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Day Two at The Fringe 

Forests, friends and fiends converge at DanSpace

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My very varied Day 2 at DanSpace was a mixture of story,dance and poetry with projections being key in all three of the productions. It was a wonderful reminder of just what an eclectic mix of entertainment the Fringe offers.

Actress and Parks Canada interpreter Kersti Tacreiter has brought the forest to the city with her one-woman show A Forest Jubilee. The piece begins with charming and apple-cheeked Rose offering delicious mint tea to the audience. Rose then proceeds to regale the “visitors” with poetic stories woven with facts about her beloved woodland home. She even reads a picture book to her guests, reminding me how much I’ve missed the simple, childish pleasure of being read to. Projections of the majestic Cape Breton Highlands Park are used to illustrate her words. A Forest Jubilee is a wonderful example of the kind of unusual show that makes The Fringe such a treat.

As I sit to write about New Brunswick choreographer Meghan MacNeil’s Songbird Stories, I realize that the show I saw bears little resemblance to the write-up in the program which promises interplay between projections, one dancer and a pianist. Yes, there were beautiful projections, but there were two dancers and a recorded guitar soundtrack. This is not a bad thing…only puzzling. My writer’s mind attempted to construct a story as the two women contorted and cavorted against the backdrop of colourful flowers and lush forests. They seemed to be looking to the future, striving to get somewhere, sometimes helping one another, sometimes competing and sometimes oblivious to the other’s presence. It was lovely puzzle.

In Paradise Lost, Beyond the Mountain Productions of Montreal has created a stirring, visually-astounding, memorable piece of theatre that I predict will be among the best Fringe plays I see—-ever. (All right, I suppose Milton deserves some of the credit, too.) Paul Van Dyck, the actor in and adapter of Milton’s epic poem, is a compelling performer whose Lucifer is part little-boy- lost, part terrifying avenger. The Adam and Eve puppets are a sheer delight. It’s wondrous strange to see their ungainly forms come to life and convey such tenderness, sensuality, anger and lust. Other Fringe artists should watch and learn how projections can be used as more than mere add-ons. These are integral to the story line and elegantly executed: Satan is engulfed in projected flame, yet illuminated from behind by earth’s blazing sun. Sex, sin, puppets and projections make for a truly must-see production.

For shows times and locations visit www.atlanticfringe.ca

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