BY BYRON TOBEN
Wow. The Montreal Fringe Theatre Festival is entering its 22nd year. Who woulda thunk?
Now, to the chase. Shrewd gamblers quip, “Don’t bet on the horse, bet on the jockey.”
With that in mind, I pick (among English language shows running June 14-24), in alphabetical order:
Act of Rod: Jockey Robin Henderson (of DanceAnimal fame) rides herd as director of sketch comic Rod Ramsey’s space station 2035 TV show, “the most popular in the solar system.”
Harvester: Paul Van Dyck, playwright and director, takes us even farther into the future, 2112, with this story of a man who may be the last person alive.
Hippolytos: Jockey-actors Johanna Nutter and Lindsay Wilson can really emote as Phaidra and the Choros in this modern Aphrodite revenge drama, based on Euripides’s golden oldie (no royalty problems here).
Jem Rolls: Ten Starts and an End: Brit Jem Rolls returns for his 11th straight appearance, a spoken word marvel. He turns 50 for his last show, on June 23.
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Jocasta’s Noose: Ann Lambert’s latest play, written and directed by elle-meme. With frequent collaborator Laura Mitchell acting, this teacher-student piece promises inter-generational fireworks.
Nothing Never Happens in Norway: Joanne Sarazen has written book and lyrics for this rollicking musical adaptation of Ibsen. Hendrik has not been channeled since Rover founder Marianne Ackerman’s clever takeoff at Fringe 1991.
Out of the Fog: Jane Gilchrist wrote and acts in this premiere, directed by head jockey Jacqueline van de Geer, fresh from her fine The Dining Room. Veteran Victoria Barkoff dukes it out with Jane over a child in a private school.
Pitching Knife Fight: Walter J. Lyng, The Suburban’s theatre critic, is also a pop-culture guru. Here, he lays on the hype in making a film pitch.
Tough!: Kirsten Rasmussen, back from the Adelaide Fringe, wrote and stars in this story of a lounge singer turned boxer. Shades of macushla, this million-dollar baby is amazing as both herself and her opponent.
Triple Cross: Rover theatre critici Anna Fuerstenberg has the farce with her in writing and directing this tale of the ever popular subjects of money, betrayal and, oh yes, sex.
White River White Tree: A Ghost Story: Ned Cox writes and directs a “proper” ghost story to balance all the light-hearted fun at the Fringe.
Also plan to see:
Jewish Girls Don’t Kayak: Jewishness embracing other cultures, from Ontario; Le Projet Migration: Dance critique of immigration bureaucracy, from California; She Has a Name: On human trafficking, from Calgary; Last Man on Earth: On silent movies, from Toronto; Ukrainian Dentist’s Daughter: Ukrainian identity and the arts, from Seattle.
Most shows are about an hour long. Get the free Fringe guide, which details all. Tickets average $10 with $2 service tax. Three-show pass, $28; six for $55; 10 for $85. 514-849-FEST, montrealfringe.ca