Fringe reviews and June
Some worthwhile theatrical shows to catch now
By Byron Toben
June 12, 2021
As June quickens its pace in July, we list some deadlines for viewing before glorious full summer comes to bear.
St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival
The shows, live and streamed, continue until June 20. I have seen only the English streamed shows. Credit must be given to all the participants for producing their efforts under trying circumstances. I found four of them of particular note:
ALRIGHT: SOLVING THE PROBLEM OF LIVING
This solo show, created and performed by Nisha Coleman, perched on an oak tree, is far and away the best of the lot and definitely should be in the Centaur’s January Wildside.
Unexpectedly, it bears some commonality with the Segal Centre’s recent play, My Every Brilliant Thing, in that it celebrates the little things that make life worth living, despite the trials and tribulations that Hamlet warned of. Humour, a warm human empathy, an excellent narrative – this piece has it all. Well alright! Well OK! She wins!
The uncurated Fringe gets them all. Here is a “horror story” inspired by the Theatre of Cruelty. Not my cup of tea, but well done by the trio of performers. It is basically an exercise in sadism and masochism.
This solo show by Joan Bernier relates the story of her grandfather, J.E. Bernier, who, as a young naval commander, opened up the Arctic to Canadian exploration and jurisdiction. This 20-minute display is an excerpt from a full-length play and is at the Fringe as a benefit for the Qajuqturvik community food center.
HOW THE FABLES HAVE TURNED
This 16-minute “Fairy Tales for Women” retells, in song, the stories of four legendary women originally described by men, as might have spoken for themselves. I recognized the first two – The Lorelei by Heinrich Heine and Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll but the credits rolled too fast for me to spot the other two, or the names of the performers, other than Camellia Fitzgibbon as Alice.
The Space Between and Celebrity Obsession
I am happy to include two additional reviews by Faith Langston:
Fringe fans are now rejoicing. While scrupulously observing the required COVID19 protocol, the amiable, dedicated staff, actors and directors have managed to pull together some outstanding productions. Among them are The Space Between and Celebrity Obsession.
In his production, The Space Between, up-and-coming dramatist and director Justin Calla (The Phantom Limb Theatre Company) takes a dauntless, sometimes even humorous look at the murky zone between life and death. The central character in the play, Gail, acted by Leya Graie, loses her childhood best friend. Excluded from his funeral and desperate to find a way to connect to him, she befriends Gwyn (Julia Kennifi) who favours séances as a means to communicate with the dead. Costumes designed by Jess Beyer help to highlight the overall fine acting in this production. Especially noteworthy are the sombre outfits (and matching compulsory masks) worn by the spectral figures.
Celebrity Obsession is a successful attempt to “give a misunderstood person a way to communicate” her preoccupation. This heartfelt, original piece written by playwright, director and actress Marissa Blair explores the roots of celebrity obsession. Musical interludes, projections and an onstage tattooing (deftly enacted by Sophie Nicole) work together to produce a play of striking sincerity – a poignant, insightful exploration of an age-old phenomenon.
Soon to end events
Ending June 16
Bloomsday Montreal began on June 12, highlighted by a new dance by internationally acclaimed Margie Gillis. Its other panels and shows continue daily until June 16.
Ending June 14
The Indomitable Irishry, presented by New York’s Irish Repertory Theater.
Ending June 17
The Cummings Centre’s David Novek four-part series of his favourite Hollywood musicals concludes on June 17. Looking forward to his other film commentaries in the fall.
Ending June 19
New York’s Red Bull Theater opens the satirical comedy Volpone (or the Fox) by Shakespeare Contemporary Ben Jonson on June 14. A filmed version of the live stream continues until June 19.
Ending June 23
New York’s Mint Theater concludes its free Silver Streaming series from its archives with the two presently ongoing plays concluding both on June 23. They are A Picture of Autumn and The Fatal Weakness. With full sets and costumes. No passwords are required.
Feature image: courtesy of the St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival
Byron Toben, a past president of The Montreal Press Club, has been WestmountMag.ca’s theatre reviewer since July 2015. Previously, he wrote for since terminated web sites Rover Arts and Charlebois Post, print weekly The Downtowner and print monthly The Senior Times. He also is an expert consultant on U.S. work permits for Canadians.