The 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival is upon us and features 99 shows from Sept. 6-16.
The Picks of the Fringe and Pick Plus are Sept. 19-23. The lineup is full of intriguing and exciting shows.
Vancouver Fringe Festival
The ADHD Project
I had the privilege of watching "The ADHD project" at the Vancouver 2018 Fringe Festival. The irreverent, funny and endearing Carlyn Rhamey entertained and moved us with her honest and vulnerable performance. She details many of the struggles and triumphs of her life growing up, and to this day.
This performance really spoke to me as a neuro-diverse person, and was VERY relatable. Prior to the show, I suspected that many aspects of our experiences would comparable, given the similarity in our backgrounds (we are both women who grew up in the 90s diagnosed with ADHD). Not only was this the case, but her recollections were shockingly similar to my own experiences, right down to the description of her father's mustache!
Carlyn's story was relatable and motivational, and at times I felt myself become emotional, with tears of understanding. I'm very glad to hear that her show will now be performed for schools in Ontario.
Squirrel Suit Productions
Playwright: Carlyn Rhamey
Award-winning storyteller Carlyn Rhamey (SAOR) shares the trials and triumphs of growing up a little bit “special” and embracing what makes us different. The ADHD Project is a hilariously honest journey exploring ADHD and celebrating neurodiversity. Enter Carlyn’s world of chaos, creativity, and combat with her mind.
2017 Ottawa Fringe Emerging Artist Award
**** “A gifted and charismatic storyteller, endearing, captivating, and tremendously abuzz with charming energy.” —On Stage Ottawa
“Rhamey takes it to a higher level.” —Arts Ally Hamilton
Funny / Silly / Warm and Fuzzy / 60 minutes / All Ages
Field Zoology 101
Ever wonder what it would be like to be a zoologist? Well now is your opportunity to put on your cargos and walk 60 minutes in the weathered boots of a pseudo-zoologist! This creative, solo act performed by Shawn O’Hara (also performing in the Fake Ghost Tours) had me stitches. O’Hara’s comedic timing and low, unwavering and almost always factually erroneous voice of Dr. Bradley Q. Gooseberry drew in his “students” and kept us there along for the ride! Simple props added to the performance and his keen sense of listening to the audience and playing off of them made the small Revue Stage seem even smaller and more intimate. An enjoyable evening; highly recommended.
Playwright: Shawn O’Hara
From Producer Mike Delamont comes Shawn O’Hara’s Field Zoology 101! From the untamed wilds of the Delta Landfill, to the loading bay behind Duffin’s Donuts, Brad Gooseberry has seen it all. In this introductory course he shares a lifetime of “knowledge” and “experience,” teaching you to survive in the harrowing and hilarious world of field zoology.
“Hilarious!” —the Georgia Straight
“Raucously funny!” —Showbill.ca
Winner of Favourite Comedy, Victoria Fringe Festival 2016
Funny / Silly / Weird / 60 minutes / 14+ / Coarse Language
F*ck Tinder: a love story
F*** Tinder is a collection of anecdotes based on finding love in a world inundated with technology, poor social skills, and bone-crushing societal expectations. Dating, random sex, and weird stories scratch only the surface of what David had to share.
David commands the stage with his booming stage presence, making it so audience members are mesmerized until the very end! A must see if you are looking for an assemblage of good date stories and even bigger laughs. I thoroughly enjoyed his performance and would recommend this for Pick of the Fringe.
San Francisco, USA
Playwright: David Rodwin
Comedic storytelling crack from The Moth champion, David Rodwin, who gets held up at gunpoint the night his girlfriend breaks up with him, moves to San Francisco, and becomes addicted to dating apps. He goes out with 120 women in two years, in search of love, but finds everything else... until there’s a twist and things get weird.
“A phenomenal writer.” —Stage and Cinema
“A master storyteller.” —Theatre Eddys
“Masters of the form like Spalding Gray and Eric Bogosian ... David Rodwin does deserve to be mentioned in such company.” —Better Lemons
A Sad-Ass Cabaret
TJ Dawe and Lindsay Robertson have crafted a wonderful show full of incredible stories and great music. TJ is a fantastic storyteller and one of my favourite writers and performers. He shares the almost unbelievable true tales of Hank Williams, Judy Garland, Bessie Smith, and Sufjan Stevens. The lives of these musicians are riveting, heartbreaking, and at times, humourous and inspiring. I'd love to learn and hear more about their lives.
