When the weather gets warm and the sun beats down, Montréal becomes a hotbed of activity. People poke out of the shelter of their homes and rejoice in the streets. One of the surest signs of summer is the appearance of posters for the St-Ambroise Montréal Fringe Festival. The Fringe, if you're unfamiliar with it, is a vast collection of travelling shows that go from city to city. Each year, perfomers are drawn from a lottery and given slots in various cities that host the festival. In this way, shows that would otherwise be impractical to perform are able to play before an audience.
I spent this weekend packing in as much festival as I possibly could. I dashed between venues in an attempt to catch every moment. For your benefit, of course.
- Evil is the New Good (Schedule)
- Nile Séguin is a young man with a frank face and a sincere smile. Toting his backpack on stage, his stand-up routine follows his inner monologue of waiting in line at an aeroport. Only he had a pocket full of cash in the meth capitol of California. Hilarity ensues. You should see this. 3.5/5.
- The Wonders of the World: Recite (Schedule)
- It's Eugene's birthday which means he gets to do whatever he wants. It also means that cake will be served. Sadly, Eugene lives on a remote island with his grandmother, and they own no radio. So they are rather oblivious that everyone is imminently doomed. It's a very Fringe production in a very Fringe location, which makes it charming beyond belief. Plus they have some very interactive props.
I met up with the cast after their show. Donna, Melanie, and Leo are from Montana and they'd driven all the way up to perform at the festival. Along the way, they've done shows in Portland and Seattle. If you're in Edmonton when the Fringe happens there, you also have to catch their performance. If you're here, what are you waiting for? 4/5.
- Pentacostal Wisconsin (Schedule) (Photograph)
- Ryan Paulson grew up in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. It's a sleepy little place that centres its world around (a) cheese and (b) church. In this coming-of-age tale, Ryan weaves a story of his childhood and how he ended up in New York City, instead of at bible college. If you've ever sung in church, you'll have a good time whenever he picks up his guitar. Great show. 3.5/5.
- Word Infirmia: the Criminal Perspectives Project (Schedule) (Photograph)
- The United States of America has a prison population that numbers over two million inmates. Perri Yaniv has interviewed American prisoners and victims on criminality, experiences, and attitudes towards crime. It's really quite amazing to see him on stage as he re-enacts his interviews, documentary-style. When he turns around, or the lights change, his face and manners transform into those of another subject. Again, and again, and again. Powerfully recommended. 4/5.
- My Little Rant (Schedule) (Photograph)
- In the film based on his life, Stephen Pietrantoni has been turned down for the role of himself. He's not tall enough, handsome enough, sexy enough. Instead of wallowing in bitter disappointment, he goes on a search for identity that involves numerous costume changes and showtunes. Although I love singing to the classic musicals, I'm afraid that it's a vice best enjoyed in private. 3/5.
- Jem Rolls Off the Tongue (Schedule) (Photograph)
- Jem returns to Montréal after garnering rave reviews last year. He's a slam poet from Edinburgh who has a way with words that's passionate and playful. I've really never heard anyone with such wonderfully crisp enunciation. But don't think that his erudite diction is beyond your comprehension. You'll have a blast. 4.5/5.
- This Fairytale is Not Working Out (Schedule) (Photograph)
- Red, the little girl from the fairy tale, is having a nervous breakdown. Modern dance combined with American Sign Language tells a story with movement, both figuratively and literally. Seven dancers from inFluxdance take over the stage in a series of short, sweet vignettes.
I spoke with the choreographers, Rose Beauchamp and Alysia Woodruff, after the performance. Rose does Laban Movement Analysis and Alysia is fluent in sign language. So it was natural that someone versed in a language of movement, and another fluent in a moving language would collaborate. The end result is spectacular. 4/5.