theme tying them together, but each one highlighting the inherent absurdity in a variety of facets of American and Canadian society.

One of Petrie’s strengths as a performer and writer is his ability to use the specificities and colloquialisms of language to firmly root his characters in a particular time and place. In one sketch he plays a Kentucky Defence Attorney giving his Closing Argument to the jury in a murder trial and it’s not just Petrie’s accent, but also his turns of phrase, that allow him to really thoroughly poke fun at a very specific Southern stereotype that is immediately recognizable. In a great example of the very specific being the most universal, I also saw an immediate correlation between Petrie’s Southern lawyer and Toronto’s former Mayor Rob Ford. Similarly, Petrie uses language to root his unhinged neighbour and frisbee thief Sid Lundy in a particular place as well, and there is an interesting connection between Sid and Petrie’s awkward flirter in the Opening Sketch, as both explore the connection between masculine fragility and unbridled rage.

Petrie is an extremely affable performer and Merrily We Prance About is smart, funny and topical. —Amanda Campbell

The Bus Stop
2203 Gottingen Street

Wednesday Sept 7, 11:15pm
Thursday Sept 8, 7:00pm
Friday Sept 9, 8:15pm
Sunday Sept 11, 7:20pm

Midsummer Night's Dream & Macbeth
performed by Bard on the Boardwalk

Tear yourself away from the craft-beer comfort of the North End and head down to the Rotary Arts Amphitheatre on the waterfront, where Bard on the Boardwalk, whose mission is to bring us accessible and affordable theatre (it's pay what you can) is doing busker-style Shakespeare.

If you can make it through the awkward rapping and beatboxing that should have stayed firmly in a 1990s high school classroom with a teacher trying to make Shakespeare hip, I promise it gets better. First up is a 15-minute Macbeth, and the time constraints force the comedic treatment the play is well-suited for. It really cuts down on all Macbeth's whining about his guilty conscience, but keeps the good stuff like the witches. There's Yakety Sax, a Mortal Kombat style showdown, and sock puppets. You know, just the way ol' Willy Shakes intended.

BOTB's 20-minute rendition of A Midsummer Night's Dream is a little more faithful to the original text (there's a fistfight between Helena and Hermia in that one, right?), allowing the troupe's well-choreographed physical comedy to take centre stage as they roam about the audience and out into the path of passing pedestrians.

This one's easy to drop in and out of if you can't stay for the whole thing. Just bring a sweater—it's starting to get nippy out—Nicole Maunsell

Rotary Arts Amphitheatre
Bishop's Landing

Tuesday, Sept 6, 5:30pm
Wednesday, Sept 7, 5:30pm
Thursday Sept 8, 5:30m
Saturday Sept 10, 3pm & 5:30pm
Sunday Sept 11, 3pm & 5:30pm

Nautica: a Circus Sea Journey
presented by Halifax Circus

Halifax Circus is thrilled to present an all female cast of aerial and acrobatic artists who use movement to examine the unpredictability of life under sail. Gender, passion and mortality are explored—in the air, on the ground and at sea. One dollar from each ticket sale will go to our Circus Circle outreach program.

St. Matthew's Church Gym
1479 Barrington St.

September 8, 7pm and 9pm
September 9, 7pm and 9pm
September 10, 2pm & 9pm

No Brag, Just Facts
by Brenda Thompson
performed by Andrew Wetmore

In No Brag, Just Facts performer Andrew Wetmore gives a real life account of Lester Beeler, a resident of Bridgetown, Nova Scotia from 1918-1993. Wetmore throws himself into the role of Beeler, doling out anecdotes about times long since past as if they were his very own. Armed with a picture slideshow, a few props, and expressions from the time period, No Brag, Just Facts is an affable and endearing historical throwback.

Whereas the performance can benefit from a little more brevity, Wetmore has a very casual and relaxed presenting manner, which allows for the love for his subject matter to come through, and thus prevents his work from becoming dry or burdensome. This is a project of passion, which in essence is what Fringe is all about.

As No Brag progressed, I began wondering why Wetmore chose to invest in Beeler’s story. What it was about this man that so profoundly piqued his interest? It was not until this play’s conclusion, when Wetmore, lost so deep in the moment, looked out to the audience and said, “I love life here.” that I think I understood his reason, and it's a very comforting one at that. —Carey Bray

The Waiting Room
6040 Almon Street

Tuesday Sept 6, 7:30pm
Wednesday Sept 7, 10:15pm
Thursday Sept 8, 9pm
Friday Sept 9, 8:35pm
Saturday Sept 10, 2:20pm

Noel James, What's Welsh for Funny?
written and performed by Noel James

Fresh from a show at the Comedy Lounge at Lubljiana, Slovenia (by way of a holiday in Newfoundland where he was apparently screeched in and had no idea what the fuck was going on), James has washed ashore for his third fringe in Halifax. His casual (read: shambling) style and silly-putty face Fast-paced and brash show, yet James has this self-deprecating look on his face much of the time. A master class in the art of the pun taught by a bit of a daft. The word play is constant and funny. James runs through girlfriends, Wales, the amazing number of eccentric jobs he's had with a bit of physics thrown in, which James has a degree in. Really excellent bit about Stephen Hawking. James is indeed from Wales, from the city of Swansea, also home to Dylan Thomas (fans of Under Milk Wood are in for a treat). —JK

Plan B
2180 Gottingen St.