Lindsay Robertson's guitar and voice are lovely, creating an evocative atmosphere while singing each of the musician's songs.
This show is cathartic, beautiful, and one of my Picks of the Fringe so far. The Havana Theatre is a small, intimate venue; I'd recommend that you get your tickets now to avoid missing it.
The Wretched Orphans
Playwrights: TJ Dawe & Lindsay Robertson
Fringe mainstay TJ Dawe talks, singer/songwriter Lindsay Robertson plays music and sings, as they explore stories and songs of musicians who turned the trauma and pain of their lives into beauty. Learn about Hank Williams, Judy Garland, Sufjan Stevens, and others in this intimate hybrid performance piece which shows why we’re drawn to sad-ass music.
Musical / Tear-Jerker / Intimate / 60 minutes / 14+
Ben Price Magic Presents Rabbit Stew
Ben Price is a very funny, charming, and skilled professional magician.
His show is extremely entertaining, awe-inspiring, hysterical, and polished. I love magic and many of his illusions I have never seen.
Ben could easily also be a successful stand-up comedian with his timing, ease, and material. This is one of my favourite shows of the festival so far and I highly recommend it.
Ben Price Magic
Playwright: Ben Price
Have you ever wanted to attend the ultimate magic show? Ben Price uses his abilities in sleight of hand, thought influence, and comedy to take you on a journey through the perfect magic show. This 60 minute, interactive show will have audiences laughing, gasping, and cheering as Ben performs all kinds of marvels from card tricks to mind reading.
Funny / Silly / Naughty / 60 minutes / 14+
Poly Queer Love Ballad
Poly Queer Love Ballad is full of beautiful songs beautifully sung and an outstanding story and script. Anais West and Sara Vickruck are excellent in their roles- so good, in fact, that it seems autobiographical.
The songs, composed by Sara Vickruck, tell the story wonderfully and are also very catchy and witty. Sara has an exquisite voice and perfect comic timing. There's some marvelous inventiveness with the loop pedal as well- at one point Sara harmonizes with herself. I hope there's a cast recording; I'd love to buy it.
The themes are timely and it's a vital, thought-provoking story. You'll be discussing and thinking about it for hours after you leave the theatre. I believe it will resonate with anyone who has ever been in love. The production is thoroughly professional; it is so good that I'd like to see again. I'm excited for future collaborations between the two. I believe that the musical will soon be playing all over the world; see it.
Anais West and Sara Vickruck
Playwrights: Anais West & Sara Vickruck
An intimate, edgy new musical, merging slam poetry with catchy pop-folk tunes. Nina, a polyamorous bisexual poet, meets Gabbie, a monogamous lesbian songwriter, at Cafe Deux Soleil. With two microphones, a loop pedal, and array of instruments, they struggle to reconcile their fierce mutual attraction with their opposing perspectives on love.
“Vickruck can belt a song, croon a song, and massage a song into existence—and she can act, too.” —Vancouver Courier (on Love Bomb)
“[Anais West has] got great comic timing and she is fearless about going to dark emotional places.” —the Georgia Straight (on Dry Land)
Naughty / Musical / Poetic / LGBTQ+ / 75 minutes / 18+ / Coarse Language / Sexual Content
Underrepresented artist: Created and performed by queer women, with an all-female, mostly queer creative team.
Jasper in Deadland
Awkward Stage Productions latest Fringe offering features a strong ensemble performing a Vancouver premiere musical. The company is known for producing quality musicals (including the fantastic Titus!) and are one of my favourites. They also generally sell out their Fringe productions and are usually a Pick of the Fringe.
Jasper in Deadland's cast excel vocally and as performers. The ensemble is supported by a full live band that is also excellent. I thoroughly enjoyed the show and recommend it to anyone who enjoys musicals.
Awkward Stage Productions
Playwrights: Ryan Scott Oliver & Hunter Foster
When you’re failing classes, kicked off the swim team, and your family is on the skids, life can feel like it’s going to hell. In a night of teenage desire, Jasper and her best friend Agnes consummate a years-long friendship. In the morning Agnes is gone. Jasper goes after her. Come meet us at the touch of water. Take a deep dive into Deadland.
