A Beautiful View – Perry Gratton directed Nikki Hulowski and Samantha Jeffreys in this Daniel MacIvor script, a lovely celebration of a hard-to-label relationship between two women. “You have to be very organized to be bisexual”, the one explains to herself/the audience while deciding not to follow up on an unexpected sexual encounter. There are a lot of segments where a character speaks facing the audience – sometimes they are alternating in a conversation with each other as retold to the audience. I don’t know how much of that is in MacIvor’s script, but I think I remember a lot of it in a play Gratton directed several years ago at Fringe, Letters to Laura. The ending was … well, there was enough foreshadowing that the not-entirely-explicit awful/sad ending must have actually happened. But I wish it hadn’t, since I really liked both characters. They were quite different from each other, but there were things I identified with in both of them. (A Beautiful View has one holdover performance on Thursday.)
Late Night Cabaret – Late Night Cabaret is an Edmonton Fringe tradition. It happens at midnight, every night of the Fringe except the last Sunday when things wrap up early. I only went to it once this year, but it wasn’t hard to pick up on the ongoing jokes and routines. Hosts Amy Shostak and Julian Faid have guests from other shows every night as well as the very talented house band Ze Punterz. The Backstage Theatre sells out with happy artists, volunteers, and dedicated fringegoers extending their evening and building community. It runs about an hour and a half with an intermission, and I think maybe the bar stays open during the show. Some people go to it every night.
Multiple Organism – This piece by Vancouver’s Mind of a Snail troupe (Chloe Ziner and Jessica Gabriel) was the most original and creative work I saw at this year’s Fringe, and I liked it a lot. It made extensive use of unusual projection techniques. Some of it was a little gross, but not gratuitously so.
Rivercity: The musical – Rebecca Merkley wrote and directed this new musical which seems to be an homage to the Archie-comics characters without quite borrowing their names. It’s full of amusing quick-changes for double&triple-cast actors, silly puns, and cartoon-inspired sound effects (especially the wind-up-and-dash running starts of red-headed Andrews (Molly MacKinnon), which sounded like the Road Runner or something). In between, though, there were some touching and serious solos for various characters, particularly for the viewpoint character Bee (Vanessa Wilson) and for the Jughead-like Jonesy (Josh Travnik, also multiply-cast in Evil Dead). The cast of four (Kristin Johnston plays Reggie and the principal among others) covers too many characters to count. Live music is provided by Scott Shpeley and Chris Weibe, wearing Josie-and-the-Pussycats-style cat-ears.
Tempting – Erin Pettifor and Franco Correa are a psychic and a sceptic in Ashleigh Hicks’ new script. When the audience enters the Westbury Theatre auditorium, the large stage has been made into a cozy cluttered studio-space for psychic Alaura (Pettifor). She is puttering about doing yoga poses in a disjointed distracted way and making tea. At first it is not clear why Adam is dropping in before business hours, and it is also not clear why Alaura is so immediately adversarial. Those things do become clear – Adam’s girlfriend Constance is a client, and Adam wants Alaura to recant the advice (or prediction, or support) she gave Constance in a decision Adam doesn’t like. The problem as described is interesting – Constance is dying and in pain and wants to pursue medically-assisted death, which Alaura supports and Adam doesn’t. But I don’t really feel compassionate for either of the characters on stage, as I find out more about their motivations and connections to Constance, and I found the ending unsatisfying.
I think I saw 28 performances this Fringe (one a repeat) and I might see a couple more at holdovers this week.