An evening of laughter at Fringe 2022

This evening I took in three Fringe performances, all of which made me laugh a lot.

1-Man No-Show – Isaac Kessler’s performance starts before it starts, with the performer on headset walking through the audience talking to the technicians and to the audience members, and shifts smoothly into recognizing the large roster of other Fringe performers in the audience “And even Mark Meer!” and asking some unanswerable questions about the nature of theatre. “A swamp!” The “high art” promised is illuminated, and many other original and unpredictable bits had me laughing. There was a lot of audience input, and I couldn’t tell how much of the show was improvising responses and how much was something that happens every show. It made me want to go back and find out. One more show on Sunday, at the Yardbird Suite.

Jesus Teaches Us Things, a Dammitammy production, starts with Pastor Greg (Adam Keefe) taking attendance of the audience as if we are attending a children’s Sunday School class, until substitute teacher Jesus (Rebecca Merkley) blasts in to take over. Things happen very quickly from then on, including several unique adaptations of popular songs performed by Merkley (He will, he will, save you! / clap clap stomp to the tune/accompaniment of We Will Rock You, for example), a crafts segment, an ask-me-anything, at least two miracles and an exorcism, some brilliant ad-libs, and a response to Pastor Greg’s appeal for tithes and donations that involves overturning tables and some canon-consistent messaging about giving privately rather than showing off. Two more shows at the Sue Patterson Theatre, Campus St-Jean.

Underbelly is described in the program as a “surrealist physical comedy”. Nayana Fielkov’s odd character starts off taking a shower behind a discreet curtain, emerges to coax the audience into song without speaking comprehensibly, has a short-lived romance with a bathrobe, engages some other effects that were so convincing I was sure a second performer was going to emerge, and uses various other tricks and collaborations to tell a story. So much fun. Walterdale Theatre, last show Sunday 6:30 pm.

My schedule today includes our last performance of White Guy on Stage Talking (2:45 pm, Walterdale Theatre), and fitting in a few more to watch. Happy Fringing, all!

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