The Buzz

HAMLET (the rest is silence)

Echo Theatre—Dalnavert Museum & Visitors’ Centre

One of the rooms in the Dalnavert Museum was the setting for the show and set the mood nicely. Kevin Klassen performs as Hamlet who is re-living the events of the play after he has died. The words are supplemented by images projected behind him. What was also very interesting is they project images of the characters Hamlet is addressing or talking about in two picture frames on the wall behind him. Very well done. Bravo.

A couple notes, it is a small room with tight seating (those little folding chairs with round seats), so if you are uncomfortable with enclosed spaces or being seated right next to other people, you may not enjoy it. Also, due to the small venue (20 seats) if you have not yet purchased advanced tickets, get there early (at least 1 hour before show time) to buy the 10 or so remaining tickets.

Murray Hunter


SLAM! 2

Winnipeg Poetry Slam—Red River College – Roblin Centre

I attended the Slam last year, the first for The Fringe, and had a blast. That put this year’s slam as a target right in the center of my radar. For those who don’t know, a “Slam” is a “performance poetry competition using elimination by audience judges.” Each poet recites two poems and five judges hold up scores after each performance.

During last year’s Slam, I attended one of the first performances, which featured poets in the opening round. This year, I chose to attend a later performance of Slam 2, meaning that most of the poets have been eliminated and we dig into the semi-finals. That should put the best-of-the-best onto the stage—and they don’t disappoint.

For both of my attendances, I got to be a judge, which adds to the experience. If you want to be a judge, be sure to arrive early and find the host. So long as you have an appreciation for poetry and you’re not biased to any competitor, you are eligible. As a judge, I juggled criteria in my mind:

  • How good is the delivery? Is there emotion? Does the recital run smoothly?
  • How good is the poem? Is it too much like prose? Does the topic have relevance?

Judging is not cut out for everyone but if you want to take it on, it’s a lot of fun. If you don’t want to judge, that’s fine too—just come and enjoy the show. These people are very talented and a pleasure to watch.

During halftime, they invite you to write and recite your own poem (voluntary of course). This year’s theme is limerick.

To enjoy these poems, you need not attune—
C’mon down, in the eve or afternoon!
Watch the poet and the ham
Battle it out in the Slam!
I had a great time! Reviewed by Ray Yuen.

Ray Yuen


The Most Unlikely Comedian

Autistic Productions—Forth

Adam Schwartz is a really funny comedian. Normally I start reviews with a synopsis but I feel in this case that would sell Adam short for some people. Adam has razor sharp comedic timing. He knows how to handle hecklers like a pro. He takes all of his flaws and turns them into slightly self deprecating but endearing jokes. He has an impressive background with a masters degree and it shows. Adam is a great comedian.

Adam also just happens to have autism. This hour long play follows Adam’s journey as a new stand up comic and what it’s like to be in show business when your a little bit different. I laughed and cried. With this ground breaking awareness show, Adam is redefining who theatre is for. He makes it more and more accessible with every show he does. It was true that he stumbled a few times and yes he is hard to understand sometimes but that doesn’t take away from the fact that he is wickedly funny. I really liked this show and learned a lot. Definitely a must see.

Kaitlyn Kriss


AWKWARD HUG

Cory Thibert—Red River College – Roblin Centre

Most people I know hated their parents at some point in their lives as kids. I certainly thought my parents were dicks through my childhood. Then one day, you grow up and realise why they did the things they did—except my mother, she’s still a dick.

For Cory Thibert (Coby), the relationship, maturation and illumination with his family form the basis of this exploration. Along this journey of discovery, you board his adolescent bus and travel through tunnels of sorrow, bridges of laughter and alleys of anguish before reaching the depot of insight. Every aspect of this trip is thoroughly enjoyable as you ride Thibert’s expert story-telling and flawless execution; he’s simply one of the best narrators I’ve seen all Fringe.

Ray Yuen


The F Words: Fab, Funny, Fierce!

Yvette Dudley-Neuman—School of Contemporary Dancers

Yvette is widely imaginative in her use of sets and props. She uses three silks to channel her inner Greek fates that twist and turn her life about. The silks are used throughout the show to represent many things. She made me laugh and cry as I felt for her moments of loss, self doubt, and worthlessness. I liked how she differentiated the characters. She completely changed her body and became someone completely new.

The writing was decent but I found some of the songs and scenes regarding ‘alone time’ to be way too forced. They were awkward and quickly became unfunny especially the grandma masturbation song. They were not fun to sit through and I just wanted them to be over. They do have a place and purpose in the show but I felt they could have been handled better.

