I had a light schedule yesterday; only 3 shows in one day (amidst, work, drinks, and a dinner party, but other events don't seem to count when you're discussing your tally of Fringe shows seen amongst a crowd.)
First up: FINALLY: AN EPIC CYCLE
Mixed in with monologues from a bike courier, this play focuses on an insecure late-20-something reluctance to face her own strengths and shortcomings. We've all been there - trying to hold on to the security blanket we all crave but actually know that it's the worst thing for us - while simultaneously screwing everything else up because we're so focussed on keeping JUST that thing and nothing else. It's a universal situation so it's easy to empathize with the main character. I like that.
Where we haven't all been, and what I found to be the most interesting thing about the show, is life from a bike courier's perspective.
I used to be a receptionist at a high-rise in the city and I dealt with couriers on a regular basis. They were mostly socially-inept creepsters who yelled at me for circumstances beyond my control, hit on me, or just overstayed their visit by chatting up a storm for AGES.
But there were a few bike courier regulars who I got to know, and like, and who made me rethink my uber-judgement against the whole species. But even with these decent couriers, I always wondered why the ef anyone would want to be a bike courier. The pay is lousy, there is a constant war between motorists and cyclists, they're inhaling exhaust fumes all day and the trekking around must be exhausting, not to MENTION doing all of it in February at minus 20 degrees. Really; WTF.
Moon, played by Cassie Muise, is a cynical Toronto bike courier who gives the audience a window into what that life would be like. She's philosophical, introspective and endearing in a cool-chick-with-a-chip-on-her-shoulder kinda way. She's got the most interesting things to say and when both her and fellow bike courier Jaques, (played by a spot-on Derek Perks), are on stage, I wanted the play to be about them, and what they go through, and WHY the ef they actually ARE bike couriers. Shout-out to writer (and actor) Sarah Cody for peaking my bike courier interest. Can you write a show about them next? I think you're onto something.
For showtimes, click here; Facebook, Twitter (Handle: finallyfringe)
Next up: RATON LAVEUR
I knew almost nothing going into this show; a raccoon is be involved, it's a dark comedy, and the poster had a really nice, clean layout that appealed to me. Pretty good start. (I'm a sucker for a great poster design).
The show started and it was almost instantly hilarious. I was engaged and laughing and couldn't help but adore the two actors, David Patrick Flemming and Caitlin Stewart. Their timing is amazing.
Then, just as I'm riding along in my adoration and humour, BLAMMO!; major plot twist that I did not seeing coming from anywhere. ANYWHERE. Suddenly I was riveted, adored the actors (and co-writers, along with Director Amos Crawley) even more, and was truly excited to see how the story would play out.
I don't know how to summarize the plot without spoiling the twist and subsequent climax, so I'm not going to try, but PLEASE do yourself a favour and go and see this show. Don't ask too many questions before - just watch and enjoy the ride. You won't be disappointed.
For showtimes, click here; Facebook.
Finally: VIRGINIA ALDRIDGE, BSc
One woman/man shows are risky. If you, as an audience member, don't connect with the actor on stage, you're doomed for that agonizing disengaged boredom for the duration of the show. Elise Newman, writer/director of VIRGINIA ALDRIDGE BSc, did an excellent job writing the script, but outdid herself in the casting of Janelle Hanna as the title character. As soon as she opened her mouth, I fell in love with Virginia. Everything was endearing: her oddball attitudes, her love of insects and her insanely comic fantasies about what she'd rather her life be like.
Virginia goes to Cameroon, Africa to follow in the footsteps of her explorer hero, Mary Kingsley...and to impress a boy. As you do. The play is a mixture of Mary's fears, fantasies and the actual hilarious happenings in her hotel room in Douala, Cameroon. (If you've been to Africa solo, and not part of a tour group, the sequence with the cold shower and the lack of drainage will resonate BIG TIME). The show was excellent storytelling, with a character arc and plot closure not usually done so gracefully in a 50 minute run time. Theatre is about connection and character empathy, and I rooted for Virginia from the get-go. I wanted to be her friend, take her under my wing, and have her talk to me about her neurotic but charming theories. I could learn a lot about challenging myself from Virginia Aldridge. You probably could too; so go and see her! In her words, she's "awesome"!
For showtimes, click here. Facebook, Twitter handle (quoiquoiquoi).