Montreal Fringe Festival Reviews: Pluck’d, Precinct, Orson Wells / Shylock, Frank Allen

Precinct. Montreal Fringe Festival. Cafe Campus. Photo Rachel Levine Precinct. Montreal Fringe Festival. Cafe Campus. Photo Rachel Levine

I had a late start this Fringe, as sometimes life gets in the way. But I will tell you this: the Fringe for All was a lovely premonition that we’d be treated to something special this year. People are bringing out the big guns and so far, I feel #blessed to be able to see what’s bubbled out of people’s brains so far.


This panto-style piece delves into the relationship between a first-generation Chinese family and their queer second-generation daughter is at turns hilarious and heart-wrenching. The over-exaggeration of the coded language allows us to recognize that really, you can substitute the word vegetarian for anything. I appreciated this piece mostly because I sympathized with the character that I never usually sympathize with: the stuck-in-the-past abusive father. His portrayal, while farcical, was laden with the desperation of a man that has worked himself to the bone and is now feeling like it was all meaningless. It has some real moments, and I can only say that this show is definitely worth seeing.

Pluck’d is at the Mainline Theatre (3997 St Laurent) on June 13 (20:00), 15 (23:30), 16 (14:45) and 17 (19:00)

Precinct: An Improvised Cop Story

Precinct. Montreal Fringe Festival. Cafe Campus. Photo Rachel Levine

Precinct. Montreal Fringe Festival. Cafe Campus. Photo Rachel Levine

This is long-form cop-improv done really well. It will be hard getting a ticket to this locals-laden offering, but if you are looking for some good entertainment, this will fulfill your jones. As the cop duo channel a Lethal Weapon Danny Glover/Mel Gibson vibe, and the Commissioner with a Sean Spicer temperament bounce around the stage, you can’t help but get right into it. They feature a guest improviser every show, and I had the pleasure of seeing the James McGee show. Between his outsized penis and his brick boat, the love triangles and the fact that I really thought the commissioner might die of an aneurysm, I cannot possibly deny that Precinct is a good time, and I am sure that you will agree.

Precinct is at Montreal Improv Venue B (3717 St Laurent #202) June 14 (23:15), 16 (18:15), 17 (21:45), and 18 (15:45).

Orson Wells/Shylock

Oh Lordy, did I ever love this show, but I am sucker for a stylized biopic. The rapid-fire delivery of these actors kept you wanting more and more, kept you on the edge of your seat, and you really got a sense of temperament and how Wells got to the paradoxical highs and lows of his career. I was not familiar with The Merchant of Venice or with Orson Wells, but now I feel like I have a pretty good handle on both. The production is stripped down, the actors in simple black and white. This is a production where the performers have nowhere to hide. And they deliver a solid performance, creating a whirlwind approximation of the creative process with all the distractions attendant in a life lived less ordinarily. See this. It’s really, really, really good and is the kind of theatre that makes you excited about theatre.

Orson Wells/ Shylock is at Black Theatre Workshop Studio (3680 Jeanne Mance) on June 14 (21:30), 15 (23:00), and 18 (17:00).


The Ballad of Frank Allen

This is a cutie of a show. Shane Adamczak and Al Lafrance team up to bring us a show that I can only describe as a loveable romp. These two, previously comprising two-thirds of the Flapjack Cadillac sketch troupe, have a fantastic energy on stage and are both more than obviously nerdy romantic dudes just trying to get on in life. Al, playing Al, is an aimless drop-out, drifting from job to job without a clue. Frank Allen, a janitor, accidentally gets shrunk by a science machine and ends up living in Al’s beard. They can only communicate under very specific circumstances, but Frank, not happy to be just a bystander, has his ways to keep Al from sabotaging himself. You will laugh. You will not cry, you will just laugh.

The Ballad of Frank Allen is playing at Petit Campus on June 16 (22:00), 17 (16:45), and 18 (20:00).

The Montreal Fringe Festival continues until June 18. You can get tickets for all shows HERE. Most shows are $10. Click here for reviews of Fringe shows The Morning After the Life Before, The Detective The Dame and the Devil, This is Not SheWhip, 0 Days Without Crying, tldr;smh, A Change in the Weather, Elsewhere, Peter Pansexual, Oscar, CarMa, Illustrated Lady, Leave the Therapy Take the Cannoli, and Things Drugs Taught Me.