Thursday Sept 8, 6:35pm
Friday Sept 9, 10:10pm
Saturday Sept 10, 4:05pm
Sunday Sept 11, 6pm

Paddy n' Rob
by Robert Murphy

Paddy N' Rob is a sketch troupe based in Toronto but born and raised in Nova Scotia! They're ready to take chances, make mistakes, and get messy. Actually, not so much 'messy', more of a 'clutter'. And not so much 'mistakes', more 'happy accidents' or 'unplanned pregnancy'. Chances is a strong word too. Lets say 'calculated risk'. You know what, scratch what I said at the top. Paddy N Rob is a sketch troupe that is funny and know what, those are also strong words...

The Living Room
2353 Agricola

Thursday Sept 8, 6:40pm
Friday Sept 9, 11:00pm
Saturday Sept 10, 10:05pm

Perk up, Pianist!
written and performed by Sarah Hagen

Sarah Hagen sits at a piano, playing classical pieces while simultaneously making wry observations interspersed with jokes. It's a style of entertainment more often found in expensive lounges (although with arguably better music here) and represents yet another entry to the seemingly endless list of genres and forms that the Fringe can accommodate.

 Hagen's brand of humour is well represented by the dirty (and somewhat goofy) pun in the title (a pun she connects, with apparently characteristic self-deprecation, with her dating life.) She's an engaging and endearing performer, delivering her lines in a warm voice that contrasts nicely with the silliness of some of  her jokes. She's also, of course, an accomplished concert pianist, and the way in which she subtly times her lines to match the tone and rhythm of the pieces adds to the overall charm of the experience. One of the best hours I've ever spent at the Fringe.

The Rainbow Room, incidentally, is the perfect venue for Perk Up Pianist! It's a small space with a layout that enhances the intimacy between artist and audience, so necessary to performances like this. (And, btw, if you like you can buy a drink from the bar next door and bring it into the venue. Enjoy your beer and Beethoven!)  —Martin Wallace

The Rainbow Room
2184 Gottingen St.

Thursday Sept 8, 9pm
Friday Sept 9, 8:40pm
Saturday Sept 10, 2:30pm
Sunday Sept 11, 5:10pm

The Princess Show
by Aaron Collier, Richie Wilcox and Deonie Hudson

Angels and Heroes and Theatre Outré’s multimedia musical The Princess Show is a beautifully theatrical parable about the power of the self to empower, create and also to destroy.

Using conventions from the world of anime and the world of camp, creators Aaron Collier, Richie Wilcox and Deonie Hudson give us a strange new world for characters Princess Edward (Collier) and her boyfriend Abel (Wilcox) in a piece that is part theatre, part television, part Performance Art. As in children’s cartoons The Princess Show hinges on its protagonist’s need to go on a quest, to defeat a beast and to learn a lesson. The dialogue primarily services the plot, telling the audience information they need to know rather than worrying too much about being “realistic”; the movement is stylized with incredibly strong specificity, and Collier and Wilcox lip synch all their lines over their own pre-recorded voices. All of this creates a bit of Alienation Effect, but the cartoon imagery they are playing with (that many of us associate with our childhoods) also creates a striking sense of familiarity. We already know how to connect to Princess Edward and Abel because this type of parable is one we have grown up with. It’s not even surprising at the end when the moral is clearly defined for us.

It’s interesting that the most ardent way the audience connects with Princess Edward and Abel is through their movement, especially in dance and during Princess Edward’s lip synched performances. It is also interesting that, unlike in anime, Collier and Wilcox’s lip synching is perfectly timed to their recorded lines. Collier has some powerhouse performance moments where the lip synching reaches truly phenomenal heights. Indeed, there are many layers of performativity at play with these characters, in performing gender, performing as an artist, performing in society, and performing our various incarnations of self. This innate playfulness allows Collier and Wilcox to make large leaps of creative faith and to trust that the audience will leap with them.

The projected set, which includes some characters in Claymation, along with Collier’s original music, does a great job of creating Princess Edward’s futuristic world. Visually, Collier is aptly regal in an array of fanciful outfits, while Wilcox captures the parable theme vividly, looking like a sort of Hipster Geppetto from Pinocchio.

