Or, more formally, The 27th Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival: The Big Kahuna.
Since I moved to Edmonton the day after the big folk festival my friends talk about, and since this one happens pretty close to my neighbourhood, I thought I’d check it out.
The overall experience I read their website, bought a program book at the 7-11, and bought some tickets on line. There seem to be about 20 stages and 100 different plays over 11 days. At the main festival site, I picked up my tickets, bought a donair, saw some street performers and about a hundred volunteer t-shirts, and decided I didn’t have time to visit the beer tent.
Hamlet (solo) A friend who attends Montreal Fringe recommended this performance, by Raoul Bhaneja. It took me a little while to get into it, and I wished I knew the play more intimately, but after a while it became clear who all the characters were from his voices and body language as well as context. The performance seemed very fast-paced, without any lack of clarity. One weird resonance for me was that because performances of both Hamlet and The Revengers’ Tragedy are described in Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin, I kind of had some scenes muddled – like when they started playing with Yorick’s skull, I was expecting the part with kissing the poisoned skull to happen, but that’s in the other play. Anyway, it’s really good and has five more performances.
The “L” Word The program book describes this as Sketch: Comedy/Drama, Music, Mature, Sexual Content, Adult Language, Awkward Topics. It was kind of fun, but light and superficial and basically heterocentric and included gratuitous cheap shots at men. The best parts were the songs (which I think were original) and the skit about women going to the restaurant bathroom in groups – once they got in the bathroom, the strobe lights and dance music came on and they were all dirty-dancing together in their underwear for a few minutes, before getting back to checking their makeup and gossiping again.
I don’t think I’ve ever been to this kind of festival before. I really like the idea of it, and I’ll try to go to more performances. And the beer tent.