REVIEWS: Performers coax laughs from love and death

It’s no surprise to last year’s Fringegoers: Martin Dockery is neurotic and hilarious.

Following his Pick of the Fringe win for the monologue Wanderlust, Dockery delivers a new barroom tale of travel, relationships, and the occasional experiment with hallucinogenic drugs. This time he’s adventuring through the ancient Cambodian temple Angkor Wat with his German girlfriend, and visiting his stiff but successful father in Vietnam.

Like a true Brooklynite, Dockery quavers with anxiety, flaps his hands wildly and raises his voice in excited crescendo as he delivers each morsel of acute observation. Dockery is searching for meaning in every sentence – giving the impression he’s conquering inner turmoil in real time.

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REVIEWS: Houdini story unshackled at Fringe

Monster Theatre’s latest biographical production recounts the life of the King of Vaudeville. Equal parts illusions, melodrama and gags, Houdini’s Last Escape reveals that behind every great man is a great woman—not to mention some seriously awkward mommy issues.

Tara Travis plays Houdini’s loving wife Bess, along with a dozen or more cartoonish side characters. Travis steals the show and gets the crowd roaring with well-placed eye rolls, while Christopher Bange tries out his cache of card tricks as the show’s protagonist. Written and directed by Fringe favourite Ryan Gladstone, the script is dense and surprisingly dark.

REVIEW: Giant Invisible Robot

Occasionally Jayson McDonald takes a moment to breathe, but it’s pretty rare.

In his imaginative one-man show Giant Invisible Robot, McDonald seamlessly weaves through an arsenal of fun-to-watch characters, beginning with a neglected kid named Russell.

Russell’s BFF is the play’s namesake—an oversized tin can of destruction, capable of flattening Chicago during a particularly boring afternoon. McDonald jumps forward and backward in time and across storylines to build up their lifelong relationship.

REVIEW: Little Orange Man

“OMG let’s go ride BIKES!”

It’s a familiar refrain for anyone who has grown up with Attention Deficit Disorder. Performer and co-writer Ingrid Hansen makes it an actual ukulele-accompanied chorus in the inventive tragicomedy Little Orange Man.

Hansen plays Kitt, an over-stimulated schoolyard loner with a wild imagination. Having won over a team of impressionable “kinders” with grampa’s gory fairytales, Kitt is poised to take on the dream world (with a little help from her audience).

REVIEWS: Adventurous acts get site-specific at the Fringe Festival

A crash-landed spaceman and beached whale named Martha make sensible companions under the glow of golden Christmas lights.

This oddball participatory comedy crafted by Seth Soulstein is a two-hander, although the crane makes three.

Clad in silver spandex, a wide-eyed Soulstein proves his improvising chops. Never does he break character—even when a wayward space egg nicks a nearby car. (In the universe of public drama, one has to be prepared for anything).

Wreckage, a work by Nita Bowerman, battles frigid waters, tide changes, jellyfish, underwater visibility and pollution.

Fringe reclaims Vancouver with site-specific theatre

With the Vancouver International Fringe Festival now in full swing, adventurous theatre-goers have a wealth of weird and exciting staged drama to experience.

But in outdoorsy Vancouver, many performances are abandoning the traditional stage in favour of unexpected locations. Even more than in previous years, the festival’s “Bring Your Own Venue” selection boasts a growing hub of local talent.

REVIEWS: Have a cigar with Sigmund Freud’s psyche at the Fringe Festival

Ryan Gladstone is Sigmund Freud, and so is his co-star Bruce Horak.

The pair of local Fringe vets are flawlessly synched as Self and Ego in a lively journey through the subconscious mind of the cigar-chewing father of modern psychology. With only an hour left to live, Freud and his embodied id embark on a hilarious quest of self-analysis . . .