Mild weather made it comfortable everywhere on site yesterday, from C103 to the beer tents. I saw four shows for the first time, as well as working backstage at Death Comes to Auntie Norma and seeing Pinniped and Other Poems a second time. Death Comes to Auntie Norma plays this afternoon (Monday) at 4 pm, Wednesday at 12:15, Thursday at 2:15, and closing Sunday at 8:00 pm. The Edmonton Journal gave us 4 stars and the compliment of comparisons with classic 1980s sitcoms like Roseanne and Golden Girls.
I appreciated more of the subtle description and lyricism in Pinniped more the second time through. Skye Hindman’s writing is epigrammatic, the erstwhile love interest (Alex Dawkins) is wry and controlled, and the three actors playing the ineffectual protagonist (Emily Howard, Connor Suart, Jake Tkaczyk) have intriguingly similar mannerisms. Suart seems to be portraying JR Morse in the past, Tkaczyk in the present, and Howard … I’m not sure if her persona is a future one, a dream one, or simply another aspect of Morse’s self.
My favourite show so far this Fringe is Kiss Around Pass Around, a delightful solo physical theatre piece by Yanomi. Unlike in some of the wonderful physical theatre pieces I’ve seen in the past, like Loon and 7 Ways to Die, the character in this show does speak, engaging with the audience in simple accented English to enhance the impression of being juvenile and alien “Are you human? Are you kind?” Music and props add to the magic of the character’s journey to find her father.
Deadmonton was written by Andy Garland and directed by David Johnston, and it is very different from the last work I’d seen from this team, the tongue-in-cheek film-noir pastiche And Then, The Lights Went Out. Deadmonton is a serious portrait of what might happen when two serial killers encounter each other, as well as a look at credible backgrounds for people who are compelled to kill. Carmen Nieuwenhuis and Alex Forsyth are both disturbingly convincing, and the props and effects are simple enough not to pull me out of the story. There was one supremely disturbing moment when I was excruciatingly aware of a weapon being close to hand for Gil, Forsyth’s character, willing desperately for him not to use it in that particular situation, despite the spoken text not even mentioning that possibility – which is when I realized that the story had sucked me in completely to their horrifyingly twisted reality.
Who Am I: Unauthorized stories from the Varscona Parkade was a typical Toy Guns Dance Theatre show, unpredictable, playful, funny, and full of unlikely props. The unusual venue – the top floor of the parking garage beside the Varscona Hotel – meant that they did less floor work than usual and there were fewer classical-dance elements, but they made very creative use of several couches.
No Belles is a storytelling show from Portland Oregon in which performers use a variety of speaking styles to tell the stories of eight women scientists, women who won Nobel prizes and women who didn’t. The narrative style and content were something between a very good lecture (like a TED talk) and a typical Fringe storytelling, but I was riveted the whole time, and brought to tears twice.