Fringe Binge 2014: Day 11 | Music | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

click to enlarge Fringe Binge 2014: Day 11
Lost souls unite in the lovely Les and Dawn

The 24th annual Atlantic Fringe Festival came to a close last night with a lively party and awards show at The Bus Stop Theatre. Hungry artists scarfed down pizza. Beverages were consumed. Buckets of cold ice water poured. (Hardworking Festival Chair Kevin Kindred rose to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge).

Festival Director Thom Fitzgerald announced the Fringe Hit! Award winners, which are the most popular shows with audiences.

#1 Fringe Hit! – Tribe of One by The Doppler Effect

#2 Fringe Hit! – My Funeral: The Dry Run by Jane Kansas

#3 Fringe Hit! – Whale Riding Weather by Plutonium Playhouse Society

#4 Fringe Hit! – Watch Out Wildkat! (Yer Dealin’ with the Devil) by Sex T-Rex

#5 Fringe Hit! – The Serpentine Sideshow by Serpentine Studios.

#6 Fringe Hit! – The Adversary by Andrew Bailey

The jury then awarded prizes for several categories:

Best of the Festival – Watch Out WildKat! (Yer Dealin’ with the Devil)

Best Drama – Tribe of One

Best Comedy – Legoland

Best Director – Gillian Clarke, Legoland

Best Original Script – Michael McPhee, Tribe of One

Best Musical Show – We Wrote This

Best Dance Show – Nostos Collective

Best All-Ages Show – Wake Up, Rosie!

Best Solo Show – How Often Do I Dream

Best Female Performer – Kathi Langston, Mabel’s Last Performance

Best Male Performer – Hugo Dann, Whale Riding Weather

Best Ensemble Cast – The Failure Show

Unfortunately, several shows had to wait until the very last day for reviews, but fortunately for me, these shows made me feel as if I'd finished my fringe binge on a very high note.

Fault Lines ★★★

There are two sides to every story, or in the case of this play, three sides. Fault Lines explores the intertwining relationships of a mother, her daughter and her daughter's best friend. These are not grand, heroic characters, but relatable women whose struggles have a universal feeling to them. The story jumps back and forth through time, and becomes a bit of a game of connect the dots. At 90-minutes, the show felt too long and scenes where actors layered dialogue over one another were frustrating as important plot points seemed lost in the shuffle. Still, there were beautiful moments of truth and real emotion in this show.

Failure Show ★★★★½

It's hard to imagine that 18 theatre pieces, created by a variety of writers, could come together to create a cohesive show, but The Failure Show proves it's possible. The 5-person cast skips easily from vignette to vignette, displaying an awesome chemistry in each configuration of actors. The overarching theme of "failure" is interpreted in a variety of ways, some that will make you laugh, others that will make you flinch with recognition. Though billed as a comedy, there's depth to this show beneath the laughter. 

Les and Dawn ★★★★

A young girl, traumatized by the death of her father, reaches out to a stranger in crisis. The plot makes it sound like a melodrama, but three nuanced, moving performances and a beautifully written script make this play feel grounded in reality. I predict that this show will have another life outside the fringe, and if it does, I'd highly recommend seeing it. 

Two ★★★★

Rhys Bevan-John and Bill Woods spark off each other in the most entertaining way, and the vaudeville format of this show is the perfect way for them to do it. The framework allows them to showcase specific talents such as magic and mime, but also gives them the freedom to stray off script. A fringe favourite.

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