Victoria Fringe 2008 Reviews

The Victoria Fringe 2008 took place between August 21st through August 31st, 2008. Below are the Plank Magazine reviews.

Jayson McDonald wowed audiences at last year’s Fringe with his hit Giant Invisible Robot. By the time I decided to go see it, the shows were sold out. This year, I made sure Boat Load was one of the first I checked out. I made a wise choice because he has another hit on his hands.

As a cat person myself, I was drawn to the plight of protagonist Gary, the struggling local actor with a very sick feline on his hands. And he’s broke. Through a series of scenes involving the people in Gary’s life (including a slacker friend,...

Boat Load, exciting and new, come aboard we're expecting you.

Had the Fringe Festival brochure mentioned the fact that Andrew Connor is one half of The Cody Rivers Show there probably would have been a larger audience for the opening night performance of his "solo fiction" play Boom.

The Cody River boys (Andrew and co-pilot Mike Mathieu) are from Bellingham, Washington and have become semi-annual favorites here in Victoria for a few years now - their shows are always a delight and the chemistry between them almost spooky.

So how does Connor do on his solo flight?

It's a mixed bag. First of all, Boom...

Andrew Connor, sans wig, glasses, sweater vest, suit, skirt and mismatched socks - but with one very red, very big ball.

Minneapolis-based Amy Salloway brings Circumference, a multi-character one woman show about a woman who has divorced her body, to this year’s Victoria Fringe Festival.

The story follows Amy through the embarrassing trials of junior high school and into the present, and a doctor’s office where she is receiving a consultation for by-pass surgery.  In order to gain full medical coverage for the surgery, she must go through a six month intensive fitness and diet regime to prove that she is unable to lose weight. Through a series of flashbacks we see where Amy’s feelings of inadequacies stem including an event...

Circumference: Amy Salloway gets the measure of the US health insurance scam, er, system

The house was nearly full for the first performance of Crude Love on Tuesday August 26th. I knew within the first ten minutes that this play would be a definite audience pleaser.

The play is set in 2012, on the Alberta Tar Sands, which are being occupied by the US military. Abbie Waxman (Russell Bennett) an environmental protester chains himself to an oil tank, in which Newfoundland truck driver Phyllis McCormack (Gillian Bennett) is driving. The two meet and form a unique romance.

First, I must say that the husband and wife duo of Russell Bennett and Gillian Bennett...

Crude Love, asking the question how different is alberta under US occupation than the tories

Amid the "Solo Character Monologue", the "Seri-comic Monologue", and the "Solo Comedic Monologue" (not to mention the "Solo Comedy Drama" and the "Solo Fiction") it's refreshing to see a Fringe show listed simply as “Standup Comedy" - but that's Nile Séguin for you, cutting through the BS and going right for the funny bone - via the jugular.

Séguin begins his show, Fear of a Brown Planet, (which gets my vote for best show title at this year's Fringe) by telling you a funny story that happened to him a couple of days ago. It involves an unexpected run-in with...

Nile Seguin is bigger in real life, anyone with evidence Plank will post the picture here

Even with the particular staging of Grow Your Own Dinosaur that I took in (starting at the ripe hour of 11 pm on a Sunday night), there was a sizable audience and an energetic cast.

I didn’t quite know what to expect from this show and I was pleasantly surprised. The play is about a college student named Samantha who brings home one of those "grow your own dinosaur" sponge toys on a whim, only to find that it not only grows - but comes to life. And this dinosaur known as Birch seems to know the real Samantha, not...

Grow your own dinosaur, please note this woman is a professional do not attempt in your own backyard

When Wes Borg moved to Victoria last fall he showed up with his laptop, a guitar, half a pack of smokes and a duffel bag of dirty clothes. Now, almost a year later...those smokes are long gone. And he's got a hit Fringe Play on his hands.

As a founding member of Edmonton's "Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie", Borg is no stranger to Fringes; in fact that troupe was making people laugh at Victoria's first Fringe over 20 years ago. And now The Borg is back in town - and he's been busy. Working with Atomic Vaudeville, The 30...

Ha Ha

I’ll get this out of the way first. I’m a big musical theatre nut. When I showed up at Wood Hall to catch the Victoria Fringe premiere of Les Ms., I knew I wasn’t alone in that. A good-sized number of fringe-goers were there to see this send-up of the Broadway/West End classic, performed by Nelson-based performers Robyn Lamb and Lisel Forst.

Upon entering the venue, I overheard the Rick Astley tune “Never Gonna Give You Up” playing over the house speakers and wondered if this was some form of “Rick Roll” foreshadowing. I brushed it...

Les Ms

Fringe shows are typically driven by a small number of people, with fairly small casts and fairly light technical demands. Some even attempt to make some form of statement. Lysistrata’s War has a cast of twenty-five and kept the venue technician very busy. As for the statement it tries to make, it’s basically a political allegory gone wrong.

