Fringe Festival Reviews #5

Two people on stage The Deadline. Jeanne Potvin and Pierre Fanzhu. Photo Rachel Levine

The Deadline

Death takes some time out of Her busy schedule seeing people off at car accidents and other final moments to have tea with Mr. Whistlewood. In his cozy apartment, the two sip from china cups and Death is delighted. No one has ever asked Death to tea before! Of course, getting a letter to Death requires some creativity and Mr. Whistlewood tries everything from putting his letter into a cremation ceremony to pagan rituals. But, this isn’t simply a catch-up between friends (not that they were friends before). In his reserved, British manner Mr. Whistlewood eventually posits his reason for the invitation: he has a question. This delightful play is full of fun twists as to who holds the upper hand in the discussion. The multi-talented Jeanne Potvin, who wrote, directed, and stars in the show, positively sparkles as Death. Her expressive face and cheerful delivery call to mind Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. The Deadline is at Theatre St. Catherine (264 St Catherine) May 30, June 4, 5, and 11. Tickets HERE.

Man wearing habs jersey pointing on stage
The List. Keith Serry. Photo Rachel Levine

The List: A Traumady About Probiotic Masculinity

Keith Serry strips down to the heart with story-telling in The List. He’s composed a list of three things it takes to be a man, things he learned from music and other men since his delusional father is so limited in what he can offer. He recounts his first relationship with an open-minded free spirit, his intrepid mother, and growing up as a lanky white man. There’s some great humour in there, including Keith’s unforgettable grade school nickname. But while laughing at it, I also felt uneasy because I knew what it meant for him. It’s the sort of show that leaves you laughing and crying at the same time, and it is far more moving than the quirky title suggests. Meticulously timed and written, expertly chosen props and costumes, beautifully lit, this show is clear that details really do matter. It’s a brave, touching performance all around. With the recent success of Baby Reindeer, The List is a canary in the coal mine for Fringe productions; I expect many more shows where men tell their own stories of abuse, body shame, and powerlessness. Perhaps a #MenToo movement is imminent. The List is at La Chapelle de la Cité des Hopsitalières (209 Pins O) on June 8, 9, 10, 12, 15, and 16. Tickets HERE.

Stories From the Brink

Podcaster, actress, and writer Iris Bahr spent her life nomadically as a way to deal with the inter-generational trauma of growing up with parents who are Holocaust survivors. Fear and anxiety are terrible companions for the adventuresome though, and they certainly don’t stop Behr from making bad decisions and facing many varieties of “near-death” experiences. Throughout the show, there are few to no actual near-death experiences and instead maybe they were more near-death adjacent or near-death two neighbourhoods over kind of stories. Nonetheless, Bahr is funny, personable, and recounts embarrassing moments that make her relatable. She addresses a wide range of experiences, from summer camp to trying to impress her best friend in Peru by stepping far outside her comfort zone. Unfortunately, this show didn’t sit well with me. It lacks a feeling of intimacy and spontaneity that I prefer in storyteling-style shows. Instead, Bahr’s delivery is polished and delivered as if she is performing chapters from a book she’s writing. Finally, and this is a hurdle, she introduces her show by saying it’s not political before describing her experience living in Tel Aviv on October 7th. Whatever her intention, in a woke city like Montreal, people are sharply attuned to language and some of her word choices and generalizations are minimally cringey. Stories from the Brink is at La Chapelle de la Cité des Hopsitalières (209 Pins O) on June 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, and 16. Tickets HERE.

Info and tickets HERE. Info about all shows at the Montreal Fringe Festival can be found HERE.

Other reviews related to the 2024 Montreal Fringe Festival: The Fringe is Upon usThe Kid Was a Spy, Wit and Wrath: The Life and Times of Dorothy Parker, TA PLACE DANS LA FINALITÉ D’UN MONDE, La Germaine et le Vieux Criss, Les échos de Katerina et Danse de la mort, Me and Her.

About Rachel Levine

Rachel Levine is the big cheese around here. Contact: Website | More Posts