Byron’s Fringe picks
sight unseen 2017

Some promising Montreal Fringe Festival theatre shows

By Byron Toben

Welcome to the 2017 St. Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival, its 27th edition.

As before, here are my annual picks, sight unseen, based on my having attended and reported on all 27 prior manifestations and developing a nose for what “As I Like It”. This list is culled from the English language shows. There are many excellent French (or dance) shows that I often enjoy, but do not feel comfortable in reviewing. Here is my “sweet 16” sight unseen. The Fringe, just opened, ends on June 18. Each show is programmed for six time slots.

The Fringe, just opened, ends on June 18. Each show is programmed for six time slots.

Seven Local Shows

Things Drugs Taught Me Fringe Festival -

Things Drugs Taught Me – Image: Saima Ahmed

Mouth to Mouth
The proven popular team of Ned Cox and Alexandria Haber have written a new dark comedy. With Alain Goulem directing, it has a lot of creds.

Although billed as only a rough draft parody, anything written by Johanna Nutter bears viewing. Draws on three works of Oscar Wilde.

Pounding Nails in the Floor with My Forehead
A local group essays this Off Broadway classic by Eric Bogosian. Worth catching, if only for the script. A fine rendition by Monkeyshine Productions would be a plus.

Renfield, or Dining at the Bughouse
Based on the insane asylum character in Dracula, who presaged today’s fried grasshoppers as a protein source, bears a look.

Scum: A Manifesto -

Scum: A Manifesto

The Guest
Alice Abracen has written this war zone work, co-directed by popular local team of playwright Ann Lambert (her mom) and stellar actor Laura Mitchell.

The Thrill of the Chaise
Martin Law of innovative Chocolate Moose has written and directs this tale of Russian spies and sex as an involvement.

Things Drugs Taught Me
Master story tellers Nisha Coleman and Jeff Gandell unite in their tales of substance abuse. Timely as Canada and majority of US states legalize pot.

Bouton S'inscrire à l'infolettre –

Nine shows “from away”


Scum: A Manifesto
From Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, this tale of Valerie Solange who famously shot Andy Warhol in 1967 for not producing her play. I would arrange a staged reading of it as a novelty if any one can find the script.


Help! I’m American! -

“Help! I’m American!

At the Edge of the World
San Francisco M.D. Barbara Newman recounts her efforts to improvise helping in a remote village in Haiti despite cultural differences and lack of medical support.

“Help! I’m American!
Sketch comedy by Los Angeles writer director D.K. Reinemer. Advertises that it is “only slightly political”. Is that possible these days?

Orson Welles/Shylock
Syracuse, NY based Matt Chiorini describes Orson’s unsuccessful attempts to play Shylock even though he did Macbeth and many other Shakespearean characters. As a Welles freak, I cannot miss this one!


Jon Bennet Vs. Jason Donovan Fringe -

Jon Bennet Vs. Jason Donovan

Jon Bennet Vs. Jason Donovan
This dynamic Melbourne star of both Fringe and JFL shows returns again with his blend of Ozzie lore, clever visuals and outrageous but likeable personality.

Poet Vs Pageant
Melbourne poet Telia Neville has written and performs on this poetically told tale of an awkward gal entering a beauty pageant

Trent Bauman: There Is No I In Fail
Heralded performer Mr. Bauman has left the joys of Surfer’s Paradise to demonstrate why he was a hit at Edinburgh and other festivals.

The Ballad Of Frank Allen
From far away Perth, frequent Fringe performer Shane Adamczak joins Montreal Fringe favourite Al Lafrance in this bizarre story of a man who lives in another’s beard.

The Morning After The Life Before Fringe -

The Morning After The Life Before


The Morning After The Life Before
From the city of Limerick comes this tale of a wedding with complications. Timely, as it involves Ireland becoming the first country in the world to support marriage equality by popular vote.

That’s the sweet 16 for this year.


Pick up the free program at many locations on the Main and at the Fringe Park beer tent at St. Laurent and Rachel where many free musical performances go on throughout the day.

Most Fringe shows are about 60 minutes long and cost $8 or $10 plus $2 service fee. Best to buy a multishow card and pay the $2 only once. The cards are Gold $66 (6 shows), Platinum $99 (10 shows) and Carte Blanche $275 (unlimited).Bouton S'inscrire à l'infolettre – WestmountMag.caThere is also a $33 card for 3 shows but you will want to see more, no?

The St. Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival continues until June 18.
514 849-FEST

Read also The Birds is a hoot from the past

Images: courtesy St. Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival

Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club.

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