The Buzz – Reviews

Sapphire Butterfly Blue

MTYP’s Summer Studio—MTYP – Mainstage

Sapphire Butterfly Blue is a powerful production which plays at and is produced by Manitoba Theatre for Young People. It is set in 1692 at the onset of the Salem witch trials. With a cast of 16 talented young adults, the audience is taken on a journey of movement, music, chant, monologues, song and dance. The key role of Bridget Bishop, the first young woman being accused of being a witch, is portrayed by 12 women who weave the moments of questioning, angst, sadness and fear as she comes to terms with the accusation and sentence of being considered a witch. Moments where the women reflect on the various emotions she experiences are felt by the theatregoers through both soft spoken words and intense anger and fright. The women reach the heart of the viewer through introspection, dance and the inspiration of the butterfly. The 4 men who embodied the judges express their fervour with intensity in their voice, movement and faces. One moment in particular gives you chills with the combination of ferocity of the judges and the terror felt by Bishop. Sapphire Butterfly Blue is best described as a visual and auditory explosion of moments which represent how witchery may have manifested in this time period and the resulting repercussion of the assertion imposed on the women of this era. It keeps you engaged as you follow the story and perceive the mirage of sensory images performed by this collection of dramatic artists.

Shayla Patterson

The Barbarian Bombshells

The Barbarian Bombshells—Tom Hendry Warehouse

Ahh, the Fringe Festival. There’s nothing else like it. Amongst all of the traumatic tales of personal struggle, one-person journeys of exploration, deeply-ingrained stories of angst and anguish, one can always find something like The Barbarian Bombshells to relieve the tension. And what a relief this show is! Would you see anything like this as part of the MTC regular season? Hell, no! And thank the gods of the theatre for that! The Barbarian Bombshells deliver exactly what one would expect; a fun-filled rowdy hour of cavorting, chaos, and carnage, delivered with rowdy enthusiasm and loads of gleeful audience participation. The bombshells radiate charisma, and seem to be having at least as much fun onstage as their audience. There’s no plot to speak of, nor is one needed. The whole point of crazy shows like this is to dive in and have fun, drink in hand, and be prepared to make lots of noise and sing (or scream) along with the women. So sharpen your sword, put on your best leather jerkin, tug on your horned helmet and catch their remaining shows before it’s too late! By Crom, this is a good time!

Mike Seccombe

Stacey-Jean At Your Side!

SJeanS Productions—The Cinematheque

This was such a sweet show. We are welcomed by Stacey Jean, who works in a call center and loves crafts. She receives letters from folks who are reaching out to her for some guidance with a variety of difficult life circumstances. I felt quite moved by her sincere compassion and heartfelt advice as she does her best to respond to each concern. I feel like we all have moments we need to reach out when we’re struggling. This show is a reminder that some genuine human compassion and care can be all it takes for someone to feel seen. The world needs it. She also provided the contact information for a few help hotlines. 

Calantha Jensen

Old God

Splash Time—CCFM – Antoine Gaborieau Hall

I have been fortunate enough to travel to Fringe festivals across the country and around the world. Walking into a makeshift cabaret venue on the other side of town, I had made the relatively smaller trek to the CCFM. I went to witness a show that many artists had been raving about. I was expecting it to be good, but what I was given was something truly extraordinary. Old God is world class clowning; an unapologetic ripping apart of our hypocritical world in a delirious fit of hysterical, satirical, heretical idiocy. The intelligence and insight of this piece was blended perfectly with absolute absurdity and obscenity. Alec Jones-Trujillo kept the audience on its toes for the entire raucous hour with his joyful skewering. I haven’t laughed this hard at a show on the circuit in a long, long time. He deserves sell out shows and awards for the calibre of performance he brings to the stage. I may also have to cancel my Amazon subscription – for real this time.

Ashley Robyn

Good Grief

Gangland Productions—MTC Up the Alley

James Gangl is many things, writer, stand-up comic, mime, but above all else a story teller. I was lucky enough to see him several years ago and was not disappointed this go around. If you think a show about the death of your dad can’t possibly be funny, Gangl is here to prove you wrong. Honest, raw, and relatable this story had me feeling every emotion. There is a trigger warning for good reason. Gangl shared memories from his past that are painful and heartbreaking. You really feel for the performer through all moments of the show. An incredibly gifted performer that we are lucky to have another show from this year. Powerful and moving, make sure you bring tissues.

Kaitlyn Kriss

Breaking Bard

Seismic Shift Productions—Tom Hendry Warehouse

Shakespeare wonks will tell you that his great tragedies have these themes running throughout: love, ambition, madness, revenge, jealousy, and betrayal. The Spontaneous Shakespeare Company use these motifs plus two suggestions from the audience, and craft an hour-long tragedy that the Bard would have a good snicker at. The cast of five also deftly employ the recognizable tropes – soliloquies, asides, comic relief, and vaguely humorous character names (Malaria? Polio?) – that prove that Shakespeare’s tragedies can be funny. (Maybe funnier than his comedies, but I digress.) For fans of the Bard, this is a faithful homage that will have them laughing in the aisles. Well worth the ticket price.

Karl Eckstrand

ImproVision: Mötley Canöe

ImproVision—Duke of Kent Legion

The folks at ImproVision sure do know how to throw a party. I was laughing from minute one. The enthusiasm the performers had was absolutely infectious even down one member due to illness. The skits were seamless and their natural chemistry shone through, leading to some incredible moments of comedic gold. Having been an ImproVision newbie I have no clue what it’s like with the full troupe but the two I did see made up for that fact with an pure sense of glee about what they were doing. My favourite part was definitely the sock puppet recap. That alone was worth any price of admission.

Kaitlyn Kriss

Aliens of Extraordinary Ability

Crosseyed Rascals—One88

The Crosseyed Rascals are back for the Fringe with another improv show! Like always, the range of games was really nice to see. Some of my favourites were featured and I laughed lots. A small house made for a rougher show. The thing about improv is you really need an audience willing to play along. Because of low numbers the Rascals had to grasp at quite a few straws. Luckily they were able to spin some gold from very little straw. A good option for families wanting some relatively clean improv.

Kaitlyn Kriss

Always Because: The Adventures of Maggie and Meghan

Us <3—The Cinematheque

This person has toxic masculinity and it correlates with them having a Bachelors’ Degree in Public Policy. I have a Masters’ Degree in the stuff; what does that say about my toxic masculinity! Yikes!

Because we share the field, I related very closely to some of the “realisms” that were presented, completely understood them, and the challenges deriving from them. I’ve even tried on many occasions to eliminate some of those toxic fibres from the public systems, and I wish it could be a lot easier said than done.

That’s just one facet to this show—don’t think that it’s all going to be dry schlock about public administration. There’s a lot of fun here too. And they seem like they’re genuinely in love. Good on them!

Ray Yuen, M.P.A.

90 Lies an Hour: Paul Strickland

Paul Strickland Presents—MTYP – Mainstage

Storytelling is a calling Paul Strickland was born to do. His rich voice oozes southern comfort aiding in his retelling of some old families lies (aka stories). Think redneck meets spoken word poetry. Paul seamlessly moved between perspectives as he presents his Ain’t True and Uncle False. While the stories maybe true lies, the emotion and heart behind the stories were all 100% genuine. I loved getting sucked in to 4 wonderful stories. A great family show to enjoy.

Kaitlyn Kriss