Ok, it’s that time of year again, and I’m just going to cut to the chase and say this: If you’re a Montrealer and haven’t attended a Fringe performance in the past 27 years or have no plans to attend one in the coming weeks, I’m going to sit here and silently judge you. Mainly because it makes absolutely no sense to me.
The Fringe Festival is quirky, unpredictable, original, imaginative, free-spirited, funny, titillating, ground-breaking, heartbreaking, experimental, hysterical, bizarre, fucking strange, and oh so Montreal. It’s simply a creative crapshoot of the weirdly wonderful and a huge part of the fabric of this city and its summer.
Can you tell I’m a fan? No, seriously… where else can you get over 100 original, thought-provoking shows (most in English, many in French, a few bilingual) that span theatre, dance, poetry, puppetry, magic, sketch, drag, clowning, Shakespeare, burlesque, musical, and more to choose from over a span of two weeks?
Where else can you check out over 50 bands and a bunch of fun events for free? Where else can you enjoy the creative fruits of someone’s labour knowing that artists keep 100 percent of their box office revenues and that tickets are super affordable at $10, allowing you to see more than a few shows at a time without taking out a bank loan?
I’m an unabashed Fringe supporter because I love the arts, I love creativity, I love people who live (often dangerously close to the poverty level) to create, I love all the volunteers and staff at Fringe Montreal, I love the vibe at the Fringe Park (a.k.a. the Beer Tent), I love the quirkiness and tiny impossibilities of most of the haphazard Fringe venues sprinkled around the Plateau like afterthoughts.
I love that some productions in the past were so damn good that years later I still can’t believe I paid less than the price of a movie ticket to witness sheer magic on stage, and that some were so bizarrely bad I still giggle uncontrollably and shake my head when I recall them. Either way, they’re always memorable because art is trying stuff out and taking chances and not everything will work, but you can’t help but admire and support folks brave enough to bare their souls for us so we can laugh and cry and commiserate on our existence. There is nothing more beautiful, more intimate, more life-affirming than artistic creation, and the impractical and audacious act of someone standing on stage sharing a part of who they are for you to witness, consume, and hopefully embrace.
So, with that full-blown declaration of Fringe love out of the way, here are the productions that caught my eye during Monday’s Fringe-For-All and which I plan to see. If you find the descriptions intriguing, simply click on the links and find out where and when to see these shows. Keep in mind that I can’t possibly include them all, so do your own homework and scan the website for additional descriptions, times, and all the other fun events (Scavenger Hunt, Drag Races, Pinball Karaoke, 13th Hour, etc.) surrounding the two-week festival. There’s bound to be something here you’ll fall in love with too.
A neo-Nazi skinhead is charged with murder, and legal aid has assigned him a liberal Jewish lawyer. An epic battle that leaves each man marked by the other’s belief, David Gow’s Cherry Docs is a provocative exploration if the inescapable and insidious presence of hatred in our society.
Peter Pansexual lures Wendy and her darling brothers from suburbia to Neverland, a.k.a. Montreal. They discover the magic of snorting fairy dust, crushing the patriarchy and exploring their sexuality. Captain Hooker seeks revenge on the Lost Boiz for flaunting their eternal youth on social media. For young at heart adult audiences.
Do you have a tattoo? Do you want one? Sophie had been collecting them since she was eight years old. Through stories of terrible choices and happy mistakes, she will take you on a journey reflecting on memory, body and ink. She also plans on live tattooing drawings made by audience members on her body each night of her show and half-seriously joked on Monday night that she hopes she doesn’t end up with a bunch of penises on her thighs.
Syllogomanie (ou accumulation compulsive) : fait d’accumuler de manière excessive des objets et incapacité ou réticence à jeter un grand nombre de possessions. Syllogomania (or compulsive hoarding): pattern of behavior that is characterized by excessive acquisition and an inability or unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects. This quirky and frankly quite adorable bilingual duo had me intrigued. I need to see more.
Spirit of the FRINGE winner Chocolate Moose returns with a license to thrill. Intrigue, love and betrayal are hidden just under the table in this well-upholstered epic of Russian spies and world-class set design. Warning: Contains very convincing sex.
This “deconstruction” of Little Red Riding Hood fractures a familiar yarn into a prismatic and lacerating reflection of the monsters that lurk in the big city and within. A darkly comic, predatory tale that explores
the conflation of sex and fear in modern culture, the comfort of lava lamps and the dangers of a handy axe.
Comment les derniers jours d’un homme atteint du cancer seront-ils salutaires pour son petit fils, accro au pot, aux jeux vidéo et à Tinder ? La vie nous ouvre parfois des avenues par le biais d’évènements totalement imprévisibles. Le cancer peut-il se transformer en Disco ?
Crazy Bitch is a fresh, dark and biting look at how the princess becomes the villain. Half autobiography, half social commentary, 100% comedy, MacDonald uses stand-up, film and storytelling to explore the ubiquitous phenomenon of the crazy bitch in this high-energy one-woman show.
How do you grow old and fat when you are a gay man living in a community where being young and slim is the official standard of attraction? Puelo Deir’s latest comedic show tackles this struggle with humour, wit and raunchy personal anecdotes.
A troubled detective, down to his last dime; a mysterious dame, cool as a cucumber; a maniacal husband, out for revenge. But who to believe in this crazy world of danger, intrigue, wordplay, and the odd anachronism? Welcome to Spadesy’s Private Investigation: no case too small, no laugh too cheap.
Don’t you hate it when you’re sleeping with someone who’s sleeping with someone who’s sleeping with someone who’s sleeping with you? We do too! But we still find it funny to watch! Come see this merry-go-round of sex and confusion at La Ronde.
Montreal’s Plateau is the toughest borough in the roughest city. Officers John Calgary and Carl Boucher are hitting the street to shake down perps. Guided by Captain Bill Garber, Calgary and Boucher will investigate and solve every single miserable case wrapped in manilla that drops on their desk… in the Precinct.
Nisha (Self-Exile, 2016 Best English Production) and Jeff (The Balding, 2013 Best Comedy nominee) have had wildly contrasting drug experiences. In this two-part storytelling show, they share everything they’ve learned from their substance use and abuse. As best they can remember. “Will leave audiences howling.” – Montreal Gazette
The 27th edition of the Montreal Fringe Festival runs until June 18. For information and/or tickets, you can go online to: www.montrealfringe.ca or call 514-849-FEST. Pick up the schedule available around town, and follow the hashtag #FringeBuzz on Twitter for all the latest show reviews. It’s often the best way to find out what’s most popular with audiences. Happy Fringing and see you at the Beer Tent!