This journey that is unapologetically feminist, is certainly not for everyone but it’s a fun way to spend an hour.

Kaitlyn Kriss


A Canadian Bartender at Butlin’s

Red Light Letter Productions—John Hirsch Mainstage

Something this good can be remounted after enough years; and it has been long enough for it to be fresh. Fringers in the know won’t miss a chance to see Fringe God, T.J. Dawe. He is just a masterful storyteller mixing intelligence, humour, timing and his youthful, humble manner just adds to his appeal. He has the base of his show relating his menial job experience at a one star British holiday resort; but sidetracks to share other hilarious and eerie misadventures. He is the master at what he does and is always a must-see. He is also just an all-round sweet guy and a gentleman in real life. When I was turned around in the dark at the Cabaret, he insisted on escorting me right to the door of the ladies, even though he was performing. Just a sweetie!

Lisa Campbell


Old-ish

GoodSide Productions—Red River College – Roblin Centre

Susan Freedman tells it like it is. She is a lady in her 70’s with a biting humour and grace. Loaded with an arsenal of stories from her past she weaves a story about coming to terms with ones age. With an amazing attitude and an incredible amount of sass, she is now who I strive to be in my coming years.

I loved her ‘take no crap’ attitude. I came into this thinking at 25 the material would be literally beyond my years, boring, and slow. She was anything but those three things. I found the concept of coming to terms with death relatable, she was hysterical, and she had snappy fast paced dialogue. I never would have gone to this show normally but I’m glad I did! She epitomizes this years mantra of ‘take a chance’. Shes a seasoned pro who knows what she’s doing and you won’t be sad you saw this piece. Definitely a hidden gem of the fest.

Kaitlyn Kriss


One Man Pride and Prejudice

Chicken For Supper Productions—Asper Centre for Theatre and Film – U of W

This solo show by Fringe veteran Charlie Ross (of One Man Star Wars, etc.) is less about Jane Austen’s work and more about showing off Charlie’s chops on stage. He had the audience from the get-go, so it’s safe to say they were familiar with his work and wanted more. His costume is divine, though without the promised lace. This show is a romp. Silly, all over the place but it is entertaining enough and fun. If you are wanting a serious rendition of Austen, this is not it; but you will be entertained nonetheless. Ross is a wonderful performer.

This venue is stacked with winners, so stay the day and catch some of the best the Fringe has to offer.

Lisa Campbell


Throne Life

The Electronic Gospel—Asper Centre for Theatre and Film – U of W

This one man play follows a guy who has done wrong and falls at the feet of God to be reborn. One part EDM (electronic dance music) rave, one part spoken word journey, the actor transports then audience to what he believes heaven must be.

The actor was very into his art. He was 100% committed to telling this story and doing his characters justice, damn the consequences. This is what Fringe is supposed to be about after all, telling a story you believe in with all your heart even if people don’t like it.

I was one of the ones who didn’t like it. I knew I was in trouble 5 minutes in. A 10 minute long ‘intro’ was played that seemed to go on and on and on. It was a slow weird spoken-word piece that made little sense. This was followed by 5 original songs he poorly sang along to about Jesus that were 10 minutes a piece. This play is so cringe worthy I didn’t know if it was a big joke piece or a serious presentation of the gospel. In a final moment of comedic brilliance, the character comes out in a costume that I can only describe as Dr. Teeth (of Muppets fame) realness. This was my tipping point and it was all I could do to not laugh out loud.

A play that is so bad it doesn’t get the chance to get good, don’t waste your valuable time and money on this show.

Kaitlyn Kriss


It’s Now or Never: My Journey through the Late Middle Ages

Third Act Productions—Pantages Studio

A tale about a man in middle ages…

…WARNING! This is not a show about The Middle Ages in the 10th century. There will be no knights or damsels in distress. There is a (north of) middle-aged man coping with the loss of his physical attributes as the years continue to mount.

How do you deal with life when you find your body starting to forsake you and there’s so much left in the world to discover? You’re well on the decline of life and you have yet to find accomplishment, actualisation and love (untainted love anyway).

Well-spoken and eloquent, Judah Leblang raises questions for those of us who lag a few years behind him, in the (true) middle ages of life with so much left to accomplish, physical parts still working but not as well as once. How about for the Gen-Xer? Ah, you’re still invincible; this won’t apply to you…yet.

Ray Yuen