Entertainment

Fringe review: Pagliacci

Fringe review: Pagliacci

Pagliacci • 5 stars out of 5 • Stage 16, Holy Trinity Anglican Church Go and see this show, especially if all you know about opera comes from Bugs Bunny’s Rabbit of Seville. The Pop Goes the Opera production of Pagliacci fills Holy Trinity’s sanctuary with beautiful music that tells the tragic tale of the white-suited clown who’s betrayed by his wife and (remember, it’s opera) murders her. The intimate location adds to the enjoyment. The church aisles are an extension of the stage and the audience sits close enough to the action to clearly see the faces and emotions of the cast, unlike in large venues such as Jubilee Auditorium. Outfitting everyone for the modern day, complete with sunglasses and selfies, is a good touch that adds to our sense of communion. The only small glitch was the occasional mixups in the projection of the English translations of the lyrics, but with the program’s plot synopsis it was easy to follow along.

 
 

Fringe review: Magic to the Future

Fringe review: Magic to the Future

Magic to the Future 3 stars out of 5 Stage 7, Yardbird Suite Los Angeles magic man Tim Hoffman is the writer-performer and amateur magician all-in-one, taking on two extra video roles in a page from Back To The Future to stitch together this hour-long comedy. As video messages through a time portal explain, Tim has accidently come back in time to 2017, and needs to work enough magic to return to his own time. A few audience members get to help as Tim tries out card tricks, pocket pool, a rubik’s cube, and other acts of apparent mind-reading. Along the way there’s a sub-plot involving props/devices with artificial intelligence which may be getting ready to reproduce. Hoffman’s tricks had mixed results in the show I saw but he was successful often enough to leave you wondering how he did it. And while he was encumbered in taking on many of the audio and video cues from his laptop, the man’s sense of humour and the way he poked fun at his own low-tech staging spurred the audience’s laughter and applause. Roger Levesque Magic To The Future plays at Stage 7 of the Edmonton Fringe Festival 2017

 
 

Fringe review: Magic

Fringe review: Magic

Magic • 2.5 stars out of 5 • Stage 11, Studio Theatre Chris Visser’s family-friendly magic show is just that. It’s great for the kids and great for parents who want to ensure their children get to experience the Fringe in a wholesome and fun way. Visser creates an instant rapport with the little ones and keeps them engaged throughout the 60-minute show as it flits between illusions and magic tricks as well as some fun banter between Visser and his bearded assistant. There’s a sword in the box trick thanks to a “volunteer” from the crowd, a couple of illusion tricks and there’s even a guest appearance from his pet dove, Peter Sir Poopsalot (the kids especially loved that one).  If your kid wants to be involved in a magic show, this might just be the perfect opportunity.  Juris Graney

 
 

Fringe review: Tempting

Fringe review: Tempting

Tempting • 1.5  stars out of 5 • Stage 1, Westbury Theatre A morality play where the maybe-supernatural meets wooden acting, unnatural prose and a series of morally confusing dialogue, Tempting is the perfect play for anyone who wants to feel really bad about no longer being attracted to a partner dying of a terminal disease. We open on Laura (Erin Pettifor) doing yoga before the play begins, then readying to open up her psychic shop for the day after eating some raw cereal. In barges Adam (Franco Correa), who for several very awkward minutes lets Laura take him through the motions of a routine reading before eventually piping up about what is the supposedly most pressing concern he’s ever faced — the fact Laura counselled his dying-anyway girlfriend Constance to end her life on her own terms. He wants Laura to recant.

 
 

Fringe review: The Turn Of The Screw

Fringe review: The Turn Of The Screw

Turn Of The Screw 4 stars out of 5 Stage 9, Telus Phone Museum Henry James’ gothic horror story comes to life in this engrossing stage adaptation by Jeffrey Hatcher, featuring Aequilux Productions’ Darrell Portz and Shanni Pinkerton. It’s not an easy thing to cast multiple characters and a narrator using just two actors and I couldn’t help imagining how it might have been with a couple of extra bodies to portray the folks in the bare-bones set of Bly country manor. The actors do a nice job maintaining the flow in Hatcher’s script. They move back and forth between quick, concise dialogues and direct exposition to the audience, though at some points the pacing calls for more room to breathe, more time for the mood to develop. Pinkerton is excellent as the new governess at the estate, first a bit timid, then perplexed, ultimately obsessed in confronting the mystery that surrounds her young charges, quiet Flora and uneasy Miles. Portz has his work cut out for him taking on several extra roles along with the narrator, using only his face and voice to differentiate between them with no costume changes. Curiously his stretch as housekeeper Mrs.

 
 

Fringe review: Rigby Muldoon: Paradox At Vanderkroft Manor

Fringe review: Rigby Muldoon: Paradox At Vanderkroft Manor

Rigby Muldoon: Paradox At Vanderkroft Manor 3.5 stars out of 5 Stage 34, John Walter Room/Varscona Hotel It’s the old random-characters-stuck-in-a-locked-murder-manorhouse scenario. Except this time they’re from different time co-ordinates – 1898, 1947, 1987, 2017, etc. — thrown together by an electrical storm and a quirk of quantum physics, with a recurring character, professional time traveller-detective Rigby Muldoon, to help sort things out. Robin Slack’s sci-fi murder mystery premise could use more development and a larger, cooler physical space but it does inspire six drama grads to cultivate their oddball, multi-generational, contrasting characters, some nuggets of incidental humour and hints at an insightful perspective on history. Rigby’s (Joshua Cross) gravelly voice and Mr. Zen’s (Alex Berry) wide-eyed confusion need a bit of fine-tuning, and the rambling plot allowed for some zany dialogue that didn’t always live up to its potential, but there is a certain cast chemistry there.

