Fringe Festival Reviews #14 : CLIO, Around the World in 8 Mistakes, and More

Apocalipsync Humanity is a Drag. House of Laureen. Photo Mathieu Flageole Apocalipsync Humanity is a Drag. House of Laureen. Photo Mathieu Flageole

CLIO

It is really hard to not love Clio the Clitoris puppet. A puppeteer once told me that one of the key pieces to bringing puppetry to life is to make sure that every puppet breathes, and the puppetering in this goes above and beyond – giving the puppet life, personality and an emotional connection with the audience. Through a series of short vignettes following Clio’s life events, we see the ways in which misconceptions, misinformation and embarrassing moments handled badly form the ways in which we are taught to relate to our clitoris. One of the most powerful parts of the show was the voice overs of people talking about their experiences in Sex Ed and what they were missing – specifically when it came to pleasure and the clitoris. In a 30 minute slot, this show is carried by the charm of Clio and the pupeteering and I would love to see it remounted with a reworking of the dramatic constructs surrounding her life adventures. What happens when Clio interacts with other puppets? What happens next? How does she continue to learn to love herself? Not only is this show informative around a deeply understudied piece of anatomy, it will also leave you never thinking about clitorises in the same way again.

Around the World in 8 Mistakes

Sophia Walker brings her charming brand of spoken-word storytelling to the Montreal Fringe for the first time this year with her show Around the World in Eight Mistakes. Detailing her adventures around the world – from the USSR, to Vietnam, to finding out she was going to a war zone in Uganda 24 hours before she left – it is an interesting but sometimes heartbreaking adventure around the world. Walker’s wit carries this show through a series of really very heavy stories about a family breaking apart, the U.S. prison system, and the lasting effects of PTSD that have shaped her life. Even though she touches pretty serious subjects, the show maintains a comic angle which makes it entertaining and not too heavy-handed. One of the highlights of the piece was her frank discussion of the lasting impacts of PTSD on her life, how it shaped her future relationships, and how she is continuing to cope. If you have a chance to catch Walker in the future, I would highly recommend the experience!

Bad Habits

A Little Bit Off Productions has finally made it to the Montreal Fringe with their show Bad Habits, and lordy lordy is it fun. The acrobatics, complete disregard for theatre conventions and sacrilegious comedy of the show make it so much fun to watch. Through a series of vignettes, we follow the postulant process of Margarine Tub as she continuously tries the nerves of Mother Superior Florence with her heathenous texting, love of social media, and undying love for Jesus. One of the stand out moments – which almost makes no sense in relation to the rest of the show, but is so funny that the audience happily allows it  – is a piece where they both don penguin masks and flippers and reenact a ridiculous version of a penguin mating ritual and egg transfer. Though there is a charming disregard for maintaining the illusion of theatre as they both regularly say things such as “I’m just filling time so that she can get dressed” as they play around with various pieces of the set, occasionally this lead to the through line of the piece being lost for too long. However, because they are both such skilled performers, when they came back to their various routines, there was so much comedy, theatrics, and fun that the audience easily forgives them for their forays into the irrelevant.

Le Grand Alexandre: Magicien Humanitaire

Le Grand Alexandre: Magicien Humanitaire was a lovely piece of theatre blending both very well executed magic tricks, with touching stories about the life of being a humanitarian performer. Le Grand Alexandre develops a rapport with the audience that allows us to fall into his tricks with ease – even those that he specifically labels as being intended to wow children. But the moments that really shone in this piece were Alexandre talking about the ways in which his magic and clown performances and humanitarian work have impacted how he interacts with the world. The simple theatrical format of a magic show with conversation makes this one of the loveliest shows that I saw at the festival this year.

Apocalipsync: Humanity is a Drag

House of Laureen are known for their political brand of drag performance which goes deeper than just lipsyncing for your life, and leaves you with food for thought. In Apocalipsync: Humanity is a Drag, they bring their own take on what will bring the Apocalypse: a conglomeration of social media companies slowly stripping away our rights until the world collapses. The three queens: Uma Gahd, Anaconda La Sabrosa and Dot Dot Dot are all trying to deal with their new reality in the best ways they can: attempting to use a brick to contact her social media followers, breaking down walls like a wrecking ball, and getting very excited about vegan non-hierarchical social structures where everyone uses composting toilets. This is all well rounded out by a great performance by Peaches Le Page as the benevolent dictator/fairy drag-mother of the three protagonists. The highlights of the piece were definitely each performers’ solo-number, a great scene done entirely through voice over, and Peaches Le Page’s physical comedy using Dollarama pterodactyl grabbers as arms. House of Laureen also host a monthly Drag Show at Café Cleopatre if you are sad to have missed out on Apocalipsync!

These shows were part of the St. Ambroise Montreal FRINGE Festival. Keep an eye out here for next year’s Fringe: montrealfringe.ca

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