BWW Review: MONTREAL FRINGE FESTIVAL
It's that time of year again, and the Montreal Fringe Festival is in full swing. There's a huge variety of shows in both French and English on display, offering comedy, drama and everything in between.
The festival runs from June 7 to 17 and it's nearly impossible to see everything, but hopefully this first round of reviews will shed some light on the perennial struggle; which shows to hit up and which to skip.
A Slaying in Suburbia
A lot of plays nowadays claim to be interactive, but this murder mystery completely follows through on its promise, inviting the audience to come onstage at regular intervals to question suspects. Who is using the PTA BBQ as their murderous hunting ground? You won't hear any spoilers from me.
The show is an ambitious one for fringe, running an hour-and-a-half and with a 13-member cast. Part musical, part melodrama, this show is extremely fun and engaging, with some great twists and lively improv bits with the audience. If you're looking for a high energy production that will keep you guessing, A Slaying in Suburbia is the show for you.
Crime After Crime (After Crime)
This show, by Toronto-based Fringe-favourite Sex T-Rex, is a stellar example of how you don't really need any frills to make a great fringe show. The strength of this production lies in the excellent physical comedy, the cohesive manoeuvring of the four actors and the on-the-money understanding of where to hold, where to subvert and where to knock it out of the park.
This play, a quick-changing winking parody of film noir, buddy cop and heist genres, is charming and electric, and features some really impressive fight choreography. Crime After Crime is not to be missed!
Skipping Ur Mom's Funeral and Eating Pizza Instead
This play succeeded in subverting my expectations, but not perhaps in the way the artists behind it would have hoped. While the play's premise, a story about three sisters preparing to go to their mother's funeral, sounds sombre, every inch of promotion attached to the show promised levity. That was, unfortunately, not the case. The play was winding and confused, and resulted in a sudden, eyebrow-raising end that left the audience a bit stunned. Can't say I'd really recommend Skipping Ur Mom's Funeral.
4'33" in Baghdad
This show billed itself as an "academic strip tease" and it proved to be exactly that. I would warn that the show is a bit more academic than I'd predicted - mostly consisting of lecture-style monologue with accompanying power point, feeling at times like a graduate thesis defense, but with the intermittent removing of scarves and shoes and such. The solo act, performed by true-to-life musicologist Nicolas Royer-Artuso,? ?was interesting, if a little dry.
Even after seeing it, I struggle to define exactly what the 40-minute show was about, so I'll let Royer-Artuso do it. "Theoretically grounded, conceptual and experimental, the performance cleverly couples themes of war, invasion, imperialism and academic research with avant-garde art theory, sound art and imposed sound installations (though, not necessarily in that order!)"
He brought humour to an otherwise alienating intellectual topi?c, but 4'33" in Baghdad not everyone's cup of tea.?
Find a full list of Fringe Festival shows here.