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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

2018 Reviews




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.


Upon leaving, I felt inspired to continue my own work in the field of service to those of us who were diagnosed with ADHD.


-M. Kennedy



Squirrel Suit Productions 
Hamilton, Canada
Playwright: Carlyn Rhamey 
squirrelsuit.ca


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 

Underrepresented artist: The ADHD Project was written/performed/produced and directed all by neurodiverse artists.






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.

 

-A. Weatherhead



Shawn O’Hara
Victoria, Canada
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.

 

-A. Weatherhead



David Rodwin 
San Francisco, USA 
Playwright: David Rodwin 
f-tinder.com


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

Funny / Naughty / Shocking / 75 minutes / 18+ / Coarse Language / Sexual Content





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.  


-Jim MacDonald



The Wretched Orphans
Vancouver, Canada 
Playwrights: TJ Dawe & Lindsay Robertson 
tjdawe.ca


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. 

 

-Jim MacDonald


Ben Price Magic 
Calgary, Canada 
Playwright: Ben Price 
benpricemagic.com


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. 


-Jim MacDonald



Anais West and Sara Vickruck 
Vancouver, Canada 
Playwrights: Anais West & Sara Vickruck 
www.polyqueerloveballad.com


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.  


-Jim MacDonald



Awkward Stage Productions 
Vancouver, Canada
Playwrights: Ryan Scott Oliver & Hunter Foster 
awkwardstageproductions.com


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.


-A. Weatherhead



Yvette Dudley-Neuman 
Coquitlam, Canada
Playwright: Yvette Dudley-Neuman 
tteeVy.com


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 FWords 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 

Funny / Naughty / Tear-Jerker / 75 minutes / 18+ / Coarse Language / Sexual Content





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.


-Jim MacDonald



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.


http://pacoerhard.com/




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 
redbastard.com 

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
tjdawe.ca

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



TJ Dawe also shares the stage with Lindsday Robertson in:

A Sad-Ass Cabaret

Playwrights: TJ Dawe & Lindsay Robertson 
tjdawe.ca 

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!)

Angels and Aliens- Jeff Leard
5-Step Guide to Being German 2.0 (one of my personal Picks of the Fringe last year)
Martin Dockery: Delirium





Part 2 of our Fringe preview includes some of the shows that looked intriguing at the Fringe Preview Show or in the program. 


Poly Queer Love Ballad
Is that how Clowns have sex? A One-woman queer clown sex-ed show
Inside Voices: A Musical in the Key of P (improv)
Ben Price presents Rabbit Stew
Mind Magic
Weirdo
Absolute Magic
How I learned to Hug
Die Hard: The Musical-ish
F*ck Tinder
Fake Ghost Tours (outdoor roving theatre)

The ADHD Project














 


Cabaret

Produced by Tomosuru Players
Directed by Gerald Williams
Musical Direction by Jeremy Hoffman
Choreography by Lyndsey Britten

October 12-22, 2017
Club XY, 1216 Bute St., Vancouver, BC, Canada


If you’ve never seen Cabaret, see it. The musical is one of the best Broadway shows ever made and this production of it is strong. Cabaret has so many memorable songs that you’ll be singing them for days. Even if you have seen Cabaret before, this production has an immersiveness, intimacy, boldness, and bawdiness that are unique and make it very worthwhile to see again.

Two of this production’s greatest strengths are its intimacy and immersiveness and the venue is perfect in supporting this. Club XY makes an excellent Kit Kat Klub and the scenes at the Kit Kat transport us into that world. A wedding reception later in the show is also particularly immersive which makes the discovery of a Nazi, who is a friend, at the Jewish wedding even more dramatic. This is followed by a chilling moment when many of the guests, in and around the audience, join him in singing the Nazi song Tomorrow Belongs to Me. Some of that tension is relieved about half way through the song when the company breaks into a canon musically and we realize we are watching a show again.

While the stage and venue are quite small, Tomosuru has ambitiously managed to produce a full scale musical with a live band and wireless mics for all the performers. There was some cutting out and static with the mics at times on the night I attended (as there tends to be at musicals) which made me wonder if it would be possible to have the show unplugged, given the size of the space. I believe the band might overpower the company if it were though.
The band is excellent and the company has many strong singers and performers. Kudos must also be given to the trust, commitment, and boldness of the performers. Many of them spend most of the night in lingerie or less and there is much playful groping and spanking on stage among the company. John Ennis Graham plays an excellent villain.

I love site specific theatre and this show is when it's at the Kit Kat Klub. The Klub and its inhabitants are so pervasive that they also bleed into other settings. When Cliff, an American writer, is travelling to Berlin on the train, he encounters a train employee played by one of the Kit Kat dancers in lingerie with an open jacket over it. I would be curious to see what the show would look like if the other minor characters and settings away from the Kit Kit Klub were as well defined. 

Club XY is a perfect venue for this show and I hope more shows are staged here as the West End could use more performance spaces.

This was a fun and wild night at the theatre. Congratulations to all involved for their passion, dedication, and commitment. I would recommend all to experience it.


-Jim MacDonald







Fringe Festival 2017 Reviews

Slumber Here


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.

Tickets: http://www.vancouverfringe.com/

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!             


-Jim MacDonald