Postcards From The Fringe 2011 Part 1

Have you ever taken a trip where you were so busy meeting new people, taking in the attractions, and of course enjoying a drink or two, that you barely had time to take it all in? Let alone write about. This is how I feel about writing about the Ottawa Fringe Festival. There are so many shows to see and fun to be had in the beer tent that I always find it difficult to get away to write about it. So like a busy traveller, stopping only to send a quick postcard home between adventures, I have decided to write short mini reviews of several shows this year, rather than full length reviews. Hopefully, it will inspire you to come out and see some theatre and give you a taste for what this festival has to offer.

Thursday: was the launch of the festival and it was great to see many people who I hadn’t run into a very long time (many since the previous Fringe). I only saw a couple of shows, but the one I can fully recommend is When Harry Met Harry . Allan Girod stars in this one man show by Flaming Locomotive Productions about Harry, a man who prides himself on his attention to minute details and lives for the routine of office work, who is suddenly forced to confront his greatest fear– a team building workshop!  Girod’s movements are delightful to watch as he shapes his very tall frame into Rodney and Harry two very physically distinct characters. The story is simple, with a fair bit of audience participation, but anyone who has ever worked in an office, or, dare I say it, the Civil Service will be able to identify with the action on stage. I know the team building exercise felt very familiar to me. This one is simple, hilarious, and kind of endearing. A must see!

Friday: I saw two shows that I really liked. The first was Playing Dead a show about a zombie apocalypse by Dead Unicorn Ink. While some of the performances and production elements were a little rough around the edges, the script is excellent and the zombie puppets are amazing. Who doesn’t enjoy watching puppets being dismembered on stage? In the end, I was totally onside with this show and had a great time. There is also a great cameo appearance by well known local actor Jody Haucke. Playing Dead is a little unpolished, but a whole lot of fun. In other words, perfect for Fringe. I recommend it.

Zombie puppets from Playing Dead. Photo courtesy of Andrew Alexander

In the evening, I checked out Every Story Ever Told where Ryan Gladstone attempts to tell every story ever told in one hour. This one has a manic pace and Gladstone puts in a well executed performance. I loved it. You might want to buy tickets in advance for this one. I have a feeling it will sell out.

That’s it for my first two postcards. Stay tuned for my next installment and, in the meantime, come down to the Arts Court courtyard and join me for some cold beer and great theatre.


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