In the tradition of the story of King Arthur being adapted into the musical Camelot or Pygmalion into My Fair Lady, you can see what David Hamilton (director and lyricist) and Mark D. Williams (composer and musical director) were going for. What...

Lysistrata's War. Who cares if they can sing, Mike? Check this out, they're against war

Old Growth is a new thought provoking production composed and performed by Alex Eddington. It now features Allison Williams who replaces Aura Giles.

The play is set in 1997, when two musicians, Alex and Aura (Williams), go on a pilgrimage to the Queen Charlotte Islands. While there they visit the site of the fallen Golden Spruce Tree, which was cut down by a deranged logger named Grant Hadwin.  Alex wants to become a shaman who can heal and bring the spirit of the tree to other parts of Canada.  Adding levels of complexity to the piece, Alex effectively recites ‘envirologues’...

Hug that tree!

A life in customer service is explored through the eyes of a barista in SeriousBucks, written by Caroyn Birch and performed by Kelly Hudson.

Hudson is an accomplished comedic force in Victoria, best known for her work with comedy juggernaut Atomic Vaudeville and her performance is very strong. While I’m not sure if she’s ever worked at a corporate coffeehouse, she conveys the material with a realism that convinces otherwise. While the funny script is uneven in spots, Hudson keeps it moving along and keeps the audience engaged.

Prerecorded voiceovers and multimedia are used to help with the storytelling. While...

Seriousbucks: can't we just say, small, medium and large?

Does anyone remember indie director Gus Van Sant's 1998, shot-by-shot, remake of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho?

No, I didn't think so. But when it was released almost forty years after the original many film critics were scratching their heads and asking the same question: why bother? Van Sant couldn't improve on the original, so what was the point?

One might ask the same question about Long's Hill Theatre's production of Spalding Gray's Swimming to Cambodia. A deeply personal monologue, "Cambodia" was Gray's baby; it won him an Obie, a National Book Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. A film adaptation of the...

Swimming to Cambodia: an exercise in why?

The Fred Wells Show chronicles the real life journey of Fred Marshall Wells to the Caribou Mountains during the depression and his sheer determination to search for gold.

During the doom of the depression, Wells (James Douglas), an American prospector ventured into the Caribou. The last gold rush in the area was in the 1860s but Wells believed there was still gold in those mountains. He was ambitious in his attempts to find investors to fund his mission. The mining association of British Columbia was opposed, so instead Wells found investors outside of Canada. Finally he discovered gold in the...

BC's history is filled with lunatics and eccentrics, The Fred Wells Show celebrates one of them.

There are plays that have a real emotional impact on its audience - and when you see one, it stays with you for quite some time.  The Measure of Love is one of these plays and it will most definitely stick with me for a very long time.

The play debuted in 2005 at the famed Stratford Festival. Jean Topham (who plays Mabel in this particular production) was so enamored with the work that she wanted to produce it.  Topham and Geli Bartlett (who plays Joan) are both well-suited for this two-hander, and do an exceptional job. The chemistry between...

Measure of Love moves cynical Plank reviewer

The Mechanical Bride is a sweet technologic romantic comedy about the real and technological difficulties to communicate.

The set consists of two towers built out of television sets and computer monitors with wires spilling out of them and one stand up television on the floor. The set is very much part of the story, since within the television and computer monitor’s is the character of the Mother (Kevin Kraussler) projected onto the screens. The play begins with Mother logging into the system and thus waking up the two newly created beings named He (Graham Newmarch) and She (Ming Hudson). The...

Mechanical Bride, does your mother know that you're out?

The Play:
The Skinny Presents: Adventures In X-Ray Theatre, written and performed by Vancouver-based Jackie Blackmore, Michael John Unger and Darren Williams. They did not wear pants throughout their show - unlike the panel of reviewers you are about to meet.

The Panel:
Mike Vardy is a Victoria-based writer and performer who co-founded local sketch comedy troupe The 30 Cent Players. He is also behind Effing The Dog, a popular website that pokes fun at personal productivity.
Paul McKinnon is currently a member of The 30 Cent Players, and is a veteran writer/performer...

They're skinny and they don't like to wear pants.

TJ Dawe has become a perennial favorite at the Victoria Fringe Festival, and for good reason. His one man shows shine and spin like a midway ride at a Fall Fair. But since much of his material is autobiographical, and, by his own admission, he's been spending much of his recent life on the Fringe circuit, perhaps it was inevitable that it would come to this: a Fringe show about putting on a Fringe show.

In any case, Dawe's most recent creation is a curious creature indeed. Totem Figures is an examination of the creative process, and an homage to...

TJ Dawe on a voyage of discovery at a fringe festival near you