In all, The Princess Show is a very strongly performed, intelligent and theatrical parable for adults told using a creative mixture of media conventions. Everything pulls together into an interesting and cohesive whole. —Amanda Campbell

The Bus Stop Theatre

Thursday Sept 8, 8:30pm
Saturday Sept 10, 1:30pm
Sunday Sept 11, 4:10pm

The Quitter
by Al Lafrance

I attended three shows in one night at the same venue; The Quitter had by far the largest audience. It seems destined to be a popular show. But let me be honest, and I admit I may be in the minority here, I don't get it.

Oh, the free doughnuts on the way in are definitely a plus, and LaFrance seems like a nice enough guyhell he seems like a great guy, but that's just not enough for me anymore. There's a glut of one-person-telling-humorous-and-insightful-true-stories-from-their-life shows on the market and it takes something very special for someone to distinguish themselves from the one-person crowd.

LaFrance's life story of moving from being "the smart kid" to being a compulsive quitter to finally finding peace and a sense of belonging definitely has its moments. He's a skilled writer. His story has funny moments and tragic moments, and covers a lot of time and ground without feeling at any time digressive. And despite the sometimes harrowing experiences LaFrance has had, he's generally positive without being pollyannish (like I said, a great guy).

But some of the funny moments—realizing that he had bled into the fast food burgers he had made with speed and pride, starting a "doughnut club" in college, "climbing" Mount Royal while on 'shrooms—seem like boilerplate young adult shenanigans, the sort of stories you entertain each other with at parties at that age. And while other people seemed to enjoy these stories more than I did, I only heard scattered laughs throughout. There's just not enough new or startling here to stand out.

When LaFrance reaches his well-prepared-for conclusion, it turns out there's a message. Sometimes it's best to have the courage to quit, sometimes quitting is what you have to do to find where you really belong. (I'll admit, the one joke I found really funny is when LaFrance pretended to quit the show ten minutes in.) That's a good thought in the abstract, but it's not exactly revolutionary and needs a little more help from the performance or the material to provoke and excite.

But what do I know? Maybe I'd just old and jaded. Maybe if you haven't seen dozens of such performances before, the material will seem fresh to you. As I said, the play was well attended, and others seemed to enjoy themselves. In fact, as I left I overheard a young woman say to her companion "That's what I like. People telling their life stories!" —Martin Wallace

The Rainbow Room
2184 Gottingen St.

Thursday Sept 8, 6:05pm
Saturday Sept 10, 8pm
Sunday Sept 11, 9:20pm


by Katerina Bakolias

Re-Taled written and performed by Katerina Bakolias and directed by Sansom Marchand is about the horrors of working a consumer-focussed retail job. Although a one-person show, Bakolias utilizes a mannequin as her co-star so frequently, as Catherine the wisdom spouting co-leader on training day, or the new scared 16 year-old co-worker, that perhaps the Fringe should consider an award for best inanimate stand-in this year.

Anyone who has worked any consumer-based job will find this show instantly relatable. Bakolias's boisterous personality makes you feel like you are being let in on industry secrets, back-door discussions of how men timidly shop for women's underwear, or how co-workers let loose. The easy tone of the show at times feels slightly unfinished, but Bakolias's rich characterizations and willingness to casually break the fourth wall to make off-hand remarks will win you over and left me wanting more gossip from behind the counter. —Ian Mullan

The Living Room
2353 Agricola St.

Thursday, Sept 8, 9:15pm
Saturday, Sept 89:15pm

by Paul Power

Travel back to 1968 with this award winning coming of age story about two unlikely roommates: David, a clean cut scholarly student living with a disability and Nick, a rebel with only one cause—himself. On the surface it may seem these two have nothing in common—except they have just become roomies.

Featuring music from the era and an award winning story from Newfoundland playwright Paul David Power, Roomies captures those rare times when the most unlikely person changes how we think about ourselves and our lives forever.

The Company House
2202 Gottingen St.

Thursday Sept 8, 8pm
Friday Sept 9, 5pm
Saturday Sept 10, 3pm
Sunday Sept 11, 11:50am

Stood Up
by Adam Myatt

Adam Myatt has been stood up in Stood Up, his new fringe show. The real bar of the Company House stands in as the bar of his date gone wrong, and the bar of his stand-up show where his set list going much better. Settling into the familiar trope of Seinfeld and Louie and many other stand-ups-turned-sitcom-stars we're tossed between the date and the show, each seeming to comment on one another, weaving us through observations on wine, relationships and life, all in a likeable and comfortable way.