“Jasper In Deadland is a journey of self-discovery that moved me in such a way that it brought tears to my eyes.” —New York Theatre Guide
“And electrifying surge of theatrical energy!” —Entertainment Weekly
Weird / Intense / Musical / LGBTQ+ / 90 minutes / All Ages
Underrepresented artist: Jasper in Deadland is led by a core production team of queer women and features a cast of diverse actors in the story two teenage girls falling in love in the face of natural and supernatural adversity. The story was originally written with a cis-gender, male-female romance, but the NYC writers have given special permission for Awkward to explore this narrative through an intersectional lens.
The F Words
The F Words tells a story of a woman from childhood to her floundering forties struggling with friendship, careers, and self-esteem.
This one woman show (Yvette Dudley-Neuman) makes excellent use of various media, with songs and slideshow visuals, but I found all the elements distracted from the genuine nature of the story as well as added more time to the performance than necessary. While the story was long, it was real and heartfelt. The witty premise of using F words to tell a story through specific dictionary-inspired word choice left myself as an audience member feeling warm and content.
Playwright: Yvette Dudley-Neuman
This award-winning show is “lively, tough, sexy, hilarious, and transformational!” (Theatre BC) And it received an honourable mention from Theatre BC’s 2014 Playwriting Competition.
“The FWords is an F-ing great play and the perfect show to catch at the Fringe this year! It’s vividly insightful, upliftingly musical, and educationally punny. ... I guarantee you’ll come away laughing and with an expanded vocabulary.” —Sonja Cvoric, Plank Magazine
**** “Dudley-Neuman is the perfect mix of manic energy and depressed stupor ... [an] amazing emotional tour de force.” —Edmonton Journal
“Yvette is a skilled actress and storyteller. Her message is personal, universal, and resonant.” —VUE Weekly
5-Step Guide to Being German 2.0
Created and Performed by Paco Erhard
5-Step Guide to Being German 2.0 is a highly entertaining and humourous show that seeks to unify people. It succeeds in every way. Paco is a confident, affable performer with excellent improv and crowd work.
He has been touring his show around the world since 2011 and it shows in the ease and polish of the material and of the performer. There were several Germans and Europeans in the audience and it added to the experience hearing their knowing reactions. The show is exceptionally funny and has a surprising amount of warmth and depth.
Sold out in London, Chicago, Sydney, Edinburgh, as well as festivals around the world, 5-Step Guide to Being German is Paco’s comical mission to set the record straight about his “charming, crazy mishap of a country”.
A reaction to British people’s stereotypes about Germany, 5-Step Guide to Being German delivers “an extremely clever analysis of the modern German psyche” (Independent Daily, AUS) that is “side-splittingly funny and violently politically incorrect” (The Argus, UK). 5-Step Guide to Being German was nominated for the Fringe World Best Comedy Award in 2013 and has been performed for companies and institutions as varied as the Goethe-Institut Australia, BMW, Mini, The German Consulate in Edinburgh, The World Tax Payers Association, and the Festival of German Films in Melbourne.
Paco Erhard shows audiences the Germany behind the scenes, as he deals with topics as varied as German bluntness (“we just value honesty more highly than other people’s feelings”), hilarious dilemmas on the Autobahn, the secret behind lederhosen, and how it feels to have to grow up with Germany’s horrible past.
Additional Fringe Recommendations
How I learned to Hug, A Canadian Bartender at Butlin's, Weirdo, and Red Bastard.
See Vancouver had the opportunity to meet some of the performers in this year's festival including Ms. Beatrice Haven of Is That How Clowns Have Sex? A One-Woman Queer Clown Sex-ed Show, Abdul Aziz and Shawn O'Hara of Fake Ghost Tours, and Jennifer Pielak and Peter Abando of Inside Voices: A Musical in the Key of P.
Part one of our Fringe Festival preview includes some artists and companies that have created exceptional work at the Fringe and around Vancouver in the past.
Red Bastard's previous show was one of the most hilarious, interactive, exhilarating, and bold pieces of theatre that I have ever seen. He returns with:
Red Bastard: Lie with Me.
Playwrights: Eric Davis and Aitor Basauri
Award-winning trickster, Red Bastard, teeters on the tip of your moral highs and lows as he asks each audience the seemingly simple question: What are the Rules of Love?
