Turns out that on a day I’m not volunteering and our show isn’t on, it’s easy to see five shows and still stop in at home for a snack and a shower partway through.
The first one I saw yesterday was Beware Beware, new work by David Walker, featuring Thomas Barnet and Sarah Feutl, all young local artists. It was a fairly straightforward drama about two friends, each with some current trouble on his or her mind, meeting up for late-night drinks at a campfire site in the river valley. Both characters were interesting to watch and credible troubled people.
Next was Flora and Fawna’s Field Trip at the Varscona, which was adorable. Flora, Fawna, and their new friend Fleurette (Darrin Hagen, Trevor Schmidt, and Brian Dooley) play three little girls who have started a more inclusive alternative to Brownies and Guides. The show is framed as the orientation meeting for the audience who are prospective members of the group, and the fun starts as the costumed cast members hand out materials to the audience in line outside the theatre. There was a little bit of audience participation, and a lot of laughing and awww-ing. The three cast members each plays a child with distinct quirks and awkwardnesses, and the interactions among the friends (“we don’t even exclude people for being too bossy” says Fawna (Trevor Schmidt) with a sidelong glance at her friend (Hagen)) were very funny. Brian Dooley was particularly charming as a young Francophone glad to be included in her new neighbourhood even though she doesn’t quite understand what’s going on. The uniforms of tunic, tights, beret, scarf, and badge sash were appropriately awkward.
Next up was Zanna, Don’t! by Three Form Theatre, a light musical by Tim Acito which played Off-Broadway about 10 years ago. It’s full of pop culture references and uses all the familiar tropes of high school stories, in some kind of parallel alternate universe where same-sex relationships are the norm and heterophobia is a thing. Music Director Mackenzie Reurink directed a small instrumental ensemble, and some of the singers were hard to hear or understand over the accompaniment. Sarah Ormandy’s portrayal of bossy Candi was especially funny. Mark Sinongco, who I last saw in Putnam County Spelling Bee, was the eponymous Zanna, and Adam Sanders (Full Monty) and Madeleine Knight were the scandalous opposite-sex couple.
Dogfight is another musical by a young local company, in this case Linette Smith’s Strathcona Alumni Theatre. Chris Scott and Emmy Kate Whitehead play the leads. I’m going to see it again later in the week and I’ll have more to say about it then, but if you are interested in seeing it you should buy your tickets early, as the uncomfortable seating in Strathcona High School often sells out.
Last on my schedule for the day was Butt Kapinski, a solo show by Deanna Fleyscher from Los Angeles. The performer takes the audience with her into creating a film-noir world, full of cliches played out in unexpected ways. The performer, a hardboiled private eye, chooses audience members for the roles needed in the story, from murdered bodies to residents of various districts in the dark city, mostly cast cross-gender. And now I guess I can finally say that I was on stage at the Fringe. The show was cleverly crafted and satisfying, and I’d like to go back if I can find room in my schedule.