Ask Aggie: The Advice Diva – Last year at Fringe I enjoyed Christine Lesiak’s clown alter ego Sheshells and her partner Rocket in Fools for Love. This year Christine Lesiak has a one-person show with audience participation, and it’s also delightful. When the audience comes in, you get a card on which to write a question about love, sex, or relationships, and you put them in a little box on stage. Aggie is fabulous, flirtatious, flexible (as suiting a physical-comedy expert, she draws each question from the box in a different way, including with her toes) and five times widowed. She alternates reading and answering the audience’s questions with scripted material responding to frequently-asked questions with stories about her experiences with her various husbands, the best of which is the musical number “Vibrators are a Girl’s Best Friend”.
They Call Me Mister Fry – This was a storytelling show by Jack Freiburger of Los Angeles, talking about his first year as a teacher. The story had some familiar elements – middle-class career change into teaching, dreamed of teaching at a fancy surburban or private school, didn’t get the job, landed underprepared in inner-city school, got in trouble with rigid rules or bureaucracy (in this case, No Child Left Behind oversight), made a difference for some kids, and decided to stay. The performer did a good job of portraying Grade 5 students with shifts in posture.
Waiting for Bardot – Trevor Schmidt plays an aging Brigitte Bardot pursued by a journalist (James Hamilton) who gets more than he bargained for.
Rocket Sugar Factory – Jim Libby’s and Jacob Banigan’s long-form improv show. I saw this troupe at last year’s Fringe, before I had gotten involved in doing improv myself, so I didn’t appreciate then just how good they were at creating characters and a plausible narrative. Jim Libby seems to create more of the ideas and Jacob Banigan follows them. I would definitely watch these guys again.
RiderGirl – Colleen Sutton’s one-person story about becoming drawn in to the world of Saskatchewan Roughrider football fandom known as Rider Nation, and how her shared enthusiasm and commitment to the team connects with other events in her life. I expected it to be a funny affectionate portrayal of the phenomena I encountered this summer in Saskatchewan, and it was. I did not expect it to make me cry, which it did.
Happy Accidents in Something Simple – this was a collection of short pieces by local clown performers. My favourite was the musical ensemble directed by Scooby (Mary-Lee Bird), which included a propane tank turned into a well-tuned steel drum as well as a trombone and percussion on various found objects.
Life After Breath – another clown show, this time one long narrative about two characters, Nona and Squee, coping after the death of a third. Neelam Chattoo’s Squee, the younger or more dependent character, was particularly endearing.