N.O.N.C.E. & Unpossible!

The last weekend of Victoria Fringe is here, along with the last chance to catch 2014’s stellar line-up of performances. Yesterday I caught what turned out to be two of my picks of the Fringe: N.O.N.C.E. by Steve Larkin and Unpossible! by Travis Bernhardt.

NONCE generic show imageN.O.N.C.E. is based on Larkin’s experience as the poet-in-residence at a high-security therapeutic prison. Larken tells a striking, hilarious story while giving insight into complex social issues. Themes include sex and violence, gender and criminality, disturbing norms and dehumanization both within Western prison systems and without. Yet the show is strengthened instead of bogged down by these heavy topics. N.O.N.C.E is an entertaining, relatable, remarkable piece of art. I will be thinking about this show for some time and am confident this will be my favourite show of the festival. Larkin has two remaining performances at the Roxy, find showtimes by clicking here.

Travis 2Unpossible! needs few words. Bernhardt is an extraordinary magician. He has crafted a magic show that will amaze anyone of any age. I can tell you he does both sleight of hand and mind reading, but beyond that the show’s content is a secret. Bernhardt’s last show is today at 1:45pm, but I hope he will be back soon.

This will be my last blog post, but stay tuned for more from Phoenix. Thank you for following along with our interviews and reviews. If you can, I encourage you to take a chance on a show. Artists are the heart of Fringe, putting time, effort and most importantly themselves into their productions. Artists can get good reviews in one town and bad ones in the next. Sell out one festival and loose money the next. Every review and opinion is one among many – so make your own opinion.

I have been honoured to be part of fringe for the third year in a row. Thank you to the artists, volunteers, staff and Intrepid Theatre for all your work!

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Christmas in Bakersfield

Les_Kurkendaal_Christmas_In_Bakersfield

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. 

Reviews: Invisible Magic Dust

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Michael Ross is in the middle of performing bits for a charity telethon, and he’s being interviewed about his life’s work – magic, art and performance.

A skilled professional performer, Ross’s magic and many of his personal stories are exquisite. A few of stories were more difficult for me to appreciate. This is in part because personalities are referred to from his generation and show business community. As a younger viewer unconnected to his community, it feels as though I’m missed the richness to the story. Also occasionally stories and answers to interview questions felt unwieldy, as though they would benefit from further sculpting of their verbal and physical delivery.

But do not get me wrong – the material is gold. There is a tender heart at the centre of Invisible Magic Dust, which gives touching reflections on magic, love, performance and life.

Plus on Sunday evening Ross had a tough crowd, yet he handled the audience interactions beautifully. While I liked some parts of the performance more than others, many viewers loved it. I especially recommend this show for performers and magic lovers.

Invisible Magic Dust plays at the VCM Wood Hall. For show-times click here.

– Robyn

Reviews: Geek Life

For opening night I chose my favorite venue, the Victoria Event Centre. At this popular year-round performance space, Fringers can lounge at round candle-lit tables while sipping beer, wine and cider. It’s the perfect place to relax with friends, have a drink and catch a show.

First of the night was Aji Slater’s Geek Life. Turning a common pejorative into a verb, Aji geeks juggling and clowning. This comedy-variety show follows his path from running backyard rollercoasters in Detroit, to attending clown school in San Fran, to heartbreak and beyond.

Aji has fabulous personality and energy. Add to this well-done sound production, juggling and comedy, both in the physical and verbal sense. My only wish is that Aji delve deeper into his occasional portrayal of other characters, which would make his storytelling even better.

Check out Geek Life if you want to laugh, learn about clowning and see your own geek side in a whole new way.

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For show-times at the Victoria Events Centre, click here.

– Robyn