Spending last weekend Fringing made me feel warm and tingly all over. Not the kind of feeling one might contract frequenting the seedier parts of the Plateau, but rather the puppy and unicorns gee shucks kind of warm and tingly. I shamefully admit that I’ve had those moments where I find myself falling out of love with this fair city of ours and I start to see myself in other parts of the world. But then those moments come along when you find yourself chilling at Fringe Park with a beer, good buds and amazing tunes, and you can’t possibly imagine being anywhere else.

The love continued into Saturday, and in the most unexpected of ways.  On a Fringe friend date with fellow FTBer Jess Klein, we headed down to the Cabaret du Mile End to check out the show Zombie Apocalypse: A Love Story. Still on a zombie kick after getting hooked on The Walking Dead this spring I was definitely interested to see how the Fringe Festival would handle the walking undead.

Despite hearing some mixed word of mouth reviews amongst my colleagues here at the website before heading down, Jess and I had a great time at this show. It was the little touches that I personally really appreciated. A zombie ripped our tickets at the door, and then as people took their seats for the show zombies casually made their way around the theatre. It wasn’t creepy to see zombies wandering around the cabaret du mile end but rather set the light-hearted tone that was to continue throughout the show. As soon as I sat down at the venue a big smile crossed my face and didn’t leave until I’d left.

The premise of the show was simple enough; four friends meet up on a  rooftop for beers and a few laughs, and instead find themselves in the middle of a full on zombie apocalypse. As some friends are presumed dead and others lose their mind, two bickering friends must finally admit their love for each other. Oh yeah and its a musical.

While the plot may sound like a bad romantic comedy I found the writing to be very clever and the line readings to be razor sharp from the show’s actors. Unfortunately not everyone had the singing chops to really carry off all the musical numbers, but that didn’t really bother me too much. What you did take away from the show was just how fun it was to fall in love during the apocalypse.

*Photos By Chris Zacchia

The Harvester

fringe for all

The 22nd Annual St Ambroise Fringe Fest kicked off last Monday night in the opening fun-filled event: Fringe for All!

In a light-hearted evening of persuasion, the players of Fringe had the chance to impress the audience in a succession of preview performances. Vying for the audience members’ attendance at their upcoming shows, each performance group was granted two-minutes of stage-time to entice, persuade and promote.

These condensed, preview versions give fest-goers the opportunity to praise and appraise and to start shortlisting their must-sees. As a new friend of the Fringe, overwhelmed by the sheer scope of the festival, I was very pleased at the chance to sample what is to come. Personally, the night functioned as a sort of test. In preparing for the upcoming weeks, I shortlisted a few shows, based mostly on hearsay and the flyer-filled press package.

But “Fringe for All” acted as a preliminary control for my previous purely “cover-judging” opinion. Perhaps not surprisingly, what brilliance cannot be contained a leaflet, can definitely be relayed in two minutes on stage – even if sandwiched between hours of other snippet long performances. In some respects, I was impressed with my gut but there was plenty of room for short-list revision.

Here are a few memorable moments that have warranted my attendance in their upcoming shows:

The Harvester
The Harvester at the Fringe

The Harvester

Silencing and holding the audience under a darkened stage, a figure dressed in radiation suit and nuclear mask slowly enters the scene. A grimly composed voice-over captivates with a tale of a post-apocalyptic world in which “time”, liquid and commodified, has cured illness, ended famine, and now, promises eternal life. But through this promise, liquid time has fallen into grave shortages. This is the story of those who hold the power of harvesting time. I later found out that this show is written and directed by the notable Paul van Dyck. But what is truly notable is that the preview was convincing independent of name-dropping.

Venue: Mission Santa Cruz – Performance dates: June 16, 17, 18, 21, 22, 23rd

 

Pitching Knife Fight

(Win free tickets through ForgetTheBox by guessing the film’s body count!)

Opening on the 15th, Walter J. Lyng puts on what will undoubtedly be a riotous good time. Centered around the movie franchise “Knife Fight”, the show will feature a series of promotional materials, as presented to potential investors. Well-known for his comedic ability, Walter is sure to deliver an energetic and contagious performance.

