Fringe for All!

Fringe-for-All Montreal 2011

Last night I spent six hours at Café Campus to see the the Fringe-for-All event, which marks the launch of the Montreal Fringe festival. About 50 acts got the chance to pitch their show within a strictly enforced two-minute time frame (once their time expired the lights were dimmed and the mike was cut!). It was a great opportunity to mark the favourites on your program and decide what you want – or not want – to watch. This year’s Fringe Festival is the biggest ever with 30 venues, 500 artists and 700 performances, and when I first leafed through the program the task of making any kind of choice seemed absolutely impossible. But after my Fringe-for-All marathon I feel I can make a few recommendations.

To give you a general idea of what’s on offer I shot some video during the event (yay press pass!). Here are the evening’s highlights:

A few suggestions of what you may want to check out:

Robby Hoffman‘s show looks very funny. Her stand-up routine was sharp and witty, and I rather agree with her views on men’s balls. Equally hilarious is Andrea Stanford‘s Verbal Diary-ah, where she reads excerpts from her actual teenage diary. It’s, like, so OMG cool. The troupe Collectif de danse l’Analogie presented an amusing snippet from their improv dance show Reciprok. More elaborate was the dance and theatre production Who is Aristippus by the Pirate Panda Company, which involved pirates, robots and steam punk. I really loved the melodic, simple sounds of the Naledi Project – just guitar and voice, but all soul. Red Rose Production‘s Buddha and the Rock Star was a pretty raunchy number featuring a troupe of lingerie-clad dancers. A real crowd-pleaser was the 80s-themed Hair Nation Party, which is an air-guitar competition where 80s concept metal costumes are strongly encouraged. The clown trio Les Trois Garçons‘ act Soir de Première was surprisingly funny (I’m not usually into clowns); one of the actors reminded me a lot of Mr. Bean. On a very different note, Crossroads from JingJu Productions features traditional Chinese acrobatics, music, and the most splendid costumes. And if you like all things Asian, make sure to check out the very cheeky musical play Manga by Belzébrute which pokes fun at martial arts movies. The Horrific Historical Hysterical Walking Tour by On the Spot looked, well, hysterical – I hope that there’s really a life-sized Beaker muppet leading the tour! Last but not least, don’t miss Body Slam by Still Milking the New Sacred Cow. I was reminded of Gil Scott-Heron as the jazzy vibes mixed with poetry and break-dancing.

Overall, I think this promises to be a fun edition of the Fringe. I’m pleasantly surprised at the quality of the acts – after all, the Fringe concept allows anyone to take part in the festival on a first-come-first-served basis. I saw nothing cringe-worthy last night, every artist was honest, enthusiastic, and ready to go. Looks like I’ll have a very busy June.

The Montreal Fringe Festival
May 30 – June 19, 2011
http://montrealfringe.ca

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