MONTREAL FRINGE FESTIVAL PICKS AND PANS PREVIEW!!!
Well, the 13th edition of the Montreal Fringe Festival is starting today. Sadly, I will not be back in Montreal until next Friday night, so I’ll be missing out on all that hot Fringe Fun….
But not quite. I’ve decided to turn my blog into Montreal Fringe Festival Flaming Central for the next 13 days. And I’m starting it off with my list of 8 shows you should go see and 8 shows you should avoid seeing...
Anyway, I figure I can be totally unbiased, because I am not there in Montreal to be seduced by beautiful Fringe performers with sneaky self-promotional agendas, as opposed to Jason Whiting and Matt Radz who are surely being liquored up and flirted with by the Solid State Breakdance Collective as you read this. (By the way, has Amy Barrett popped that baby out yet?)
Two things before I get to my lists:
1) Send any and all Fringe gossip, as well as angry letters and your own pithy reviews of shows to email@example.com. I’ll post just about anything.
2) I have purposely excluded my close friends’ shows from the 8 Shows that you must Catch list, just to prove how above the fray I am. Therefore let me quickly plug Uncalled For, No Cycle, and Ninjas Get All the Chicks. These three are the best shows ever produced and I encourage you to go see them.
Without further ado...
8 SHOWS THAT YOU MUST CATCH:
Sabotage: In Fine Form: I’ve seen two Sabotage shows now. Last year’s show, (Sabotage III, was it?) was the funniest thing I have seen in my life. I am serious. I had great difficulty controlling my bladder. You must go see these fellows. (Me-berry?)
All Classical Music Explained: I saw Rainer Hersch’s show at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival way back in 1997, when Sorority Girl Slumber Party Massacre and MacHomer were all the rage. My memories are vague, but I remember two things about this show. 1) A volunteer named S------ was madly in love with Rainer and baked cookies in an attempt to woo the Brit. 2) This show is hilarious, especially if you have any musical background.
CARMEN: All right! It’s about time someone plays around with opera in a Fringe show. If there’s any artistic medium that needs to find some way to achieve relevancy amongst the kids, it’s opera. Plus, CARMEN is adapted and directed by Anica Nonveiller, who runs Aria. No, not the club! Aria, the private classical singing school. Let’s hope the venue has good acoustics.
JOB II: Frankly, Eli Batalion and Jerome Saibil’s show doesn’t need any buzz from a lone blogger exiled in Toronto. So let me just say this: The original JOB lived up to its hype, which was rather hard to do, considering it was hailed as the best Fringe show since sliced bread. These guys get better every year, so I hope 2003 won’t break the trend.
Confessions of a Repressed Mennonite: Mennonites are awesome. No, really! Having lived in Winnipeg for many summers, I know the Mennonites who abandon their clique and move to the city are some of the most entertaining and fun people you’ll ever meet. There’s some good buzz coming out of the Prairies on this show, so I’m going to take a leap of faith and say that it’s one of the shows to watch for this year.
Les Circus Cowboys: Dudes! Circus Cowboys! Like, real circus cowboys from the Ecole nationale de cirque de Montreal! How could this possibly be anything but great? I repeat: CIRCUS COWBOYS!!!! Holy Fuck!
The Contract: Jason Maghanoy is a promising young playwright whose main problem is that he always directs his plays himself. Now, if only there was some way we could team him up with a great director who has worked on the original productions of some of Canada’s most successful first productions… Yoicks! Maghanoy! How did you score Guy Sprung (Fennario’s Balconville! Pollock’s Doc! Salutin’s Les Canadiens) to direct a play of yours at the Fringe? I expect something good.
The Power of Ignorance: Mix together half of the hilarious, British, vaudevillian troupe Hoopal (Chris Gibbs) and four quarters of Fringe impresario T.J. Dawe (T.J. Dawe). I don’t really see how this could go wrong. This will either be brilliant or the most surprising Fringe flop ever.
8 SHOWS TO AVOIDING CATCHING, LIKE SARS:
Teaching Witchcraft: Keir Cutler’s first Fringe show was, what, four years ago? It was called “Teaching Shakespeare” and it was pleasant and funny and well performed. Cutler’s shows since have got worse every year. Last year’s, Teaching Shakespeare, was just plain lousy as theatre, a polemical lecture about the authorship controversy disguised as a play. (Weird Cutler Fact: Did you know that the good Dr. Cutler was once drafted to play for the Montreal Alouettes? It’s true!)
Molière Than Thou: I’m got an idea! Why don’t I pack up my little English-language Illinois-based show about Molière – the world’s most famous French playwright – and present it in the biggest French-speaking city in North America? Maybe I will be proven wrong, but this just smells like disaster.
Antiviol: A collective production about rape created by theatre students? Count me out.
Bisexual Alphabet: Okay, so the sexuality-themed show is a constant at Fringe festivals. However, having read the title and the description and the length (75 mins!) and the fact that it is part of this guy’s undergraduate degree and the fact that he’s from North Carolina… It all just spells didactic, early-90s-identity-politics boredom.
Hair Retain Odour: Toss this one in the same category as Bisexual Alphabet. From the program: “Stephen Sharpe reflects on how an Irish born rural immigrant with a Catholic upbringing becomes an neurotic urban dwelling gay waif.” Catholic becomes neurotic gay man? Holy shit! Stop the Presses!!! (This reminds me of what one of my friends said to another friend when he came out: “That’s great that you’re writing about your struggle with your sexuality!! Just do us all a favour: keep it in your diary and never publish and/or perform it!”)
In the Mouth of the Juney Bug: A Play by John Cocktoasten: Okay. I don’t want to be mean here or anything. But I don’t think you could write a brief for a play that would make me want to see it any less than this: “A multimedia visit to the world of a pop-culture virtuoso in the midst of a battle to maintain control over his world. Through puppetry, music and striking theatrical allegory, insperado [the production company] invites you to join them as they seek to discover what happens when the consumer becomes the consumed.” Now, perhaps, if they had written: “The Muppets meet Naomi Klein!”, you would have seen this show on my “What to See” list, instead of down here.
Richard III ou la chute du corbeau: I’ve got an idea! Why don’t we have Richard III, about to die, being confronted by the women from his life? That sounds great! Also, why don’t we wring all the life and fun out of Shakespeare’s brilliant black comedy?
Star Wars Survivor: Kill me. Look guys, you fucked up! You’re supposed to mix one element of HIGH culture with another element of LOW culture. For instance, Survivor: Prospero’s Island. Or, Georg Lukcas’ Star Wars. Or, if you must mix low and low, add one more low. For instance, Star Wars Survivor: The Musical. Got it? Good, you’ll know better next time.
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