And so it begins. The Fringe. The tears, the laughter. Mostly the laughter. Also, the chaos. If the daily roster of shows doesn’t exhaust you, the 13th hour, Fringe After Dark, and the events of the Fringe Park should make a dent.
Working crystal balls are hard to come by, but the Fringe For all gives a three minute glimpse into the future. While the out-of-towners get their chance to charm on June 7th, here is a list of the shows from those that presented at the Fringe For All that are worth penciling in. There were plenty more than are on this list!
The Think Pieces
While the Fringe is often about zany fun, it’s also an opportunity to showcase serious drama.
Cherry Docs by Beige Theatre Company
When a Jewish lawyer is called in a skinhead who has kicked his victim 39 times with steel-toed Doc Martins in a racially motivated crime, cultures clash. These two actors not only impressed with their acting chops, but gave a gripping snippet of a timely show that addresses where liberal tolerance starts to fray. At Impro Montreal Theatre (3697 ST Laurent) on June 8 (18:00), 10 (23:15), 11 (20:45), 13 (20:30), 17 (14:00), and 18 (21:00).
Docile Bodies by Wig in a Box
Soldiers tell monologues about their lives as they are molded into their identities by powers beyond their control. This piece studies Foucault’s essay Discipline and Punish through movement and acting, and adds gender to the mix. At the MAI on June 9 (midnight), 11 (18:30), 13 (midnight), 14 (21:45), 15 (19:00), and 17 (17:15),
Brown, Feminist, Proud
A number of shows are focused on the complex experiences of visible minority groups.
tldr;smh by Nightshade Ensemble
tldr;smh. Nightshade Ensemble. Fringe for All 2017. Montreal Fringe. Cafe Campus. Photo Rachel Levine
From Rojava (which is part of Syria — I had to look it up), Kurdish Lady Jiyan is a magnet on stage with her sinuous moves as she seems to delight in removing her headscarf. Is she celebrating culture or giving a poetic middle finger to symbols of oppression. This is strong, feminist, and hypnotizing. At Studio Jean Valcourt du Conservatoire (4750 Henri Julien) on June 10 (20:45), 11 (17:!5), 15 (18:00), 16 (21:00), 17 (18:00), and 18 (17:00).
Love Painted Brown by angrybrowngirl productions
Love Painted Brown. angryborwngirl productions. Montreal Fringe Festival 2017. Cafe Campus. Photo Rachel Levine
Shanti Gonzales is born into a family that normalizes the eating of naan burritos at Kwanza. Her mother is Indian (south east Asian Indian), her dad is Mexican, and she says her grandmother married into a black family. I’m not sure who in her family she can thank for her talent as a comedienne and a dancer, but she seems to have both in quantity. At Impro Montral (3173 ST Laurent) on June 8 (21:30), 9 (23:45), 11 (16:15), 12 (21:30), 14 (20:00), 17 (15:00), and 18 (20:45).
Pluck’d by Bald Angry Asian Productions
A proud Chinese dad loves and babies his little turkey. Such life hopes! Such dreams! Such expectations. No wonder the little turkey discovers the magic of spliffs and proud Chinese dad melts down. At the MainLine Theatre (3997 St. Laurent) on June 8 (21:45), 10 (18:45), 13 (20:00), 15 (23:30), 16 (14:45), and 17 (19:00)
Paani by BlowFish Theatre
Two giant heads came on stage, and from them came a four part performance that fugued into a recitation, a song, and a dance around the theme of anti-Muslim Islamophobia. At Studio Multimédia du Conservatoire (4750 Henri Julien) on June 8 (18:00), 11 (13:15), 12 (19:00), 14 (18:00), 17 (13:00), and 18 (21:15).
The Godfather and the Nonna
Italian humor. Yes. Lots of it. There are shows with the Italian clown tradition of Commedia Dell’Arte as well as looks at those big Italian families. Mamma Mia!
Cul de Sac by Bouffon de Bellefeuille
This was just the most fun, colorful bit of crazy choreography of dance gone wrong I’ve seen in awhile .I laughed so hard from their faces and antics. The premise is that a band of buffons are living in the tunnels of the Montreal metro and then venture into the world seeking integration and survival. This piece promises to show that physical comedy is the king of comedy. At Studio Multimédia du Conservatoire (4750 Henri Julien) on June 9 (19:00), 10 (12:45), 11 (21:45), 15 (16:30), 16 (21:45), and 18 (16:30).
Leave the Therapy, Take the Cannoli by Luigi Buffone
Leave the Therapy, Take the Cannoli. Montreal Fringe Festival. Cafe Campus. Photo Rachel Levine
They gave out cannolis. Good ones. I think there was a screaming nonna and some masculine posturing as this Italian family tries on therapy for the first time. They gave me a cannoli. At Mission Santa Cruz (60 Rachel W) on June 5 (21:45), 13 (19:45), 15 (21:30), 16 (18:00), 17 (21:30), and 18 (15:45).
No cannolis, but Antonio Bavaro is doing a show about his Italian family. He transformed into a nonna so real on stage, I swear on my mudder’s grave I was in Sicily. She can sing too! At the MAI (3680 Jeanne Mance) on June 8 (21:00), 11 (15:30), 13 (22:45), 15 (22:15), 17 (19:00), and 18 (14:45).
I Saw What on Stage?
The Fringe never says no. At least I don’t think they do. Here are shows that are guaranteed to show you something on stage you’ve probably never seen before
Illustrated Lady by Sophie Post Croteau
Sophie Post Croteau looks like anyone else in her cardigan and pants. But when the clothes come off, she has a collection of tattoos that put her in the uncomfortable position of having to explain, justify, and discuss her body. Croteau promised to take an audience drawing at each show and tattoo the image on herself. Her one request — no penis drawings, please. At Pompette (4128 St. Laurent) on June 2 (23:00), 3 (21:00), 9 (19:00), 10 (21:00), 16 (23:00), 17 (19:00), and 18 (noon).
