Oliver and I was 8 of the 9 Fringe shows; not a perfect score, but as close as we’ve ever come.
Here’s a thumbnail review of what we saw:
- The Bessie Carruthers Study Club – Produced by friends of mine, this a delightful musical rumination on the suffragettes of Prince Edward Island, circa 1919. That I enjoyed this, despite my aversion to musical theatre and, indeed, that I even joined in when prompted, singing from the provided lyrics sheet, is a testament to the compelling characters drawn by Suzanne Campbell and Jennifer King, and their musical talent at the voice and piano respectively. I love having friends whose idea of a fun summertime side-project is to self-produce a musical about women gaining the right to vote.
- Artisanal Intelligence – Two very skilled actors from British Columbia in a show about robots, artificial intelligence, relationships, love, and rejection. The show was well-polished and supported by a commendable publicity effort. I proudly sport an Artisanal Intelligence button on my lapel.
- Dead People Are Liking Things On Facebook – A lecture cum live Facebook demonstration that starts from the question “how was it that my friend ‘liked’ Coca-Cola on Facebook despite the fact that they were long dead” and goes on to explore notions of God, gay culture, loss, addiction, and whether Facebook is the new religion. The show was punctuated by my seatmate’s phone spontaneously starting to play CBC Radio in his pocket, something that felt kind of like it belonged as part of the performance.
- Magic Hour Plus – A magic show presented by two talented doofuses joined by a very talented magician “intern.” Shouldn’t work, shouldn’t be enjoyable. But somehow it is.
- Worldly Women – Almost indescribably good. A powerful dance performance, inventively choreographed, presented by a seemingly indefatigable troupe of dancers.
- How To Be A Lady – We are blessed with a another dance-focused all-woman group, in this case performing show “created using only the word ‘lady’ as the initial springboard for imagination and collaboration.” They do this with a mixture of song, story, dance and movement. The effect was mesmerizing.
- Still Looking – An unbelievable third show at this year’s Fringe that was rooted in creative movement: a brilliant montage of moments in the relationship between two people, played out in the tiny confines of the Kettle Black coffee shop.
- That’s Not How It Happened – A one-woman show from New York’s Colleen Hindsley about growing up in a complicated family. Hindsley is a skilled performer and an excellent storyteller.
Things finished up with the “Awards and Wrap-Up Party” at The Haviland Club on Sunday evening: Worldly Women won the “Patron’s Pick,” while L’asexualité des abeilles–alas the only show we didn’t see–won both the “Staff Pick” and the “Artists’ Pick.”
This was, without a doubt, the best Island Fringe yet: the random fates of the lottery that chose the artists shone well upon us this year, and there was not a dud in the lot.
I’ve already got the cheque made out for my 2020 sponsorship.