META-FRINGE – Grim & Fischer laugh in the face of Death

What follows are mixed cocktails of published recent reviews of the Edmonton International Fringe Festival – conflating the critical writing of the brave theatre reviewers from the Edmonton Sun, Edmonton Journal and Vue Weekly magazine.

(Brackets) – mark a change from one voice to another.

Three out of three reviewers agree the following Fringe plays are just swell:

GRIM & FISCHER: A DEATHLY COMEDY IN FULL-FACE MASK: Stage 3 (Mike Ross, Sun; Liz Nicholls; Journal; Fawnda Mithrush, Vue) This cartoon twist on the danse macabre (is) a unique physical theatre gem (in which) Death comes to claim an old woman (who) has a mischievous (and) subversive streak. (While) marred by too many campy jabs (and) easy pop-culture sight gags, (the performers’) magical physical expressiveness (and) beautifully crafted masks bring superb dimension (to a ) a wistful and wordless little comedy (that) literally laughs in the face of Death, (yet comes through) with genuine sentiment and tenderness, along with a sublime musical soundtrack. AGGREGATE RATING: 4.33 out of 5

SICK? Stage 1 (Catherine Griwkowsky, Sun; Iain Ilich, Journal; Mel Priestley, Vue): Yes (it is sick) … Extended sideshow grotesquerie (pushes) the limits of what’s comfortable to watch while still being watchable. (Ryan Stock) provides cheery banter while (doing) really twisted stuff with his body (that) no sane human being would attempt, (such as inserting) a 14-inch meat hook through his nose and out his mouth, (which is actually) one of the less disgusting tricks. (This show) is not for the squeamish (or) recently fed (and while) it’s entertaining (in) and gross-out way (it didn’t) feel like a complete Fringe show (although it is) possibly the most disturbing thing you’ll see. AGGREGATE RATING: 3.67 out of 5

HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH: Stage 1 (Ilich, Journal; Priestley, Vue; Justin Bell, Sun): Antonio Bavaro (is) brilliant (and) carries the show (as an) East German transgender punk-rock singer (who follows) her former lover on his world tour of the album that she wrote (in this) brave, gutsy production that oozes Fringe swagger. (It is) hilarious, crude, irreverent, over the top (and filled with) plenty of cheeky innuendo (adding up to a) campy rock musical (whose) do-it-yourself feel (makes up for) the lack of polish. (This show) that almost demands audience participation (may be) the funniest (of) the Fringe. AGGREGATE RATING: 4 out of 5

COWBOY: A COWBOY STORY: Stage 6 (Ross, Sun; Nicholls, Journal; Megan Dart, Vue) All that’s missing is a candygram for Mongo (in this) Western spoof (that proves to be) a high-speed multimedia train ride full of comedic punch and great big belly laughs. (The) cast embraces the style (and takes a) smartly executed gallop from stage to screen and back again, through the trail dust of clichés (in a) standard Old West tale (of) treachery, revenge (and) betrayal (whose) targets are threadbare. (It’s) amazing that any of the actors can keep a straight face in (such a) droll and deadpan show. (Enoy this) campy Western done right. AGGREGATE RATING: 4.16 out of 5

READ MORE META-FRINGE REVIEWS HERE (aggregate ratings out of 5):

Aug. 17: Rocket Sugar Factory (3.66), Bye Bye Bombay (3.5), Pornstar USA (3.33), The Hysteric (1.83)

Aug. 16: Giant Invisible Robot (4.88), The Unseen (4)

Aug. 15: Forsooth My Lovely (4.5), The Cockwhisperer (4.5), Zastrozzi Master of Discipline (4), Tired Wave Stop (1.83)

Aug. 14: Elephant (4), Scarlet Woman (4)

Aug. 13: Baby Redboots Revenge (4.25), A Different Woman: A True Story of a Texas Childhood (4.25), Jem Rolls is Pissed Off (3.75), Box (2)

Aug. 12: The Surprise (5), My Brother Sang Like Roy Orbison (4.25), ’33: A Kabarett (4), A Perspective On Something Important (3.25), The Last Goddamned Performance Piece (1.75)

Aug. 11: Bertha (4), The Pre-History of Moses (3.75), The Sparrow and the Mouse (3.25), Oh The Wily Snake (2.75)