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.

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The Middle of Everywhere

Opening night saw the Metro Studio packed with fringe-goers excited to see WONDERHEADS’ newest production. They were not disappointed. WONDERHEADS’ has reached a new level of finesse in full-masked physical theatre while still using a simple storyline to make profound statements.

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The show features Winston, a man of routine and order about to attend a very important presentation. Suddenly Winston’s day is disrupted by eleven years old Penny. The two are taken on a magical journey to the middle of everywhere, confronting their fears and discovering a world much bigger than themselves.

The Middle of Everywhere is a feat of time, effort and skill. The physical performance coupled with the 160 sound and 60 light cues is phenomenal, especially considering the performers wear sizeable masks that obscure their vision. Those masks each require 50-80 hours to create. To watch the process of making one, click here.

Every time I see a WONDERHEADS Production they invite me to suspend my disbelief and take in their whimsical performance, and I happily do. They crack through the hard shell of rational order and detachment, searching for connection and openness. However, I found this show’s comments on existence and chaos confusing. Also not everyone likes this type of theatre with no dialogue and simple storylines. Yet I hope you will give it a chance – there are few opportunities to see full-mask physical theatre delivered so expertly.

The Middle of Everywhere plays at the Metro Studio. For showtimes click here.

Paleoncology

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An actor constantly wears a dinosaur costume on stage – do you understand their character is actually wearing one? Your loved one is diagnosed with terminal cancer – do you understand they are going to die? Through gentle humour and touching sadness, Paleoncology slowly draws in the audience and helps them understand.

Leaellyn, or Lee for short, is in her early twenties. Her older brother Daniel has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Lee supports him while trying to understand who she is without him. She finds comfort in her love of dinosaurs – lots of dinosaurs.

Moon Dinosaur Theatre’s production adeptly brings together disparate topics of family dynamics, personal potential, the loss of a loved one and dinosaurs. Kira Hall’s solo performance as Lee is outstanding, enhanced through the use of puppets, voice recordings and overhead projections. The other characters are largely seen through Lee’s eyes. The parents seem flat and strangely distant, but Daniel takes shape beautifully.

Paleoncology is my favourite show to-date, because it awakens the desire for connection over distances. Not only physical distances, also constructed ones of habitual small talk and fear of vulnerability. Like Lee and many people who tend to be reserved, I have struggled to connect with people I love. I am so thankful to have stepped into this show as it reminded me of the value of being vulnerable and expressing love for others.

Paleoncology plays at the Downtown Activity Centre. For showtimes click here.

Magical Mystery Detour

Magical Mystery Detour

Gemma Wilcox is back this year with her new show, Magical Mystery Detour. Following the same character as her last two award-winning shows The Honeymoon is Officially Over and Shadows in Bloom, she returns with her Pick of the Fringe performance featuring over 25 characters and an exploration of the twists and turns of life. I caught up with her while she was performing at the Edmonton Fringe over the last couple of weeks. Listen below:

Magical Mystery Detour opens tomorrow at the Downtown Activity Centre. For full showtime information, visit the Victoria Fringe website.

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. 

Kitt & Jane

Tackling the uncertain future, the one where climate change, income inequality, resource scarcity could take their toll, is no small feat for a fringe production. In Kitt & Jane: A Survival Guide to the Near-Post-Apocalyptic Future, Victoria favourite SNAFU Productions takes on this topic with humour and curiosity. Kitt & Jane - Poster Art by Victoria artist Hank Pine - Web Poster sm

Apocalypse survival is articulated with David-Bowie-style jams on the glockenspiel and ukulele, giant-scale shadow puppetry, and fast-paced physical humour. The show is both a hilarious romp and a poignant exploration of the world today’s youth are inheriting and what they’re prepared to do about it.

Kitt & Jane won the 2014 CAFF Fringe lottery, which put them on the Canadian fringe circuit this summer. They will tour seven festivals in total. I caught Rod Peter Jr, one of the performer-creators, by phone during the show’s run in Edmonton. Hear what he had to say about touring, learning about the apocalypse and creating this production:


Kitt & Jane opens August 26 at the Downtown Activity Centre.