Edgar Allen: Dark, Quirky, Odd

This was the strange, but strangely compelling, show I was hoping to find this year. From the opening ukelele chords accompanied by Hartman’s manic expressions, I was struck by the dark humour. Hartman’s “Edgar Allen” character is over the top, with huge near double-takes and extreme movement. Which might have played as simply corny, but tempered with the extreme “straight man” expression and delivery of Ryan’s character, just works. This is another show that is selling out, so go early – but if you’d like a dose of dark, definitely...

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By Jeeves, I enjoyed this

Maybe I’m just missing Downton Abbey, but Wooster Sauce was a lovely injection of upper class British humour. John Huston morphs from Jeeves to Wooster and weaves his tales of social order – or more often, chaos. Huston is fun to watch, lovely to listen to, and has a strong presence on stage. The only thing I found difficult during the hour was the lack of any real stage lights – this venue used only the existing room light from above, and it was difficult to see Huston’s face. I feel like there was likely levels of expression that were just lost to the ambivalent light. Get a dose of British wit while you...

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Crazy Ride!

Angela Neff has a lot of siblings, a lot of stories, and a lot of baggage. But she brings it all to the stage with a cowboy hat, a box, and a whole lot of storytelling charm. This one-woman show is mostly about her father – a manic depressive who is larger than life. Neff tells the story of her early childhood for most of the hour; her siblings come alive and her characters shift from one to the next with such clarity. There’s a brutal edge of sadness; despite the humour, this isn’t always an easy story to hear. But with Neff taking the audience through the ups and downs, I felt like we were all riding in her family’s woody station wagon right along with...

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Nothing Weak here

There is a plethora of great storytelling happening at the Winnipeg Fringe this year, and Sam Mullins is among them. Storytelling is so heavily reliant on the style of the performer. They aren’t relying on props, costumes, other performers. It’s them, their voice, and maybe a water bottle or chair. There may be a lighting shift or two, to indicate a change of location or time. That’s it. So good storytelling has to capture the audience and keep them engaged for the entire show. Sam Mullins does this beautifully. His style is laid-back, easygoing. He could be just sitting across a table, talking with friends. His story of first love as a teen is charming, even when he’s revealing the most awkward and embarrassing moments. As an audience member, I left thinking: “I want to hang out with Sam, and hear some...

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Angels, Aliens, and Talent

Impressed. I couldn’t help but be impressed by the talent of Sydney Hayduk and Jeff Leard. Their instant and hilarious transformations into other characters throughout the show was enough. Add to that comic timing, expressive faces, and physical comedy – yeah, they’re pretty noteworthy performance skills. The story shifts between the worlds of supervisory angels, experimental aliens, and two very uncomfortable roommates (due to their unexpected hook-up the night before). The rest of the premise I won’t say here (spoilers!) but I will say that it all could have gotten pretty preachy by the end… but didn’t. The point was made, absolutely, but without a large mallet over our respective heads. The very end fell a bit flat; but with so much to enjoy in the hour that preceded it, it’s a forgivable...

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SLAM! is snapping good art

This was my first poetry slam. Previous experience was limited to the occasional exposure within a different show, or popular Youtube videos making the social media rounds. I knew it could possibly be funny, or intense. I knew that you snapped your fingers to express your appreciation mid-recitation. And that was about it. SLAM! had all of that, but the live experience was much more enjoyable than any video, believe me. Poems at Saturday’s performance ranged from silly to serious, touching to tragic. The poets all delivered with style and polish, and not knowing anything about what they were about to say was part of the fun. With actual judging (yes, the overall winner by the end of the run wins the opportunity to compete for real money!) and audiences encouraged to shout out their approval or disapproval of the ratings, this hour long show flew past. If you have been to a slam before, you’ll enjoy this Fringe version. If you haven’t, then this is a perfect opportunity to test the...

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Time’s Fancy is something a bit different – Shakespeare didn’t write it, Winnipegger Kevan Bowkett did. But it’s hard to tell the difference. Admittedly, I’m not a Shakespeare expert, but as a theatre-goer and artist, I enjoy a good Bard tale, if it’s well-told. The concept is that Joan of Arc didn’t die, but was saved, and her story was deeply entwined with Henry V. This could be deeply confusing to a non-Bard beholder, but the 9 person cast (and a very talented one to boot) adeptly weaves this alternate world. I liked the use of planks and sawhorses to create the different environments; although sometimes the set transitions dragged down the pace. And the large sheet metal “instrument”, while visually interesting and effective, often drowned out the speaking voices on opening night. Particular stand-outs in the cast were Daina Leitold, Mel Marginet, Charlene Van Buekenhout and John Bluethner, but the ensemble across the board was...

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On Love should be On your list

When I see a play like On Love performed at Fringe – or anywhere else during the year – I am reminded how very lucky we are to live in a city filled with such talented people. On Love is a presentation of verbatim taped interviews about – you guessed it, Love. Not knowing too much about the play going in, I didn’t quite know what to expect (love Fringe for this too!). I expected from the amazing list of cast and crew (Directed by Sarah Constible; featuring: Ian Bastin, Dora Carroll, Ross McMillan, Brittany Thiessen; Stage Managed by Kathryn Ball) that it would be professional level theatre – and they did not disappoint. The stories are spun out by the changing characters, with near seamless transitions between. Ages, genders, attitudes – they all shift and morph, sometimes even mid-story. Occasionally the gender-bending or story shifting left me struggling to catch up for a few moments; inevitably though, I’d be caught up again. It’s an interesting piece, in that you can really hear the verbatim-nature style of speech; there are many of the normal stutters, pauses, and hesitations one hears in everyday life. Fringe brings all levels of story and skills to our stages; On Love brings some of the very highest of...

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Relatable toughness!

Storytellers are a unique brand of performer, and one for which I have immense respect. They take their personal stories, and share them with a group of total strangers. It can be pretty intense. TOUGH is comedic storytelling by Erin Rodgers of Toronto, about her journey to become a tougher, braver person. She describes her attempts to get out of what she sees as her comfort zone. And it’s hilarious to watch. There’s a ringing note of shared pain, too. Who hasn’t had that voice in their head saying “You don’t have to do this… you can quit”? Who...

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Patron Ratings

(2 votes minimum)
  1. Prophecy
    Rating: 9.4. From 5 votes.
  2. The House of Yes
    Rating: 9.1. From 8 votes.
  3. Josephine
    Rating: 8.8. From 9 votes.
  4. On Love
    Rating: 8.8. From 4 votes.
  5. The Time In-Between
    Rating: 8.7. From 6 votes.
  6. The Standoff
    Rating: 8.7. From 6 votes.
  7. A Fatal Step
    Rating: 8.7. From 3 votes.
  8. Comedy is Funny Again
    Rating: 8.7. From 3 votes.
  9. The Bald Soprano
    Rating: 8.6. From 5 votes.
  10. Fruit Flies Like a Banana: World Tour
    Rating: 8.5. From 4 votes.