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Ed’s 10 Nerdy Picks of the 2016 Victoria Fringe Festival (and these Artists Tour Worldwide!)

Fringe-badge-16-mint-background-2008-1By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

A few fond favourites are back at this year’s Victoria Fringe Festival, and in my picks, I hope to do more than a few “Dick Tricks” to get to each venue spread around the city to get my theatre nerd on. This year is special as this event is celebrating its 30th anniversary! I’m betting there will be cake, and a whole lot more surprises! In order to feast upon the entire list, I do recommend that for locals, to check out the opening ceremonies which takes place at Centennial Square. An entire preview will take place then and if that is not enough to salivate the taste buds, perhaps drinks will be offered too (at cost). This preview night will take place August 24th.

In the following, I offer my selection in what caught my eye and hope you can join me. If not at this particular festival, then perhaps at another Fringe that’s closer to where each person lives. This unique style of theatre can be found nearly worldwide. From Vancouver to Edinburgh (where it first started), this small-scale production offers a better, if not intimate, experience.

Passes can be bought at the Intrepid Theatre’s office on 1609 Blanshard or online through Ticket Rocket:

ON THE FRINGE (DOCUMENTARY FILM)
BROKEN TURTLE PRODUCTIONS

DATES:
Sep 3, 2016

LOCATION: Victoria Event Centre (Fringe Venue 1)

Still don’t know what Fringe Festivals are about? Well, this documentary should tell all! This video documentary began as a chronicle of artists doing the Canadian Fringe Festival circuit and it evolved from there. It goes on a road trip and shows what life is like on the other side of the stage! Best of all, this screening is by donation! All you have to do is present your badge.

6 QUICK DICK TRICKS:
A DIRK DARROW INVESTIGATION

RACING SLOTH PRODUCTIONS

DATES:
Fri Aug 26 – 5:00pm
Sat Aug 27 – 8:00pm
Sun Aug 28 – 10:00pm
Wed Aug 31 – 8:00pm
Fri Sep 2 – 9:45pm
Sat Sep 3 – 2:00pm

LOCATION: The Roxy Theatre (Fringe Venue 7)

I’ve chatted with Tim Motley in the past about his previous shows, and I’m glad to see that he’s coming back to show a few new magic tricks along with a noir narrative to appease the Sherlock Holmes in me to solve. Not every show is going to be exactly the same, as audiences can sometimes trip him up. The laughs are great, and I’ll be in line to see what he has up his sleeve for this year.

AN IMPROVISED
QUENTIN TARANTINO 2 –
THE PLAYFUL 8

DATES:
Thu Aug 25 – 6:45pm
Fri Aug 26 – 10:15pm
Sat Aug 27 – 2:30pm
Wed Aug 31 – 10:15pm
Thu Sept 1 – 8:15pm
Sat Sept 3 – 8:45pm

LOCATION: Victoria Event Centre (Fringe Venue 1)

The first time I saw Paper Street Theatre‘s show, I laughed myself silly. With a title implying that this sequel of sorts is inspired by the latest Tarantino movie, I have to wonder what can go wrong. I suspect a basic plot will keep the night merrily moving along, but as for what happens, feedback from audiences will dictate the performance. Dave Morris leads his ensemble cast and I wonder if how fast the eight will get whittled down to one?

DISNEY’S CAMP ROCK
ST. MICHAELS UNIVERSITY
SCHOOL MUSIC THEATRE INTENSIVE

DATES:
Thu Aug. 25– 7pm
Fri Aug. 26 – 7pm
Sat Aug. 27 – 2pm
Sat Aug. 27 – 7pm

LOCATION: St. Michaels University School (Fringe Venue 8)

Only James Shaw, my writing partner, can be a downer. I saw the musical Camp Rock and yes, while it’s a version of High School Musical, how can you hate the music? I’m sure my buddy will find a reason to, but I’m more open to today’s trends of hip hop and beat rock. Although Lady Gaga is not my thing, I am curious as to how Camp Rock can be played out at the space which makes up the auditorium at St. Michael’s University School. They have yet to let me down with a frolicking night.

Now if this production was Teen Beach Movie, a throwback to the surfer movies of the 1960’s, I’d definitely be grooving. Let’s face it, how can you not hate “That’s How We Do,” the huge musical number from the second film? I digress, but hey, I’m more open to seeing this film recreated for theatre than Camp Rock, but at least I’m willing to give it a chance.

EFFIE & THE VAMPIRE,
A LESBIANISTIC MUSICAL MELODRAMA
DRAGON MONKEY THEATRE

DATES:
Fri Aug 26 – 6:15pm
Sun Aug 28 – 2:00pm
Mon Aug 29 – 5:00pm
Tue Aug 30 – 6:45pm
Sat Sep 3 – 8:45pm
Sun Sep 4 – 2:45pm

LOCATION: Langham Court Theatre (Fringe Venue 5)

This show sounds like a huge cabaret show, and it’s going to be set in Fort Victoria circa 1890’s. It’s hard to say what this product is exactly about, but I’m sold when vampires are involved! The guide describes the show as: Iron-willed Lady Rockland has a huge crush on Lord Carnsew, but he’s been promised to her daughter, Lady Margaret. Meanwhile, the beautiful servant Effie secretly adores Lady Margaret ! And what’s going on between Floozie McSwill and Bridget the housekeeper?

