It’s down to the last two days of the Fringe and hopefully you’ve paced yourself – unlike me who is happily suffering from theatre overload! Rather than continue to review performances at this point when so many of them only have one more showing, I thought I’d give you a guide of how I recommend you spend your last two days fringing. There are lots of great performances this year, and I wish I could send you to them all, but timing is tight and that’s not always possible. So below is my A game guide to the last weekend at the Fringe.
Friday August 5th
If you have the afternoon off work, first of all lucky you! And second of all I will suggest you go check out Bedlam. It’s the story of real life mental health professional Dr. Walter Freeman, know as the inventor of the “ice pick lobotomy”. This one man show has its flaws, more context and less repetition of case studies would have helped, but the acting is earnest and the story is fascinating.
http://see.calgaryfringe.ca/events/2011/08/01/322-pretty-bird (and no, I don’t know why the title pretty bird is in the link!)
There is no better acting or characterization at the Fringe this year than the one woman show Dying Hard. The play is a story about the plight of the flourspar miners in 1960’s Newfoundland as told through verbatim interviews. I almost didn’t see this one because the subject didn’t grab me but wow am I glad I did! For me, this is the performance and play that will stick with me long after the Fringe is over and will make sure that I keep my eye out for other productions starring the ridiculously talented Mikaela Dyke.
For a bit lighter but no less thoughtful production I suggest that you go see Take A Bite, a story about what happens when two stranger wake up in a room with no idea how they got there. With good acting, humorous moments, an interesting premise and a fantastic existentialist twist, this play is a quirky way to end your evening.
Saturday August 6th
Start your mid afternoon off with a very funny solo show about the fear of becoming and being a father. Like Father, Like Son? Sorry, starts off a little shaky, but quickly turns on the charm and brings lots of comedic talent to the table. With stories not just about child rearing, but about the performer’s own background and his witty musings, this is a show that everyone can appreciate.
Growing up under the thumb of a verbally abusive father who you later find out is a pedophile would seem to make for dark and depressing theatre. And while Spitting in the Face of the Devil is a serious performance, it is anything but a downer. This one man performance is injected with humour, sweet honesty and a terrific set of impressions by the actor of himself as a little boy, a 10-year-old and a teenager.
Finish off the Fringe on what is certainly one of the high notes of the festival. 6 Guitars has Chase Padgett playing 6 different guitar players from 6 different genres of music. Switching back and forth between the Blues, Rock, Country, Classical, Jazz and Folk character/players, Padgett keeps us laughing while we realize that no music is better, just different. Note that all online tickets are sold out for this one, so get there early and stand in line for at the door tickets.
It’s been a great Fringe this year and I hope you have all seen things you’ve enjoyed. Thank you to everyone who wrote to me to suggest plays or comment on my reviews online and on CBC radio. As always, I appreciate your thoughts. Keep them coming!