 
 

Fringe Review: Late Night Cabaret

Fringe Review: Late Night Cabaret

Late Night Cabaret • 4.5 stars out of 5 • Stage 2, Backstage Theatre At the end of a long day at the Fringe, you could go home and be in bed before midnight. But where’s the fun in that? There’s a number of shows for those night owls out there, but the biggest late night party can be found in the Backstage Theatre, Venue 2, with the Late Night Cabaret. This live “talk-show” style variety hour is a great way to cap off your night, and one more chance to enjoy an adult beverage while you wait for the rain to taper off before heading home. House band Ze Punters set the stage for an energetic evening, and hosts Amy Shostak and Julian Faid make a dynamic, funny duo, offering up jokes, interviews, and playful asides. The main entertainment for the evening includes performers for other Fringe shows. On opening night this included Georgia improv performers Amber Nash and Matt Horgan who are here in Big Ol’ Show, talented magician Keith Brown, who’s here with his show Absolute Magic, and Winnipeg sketch troupe HUNKS. Musical act Vissia rounded out the night, and enough audience participation, and spontaneous laughs kept the show moving. If you’re just not the type to want to head home early, you could do far worse than settling in at the Cabaret. Dave Breakenridge

 
 

Fringe review: Big Stupid Improv Show

Fringe review: Big Stupid Improv Show

Big Stupid Improv Show • 5 stars out of 5 • Stage 17, Roxy Theatre Well, two out of four isn’t so bad; Big Stupid Improv Show is a show and it’s improv. I wouldn’t call it stupid, and you would have to argue about big. What does big mean? How do you quantify big? I’m buying time here because this is amazing improv that you have to see. These are some of the best improv artists at this year’s festival. But they have literally taken the best improv actors from all of the other performances and thrown them into one show, so that feels a bit unfair. It’s also different all of the time, so you could go see multiple performances.

 
 

Fringe review: Big Ol Show

Fringe review: Big Ol Show

Big Ol Show • 4 stars out of 5 • Stage 23, Princess Theatre The American Civil War is, in and of itself, not a particularly funny period in American history. That doesn’t mean that Amber Nash and Matt Horgan won’t be able to mine it for comedic gold. Bil Ol Show is an improv show set during that most tumultuous time in the deep South, when brother took up arms against brother and the future of the union was on the line. In this show, it was also a time when soldiers made giant bull testicles to escape the war and lonely widows ate copious amounts of sausage at a sausage festival celebrating the world’s biggest sausage. Yes, many a phallus references were made. Improv with a purpose, you could call it. Yes, the audience is still tossing out suggestions, but each night the story will pertain somehow to the South during the war. That framework gives this pair something to focus on, a roadmap of jokes to continue the story line. Nash and Horgan are the real attraction here, their interplay getting the biggest laughs of the evening. They are funniest when they are jabbing at each other, calling the other out in character for horrible choices they make or flubbing small details.

 
 

Fringe review: MAN UP! has Daddy Issues

Fringe review: MAN UP! has Daddy Issues

MAN UP! has Daddy Issues • 5 stars out of 5 • Stage 36: L’unithéatre “Even the gays have been penetrated by the patriarchy, it is true!” This is the alluring Beau Creep speaking, one of the five magnetic dancer-actor-activists starring in the new Man Up! production, pretty much summing up the whole show: we all have daddy issues, whether personally or as a civilization. Man Up! was one of my favourites at 2015’s Fringe, a surprisingly cohesive ensemble cabaret featuring personal anecdotes, devilishly great modern dance and, the real hook, all done by impressively constructed men wearing high heels and little else. Daddy Issues continues the ethos of socially-conscious burlesque, skit by skit embracing yet questioning masculinity from the get-go number where the five performers belly bump, high five and fist bump to French disco, chomping cigars. With smart A/V of Archie Bunker, Homer Simpson and animal dads doing the heavy lifting during rearing helping out on screen above, the dancers discuss their relationships with their dads. Especially riveting is Lola Fandango’s story of not speaking with his father since he was 13 — but that forging who he is today, a guy who looks like he could bend steel with his thighs. Besides doing a crazy-good pole dance, artistic director Gregory Caswell’s eulogy for his dad is just harrowing. And the Darth Vader Cat’s in the Cradle scene with Luke Skywalker — tossing a holocron to the young Jedi’s lightsaber as baseball bat — just brilliant. On Tom of Finland legs, with hearts aglow and a superb range of beamed-out vulnerability, Man Up! is well worth the trip over to the French Quarter — and bring your stiffest dad dance moves for the finale! Fish Griwkowsky MAN UP! has Daddy Issues is at this year’s Edmonton Fringe Festival.

 
 
 
 

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