Ah, Festival St-Ambroise Fringe de Montreal. You have over 700 shows, by over 250 artists, and you’re not entirely made of gold. We can’t expect our readers to have to go to them to catch the best of the fest. Heck, we can’t even expect them to sit through the four-hour Fringe-for-All, which is good, because it happened last Monday at Cafe Campus.
Well, dear readers, we went for you. Because we know you’re busy people, and because we’re actually very good and kind people. But let’s dispense with the niceties, and get to the good stuff. Herewith, The Main’s Fringe Team Fringe Picks from the Fringe-for-All Fringe! Fringe-in, eh.
Fringe Montreal– where we separate the talented from the lacking, the bold from the boring, and the awkwardly androgynous from the possibly European. Below are yours truly’s top picks from the Fringe-for-All lineup:
NOW THAT I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION – 2 Tickets to Bingtown (Dan Bingham)
This aptly named one-man show immediately got to the point by having stand-up comic Dan Bingham chainsaw his way through a giant cardboard heart to quickly tell us about his entry in the Fringe lineup, which presumably has as much to do with the ups and downs of relationships as it does with the proper use of power tools. You can catch him and whatever romance-bashing anecdotes he has in store for lovesick audiences at the Montreal Improv from June 13th to the 23rd.
RACIAL ROULETTE – Deus Ex Mania
A comedic concept once toyed with by the likes of Dave Chappelle (in his killer skit “Racial Draft”), the re-contextualizing of racial stereotypes is this time covered by comedy troupe Deus Ex Mania, in their play about two roommates from very different cultural backgrounds who switch bodies after a magical spell goes awry. Only time will tell whether this bit leans more on the Russell Peters or Brad Paisley/LL Cool J side of the racist joke acceptability scale. Check it out and decide for yourselves.
ALEX CROSS AND HIS RISE TO FAME – Medulla Oblongata Productions
The final preview slot in the Fringe-for-all went to this independent theatre production about a talentless hack that makes a deal with the devil to hit it big on the music scene. So it’s a Gene Simmons bio piece, I guess. Complete with lavish rock n’ roll aesthetics, scantily clad dudes and even scantilier clad girls, this one definitely drew the crowd’s attention in the final minutes of the event.
OSAMA THE HERO – Lifelong Productions
I’d have to claim this one as my darkhorse pick; the preview just had a guy bound and gagged, sitting in a chair and screaming a muffled scream, while the Gary Jules cover of “Mad World” played ominously over the speakers. Suddenly, a fleet of paper planes was launched in all directions from the rafters, which made for an enjoyably nice set piece. The play originally ran in London (England, not– well, the other one) and garnered some controversy for the obvious implications surrounding the production’s title (yes, it’s that Osama). Could be interesting.
SMUT SLAM – Cameryn Moore
“Where erotica and storytelling collide”– a Fringe After Dark event entailing an open-mic platform for first-person sex stories, including celebrity judges, games and prizes. As a night about doing things (and people), the theme is appropriately titled “Bucket List”, where participants will reveal the dirty details behind each task. As a chronic list writer with a tendency to over share, this Fringe Fest event gets my top pick.
AROUND MISS JULIE – Hopegrown Productions
After just two minutes of watching three angry, yet beautiful young women scream about virginity loss to a guy on stage, I was immediately hooked. Hopegrown is a local production company with the objective of making theatre a more gender-equal art form through their staging of dynamic female leading characters. What is not to love? (Check out our preview of Around Miss Julie here.)
SINGLE BLACK FEMALE – Nu Spyce Productions
Keeping with the theme of girl power and romance, this two-woman show addresses aspects of everyday life from the perspective of a single black female. Their comedic, yet raw take on stereotypes of race, class, relationships, and gender is what gives these ladies my vote.
As a disclaimer, and as a sort of confessional, I would just like to say that I tweeted at myself during the Fringe-for-All, and I got my own Twitter handle wrong. Make of that what you will, but I just thought you should know.
OBSESSION – Jess Salomon
She pre-recorded the voice part of her preview because it’s easier to talk to people when you don’t have to look at their faces. That’s my girl. In her Fringe show, she lists her fixations, her infatuations, her preoccupations, her obsessions– one of which she hilariously and insightfully wrote about for The Main here. And I’m not even gonna mention the fact that she used to be a human rights lawyer. Stay tuned for our full-length preview of Obsession.
CRUSTACÉS –La Bouilloire
J’avais aucune idée de ce qui se passait sur la scène, mais chaque instant de la présentation dont j’étais témoin m’était familier. C’était séduisant, quoi. (Pas le fait de me reconnaitre. Eux. Ils étaient séduisants.)
URGE FOR GOING – Quality Slippers Productions
A multimedia puppet play inspired by the work of Joni Mitchell? You had me at hello. And you didn’t even say hello. It looks soft, it looks cold, it might be a little creepy, and it was beautiful.
Take Home Message
We all favoured SMUT Slam and Now that I have Your Attention, so they’re both pretty sure bets (if you’re obsessed with sex, heartbreak and great hair, like we are).
Stay tuned for more Fringe news from the best Fringe-ing team in the business!