Fringe Festival Round Up # 2 : Caisse 606, Bedrock Burlesque, Honesty Rents by the Hour, ATM the Musical, The Passage

Caisse 606. Montreal Fringe Festival. Photo Karan Sinj. Caisse 606. Montreal Fringe Festival. Photo Karan Sinj.

Caisse 606/Checkout 606

Caisse 606. Montreal Fringe Festival. Photo Karan Sinj.

Caisse 606. Montreal Fringe Festival. Photo Karan Sinj.

Billed as a comedy for the whole family, this is a hilarious piece performed by Jon Lachlan Stewart and Francis Farley acting as the two cashiers at Checkout 606. I always wondered what it would be like to scan other people’s purchases all day long. These two cashiers take their rather routine work to a completely new dimension. They transport themselves to their dreams that take them from sun stroked beaches to the Canadian national swimming championship. Set in a food truck on the corner of Rachel and St. Laurent streets, this piece is real street theatre. Having had a run around Quebec, with a newly painted truck to strut their talent, we move from one dream sequence to another, following the adventures of the two cashiers. Perfectly synced and thoroughly at ease with their mobile surroundings, the presentation is capped by a hilarious re-creation of a court trial. Chocolate fudge presides and demands that Avocado appear right away to present evidence with Prosecution Two-Litre Orange Juice. The accused hide behind masks and try to fool all their customers. Finally, the two unmarked beverages turn out to be disguised Red Bulls. The reveal leaves everyone dumbfounded and the jury with no choice but to have them taken in. Many sighs and oohs later, the accused meet their fate. The repeated scanning sound that goes beep beep beep all day provides the time for a bout of synchronized swimming. In the end, the cashiers triumph. The show is presented four times a day at the Fringe Festival and is worth its 30 minutes of stand up fun. The players ensured that their warm spirited performance didn’t let the rain and cold dampen our spirits. — Karan Sinj


Caisse 606/Checkout 606 is playing in its English and French versions at the Fringe Festival at La Fille du Laitier Camion de Livraison Theatre (The Food Truck Venue) 1 Rachel East (Corner St. Laurent), Montreal H2W 1Z4. No tickets needed. June 10 @ 16:30 and 19:30, June 11-14 @ 15:00 and 18:00, June 15 @ 16:30 and 19:30, June 16 @ 15 and 16, June 17 @ 16:30 and 19:30, June 18 @ 15 and 18, June 19 @ 18 and 19:30.

Honesty Rents by the Hour

It is immediately apparent to anyone watching Honesty Rents by the Hour that this will be one of the smash hits of this year’s Fringe. I described the Fringe for All preview as being remarkably polished, and the show felt equally rehearsed and fine-tuned. The script, the performances, the set… everything was up to a certain standard. Honesty Rents by the Hour is about a McGill grad student, a Quebecoise housewife and a Hasidic man who have met online and have decided to come together in a motel called Honesty to have a threesome. Although each character has his or her own reasons for being there and has a story to tell, Danny, the grad student was the heart of the play. He embarks on an inner Campbellian journey of reconciliation with the father – an optimistic, sexually charged answer to Freud’s Oedipus complex. The chemistry between the three characters was raw and real. It was awkward, magnetic, repulsive, arousing… Yes, genuinely arousing, because, like most real sexual situations, it was challenging. As the play illustrated, no matter how much we wish sex was simple, it is rarely a matter of just whipping off clothes and forgetting real life for a while. The play is described in its pamphlets and press releases as a being about “peeling off layers”, and as such, it played out like a slow, satisfying psychological striptease. The pacing was perfect, and the ending came not a moment too soon or too late to provide maximum satisfaction to the audience (and, presumably, the characters). If you want to limit your viewing to a truly stand-out Fringe show, and a truly stand-out piece of theatre, Honesty Rents by the Hour is just undeniably that good. — Lyla McQueen Shah

Honesty Rents by the Hour is at Rialto STudio (5723 du Parc). $10. Showtimes at June 10, 11, 15, 16, 17, and 18 at 19:00. Tickets HERE.

