Byron’s picks for 17th Fringe, on till June 17
By Byron Toben
Here is my “sweet 16” for this year’s Fringe Fest:
1. Maxim & Cosmo. The prolific King of the Fringe, T. J. Dawe, returns for his ninth Montreal (and 67th worldwide) Fringe. This new 90-minute cascade of words exposes the battle of the sexes, with Seinfeld-like asides on the oddities of life and love.
2. Jem Rolls. Jem’s cascade of words dwarfs even T.J.’s. Back from India, with new material for his 5th Montreal appearance, this Brit living in Scotland is not to be missed.
3. Sahara Crossing. This Paul Théroux type journey through Africa was a hit at the Théâtre Ste. Catherine this winter. Ably directed by rising star Robin Henderson, it features Paul Van Dyck of Vampire Lesbians of Sodom.
4. George Bush, Live in Press Conference. Local deadpan comic Derick Lengwenus returns from Calgary with a new droll show as Dubya being interviewed. Directed by psychologist Kala Steingrabes. Hmmm …
5. The WoRKS, 30 minutes, is jammed with talent. Directed by Montrealer Allison Darcy, the show features actor Andrew Aspergis. Set in a totalitarian prison, it is billed as doomsday vaudeville.
6. Housekeeping & Homewrecking. Loaded with popular local actors like Danielle Desormeaux, Neil Napier and writer Alexandria Haber, this piece follows seven interlocking characters as they break hearts and mend bridges. Directed by superstar Alain Goulem, this show is all in the family.
7. Hard core Pussy, a porno spoof, may wreck some homes. Written by and starring Amy Elizabeth Blackmore, it also features co-writer Tristan Brand, who “left a brilliant career counting fish in Alaska” for the artistic life in Montreal.
8. “…And Stockings for the Ladies” tells the true story of Ontarian RCAF officer Ted Aplin and his efforts to rebuild the lives of Jewish refugees in the D.P. camps of Bergen-Belsen.
9. Dickens of the Mounted. A true story of Frank Dickens, son of the author, who chooses Canada over jail. This adaptation of Eric Nicols ’ hit book touches on Sam Steele, Sitting Bull, and Louis Riel.
10. Primadonna: Confessions of an Italian Princess. This all female adaptation of the book Good Italian Girls Talk Back is in English with some Italian. The producer, singer and actor, Barry O’Connell, describes it as a cross between Mambo Italiano, The Vagina Monologues and My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
11. Kiwi Joker. Former New Zealand Boxing champ Mark Scott is now a champion stand-up and improv pro, as funny as (and a lot cheaper than) Anzacs in the July Just For Laughs festival.
12. FATTY. Similar to last year’s prize winner about silent screen star Mary Pickford, this year includes another Hollywood-based entry. Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle was bigger than Chaplin or Keaton until his career collapsed with charges of rape and murder. He ’s played by Darrel Pring, who is “either a bundle of energy or really loud and obnoxious, depending on your mood.”
13. Bad Weather. Montreal. The near future. An ice storm has zapped the city. Four residents, sweltering in a heat wave, struggle on. But another random Weather Inversion looms. Laugh while you still have time. The show features improv fanatic Diane Carlson and Patrick Charron.
14. One Night in Berlin is an original one act neo-noir thriller spanning ten years, five continents and two secrets. Written by Liesl Barrell, it stars Nina Fillis, Stephanie Baker and Costa Tovarnisky. Film footage adds to the live emoting.
15. Fool for Love, is by US superstar playwright and actor Sam Shepard. Multi-detailed pro Neil Kroetsch complements rising youngsters Tim Diamond and Jessica Hill in this desert motel setting, directed by Sophie Gee.
16. Burden of Proof is a solo clown show by Courtney Cunningham, who plays the clown, named “Poof de Vey.” Originally from New York, she has been compared to Carol Burnett, Lucille Ball, and Lily Tomlin.
Three dance shows deserve mention: Bye Bye Bombay, based on the Bollywood experiences of Haligonian Cara Yeates; The Playland in your Head, featuring Elison Zasko and Ricardo Olivares; and If Tap Shoes Could Talk, a Manhattan “tapestry” called “Gene Kelley meets Seinfeld.” Info: (514) 849-FEST.