THE LION, THE B***H & THE WARDROBE
SHARON MAHONY

DATES:
Thu Aug 25 – 9:45pm
Sat Aug 27 – 3:45pm
Sun Aug 28 – 8:15pm
Mon Aug 29 – 6:00pm
Wed Aug 31 – 9:45pm
Sat Sep 3 – 5:30pm

LOCATION: The Roxy Theatre (Fringe Venue 7)

This show sounds like a parody of a particular fond C.S. Lewis classic. As for whether there’s more, I suspect there’s going to be some self-analysis required afterwards as to what this show means. There’s comedy in this product, and in what I’ve been hearing about this product is how the protagonist is examining mental health. Perhaps what’s found here is a battle between the identification, ego and super-ego. Hopefully, a session with Sigmund Freud isn’t needed afterwards.

LITTLE ORANGE MAN
SNAFU

DATES:
Fri Aug 26, 8:15pm
Sun Aug 28, 4:30pm
Tue Aug 30, 9:45pm
Wed Aug 31, 6:00pm
Fri Sep 2, 8:15pm
Sat Sep 3, 10:30pm

LOCATION: Downtown Activity Centre (Fringe Venue 2)

Shadow puppetry and dark Danish fables are said to be at the heart of this show and while I’ve missed its appearance from previous years, I do not plan to miss it this year for its fourth return, if I remember correctly. There’s a surreal quality that I hear is fascinating, and for the art scholar in me, perhaps I might find a deeper meaning.

PERSEUS & ANDROMEDA
CHIMERA THEATRE

DATES:
Fri Aug 26 – 9:45pm
Sun Aug 28 – 5:30pm
Wed Aug 31 – 7:15pm
Thu Sep 1 – 8:15pm
Fri Sep 2 – 9:15pm
Sun Sep 4 – 4:30pm

LOCATION: Langham Court Theatre (Fringe Venue 5)

One of my greatest loves is the study of myth, and in this show (according to the guide), Perseus is a hero on a mission from the gods. Andromeda is a princess chained to a rock to be sacrificed to a sea monster. How will their story unfold? Chimera Theatre takes Euripides’ two-thousand-year-old lost myth and brings it to life for today’s audiences through movement, music, acrobatics, and dance.

SPACE HIPPO
MOCHINOSHA & THE WISHES MYSTICAL PUPPET COMPANY

DATES:
Fri Aug 26 – 10:30pm
Sat Aug 27 – 5:30pm
Mon Aug 29 – 9:30pm
Tue Aug 30 – 6:00pm
Sat Sep 3 – 8:00pm
Sun Sep 4 – 9:15pm

LOCATION: The Roxy Theatre (Fringe Venue 7)

This animated show sounds very promising, as it will be told through live animation. As a cartoon enthusiast, I have to wonder if this will be done through puppetry or cardboard shadow theatre. Hard to say, but I’m interested in what I believe is an all-ages show that will satisfy the sci-fi nerd in me. From the guide: Scientists weren’t lying. Earth is really dying. Space Hippo, you’re the only one, that can undo what we’ve done. Sail across the universe. Help us save the planet Earth.
[TITLE OF SHOW]
URBAN ARTS

DATES:
Thu Aug 25 – 8:45pm
Sat Aug 27 – 6:45pm
Tue Aug 30 – 8:30pm
Wed Aug 31 – 5:00pm
Sat Sep 3 – 2:45pm
Sun Sep 4 – 6:30pm

LOCATION: Langham Court Theatre (Fringe Venue 5)

This campy musical production was fascinating when I saw it some years ago and it’s back! It will be interesting to compare how this production has morphed throughout the years. I offer a review I originally wrote for B Channel News a few years ago below, and hope this show has improved over time!

REVIEW:

Will egos inflate or dreams deflate when close friends, Jeff and Hunter decide to develop a musical number for the New York Musical Theatre Festival?

The [Title of Show] is an intense character study about what it takes to make it in the rough and tumble world of friendship. Protagonists, Jeff and Hunter enlist the help of their pals Susan and Heidi to be part of this act.

The songs performed to carry the plot forward and a few of the best numbers include “Change It, Don’t Change It” and “An Original Musical.”

With “A Way Back to Then,” Heidi (Sarah Carle) demonstrates her vocal talent with this solo number, and if comparisons can be made to a different Broadway play, Little Shop of Horrors, this tune has the brilliance of “Suddenly Seymour” in terms of the intensity it evokes and emotes. Carle gives this number the same strength and drama with equal effect.

The other stars get a moment to shine in their solo performances, but when paired, the male duets aren’t as perfect when one of them has to go falsetto.

The humourous additions to this show are unique and engaging–some of it intentional, since the play is structured to break the fourth wall. The cast is writing the play they are performing and at a few times, willfully acknowledge it with great comedic effect. When Jeff interacts with Larry the Keyboardist (Phil Hallman), that’s when this product’s uniqueness starts to shine.

It’s a shame Larry didn’t have a larger role. Some Cable Guy moments would leave quite the stamp.

3½ Stars out of 5

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