The Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival is celebrating its 31st year, and it has no signs of slowing down. The diversity each year offers is unique. Some are better than others given the type of shows I like to see, and I am surprised at the number of speculative type shows have not dwindled. I begin my coverage with one show which is a parody of a staple tourist attraction that most locals are familiar with:
When I first saw [Title of Show] years ago during the Victoria Fringe Festival, I was hooked on a feeling. Urban Arts Productions is a wonderful collective of talents, and while they seemingly have disappeared from previous year’s schedules, that’s only because this celebration selects its shows through lottery. Not every company is lucky to be able to perform every year and apparently, they took a break because those days jobs were really paying the bills. True to this story, to be a full time actor-director-playwright is tough. To see this group regroup and to perform again (with recognizable talents on board) only reveals how they have has grown and to stay a fixture in this city’s arts scene.
I like to see them perform independently from the Fringe, and they can certainly bring the house down. This musical was one great show to end the 2016 Victoria Fringe Festival with, and according to Pat Rundell, the founder of this collective, they are back and are developing new shows.
Fringe Festivals offers many an entertainer to experiment. Some shows have an afterlife where it becomes a sensation, and other shows might pitter out, to be forgotten. Everlast by Kevin Koch is a work in progress, where this creator eventually wants to take it on tour. Even he admits that it needs refining.
In what I’ve seen in the final weekend of the 2016 Victoria Fringe Festival, there’s a great seed of an idea; to challenge world views from not only within organized religion but also in how people see life. After having two random encounters with “missionaries” in my neighbourhood looking to spread the word and me expressing to them that I have my own world views to follow and I do not need theirs, going to this show could not be timelier.
The show is rough at the edges, like it’s mirroring the soul of Marty (or Pope Martin VI) on purpose. He’s come from a tough life. He grew up in the tough streets and has Rocky Balboa and his mother as inspiration. This character might have said he’s from Philadelphia, but as with any sermon I tend to hear, in one ear and out the other (unfortunately).
Just how Marty managed to achieve residency and move up the papacy is almost a head-scratcher. He boxed his way to the top. God, on the other hand, is a timeless character and I liked the fact that Koch’s interpretation is very Old Testament. I was more engaged with his fight with Lucifer. How can anyone not want to miss this match?
Sun Sept 4 – 3:15pm
Movie-buffs will love the send-up, mash-up, mix-up and show down of Ribbit RePublic’s take of the Academy Awards Best Picture(s) from the past century. All the winners, including Birdman gets acknowledged. Many films are lampooned into a tightly packed fun-filled hour which includes nerdy moments which had me broadly grinning. I’m glad that the list of films also included those that did not quite made the cut (had this been an awards show), and yes, the Star Wars enthusiast in me was loving it!
Sadly, Star Trek did not get a nod (this coming week marks their 30th anniversary) but was that ever considered Oscar-winning material? According to Tara Travis, Jon Paterson and Kurt Fitzpatrick, apparently not. That’s okay. They at least acknowledged Lord of the Rings — Jon and Kurt worked together to play the polar composite sides of Gollum aka Sméagol from Peter Jackson’s cinematic version, and Great Scott! they even acknowledged Back to the Future too! That was not on the list. I did not expect them to follow the script exactly, and as for whether there was even one, I could not tell!
Metro Studio Theatre
1411 Quadra Street
Fri Sept 2 – 5:00pm
Sat Sept 3 – 10:15pm
Sun Sept 4 – 5:45pm
For future shows, please visit stephaniemorinrobert.com for updates.
Bushel and Peck is definitely a Fringe Theatre original; there’s no easy way to classify what this show is largely about and it is a very experimental product. There’s absurdist comedy, dance choreography, experiments with light and pantomime. Neither dominates and there’s a great set piece involving a balloon. Other props used include blow dryers and a sheet of plywood. Just how it works shows how well two diverse talents — Alastair Knowles (James & Jamesy) and Stéphanie Morin-Robert (Blindside, For Body and Light) — are comfortable together on stage. Both are highly regarded Canadian performers. When considering they are in a relationship, just what this show reveals is how close they have become to observers — the audience. Each of them come from a specific type of arts, Stephanie in dance and Alastair from clown school.
Together, especially on stage, they have an undeniable chemistry that’s to be adored.
The Roxy Theatre
2657 Quadra Street
Wed Aug 31 – 9:45pm
Sat Sep 3 – 5:30pm
My buddy and fellow co-writer, James Shaw can benefit from seeing a rather inspirational self-help presentation, The Lion, The Bitch and the Wardrobe in the last few days of the 2016 Victoria Fringe Festival. He just needs to make the time, along with everything he tells me he likes to do but never does. I really do not know what’s holding him back. Well, I do, but do not believe he can stay like Ebenezer Scrooge forever.
I love the title of this show and have to note that it has nothing to do with the classic piece of literature by C.S. Lewis (some attendees might get drawn in by the title than play summary); this performance has everything to do with opening up and moving forward in life to do great stuff! Whether the problem lies with mental health issues or letting fear of getting ahead control you (symbolized by the lion), folks do not have to hide in a safety net (the wardrobe closet) forever.