What a week! The Fringe Festival is in town! I hadn't realized before just how big a deal the Fringe Festival is to Edmontonians, but it is quite the to-do. I had hoped to score a sweet press pass, watch a bunch of theatre, and cover the shows for any of the weekly culture magazines here in the city, but they all said no. By the by, go to hell, weekly culture magazines. Ooh, is a new grilled cheese restaurant opening up in a recently gentrified area? Dink my donks, you pissweasels! (I'm trying not to swear so much). Instead, I took it upon myself during this slow workweek, to see as many shows as possible. What follows are my findings.
Dream: Write the definitive guide to the Edmonton Fringe Festival.
Goal: Achievable. Okay, so I didn't see all of the shows, but I saw quite a few! Like more than five. More than two for sure. Definitely more than none, I think. And I'm not just a schlub in the tub, you guys! I have a theatre degree so I know what I'm talking about (also I know where the fitting rooms are at the clothing store where I work, but let's not judge my previous aspiration based on my current profession, okayzees?). So I'm basically the perfect person to tell you how to spend your hard-earned Fringin' money.
Plan: List all the shows I might have seen with a brief synopsis of what they may have been about.
AMANDA'S PIANO - Foul Language, Children Smoking.- Amanda's life in war-torn Bosnia is hilarious, but everything changes when a piano drops from the sky into her living room, killing her stepfather
THAT'S MY DOG - Dog Nudity, Brief Hijinks.- A musical retrospective of the work of Joan Didion.
DAISY DOODLE DARKNESS -Salmon is smoked onstage. Pregnancy.- A woman's life from the ages of 9 to 90 as she trains to be a dancer, breaks her leg, takes a desk job, goes to Carlton Cards and is like, "$5.99 for a card? That's ridiculous! I don't even care about the people getting married. Fuck this."
MISS HOPPER REGRETS - An ageing drag queen is an insufferable pain in the ass (164 minutes, no intermission)
CHRISTMAS WITH THE STAFF OF BURKE & SHEFFIELD INVESTMENTS - A very "inside baseball" revue where popular holiday favourites are reworded in reference to the staff of Burke & Sheffield Investments. "Deck the halls with boughs of holly, Fa la la la la la la la la. But not Holly in HR, she's on maternity, Fa la la la la la la la." 0/5 stars.
MOMBUTT: A SKETCH COMEDY BONANZA! -Continual Cringing. Gunplay- The members of Mombutt reunite for a look back at their "finest" work.
IT'S A GLUE GUN - A group of children encounter a strange object in an abandoned treehouse and, in their quest to identify their treasure, have the best summer of their lives. Spoiler: It's a glue gun.
ONLY OATES -Watch out boy, she'll chew you up- Hall & Oates reunite, but Hall couldn't make it.
MY PARENTS ARE CRAZY! -Just the worst fucking one man show you ever saw in your life.
All right, so maybe I didn't have a full list of the plays at press time, but I think this is pretty accurate. The truth is, I have nothing of substance to write this week because I've been so inspired/intimidated by the writing of other people. What's really neat about watching Fringe plays is the minimalism. Not to take away from gargantuan stage shows like Miss Saigon or Precious the Musical Based on the Film Precious Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, but something in those touring big budget theatre pieces feels really safe. It's almost as if you're watching a movie for all the spontaneity that is discouraged. But the unique, ephemeral quality of a small play, the idea that something was created from nothing and now we are watching it unfold, that's pretty neat. I think any artistic expression with that much authenticity is worth your money, so the next time a Fringe Festival rolls into your town, plonk down some cash, take your seat, wait for the lights to go down, and experience some magic.