A hilariously fun, 5-star affair that exposes how we love and why. Don’t miss this mind-warping show for singles, couples, and anyone who’s dared to adore.
***** “Hilarious and beautifully written ... tantalising you with stories of love and lust ... it’s an experience ... as funny as it is unforgiving ... There really is nothing quite like it ... Just go.” —Edinburgh Festivals Magazine
***** “Hysterically funny and thought-provoking ... an unquestionable must see!” —The Adelaidian
Funny / Intense / Naughty / 75 minutes / 18+
TJ Dawe is a Fringe legend and has written and performed some of my favourite plays ever. He returns with one of his funniest:
A Canadian Bartender at Butlin's.
Playwright: TJ Dawe
Jessie Award winning Fringe favourite TJ Dawe (Slipknot, Medicine, Roller Coaster) returns with the 15th anniversary remount of his show about a working holiday in England, pouring pints at Butlin’s Holiday Camp—the McDonald’s of resorts—a British cultural institution—and an absolute shithole. This is TJ’s 113th Fringe. Yes, really.
“This guy’s headed for the stand-up hall of fame.” —the Georgia Straight
“Dawe has storytelling down to a fine art.” —the Vancouver Sun
“If Jerry Seinfeld and George Carlin has a baby, it’d be TJ Dawe.” —Winnipeg Sun
“A master monologist.” —Toronto Star
Funny / Intellectual / Intimate / 75 minutes / 14+ / Coarse Language
Fringe mainstay TJ Dawe talks, singer/songwriter Lindsay Robertson plays music and sings, as they explore stories and songs of musicians who turned the trauma and pain of their lives into beauty. Learn about Hank Williams, Judy Garland, Sufjan Stevens, and others in this intimate hybrid performance piece which shows why we’re drawn to sad-ass music.Musical / Tear-Jerker / Intimate / 60 minutes / 14+
Other shows from performers and companies that have created excellent work in the past include:
Jasper in Deadland- Awkward Stage Productions (Titus!)
Hullaboo- Andrew Wade (Titus!)
The ADHD Project
Produced by Geekenders and Instant Theatre
Conceived and Directed by Ryan Caron, Fairlith Harvey, Andrew Lynch, Chelsey Stuyt
Writing by Abbey St. Brendan, Fairlith Harvey, and W. Shakespeare
Featuring: Zac Beardsley, Stephen Blakley, Lindsay Braynen, Bradley Bergeron, Arthi Chandra, Greg Delmage, Meredith Fraser, Isabella Halladay, Kimberly Ho, Daisy Hulme, Amanda Lau, Stefanie Michaud, Draco Muff-Boi, Shan Naziripour, Shayan Naziripour, Claire Rice, Chloe Packer, Casey Por, Levi Schneider, Abbey St. Brendan, Claire Temple, Graeme Thompson, Andrew Wade, Zach Wolfman
Immerse yourself in the fantasy of Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' as you are thrust into the carnivalesque world of the fairies to be seduced by Oberon, assist the Mechanicals to fix their play, help Puck create mischief, visit Nick Bottom (a real mini donkey!), and find your soulmate.
LOCATION: Ron Basford Park, Granville Island. Specifically starting in the Sculpture Garden. You can find the big, metallic sculpture behind Performance Works and the parking lot next to it, along the boardwalk.
Friday, Sept 15: 7pm, 8pm, 9pm
Saturday, Sept 16: 1pm, 2pm, 3pm
Sunday, Sept 17: 2pm, 3pm, 4pm, 7pm, 8pm, 9pm
http://geekenders.ca/ || http://instanttheatre.com/
Slumber Here is one of the most ambitious, joyous, exciting, fun, playful, beautiful, and, at times, exhilarating shows at the festival. It can be enjoyed by all ages and features a breathtaking setting, gorgeous costumes, fantastic makeup, and even a real donkey. It is immersive, interactive, site-specific, and roving with audience members able to follow a number of different characters and story arcs. One could experience the show several times and discover new stories and characters each time. From a pillow fight to playing match-maker to marrying a stranger ("Bye. Nice marrying you."), Slumber Here is inspiring in its vitality and joie de vive! It is an oasis of life and energy with its large, vibrant cast and natural setting. Recommended!