Victoria Fringe 2009 Reviews

The Victoria Fringe 2009 takes place between August 27st through September 6th, 2009. Below are the Plank Magazine reviews. View the listings over here.

Even with a bum knee, Jimmy Hogg doesn’t slow down.

The Brit’s one-man show, which revolves around his journey from a young boy riding around on a BMX named after a short-lived TV series about a well-armed motorcycle to his first sexual adventure, is a fast-paced romp.  Hogg is a gifted performer, and his relationship with the audience at this performance demonstrated his love for simply talking to - and with - his audience.

Like a Virgin

Victoria: Friday night’s opening of Like a Virgin was packed and turning away people even 30 minutes before show time. And seeing the performance, you can understand why. Jimmy Hogg’s exaggerated-for-comedic-effect sexual history/biography is piss-your-pants hilarious.

Like a Virgin

Victoria: While Rob Gee manages to turn psycho therapy into a Fringe show in Fruitcake it appears that Edmonton's Chris Craddock has taken the opposite tact, and turned a Fringe show into psycho therapy in his solo performance Moving Along.

Moving Along...

Victoria: Modern Myth Physical Theatre’s Not Fit for Flight just didn’t do it for me. A dance piece about the increasingly paranoid behaviour of an isolated 1950s housewife who is addicted to barbiturates and confined to her home, this strange Flight seemed to split the audience down the centre on Saturday night, with half laughing often and approvingly at her hallucinations and the other half glancing at their watches.

Not Fit for Flight

Victoria: How does John Pippus manage to distinguish his ran-away-at-17-to-be-a-rock-star story from the others? For starters, sincerity and musical talent go a long way.

John Pippus

Victoria: Having seen Chris Craddock’s Moving Along (during this year’s SPARK Festival at the Belfry) and Ha! (At the 2008 Fringe, co-written by local favourite Wes Borg), I was really looking forward to catching this show.  While I wasn’t disappointed, I wasn’t completely satisfied, either.

pornStar or things to do when you're in Toronto

Plunge straight into this 60-minute, fast paced one-woman show, where a librarian accidentally turns to the adult video industry to find herself. This production of Chris Craddock’s pornStar takes you into the heads of four women, all masterfully characterized by Anne Wyman.  Esther is a librarian who is nominated for a prize for her role in an adult video that her ex-boyfriend filmed without her knowing; she then heads to Toronto to claim the award where she meets Clarice, a loud-mouthed sex columnist, whom Esther then falls in love with, becoming a headlining lesbian porn star—to her Christian politician mother’s...

Sometimes the CN Tower is just a tower.

Victoria: If you’re looking for an elegant night out at this year’s Fringe, here it is. The Point Ellice Heritage House tea garden sets the stage, complete with wicker seating, blankets, tea cozy hats and tea and cookies. If you can brave the biting cold and the 30-minute walk (or five-minute drive) from the central downtown Fringe area, go.

Pretty Little Instincts

Victoria: Don’t let the title mislead you: Shortened, courtesy of writer Cayman Duncan and the Saucy Fops is a portfolio of shorts willing to take its time with its scenes. There’s fuller characters and longer set-ups than sketch shows this reviewer remembers from Fringes past. The results are quite funny and even have some dramatic rewards as well.


Victoria: Ella Fitzgerald’s voice crackles the title song through the speakers, and immediately we are warm and think of home. But home is far from where we are taken. We are imprisoned, in Lebanon, perhaps underground, perhaps forgotten.

Someone Who'll Watch OVer Me

Victoria: When Missie Peters randomly pulled the Queen of Clubs out of a box, she declared, “sometimes ya gotta take a gamble.”  This is exactly what Dave Morris and Peters did when they chose to put on a night of improvised spoken word.


Victoria: Jonno Katz is no stranger to Victoria Fringe-goers.  This packed house further drove that point home - but not as much as this stellar performance. Katz has been able to strike an even balance between the physical and comedic before, and he does so again with tremendous results with The Accident

The Accident

Jonno Katz brings us this 60-minute movement piece about the relationship between two brothers: Sebastian, the kind-hearted younger one, and Roy, the greedy older one. At first, the brother dynamic was touching and potentially worked well—like in the moments at the beginning when Roy stood up for Sebastian. There were also a couple of fresh ideas thrown into the clichéd storyline; for example, “The Shit Machine” (which you would have to see to understand), and a poignant moment that seemed to show an inner-aging process that was very well done.

Cool moves from Mr Katz

Victoria: You may have seen Gemma Wilcox downtown, a poster for her show raised up out of her back like a samurai flag, drumming up an audience for The Honeymoon Period is Officially Over. It’s almost surprising that she has to work so hard to fill seats- and they were nearly all filled- given the substantial buzz already surrounding the show, to say nothing of just how amazing the performance itself is.

It's over baby.

Victoria: On its opening night, technical glitches got the better of this dark Russian Folktale featuring the Tsar’s son Ivan, the Great Grey Wolf and a rather peculiar narrator. In a tale about choices Ken Lang, who wrote the show as well as plays the role of narrator and the wolf, leads us through the Ivan’s bleak journey towards his “happily ever after.”

