I love solo shows. There is something immediate and intimate about one person on stage, creating a world, telling a story. There is no distraction when it’s all on one person. It either hits it, or it doesn’t and there is only one direction to look towards when determining which. While the Fringe Festival is littered with solo shows, the Solos Festival celebrates them, and this fest, which is presenting a spring edition for the first time, is coming at you next week at Mainline Theatre, starting Wednesday night.
This edition is expanding out of the traditional story telling formats and focuses more on strong theatrical characters, and features circus and clown. There are acts from Montreal and from elsewhere, including some world premieres. The recently married duo behind the Festival, Sophie Post-Croteau and Al Lafrance, themselves travelled with the Fringe festival tour, meeting performers, and produced their own solo show, “The Quitter” a few years ago now. They wanted to bring some of the work that they saw out west back to Montreal for our audiences to enjoy.
This edition opens with Marc Rowland, of Montreal Improv fame’s, new creation, Automotua, an entirely silent piece inspired by clown about an island that is spared in the apocalypse. There is a short piece preceding, A Folio of Fools by Julie Foster, a more traditional clown piece, where her character comes into contact with the complete works of Shakespeare to much tomfoolery. Basically, we are opening the festival on clown, so if you are into it, this is your night to attend. The second night features Le Merveilleux and Marvellous World of Bonhomme Caramel, a bilingual creation by James McGee, a child TV host that has to face up to the fact that the world has changed.
On Friday, we’ll be treated to Vance Gillis’ new show, Last Night on Earth, a solo sketch comedy show about a town spared by apocalypse as well. Do I detect thematic dread in the zeitgeist these days? Perhaps. To follow that, Dan Hershfield, from Toronto’s Second City is presenting Sloanliness, a story telling show about his time on a cruise ship with Sloan’s Chris Murphy, his idol, and the weird world that is living on a boat for months at a time.
For closing night, we are treated to two strong female performers. Coming from critical acclaim at the Ottawa Fringe, Margo MacDonald is bringing Elephant Girls, a play about the most notorious all-girl gang that terrorized London over a hundred years ago as seen through the eyes from one of their “enforcers”, Maggie Hale. Finally, the festival closes on Circus of Sighs by Eve Majzels, giving us a look into the life of a hedonistic, sad trapeze artist and what finally shakes her out of her malaise.
See you there.
The Solos Festival is being put on from March 6th-9th, 2016. All performances will be at Mainline Theatre (3997 St-Laurent), and tickets are 15$ for one show, 25$ for two, and 50$ for an all-access pass, available for purchase at the Mainline Box office line: 514-849-FEST or in person at the theatre, or online at mainlinetheatre.ca . For more details on SoloFest, click here.