Venue: Théâtre MainLine Theatre – Performance dates: June 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 24th

*** To win tickets to this show simply leave a comment below or on FB @forgetthebox or send us a tweet @forgetthebox guessing what the body count for the film #KNIFEFIGHT will be.

 

The GASSBAM Prize

Put on by the Montreal Improv duo Zoe Daniels and Carmen Rose, this “two-person, one PowerPoint play” centres around Dr. and Mrs. Doverman-Brack’s entry for the illustrious GASSBAM prize. Hard-hitting and hilarious, this preview earned a room full of laughs.

Venue: OFF A – Montreal Improv – Performance dates: June 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 22, 23, 24th

 

The Little Prince as told by Machiavelli

A short-list revision: “The Little Prince as told by Machiavelli” takes a heartwarming favourite and turns hilariously grim. Giving a colourful and animated preview, the Capricornucopia group retakes a classic inspiring story and adds totalitarian ruling advice. In a convincing and keenly entertaining performance, The Little Prince is sure to delight.

Venue: Théâtre MainLine Theatre – Performance dates: 16, 17, 18, 20, 22, 23rd

The 22nd Annual St. Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival is fast approaching. As FTB’s newly appointed arts and culture writer, and newer still friend of the Fringe, I was assigned what seemed to be the daunting task of writing a Fringe Fest week #1 Preview.

From June 4th to 24th, the Plateau Mile-End area will be overrun with more than 500 local and international artists, performing an array of music, theater, comedy and dance. By determining the line-up through lottery and keeping ticket prices low, the festival presents itself in the pursuit of wholly autonomous, uncensored and accessible art. But this vast and unrestrained collection can leave someone newly-acquainted with with the festival with an overwhelming sense of beginner’s block.

Luckily, alongside their artistically liberating mission statement, comes some very welcomed words of encouragement: “At the Fringe, word of mouth is king. Ultimately, it’s the audience who decides which shows are good and which aren’t.” These words thereby suitably announce the debut of my entirely unjustified, and mostly unqualified word. And all in the open, egalitarian spirit of Fringe.

Fringe’s success hinges on audience participation and interaction. The unmediated festival is driven by the audience members’ ensuing reaction. And this opportunity leaves every Internet-accessing Fringe-goer the sense of being both pioneer and critique, which is a delightful dream come true in what has otherwise been deemed an overpowering world of inaccessible high art.

In light of this, the first week of Fringe should be approached with inquisition, interaction and a little DIY initiative. “Fringe is about discovery.” It demands fest-goers do some serious research and investigation. Be prepared to take some time working through the many pages of information and multiple links uncovering the vast selection of events. And be sure to keep an open-mind. Allow yourself to be captivated by the seemingly strange and outrageous. The festival invites goers to be shocked and scandalized, so test your intuition and take a risk.

Here are a few considerations…

As reviewed  last August, Glam Gam Productions is staging their roughly-burlesque murder mystery show If Looks Can KillThey Will. If their performance past is any indication of what is to come, the shameless and unabashed Glam Gam troupe is sure to charm audiences in an uproarious and outrageous good time. This is a definite not-to-miss.

Running Friday, June 8th-16th at Cafe Cleopatra.

As part of the Fringe Festival’s “After Dark Series”, Seska Lee presents ACME Burlesque. A risque cabaret of belly dancing, circus performers and a striptease, the show promises to thrill audiences in a “truly interactive experience”.

June 7th, 21h at MainLine Theatre.

As the name suggests, Fringe’s Edition of the Strip Spelling Bee is an adult bee inviting guests to test their spelling skills at the cost of clothing. Get in the Fringe Fest spirit with an interactive After Hours evening of whooping and heckling. Takes place Wednesday, June 6th at MainLine Theatre. Consider overdressing.

Also, for a taste of visual art be sure to check out the Galerie Fringe Vernissage, Friday, June 8th at Studio Beluga.

For information, visit Montreal Fringe Festival’s website.