Moi : Le Zoo by Pleurer dans Douche
I didn’t believe it when I heard it, but 50 performers will compete to interpret the animal of their choice for a prize of $1000. That’s a pretty serious chunk of change to give out. At La Chapelle (3700 St. Dominique) on June 8 (20:30), 10 (18:15), 11 (19:15), 15 (16:15), 16 (18:30), and 17 (22:30).
Femme Fatale by Vielle Fille
She came. She stood in giant heels. She strutted. She kicked off her heels. Then she proceeded to whip her hair around at high speed. At Studio Multimédia du Conservatoire (4750 Henri Julien) on June 8 (22:00), 10 (19:00), 11 (17:30), 14 (22:00), 16 (20:30), 18 (15:15).
Police and detective comedies are all over the Fringe this year.
The Detective, The Dame, and the Devil by Vertical Heart Productions
With a femme fatale, a private eye, and a German accented devil who can shake his ass, this one looks so hot you could fry an egg on it. At La Chapelle (3700 St. Dominique) on June 8 (22:00), 9 (17:30), 11 (20:45), 14 (22:00), 16 (20:00), and 17 (17:15)
Precinct: An Improvised Cop Story by Little Toe Entertainment
All those super amazing talents that run Montreal Improv in a show that isn’t an incarnation of Law & Order, Hill Street Blues, or Reno 911. They took Al Lafrance hostage. At Montreal Improv (3713 St Laurent) on June 8 (23:15), 10 (20:00), 11 (14:30), 14 (23:15), 16 (18:15), 17 (21:45), and 18 (15:45).
Thrill of the Chaise by Chocolate Moose Theatre Company
After intrigue and James Bond theme music, chairs had sex on stage. They also hinted that this might be the show of the Fringe by telling us, “Your ticket pays for the whole seat, but you’ll only need the edge of it.” Feel the sizzle! Oooh. This one’s gonna be great. At Theatre MainLine (3997 ST Laurent) on June 9 (19:00), 11 (midnight), 15 (19:15), 16 (13:30), 17 (midnight), 18 (22:00).
It Wouldn’t Be the Fringe Without You
Memento Mori: A Support Group for the Dead by Kaleidoscope Theatre
After two years of epic Captain Aurora musicals, the production company that thinks big is going a little bit Adams family with its latest piece about the afterlife. A support group for the dead offers free coffee, tea, and baked goods as people share their life (and afterlife). The audience got to participate as Trevor Barrette led a group readings for a service for the recently deceased, a great into to an immersive theatre piece. In Espace Freestanding Room (4324 St Laurent #300) on June 1 (21:00), 2 (23:00), 3 (17:00 and 21:00), 8 (21:00), 9 (23:00), 10 (17:00 and 21:00), 15 (21:00), 16 (23:00), 17 (17:00 and 21:00).
Things Drugs Taught Me by Yarn Productions
Nisha Coleman. Jeff Gandell. I’d pay money to see one of these two talented people solo. Now it’s two for the price of one, plus I can see them together as they tell stories of popping, sniffing, snorting, ingesting, smoking, drinking, and whatever method is required to get to an altered state. At Mission Santa Cruz (60 Rachel W) on June 8 (19:30), 13 (18:00), 14 (21:45), 16 (19:30), 17 (23:00), and 18 (19:00).
Peter Pansexual by Glam Gam Productions
Get your kink on or out with these racy, sexy shows. Wendy and the Darling brothers heading to a nouveau Neverland, Montreal, where they encounter Captain Hooker and Peter Pansexual. Full frontal promised. At Café Cléopâtre May 31 (21:00), June 1 (21:00), 3 (20:00), 5 (20:00), 8 (21:00), 9 (22:00), 10 (19:00), 10 (23:00), 14 (19:00), 15 (19:00), and 16 (22:00).
The Fringe isn’t just for adults. These shows are all ages.
The Monkey King Gets His Staff by JingJu Canada
The Journey to the West is one of the most beloved epics of China. Though less familiar to those of us in the West, episodes from this popular story are often adapted. In this show, we meet the Monkey King who is a great fighter, but does not have an adequate weapon as he heads to the palace of the Dragon king. This was a fiery spectacle of stick twirling and acrobatics. At La Chapelle (3700 ST Dominique) on June 9 (7:15), June 10 (9:45), 11 (5:15), 13 (7:45), 16 (9:45) and 18 (1:15).
b3: Syl-lo-g0-ma-ni-e/a by Possiblement Théâtre
Everyone’s favorite red nosed Fringe clowns are back — boKa and Mazy. This time there’s a problem with hoarding (which is what syllogomania is), specifically stuffed animals? This clown is like a lovable Mr. Bean with none of the malice and all of the childlike wonder. At Salle Jean Claude Germain du Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui (3900 St. Denis) on June 9 (20:45), 10 (18:00), 11 (14:00), 14 (18:15), 17 (21:00), and 18 (13:00).
The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Punch and Judy by Tenon Mortaise
They say kids’ cartoons are violent. I can’t watch them anymore. But apparently, I love watching puppets beat the crap out of each other. We got to see the Punch puppet give it to a Devil puppet. It was so cool. At Salle Jean Claude Germain du Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui (3900 St. Denis) on June 10 (19:45), 11 (12:30), 12 (21:15), 14 (23:15), 16 (19:30), and 17 (18:00).
The Montreal Fringe Festival is on now and ends with the Frankies on June 18. Check it out at www.montrealfringe.ca. Most tickets are $12 or less, some events are free or reduced.