Male burlesque performers, red nosed clowns, circus acrobats, time travellers and Elizabethan princesses.
That is just a glimmer of what you’ll see at the Edmonton International Fringe Festival. The punch line this summer is “go wild.” In other words, step out of your comfort zone and treat yourself to an adventure.
The first step is to pick up a donut and coffee. Then grab a glossy Fringe guide or punch in the Fringe app. Next, skim through the 250 shows available for every age group from Kids Fringe to 50 venues scattershot across Old Strathcona mounting more radical and racy adult fare.
The Fringe is unbelievably outrageous, incredibly electric and so colourful. Take a chance and step into that 11-day magical world that runs until Aug. 25.
The Gazette will provide reviews of local artists in print and online at stalberttoday.ca. Below is a sampling.
The Big Bright
8208 106 St., Edmonton
The Big Bright introduces a world of commercialism where everyday folk are bombarded non-stop with advertising messages. Too fat? Drink protein shakes. Smell bad? Buy deodorant. Look sexier? Use perfume.
Playwright Erin Hutchison creates a copy of our world where the superficial is glorified and body shaming is the pillar of advertising. The result is anxiety, depression and eating disorders.
In this 90-minute musical satire, Jax and her best friends Yo-yo and Pog live in an isolated community where residents have simple needs. Greyma, their leader, goes to the big city to forage for the group but returns changed. She’s lost her essence.
The adventurous trio travels to the Big Bright to retrieve Greyma’s essence. Instead they discover a world that tells individuals they are not good enough and flogs products to fix them.
Kudos to Hutchison, as playwright, director and lead female actor, for exploring a topic that perpetuates a cycle of low self-esteem.
The clownish production values, especially the cartoonish headgear and vivid costumes certainly produce a lot of laughs.
However, the non-stop bombardment of products becomes wearing and I found myself tuning out. The music was also too loud for the intimate venue and drowned out the singers.
The Big Bright has a quirky premise and energetic talent. But Hutchison could easily shave off 20 minutes and not miss a beat.
All You Need
The Grindstone – Luther Room
10014 – 81 Ave.
Owen Bishop’s one-man show initially launches as one of Britain’s greatest cover-ups – the 1960s death of Paul McCartney in an accidental car collision. Sound crazy?
According to Max, Bishop’s character, McCartney was replaced by a Canadian look-alike. And the only way the Beatles could let the public know was through covert messages on the album covers of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Magical Mystery Tour and Abbey Road.
The British cover-up swings over to American government conspiracy theories before ending as a tribute to Max’s father.
While this might sound haphazard, Bishop creates a tour-de-force performance. He is a brilliant storyteller who creates an ebb and flow in his monologue teasing his audience along the path of discovery.
The 45-minute show is a jigsaw puzzle filled with suspenseful moments. Bishop keeps the show flowing at a generous pace where even silences shout louder than words.
Max is on a collision course with his psyche. You sense an impending explosion, but like a runaway train you cannot look away.
See it. Check it out.