Diving Into the Depths

While reviewing shows, I encounter lots of Fringe fans and many of the same questions arise:

  1. What’s the Jenny?
  2. What’s it like to be a reviewer and get to see all those shows?
  3. What’s the difference between the Jenny and CBC or Free Press? and most frequently
  4. What’s your favourite show / what do you recommend?

In between shows, I want to take the opportunity to answer these questions.

  1. Click Here for the answers.
  2. It’s great to get unlimited access to shows, but it’s also a ton of work. For you as viewers, it’s a hobby, pastime or casual interest. For us, it’s a job. We spend hours preparing our viewing, physically put in the time watching plays, then come up with opportunities to write our reviews. Just coordinating the viewing schedule is a gargantuan effort. First, we need to ensure that one of our fellow reviewers has not already tagged the show. As you can imagine, the pickings get slimmer as the Festival progresses.

    You look for plays you want to see—you don’t always get them but it’s more fun for us when we get ones of greater interest. Then you need to maximise your day around those plays—the more plays we see, the better coverage. I don’t want to have a two hour break in the middle; that’s another review I can write.

    Art by Dave Pruden
    Then there are the actual reviews. I try to highlight between plays to remember the key points. Most the writing comes after I pack it in for the day—usually with a bottle of wine on the deck. What do I write? I don’t want to give away too much. I want to be fair and critical at the same time. Unless it’s absolute crap, I don’t want to shit on them; however, I don’t want to mislead patrons to waste their money when I know it’s not worth it.

    A typical day starts at 7 am, where I attend my real paying job. I hit the first show (usually) at noon. I pack an average of five shows a day and normally pack it in between 8 pm to 9 pm. By the time I submit my reviews, the clock reads 11 pm. In the end, it’s 10 days of hard work but it’s all worth it. We have a great time doing it, otherwise we wouldn’t be here. As hard as we work, we can’t cover all the plays—that’s why your input is critical to our success.

  3. We always talk about the basic difference between The Jenny and the CBC and the Free Press. Aside from the star system (or lack of), we have two other major differences:
    Firstly, we are all volunteers. No one pays us to do this; we do this because we want to. We do this because we love the arts and we love theatre.

    Secondly, with main media, they second their regular writers to review shows for a week. What does a sports writer know about satire? Maybe lots– maybe nothing. You know one thing for sure: we want to be here. Does the sports writer?

    Let’s pretend the The Sun decides to review Fringe and they send a reporter out. Can you see the review looking something like this?

    “There should be no Fringe. Take the subsidy money and put it into roads.” signed Bom Trodbeck.

    This is an exaggeration of course, but how much can you expect when you force someone to do something they don’t want to do? Are we all theatre experts here at Jenny? Some of us are, not all—but we all have something in common: we love The Fringe.

  4. This is the most frequently asked question. Here’s the answer: READ THE JENNY BUZZ!

Happy Fringe!

Ray Yuen
Coordinating Reviewer


Shows Reviewed