I’ve been going out almost every night to the Fringe with great anticipation of the awesomeness about to hit me, and this years Fringe definitely delivered. Here are a few of my favourite shows.
Last year’s play Leviathan by Sex T-Rex was my favorite Fringe show of 2013. Their newest show is even better. Watch Out Wildkat! Yer Dealin with the Devil is a tightly choreographed and densely written send-up of every popular Western trope. The show is a cinematic story of one woman’s relentless quest for revenge, that somehow manages to also be a buddy film with deals with the devil, steamboats, crooked card games, tumbleweeds, ornery gunslinger, train chases, fights on horses, shootouts aplenty and special effects. That’s right, there are special effects and they are all acted out. If you see one comedic play at the Fringe this year, see this one.
I was lucky to get the second-to-last ticket to the sold out opening last Saturday night. This other Western is the opposite of Watch Out Wildkat, in that it is deadly serious. So much so that the audience was too stunned at the end to give the cast the standing ovation we all later agreed that they richly deserved. This tense piece set entirely in one room of a saloon is about the brutal aftermath of a heist where all of the conspirators are armed and no one trusts anyone else as everything starts to unravel. It’s sort of a Western Reservoir Dogs. This is dramatic theater at its best, both in terms of the acting and the stellar script.
One of the beautiful things about the Fringe is being told that you absolutely must see shows that you hadn’t considered starring people you’ve never heard of who are stars in their own communities but sadly unknown outside of a small group of aficionados. My friends from Montreal Improv insisted that I had to see Lar Vi’s creative gem Shadow Waltz, which refers to a scene in an old silent movie which features a scene in which two dozen neon violins play in a dark room. While briefly autobiographical, the entire one-woman play is about the dance of light within shadow, in which she makes chairs dance, brings to life bees seeking starlight from within a hive and a strange flashlight-lit talk show host and brings it all together with the help of the audience to recreate the forgotten Shadow Waltz.