Bedrock Burlesque

How does one review something that is so clearly not out to be reviewed? Something, in fact, that seems to openly reject the notion of audience as spectator, instead dragging it into the role of co-conspirator/enabler? Burlesque does tend to blur the lines between audience and performer, but Bedrock Burlesque was so thoroughly, goofily groan-worthy, it felt more like we were watching a game of dress-up at a teenage sleepover than a performance of any kind. The dialogue was cheesy, the song and dance routines were repetitive, the whole thing felt thoroughly under-rehearsed and mashed together… and yet, it was safe, inclusive, and charming. The audience was not there to be dazzled. It didn’t need to be seduced by clever dialogue or impressive routines. It groaned appreciatively at every silly pun and catcalled at every predictable flash of skin. Everyone was just so happy to be there. Bedrock Burlesque was not so much a performance as an experience. So really, it’s all about what you’re looking for in a show. If you want be titillated with an original routine that requires talent and practice, Bedrock Burlesque will not be right for you. But if you feel that, sod it, this ain’t the Ritz; a girl humping a laundry machine for three minutes is good enough, then you will get all you need from this show. Bedrock Burlesque is a bit of goofy, predictable fun – like The Flintstones show itself, in fact. All in all, a fitting tribute. — Lyla McQueen Shah

Bedrock Burlesque is at the Wiggle Room (3874 St Laurent).. $12. Show on June 10 @ 22:00, June 12 @ 21, June 16 @ 21, June 17 @ 22, June 18 @ 22, and June 19 @ 21. Tickets HERE.

The Passage

The Passage is an elegant one-woman show about the first woman to brave the Edmonton trail to the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush. With a tiny space, a few well-chosen props, and a single actor, The Passage evoked a massive, deadly landscape and the equally alienating tensions between multiple characters. Light played a huge part in building a convincing atmosphere; the grey light of the projector was a surprisingly accurate substitute for the dismal dawn light on snow, and the yellow light of the oil lamp served for a campfire. Every decision on what prop or effect to include was on point – nothing was gratuitous, and nothing was lacking. Jen Viens gave a solid, mature performance as Nellie. She drew us into the grim desperation of the story partly with spoken word, but also with the physicality of her performance. Although the language was evocative, and had a lyrical quality to it that emphasized the epic nature of the narrative, it was limiting in communicating the rawness and desperation of the situation as it progressed. Jen Viens bridged that gap with her physical performance, and throughout the piece, we saw Nellie’s body strain against the wind, shake with cold, and grow gradually weaker with hunger and fatigue. The pacing was excellent; the show never dragged, but it also never felt rushed, and Nellie’s moments of despair and of strength were thoroughly earned. The only moment that left me unsatisfied was the sudden ending. I didn’t need more story, but after such a harrowing journey, I needed a few more heartbeats before the lights went down to let the play settle. Also, although I appreciate not being drowned in exposition, a little extra historical context could have been snuck in there. — Lyla McQueen Shah

The Passage is at Espace Freestanding (4324 ST Laurent #300). $10/12. Showtimes are June 10 @ 22:30, June 11 @ 20:00, June 12 @ 20:00, June 16 @ 18:30, June 17 @ 21:00, June 18 @ 17:00, June 18 @ 23:00, and June 19 @ 20:30. Tickets HERE.

ATM The Musical

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The middle class gets it both ways in this wild send-up on the state of the economy. CFO of Lump Bank, Jacob Washington (Chris Sandiford) and trustfundarian Adam (Paul Naiman) have more money than they know how to blow (on blow). It’s an old story when Washington runs into a brand new teller Catherine (Maité Sinave) who spends all her hard earned cash supporting her hippie parents (Lise Vignault and Alain Mercieca) and porn-obsessed brother Elias (D.J. Mausner). Despite a wide gulf in class, they fall in love. When the economy crashes, Donna Lump (Sandi Armstrong), Queen of the Bank, seeks her bailout and the lovers are pulled apart. Plot-wise, this is your boy meets girl story, but nothing done at the Theatre St. Catherine’s hometeam can be described as typical. There’s an Audrey II-like ATM, a rather spectacular gown, and walk-on characters that you hope never walk off. Everyone performs with commitment to their cartoony characters. Mausner, in a cross-gendered performance, had a great set of pipes for belting out tunes. Sandiford carries so many expressions on his face that I’d pay to watch him react to things in complete silence. The band, holy cannoli, where did these guys come from? They’re amazing! Armstrong is fab head to toe as the eely, pants-suited bank-master/mistress. Anyway, for those who love the improvisational, all-heart, let-the-good-times-role spirit of the TSC, this piece delivers. You’ll be disappointed if you expect the kind of polished musicals that showcase at Place des Arts down the road. This is a theatre company that puts fun first, so leave your grump at the door. — Rachel Levine

ATM is at Theatre St. Catherine (264 St Catherine E). $12. June 10 @ 22:45, June 11 @ 22:45, June 12 @ 5:15, June 15 @ 22:30, June 16 @ 22:45, June 17 @ 4, June 18 @ 22:30. Tickets HERE.


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