BWW Review: MONTREAL FRINGE FESTIVAL
The Montreal Fringe Festival marks a vibrant start to the city's summer season. Artists come together from all over to flood the venues on and around St. Laurent Blvd. with light, music, movement and laughter.
One show that really stood out this year was The Trophy Hunt. This weather-dependent, secret location show is part of a national consortium of artists creating interpretations of this new play by Trina Davies' new play. It's a brilliantly creative exploration of the moral and capitalist repercussions of big game hunting, looking at the human impact of killing wild animals for sport. I hesitate to go into greater detail, as not to spoil any of the wonderful surprises this show brings to the table. Structured primarily as a series of monologues, the cast integrates a beautiful and unexpected musical element that feeds the magical energy that buzzes around the periphery of The Trophy Hunt. While the show is undoubtedly intellectual, it's the movement and dance work that really takes the cake. This one is a must-see.
Vancouver-based company Mind of a Snail knows how to put on a great show. Their use of shadow theatre and projections are executed with expert timing and precision. Their sense of humour is bawdy and charming. And somehow they succeed in making object theatre starring two toothbrushes feel poignant and sweet.
Their show is 18+ but the nudity is tasteful and the laughs are non-stop. Watching their show, Multiple Organism, I felt akin to a toddler giggling over a set of car keys: kind of silly but unable to stop. You have to hand it to Mind of a Snail for their outside the box comedy and impressive teamwork.
On the opposite pole is Burning Bridget Cleary, a drama about a woman in 19th century Ireland who is accused of being a faerie changeling. It's an unusual kind of show for the fringe festival, and risks taking itself too seriously. Running just 45 minutes, this show begins to feel long quickly, as it becomes clear that there won't be any levity to break up the tense Crucible-esque dialogue. The action also escalates much too quickly, going from clear skies to a raging storm seemingly on a dime, and testing the limits of my suspension of disbelief: can a family really turn on one of their own that quickly?
I hesitate to accuse a show of being confusing -- more often than not that ambiguity is intentional -- but the second half of the show takes a dramatic tonal shift and seems to leave some of the hyper realism behind in favour of something supernatural. While I found this shift appealing, the closing monologue left me feeling muddled, as if something was lost in the development process. I think this show had a lot of potential, but it didn't quite arrive at its destination.
And finally, one-woman show The Moaning Yoni acts as a real affirmation for anyone who has ever tried to find love in the digital age, or for anyone who has ever experienced a tampon-related calamity. It's funny and charming, and performer/creator Joylyn Secunda is a pleasure to watch.
In her show, her vagina takes on a persona of its own, hollering like a Jewish grandmother and dropping truth bombs that character Zoe might not be ready to hear. It's really a warm and high energy show that uses song, dance and monologue to explore the "clitoral consciousness" -- an objectively excellent phrase. The best part? Secunda performs a hilarious tampon tango, featuring a giant slab of white cotton which she later wrestles to the ground. An overall rollicking good time.
The St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival runs from May 27 to June 16. Information about all the shows can be found here.