Myatt is easily one of the most charming new comics I've seen, avoiding pitfalls of others who can sometimes seem too mean or too self-deprecating in their quest to get a laugh. Here the laughs come easily and frequently, hampered only by the slow scene transitions slowing the momentum of a show which has heart, because Myatt has heart. —Ian Mullan

The Company House
2202 Gottingen Street

Thursday Sept 8, 10pm
Sunday Sept 11, 7:45pm

Swordplay: A Play of Swords
by Sex T-Rex

Sex T-Rex’s Swordplay: A Play of Swords is a swashbuckling epic adventure of filmic scope deftly brought to life with beautiful and creative theatricality and nonstop hilarity.

As in a futuristic The Princess Bride, a grandfather, born in the 1980s, brings his sick granddaughter an old video game to play, where three Musketeer-like comrades, Roland, Salvatore and Barnabas are serving the Princess Pimpernel, when suddenly Roland burns to death in a fire and Pimpernel is kidnapped by the evil Baron Thorne. It is up to Barnabas and Salvatore to save the day. What is so wonderful about this story is that what comes next is entirely unexpected, jammed with popular culture references that are woven elegantly into the story and the characters’ development, and creatively culminating in gruesome sword fights and all the plot points coming together tightly in a most satisfying way.

Sex T-Rex is a comedy troupe made up of highly skilled improvisers, and Swordplay: A Play of Swords shows how long-form sketch comedy can be pushed to its limit where it melds into devised playwriting and Swordplay: A Play of Swords is an excellent example. The physicality of the cast combined with the imaginative vision of Director Alec Toller proves that theatre is still the perfect medium for creating the impossible. We are taken across seas, on to a dragon, through video game green tubes, and swinging from chandeliers, with immediacy and silliness abound.

Simultaneously, Sex T-Rex  creates an entire world for us to wholeheartedly believe in, while also poking fun at how little they need in props and sets (foam swords, cutout set pieces, and a large piece of fabric) to achieve this feat. The fight choreography by Kevin MacPherson is both fierce and joyful, if morbidly so, and the music choices add another dimension of cinematic proportions and pop culture bliss.

Get thee forth, on thy honour, and sit thyself down, and play.  —Amanda Campbell

The Bus Stop
2203 Gottingen St.

Thursday Sept 8, 5:30pm
Friday Sept 9, 6:45pm
Sunday Sept 11, 1pm

World Tour: A Tragedy in One Act
by Shawna Edward, Scott Marleau, Jennah Foster-Catlack and Monica Serodio

World Tour: A Tragedy In One Act is an unfortunate and misleading title for a sketch show starring Shawna Edward, Scott Marleau and Monica Serodio.The three comedians bring a lot of passion for their craft to the stage with sketches that run the gamut from jokes about feminist porn, to Pokemon, to pot and politics.

There are several fun moments, such as a re-enactment of the Justin Trudeau elbowgate incident sung to the tune of The Lion King, as well as a performance of Miley Cyrus's Wrecking Ball played on most school children's first instrument: the recorder.

The show is silly with the energy of a college comedy night where the raw talent is still being honed but makes for a fun evening nonetheless. —Ian Mullan

The Living Room
2353 Agricola St.

Thursday Sept 8, 10:30pm
Friday Sept 9, 9:35pm
Saturday Sept 10, 3:50pm
Sunday Sept 11, 9:25pm

The Wrath of Ponzi
written and directed by Nicholas Cox

What is OmniGlo? Representatives will tell you it’s not a pyramid scheme. It’s an innovative model responsible for churning out more billionaires than any other competing business. But it’s not a pyramid scheme… so don’t call it that.

Wrath of Ponzi centres on the shoulders of James (Tom Lute), a failed real-estate agent who’s hosting a dinner party with his viper-esque girlfriend Cleo (Audrey Eastwood) for his ex-girlfriend Amy (Rachel Hastings), who, much to James’ chagrin, shows up with her new, sarcastic girlfriend Devin (Jessica Oliver).

The meal quickly devolves into a business pitch for James; OmniGlo is his shot at redemption and Tom Lute does his character justice, depicting a faux sense of eagerness that quickly implodes into blatant desperation. But the play truly comes into its twisted own following the arrival of Lance Maryland (Andrew Chandler), OmniGlo’s “Black Diamond Leader,” who modestly insists you simply call him "Pharaoh." Andrew Chandler shows the right amount of restraint with the southern, electric sadism of Pharaoh. He is the perfect mix of business guru and masochist. You can tell how he relishes the way his followers refer to him with cultish reverence. It’s this insanity that turns Wrath of Ponzi on its head, transforming a formerly entertaining comedy into a shocking, violent spectacle in a matter of seconds.

Ponzi is a classic show that fits right into the spirit of Fringe. Its entertaining script and solid acting make it likely one of the more unforgettable of shows you’ll see this week. Just be warned, it’s not for the faint of heart. —Carey Bray

The Waiting Room
6040 Almon Street

Thursday Sept 8, 7:40pm
Friday Sept 9, 7:15pm
Saturday Sept 10, 1pm

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