META-FRINGE: Two thumbs up for the best of the fest

* Catch More Reviews from Day One here.

Welcome to Day Two of GigCity’s Meta-Critical Coverage of the Edmonton International Fringe Festival.

Edmonton’s theatre critics, while limited in both number and influence for most of the rest of the year, really come into their own during the Fringe. Their numerous reviews in two dailies and one weekly really are the best way to discover what’s worth seeing amongst the dozens, nay, HUNDREDS, of plays happening until Aug. 21. So we thought we’d help by staying out of it – and by stitching together chunks of published reviews from the Edmonton Journal and Edmonton Sun (with Vue magazine soon to come) for your enlightenment. Enjoy.


THE SURPRISE, STAGE 4 (Colin Maclean, Sun, and Liz Nicholls, Journal) Another detailed and acutely observed anecdote from (Martin Dockery’s) own life … funny/sad story of how fragile family relationships can be … (can) make audiences care deeply about his own search for meaning in his relationships … (what makes) storytelling so effective is the use of his body and, in particular, his expressive hands … loose-limbed kinetic choreography … ferocious energy … crazy, spiralling spontaneity … relationship (with girlfriend) resonates beautifully against the father-son dynamic … one suspects he is working out his relationship with his father through the alchemic catharsis of performing on stage. AGGREGATE RATING: 5 out of 5 – READ interview with Martin Dockery here.

MY BROTHER SANG LIKE ROY ORBISON, STAGE 8 (Maclean and Nicholls) Story about the bonds of friendship and family (that) will touch your heart … ’60s coming-of-age memoir resonates against the sounding board of a country (coming) apart at the seams … composed of a number of anecdotes (about) every young kid’s dream of the best older brother in the world … fine storyteller … personification of the aging hippie. AGGREGATE RATING: 4.25 out of 5

’33 (A KABARETT) – starring Bremner Duthie, above – STAGE 5 (Maclean and Nicholls): ’30s cabaret one of the last bastions of protest against the Nazi seduction of Germany … conjures fallen castmates (in) a ghostly entertainment conjured for us by its sole survivor … eclectic program of ‘30s music ranging from Sigmund Romberg to Steven Sondheim … songs are outstanding, animated as they are by a chilling premise … intense and expert singer … powerful baritone … plays a number of other characters with some skill … takes him 20 minutes to get his show going … tells us a lot of what we already know about the Nazis … overwrought character grow(s) a bit repetitious … good show (could’ve been) great. AGGREGATE RATING: 4 out of 5

A PERSPECTIVE ON SOMETHING IMPORTANT, BYOV STAGE 42 (Jason Hills, Sun and Nicholls, Journal): A story (about lifelong friends) that will trigger the audience’s childhood memories … elegant, compellingly acted production … rough around the edges (but with) enjoyable message … prodigiously talented young actor Ben Wheelwright … (to arrive at) shape for the whole stage event (may need) a slight rejigging of the perspective. AGGREGATE RATING: 3.25 out of 5


THE LAST GODDAMNED PERFORMANCE PIECE, STAGE 4 (Maclean and Nicholls):  The last remaining survivors of an 11-member performance collective (attempting) troupe’s finale performance … (turns into) mundane battle between two ex-lovers breaking up … relationship play (or) performance art, you’re pretty much getting the worst of both worlds. AGGREGATE RATING: 1.75 out of 5