The Quitter

stagepicNo one likes being known as a quitter, but is quitting really so bad? This idea is explored by Al LaFrance is his first solo show. His monologue begins where he begins, in his hometown of Alymer, Quebec. He unwinds his story from then until now, marking his life by how he quit again, and again, and again.

Autobiographical monologues are the bread and butter of fringe festivals, and LaFrance bakes good bread. From beginning to end LaFrance was funny and wholehearted, unfolding stories about mini-golf, the Heritage College Donut Club, service job gigs, and fringe festivals. You quickly learn that quitting does not mean failing. Actually in the bigger scheme, it seems LaFrance never gives up.

If you are looking for a good story, I recommend The Quitter. This is LaFrance’s first fringe tour, yet he appears grounded on-stage. He’s travelled across Canada and on his fifth festival. You can even follow Al’s travels on his Fringe blog by clicking here.

The Quitter plays at the Roxy. For showtimes click here.

Deranged Dating

Credit: Eesie Pretorius

Late Monday night I found the Victoria Event Centre buzzing with fringers ready to see Deranged Dating. South African comedian and stuntwoman Shirley Kirchmann took the stage, commanding the room with her mix of stand-up and absurd storytelling.

At 35 years of age Shirley was doing something unacceptable – she was single! In her performance, she delves into this ‘problem’ and her efforts to solve it through online dating and matchmaking. The show flows like a series of vignettes, hedged by stand-up jokes and audience interaction. The humour is often crass, and as Kirchmann notes jokes occasionally ‘cross the line.’

Kirchmann’s is fierce and hilarious. I was not able to get into the show because it is not my type of humour and I did not connect to the topic. Yet I imagine many people will enjoy Kirchmann’s over the top account. For those who have been a deranged dater, suffering through terrible dates and online matchmaking, this is the show for you.

Deranged Dating plays at the Victoria Event Centre. For showtimes click here.

The Rise of Basement Boy

There are an outstanding number of good local productions in this year’s Fringe. The Rise of Basement Boy is one of these productions, featuring Phoenix Theatre students and alumni. This light, energetic musical comedy has audiences laughing and toe-tapping.

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Archie Clarkson lives in his basement world of nerd culture, spending his time gaming with his best friend Bart and his grandfather. The world outside holds little interest until one-day the pizza delivery person is the girl of Archie’s dreams, and he has to venture into the real world or lose the game of love.

Considering I work with CFUV 101.9FM you won’t be surprised to know I love music, but musicals are hit and miss for me. Basement Boy is a hit because the lyricism is good, really good. The writing throughout is clever, constantly using an array of gaming references. While people who are into gaming and nerd culture will especially love this show, those who don’t understand the appeal of gaming might also gain some insight.

If you missed my interview with the writer and cast, here it is:

Basement Boy plays at the Downtown Activity Centre. For showtimes click here.

Princess Rescue Force  

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Do you need to be saved from boredom? The Princess Rescue Force is here to help. More exactly, creator-performer Robin Gadsby will entertain you with a modern parody of fairy tale land. If you are looking for a good laugh, don’t miss this show from New Blood Theatre.

A naïve young prince trained by the Princess Rescue Force is assigned a quest to save a princess in distress. He eagerly sets out only to find his journey to happily ever after is full of media wizards, sugar-free candyland, peasant uprisings, snotty kings, sexual confusion and more.

Gadsby is fantastic on-stage in this solo comedy. He expertly weaves storylines together using voice, movement, light and sound. The humour is silly, drawing on contemporary themes in a hilarious, often nonsensical fashion. This perversion of a fairy tale is perfect for fringe and made for adults.

Princess Rescue Force plays at the Victoria Event Centre. For showtimes click here.

The Rise of Basement Boy

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In a celebration of nerd culture, The Rise of Basement Boy tells the story of Archie Clarkson, a teenager who values geek culture so much the world outside his basement holds little value. Then one day the pizza delivery person is the girl of Archie’s dreams, and he has to venture into the real world or lose the game of love.IMG_0044

Writer Shane Campbell and cast members Markus Spodzieja, Hayley McCurdy and Francis Melling stopped by CFUV’s studio to discuss this musical comedy and perform a song from the show, entitled ‘Weird in a Good Way.’

Basement Boy opens on Friday, August 22 at the Downtown Activity Centre

Christmas in Bakersfield

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Many people love the holiday season, but it can be an awkward, tense and funny family time. Christmas in Bakersfield is the story of creator-performer Les and his boyfriend Mike. When Mike brings Les home to Bakersfield for Christmas to meet his very right wing white conservative parents, he fails to tell them that Les is black. The result is a dysfunctional Christmas that inspired this comedic fringe show.

Les Kurkendaal has travelled up from Hollywood to perform for the Nanaimo and Victoria Fringe festivals. He spoke with CFUV 101.9FM about the show and his fringe experience.

Christmas in Bakersfield opens Thursday, August 21 at St. Ann’s Academy

Improv on Trial

First Trial

The historic Maritime Museum court room will be full of laughter this fringe thanks to Singles Awareness Theatre Company. Improv on Trial uses a unique structure of improvised court cases fearuring a different celebrity judges each night. The judges are all local theatre and comedy favourites, including Scott Thompson, Kirsten Van Ritzen, Alan Penty, Kelly Hobson, Kelly Hudson, Ian Ferguson, and Matt Coulson.

Creators Amy Culliford & Blair Moro stopped by CFUV 101.9FM‘s studio for an interview about Improv on Trial and their Victoria Fringe experience:

Improv on Trial opens on August 21 at the Maritime Museum of B.C.