From Psyops to Cabaret at VCM’s Wood Hall Victoria Fringe Festival

I spent Friday night at the Conservatory of Music‘s Wood Hall for the Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival‘s kickoff into the long weekend. This time will be the busiest for the show, as it is the final weekend. The weather forecast predicts temperatures on the high side and it will be bright; please be sure to put on sun protection. If I can survive the Summer’s last hurrah, then there’s a few more shows I’m interested in seeing. The buzz from the street is to not miss Interstellar Elder, and fortunately that’s taking place at night, when it’s cooler.

To get back into downtown Victoria, however, that’s if I …

AWAKEN (Actually, the show’s name is AWOKEN)


Remaining Dates:
Sep 2 – 4:30pm

Proper grammar usage aside, if there’s any way to interpret what Ottawa based actor Nick Amottt’s work AWOKEN is about, I’m sure Hideaki Anno, director of the Japanese Animation Neon Genesis Evangelion can make better sense out of it. The characters Amott play are projections from different parts of Todd Silvano’s psyche. Each of them seem to have some kind of complex just like the anime. This nerdy recluse suffers from a condition known as ‘fatal familial insomnia.’ There is no known cure for this brain disease. It eventually leads to hallucinations, delirium and eventually death.

I’m left wondering if audiences are watching the last stages of Silvano’s life unfold. While this subject is very morose, the performance Amott gives is powerful and evocative. He tries to be positive. He makes references to certain heroes from pop culture, from Batman to Mulder (X-Files) in his attempt to understand his life before the final hour falls. The only dose of reality comes from a mysterious doctor (no, not Who) with an offer to end his suffering.

The way this performance crafts its dreamscape is certainly Fringe-worthy. With a handful of lamps anyone can find at a Home Hardware, each is turned on and off to show a shift in personality. In this play’s case, they are not light bulb moments. I was amused by how Amott makes use of a circular night lamp. He puts it to his chest like Iron Man, and is less about the Tony Stark character we see at the movies. He’s not even like the mentor to the kid in Spider-man: Homecoming. Though these references are there to show how home alone Silvano is, looking up to his heroes to trudge his way through life, these particular characters also have their demons to overcome.

This show is fascinating because it shows no one is perfect. Each of these characters, including those Silvano looks up to, are just as fractured. To find peace is difficult. If any self worth is found, that’s left vague for audiences to determine.

4 Blokes out of 5

“Get Me the F#ck Out of Edmonton”
And other Ramblings from a Fringe Has-been

Remaining Dates:
Sept 2 – 9:00pm
Sept 3 – 5:45pm

No previous knowledge of Wes Borg‘s vast retinue of past works is required for “Get Me the F#uck Out of Edmonton!” – and Other Ramblings of a Fringe Has-been. While it helps, since he is part of Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie, an Edmonton based comedy troupe which formed in the late 80’s and they became very popular in the 90’s in the Fringe circuit, he recounts much of this within this semi autobiographical type show. This group consisted of Borg, Joe Bird (who passed away in 2009). Cathleen Rootsaert and Neil Grahn. They were very beloved.

Borg’s show is a cabaret of familiar hits (like “The Toronto Song”) and material concerning an RV. The material is tuned for each stop he’s made since it began out East (Winnipeg) and travelled West (back to Victoria). As he sings and struts on stage, a few remarks are made about Bird and audiences have to wonder if the technical problems are a signal for trouble. I knew what was going on, and can only grin. As a paranormal enthusiast, I wondered when a certain spirit would grace the stage and he danced on my lap (I felt more than just his presence). It’s all an act, of course, and I loved it.

As the show continued, I was tapping along to other whimsical numbers. Seeing this performer live is a must. Those who grew up seeing those original shows will fondly recall the nostalgia. The biography is real. I found an old Times Colonist article with the revelent information to help affirm the facts. For those who are new to this performer’s material (or the Troll’s works), this show is still very satisfying. I knew about Borg’s contributions to this city’s performing arts scene for years and have a huge respect for him. Now I have to find his early back catalogue on Youtube to laugh it up again!

5 Blokes out of 5

Other shows at this venue include: Help! I’m American!, In Waking LIfe, Spiritualarious and The Moaning Yoni


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