23rd Victoria Fringe Festival

Dates and Venue 27 Aug - 6 Sepl 2009 @ Various Venues, Victoria BC

Reviewer Ed Farolan

I had the opportunity to go to Victoria this week and see five shows. As part of our mandate of reviewing shows "beyond Vancouver" and also "beyond the performing arts genre", our neighbour Victoria takes top priority. We've always wanted to do the Fringe there, but somehow or other, we couldn't manage. But I made it a point this year to go if none of the other reviewers could make it.

Many of the shows at the Victoria Fringe will be shown in Vancouver, and I picked the shows that wouldn't come here, except Cabarlesque, as I did get a request from Leora Joy Godden who plays Marina in the show to help promote it for its run starting September 11th at the upcoming Vancouver Fringe.

When you have shows like Cabarlesque and a last minute entry from Seattle, Cherry Cherry Lemon, where you have professional actors, you're sure to get full houses. And this was the case in both these shows. True enough, they were great shows because the actors are seasoned actors and feel comfortable on stage. Then you have the amateurs, on the other hand, and with them, it's hard to tell. For example, Someone Who'll Watch Over Me presented by drama students from the University of Victoria wasn't too bad. And this is because of the play itself written by an award-winning playwright, Frank McGuiness. If you have a good play, you're 50% there. The rest of the percentage goes to the production itself.

Now take the other two shows I saw, The Macbeths and Colette Suspended. I could tell easily that these are amateurs. I don't mind experimentations and adaptations. In fact, the Macbeth adaptation was interesting, but it was hurriedly done. I got the impression that the actors were running as fast as possible to get to the finish line, and were rattling the classic Shakesperean lines like they were reading rather than acting out the play.

In the case of the experimental Colette, where actors are dressed as marionettes and act out a love triangle plot in puppet fashion--this is an interesting experiment, but it fails because their voices are taped and they act out their dialogues. I undersand the concept--they are marionettes and they're not supposed to talk, but I could tell from the audience that they were getting bored and restless after a while.

I wish I had more time to review more shows, but it's quite a task bussing and ferrying to Victoria, plus hotel costs and all. But as I mentioned earlier, many of the shows I wanted to review like The Peter 'n Chris Show, Oh Winnipeg! and Straight from That Side of Town will be coming to Vancouver next week and I'll be giving my feedback on these shows during their Vancouver run.

© 2009 Ed Farolan