Montreal Fringe Festival Reviews 2014 : Round 2

Montreal Fringe Festival Launch. Critics. Photo Rachel Levine.

I’d Like Them On My Team

Kitt and Jane
Kitt & Jane : an interactive survival guide to the Near-Post-Apocalyptic-Future is probably the most highly anticipated Fringe show on the heels of SNAFU Dance Theatre’s Little Orange Man’s resounding success in 2013. And, here’s all I have to say… get a ticket WHILE YOU STILL CAN! Outsider Kitt is in 9th grade and she’s found a worthy partner in a socially anxious boy named Jane. During a school assembly on salmon, the two hijack the auditorium. They face death at the end of the hour and want pass on some crucial advice about surviving the pending apocalypse. With the same break-neck pace of Little Orange Man, Jane and Kitt use music, shadow puppetry, and diagrams to trace their startling discovery about themselves and the future as well as offer advice for the survivors. Being in the presence of these two very lovable and unique characters for 75 minutes feels like a life-changing experience. Their can-do-attitude and visible flaws make them role models for being oneself. The overall message is that no matter who you are, it is possible to make a positive difference in the world. Also, the phrase “Are you on the bus?” should enter popular vernacular. Rachel Levine

Out of the Mouths of Men

Montreal Fringe Festival Launch. talking Cock. Photo Rachel Levine

Montreal Fringe Festival Launch. talking Cock. Photo Rachel Levine

Talking Cock is a male version of the Vagina Monologues. Four comedians, using examples from their own life and statistics from an online survey on their website (the stuff PhDs are made of) explain why the penis is fantastic and needs more love. The tension between the comedians and the audience was palpable. Talking Cock was a brilliantly funny performance by four guys who could work the crowd like nobody’s business. The tension between the comedians themselves, however, was lacking a little, and they just didn’t quite mesh together onstage. Also, there were moments when cue-cards were in disarray, and lines were being said on top of one another. None of these things made the show any less hilarious, but they made it feel just a little less finished. A few more rehearsals would not have been amiss. Of course, the penis is a sensitive subject – literally, of course, but I mean politically. Although this piece was extremely very careful to not touch any difficult areas, it could use a little work around the edges to avoid saying something really stupid. There was an assumption, though it was never voiced (and maybe it should have been) that we’re talking about first world countries. Because, generally, men feeling insecure about their manhood and feeling pressured to perform sexually is really a first world problem. Even assuming those parameters, though, there were a couple of iffy statements that really stepped on a line, like, that if men are having x amount of sex, x women must be too, unless there’s one super-slag going around (rape + prostitutes + more circumstances than I can list = awkward moment). When you’re making a good point, don’t ruin it with a stupid delivery. Talking Cock was a hilarious show with a relevant message that both the cock-ed and the uncock-ed will enjoy. Lyla McQueen Shah

Caught Between Berri/UQAM and a Hard Place

Last Metro: the Musical delivers exactly what one would expect: a musical about the Montreal metro system. What happens when a group of strangers get caught in a “ralentissement de service”? Complete with authentic metro soundtrack, this show plays on notions of familiarity to create comedy. It is complete with several of the usual rush hour characters from the woman who needs a seat for her bag to the schoolgirls fighting for cellphone reception. Saraah Ellise Hicks has a power house voice that awakens the audience during Alma’s Song. The audience couldn’t take their eyes away from the hilarity of Annette (Stephanie Zidel) during the shows’s romantic number, or throughout for that matter. The band is cleverly on stage throughout as metro buskers or “Les étoiles du métro” stationed under metro signs with the station’s name on it. Join this group for a ride down the orange line. Julie Santini

Theatre’s To Be or Not To Be

Laurent Pitre’s This Is Not A Play. A Play is an energetic hour with a young man and the existential crisis he faces. Laurent Pitre remains fully engaged and committed to every single moment as he takes us through his thought process, but it’s not all talk. This show is highly physical and Pitre maintains his clear and precise stage presence throughout. This piece sits somewhere between play and not play. The discussion of the unknown and unplanned is strategically calculated. Not based in life. Not an actor. The only one who can tell his story is him. This show left me wanting to write my own version or take on the play. It also had me going “hmmm” quite a bit. Julie Santini

Simply Profound

Lar Vi’s The Shadow Waltz, directed by Marc Rowland, sits in a category all of its own. This beautiful and generous piece has already stolen hearts and earned a standing ovation at tonight’s opening night. Lar has the ability to suspend time as she takes the audience into her vast universe. With simply two chairs and a few flashlights, Lar presents what is clearly just a taste of “stellar” things to come. The combination of movement, storytelling, and shadow signifies endless possibilities from her deep internal world where she will make you laugh, cry and sometimes both. A truly moving piece by a truly talented artist. A show people left saying, “It’s worth seeing a second time.” Julie Santini

Death and Song

In Memoriam : The Wake of Cheddar Fandango

In Memoriam : The Wake of Cheddar Fandango

In Memoriam: The Wake of Cheddar Fandango tells the story of the dead Cheddar through the eyes of her mourning, not-so-mourning and mourning-for-all-the-wrong reasons friends. The acting was unfortunately bland – characters were indistinguishable. The over-the-top quirkiness they seemed to be going for wound up being cloying and generic. The jokes were either repetitive or felt extremely contrived (not in-character enough to constitute situational humor, but not outrageous enough to be shockingly funny). And there was no emotional edge to any of the performances, which stood out particularly in the context of a story about a funeral. The emotions, some stemming from grief, but most stemming from a far more selfish place, were unconvincing. The majority of the songs were excellent; however, the piece really didn’t hold enough energy to sustain the more energetic pieces. Anything high-energy or excessively cheery fell flat, but the softer, more mournful songs were so gorgeous, they made the air go still. Lyla McQueen Shah

The Montreal Fringe Festival continues until June 22. For full schedule, click HERE.