With the 83 plays calling my name at this year’s Vancouver International Fringe Festival, how’s a theatre fan to narrow that amount down a bit? Figuring out ‘how to Fringe’ for me has always been a combination of researching picks from other Fringe festivals prior to Vancouver’s, looking through the festival guide, and hearing the buzz on the street (in this case, Granville Island, where word of mouth spreads pretty quickly during the festival’s 11 day run).
I reserved a (large) handful of shows ahead of time and as of this post have taken in over a dozen productions.
My five favourites so far:
1. Cabaret Terrarium – an ingeniously acted, sung, and pantomimed show featuring Gustav, a Belgian cabaret singer, his sidekick Nhar, and a lot of wooden frogs. Playing at Performance Works Theatre.
2. Whiskey Bars, a Kabarett – Kurt Weill songs done up by Big Empty Barn’s Bremner Duthie, as he aims to please a theatre critic in the crowd. A look back at the singer’s memories of Berlin and Paris, with gorgeous vocals. On now at Studio 1398.
3. The Devil and Billy Markham – Stories of Billy Markham’s encounters with the devil, told in the intimate space of a coffee roasters on Granville Island. An incorrect roll during a game of the dice with the Devil, and off he goes, straight to Hell. Does he wind up there for eternity? You’ll have to see this crafty one-man show in order to find out!
4. Acrobatic Daredevils – From the moment that this Chicago-area based trio took the Performance Works stage, I knew I’d be in for a treat. A delightful, all-ages show, incorporating some pretty incredible moves, done with humour and good fun!
5. The Surprise – Brooklyn, NY-based Martin Dockery has once again managed to charm the audience with a lively true story, this time combining two continents with tales of love. I enjoyed Dockery’s 2010 Pick of the Fringe hit, Wanderlust. Three shows remain at the Waterfront Theatre: this evening at 5 pm, September 17 at 9:20 pm, and September 18 at 5 pm.
The Vancouver International Fringe Festival continues to September 18, 2011 and takes place on Granville Island as well as at several venues around town.