A bleak journey to happily ever after

Victoria: Abridging Macbeth down to just over an hour is a feat in itself, but Maria Lakes distills Shakespeare’s great tragedy down to its most potent parts. Lakes abandons Macbeth and Lady Macbeth (Serge Saika and Lakes herself, respectively) to a blank and lonely stage for their love to boil and their sanity to dwindle. The results both haunt and astonish- often in the same scene.

The Macbeths

Victoria: This is a Howling Cow Theatre two-hander, a 60-minute quickie evisceration of William Shakespeare's original script adapted by Maria Lakes. The actors have many exits and no moments. There's more blackouts than bloodshed. Offstage killings sound like someone taking a shit. One actor, passionate as an empty chair, speaks with stones in her mouth. The other mumbles "I shall be king" as if hesitating to order bacon n' eggs for breakfast. He wears enough harness around his neck to hang himself several times. "All is had. All is spent." Pity it takes an hour before they're dead because the...

The Macbeths

Victoria: Things exist which are funny: funny things, like muppets having sex, make us laugh. Things that are not funny also exist: consider tax returns, which do not make us laugh. In some horrific limbo world lies the unfunny. The unfunny, much like the undead, is a gnawing emptiness only half-concealed by the stolen, desecrated flesh of the living. Things which are unfunny include The Monday News, written by and starring the Pigs.

The Pigs
Victoria: Billed as the “first show of the 2009 Victoria Fringe” is a great way to start off your run, and to have your opening show be only a few seats shy of a sell-out is even better.  That’s exactly what happened with local favourites, Peter Carlone and Chris Wilson as they left the crowd laughing with this “sitcom-esque” creation dubbed The Peter ‘n Chris Show.
Situation Comedy
Victoria: 8 1/2 sketches. Begin with written cards that render a good laugh. Chris then launches into a monologue, script in hand, a good old southern boy saying goodbye to his grandpa Peter rocking on the front porch. There's a disagreement on the location of the fourth wall. Segue to a job interview, and it's established we're in the throes of two young performers who have nailed the manic, precision mastery of meta comedy improv. 
A photo with Chris! And Peter!

I always wondered what it would be like to just forget school, forget social pressures, and forget thinking for a while. And guess what? Just the other night, I learned that the positives of this lack of knowledge are taught perfectly in The Power of Ignorance by Vaguen. (Vaaagggguen. Vaguen. Vaaguen. Vagueeen.) Vaguen teaches us the Ig mantra ("duh"), hypnotism and skills in learning people’s names. He teaches us that it is actually good to un-learn everything you know—because hey, what you don’t know can’t hurt you.

Chris Gibbs

Victoria: Chris Gibbs is a veteran solo performer, most recently seen in Victoria when he brought his Antoine Feval character to the UNO Festival. He now  brings his "best of show", the Power of Ignorance, back to Victoria (it has been staged as part of UNO Festival as well) and it is a tremendous achievement in comedic solo performance. 

Chris Gibbs

Victoria: All I remember from grade-school history class was that Louis Riel was the champion of the Metis and died fighting for them. If that sounds familiar, this show isn’t going to fully enlighten you. You’re not going to get an A on an exam, but this will be the one time that a history lesson makes you laugh your ass off for a full hour.

Ryan Gladstone has something under his nose.

Seven things you shouldn't do when you put on a Fringe Play in Victoria:

1) Don't list a show as "All Ages / 14 + "

        Which is it: an all ages show, or a 14+ show? Make a decision.

Let me think about that for a minute.

Synopsis: A Canadian student is kidnapped by Pierre Berton in a magic canoe, and taken back in time for a lesson in history. Hilarity ensues.

A random selection of chairs.

Victoria: Join Pierre Berton and a cynical eighth-grade student on their wild ride to the past in this side-splitting remount of a Fringe bestseller.

The War of 1812

Victoria: Fresh from nabbing Winnipeg Fringe’s Best of Fest, Colin Godbout’s “musical trip to a magical time” should entertain anybody vulnerable to summer of ’69 nostalgia.

Colin Godbout’s musical trip to a magical time

Victoria: Adapted from the bestselling novel, Tuesdays with Morrie is the true story of Mitch Albom and the lessons he learns from his university professor, Morrie Schwartz or “Coach.” 40 years after he has left school, Mitch learns of his coach’s fatal illness and returns to his side every Tuesday to listen to his final lectures.

no picture of morrie...

With lots of shows left to see and so few to see them in, I knew that I had to catch this acclaimed sketch-com act from Montreal.  You’ve only got one more show to do it - and I’d suggest you put it on your Sunday “to do” list.

Uncalled For....

Victoria: If this is the future, count me out. Vancouver’s Darren Boquist tackles Dawson Nichols’ 2000 hit solo show about a computer gamer, Nathan, who becomes trapped in a virtual reality program he was inserted into to calibrate emotional response; a murder mystery provides the set-up while poor Nathan’s mind and memories manifest in the virtual software. Confused? Add an onslaught of incomprehensible cyber-speak and a tornado of 20-plus characters and you have a show you may not understand, but one you’ll tell your friends about.

Darren B has Game