Dispatches from the Victoria Fringe 2016. Day Eight.

Dispatches from the Victoria Fringe 2016. Day Eight.  Victoria Fringe Festival August 22-September 4, 2016.

Reviews of Me, The Queen and a Coconut by Andrew Bailey , Fat Sex by Steve Larkin, Everlast by Kevin Koch, Bowser by Joyce Kline

As always, my complete Victoria Fringe Festival 2016 coverage can be found HERE:

Be sure to page through since there are dozens of entries–previews, and picks, as well as reviews. I have written 17 previews of shows I will either most likely not see, or will see too late in the festival to write reviews.  I hope to post reviews daily of shows I’ve seen the day/night before–some days are “show heavy” and it may take a day or two to catch up.  My final reviews will be posted Friday September 2nd.


  • Get advance tickets if there is a show you really want to see.  If they are sold out, remember that 50% of the tickets are reserved for at-the-door sales. However, you will need to be prepared to line up early.
  • Embrace the line-up. Get to know your fellow Fringers. Many a friendship has been made as a result of a casual conversation.
  • Don’t be LATE–the show WILL start without you.
  • Don’t forget–you need a Fringe button ($6). One of the guiding principles of the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals CAFFTM is that all ticket sales go directly to the artists.  The sale of Fringe buttons helps Intrepid Theatre produce the festival.
  • The last weekend (Thurs/Fri/Sat/Sun) tends to be very busy, and many shows sell-out their advance tickets (although 50% of the tickets are reserved for sales at the venue IF you are prepared to line up well in advance).  If a show you really wanted to see is completely sold out, please–take a chance on a show by an unknown or lesser known artist.  That, to me, is the true joy of the Fringe–the unexpected and pleasant surprises.
  • Don’t be afraid to embrace the weird, wacky and wonderful shows at the Fringe. Pick a show that got a one-star or so-so review. This is what Fringing is all about.  Pick a genre you aren’t very familiar with, and go for it!

Me, The Queen and a Coconut by Andrew Bailey

With his meticulous descriptions, and uncanny prowess with the mechanics of comedy, Andrew Bailey simultaneously paints elaborate word pictures—reveling in every tiny and intricate detail—for details matter—a fact played out again and again in this unlikely coming-of-age tale—and drops bon mots like some people invective. Skills honed in multiple cabarets with the award-winning troupe Atomic Vaudeville, then as a master monologist (Scupulosity, Putz, Limbo, The Adversary), and later novelist (The Rite of James Biddle), of late Bailey has been absent from the Victoria Fringe Festival stage (his last appearance was in 2011).

The word has gotten around; even at 4:30 pm on a rainy Thursday afternoon, the line snakes past the church at Venue 6 (Fairfield Hall)—the man has serious fans and it’s any wonder.  Precise delivery, a love of language and an ability to spot the absurdities of life make his monologues pithy, intelligent and very, very funny.

Me, the Queen and a Coconut portrays a life informed by a love for his grandfather (a revered local cleric who studied at Oxford) and steeped in the traditions of the Anglican church—it’s how he managed to score a job as sacristan at “the” Windsor Chapel, where he answered tourists’ questions (“just make it up if you don’t know the answer”), cleaned (vacuuming up the Royal dust among the pews) and served at church and for special events (his reputation as crucifer preceded him).

Throughout Bailey struggles with his faith—what’s one to do when God is no longer there and rituals that once provided comfort now seem empty and pointless?

He has the fortuitous gift of being able to translate the arcane and unknown-for-many world of the Church, translating it for his lay audience and revealing secrets that would appear on the surface to be impenetrable, thereby rendering his journey relatable.

Andrew Bailey wields words like grand masters paint brushes—with precision and light touches, adding layers of subtlety as he goes.

In the matter of solo shows, Me, the Queen and a Coconut is sublime and ingenious, performed with thought and precision—every word and action accounted for.  Simply outstanding.

Me, The Queen and a Coconut by Andrew Bailey,Victoria BC
Location: Fairfield Hall (Fringe Venue 6)
Tickets: Advance price: All Seats $11+s/c* Door price: All Seats $11
Duration: 60 mins
Rating: PG14+: Coarse Language
Genre: Dramatic Comedy Storytelling

Remaining shows:
Sat Sep 3 – 9:00pm
Sun Sep 4 – 2:45pm

Fat Sex by Steve Larkin

This show will also be at the Vancouver Fringe Festival

Steve Larkin has a degree in philosophy from prestigious British university—he’s the first in his family to attain this achievement—; it’s prepared him perfectly for a career as a community performance poet (the irony does not escape him).  His poetic pedigree is remarkable—over twenty years, including being at the very birth of the movement in the UK.  An international slam poetry champion and  professor of poetry at Oxford, he’s worked with prisoners (as detailled in N.O.N.C.E.—seen at the Victoria Fringe in 2014) and been commissioned by the House of Commons.  Fringe audience may also remember his dystopian re-imagining of Tess of the D’Ubervilles (TES) from the 2011 Fringe (I was personally hooked at this moment).

Fat Sex is a compilation of poems and songs (he also plays mandolin in a cabaret klezmer ska band—Inflatable Buddha) that reveal his anarchist roots  and contempt for the current political climate in England and the state of world affairs—as seen through an environmental and social justice lens.  Larkin goes so far as to applaud censorship—if it means Fox News will be censored.

From rants about the obsessions prevalent in women’s magazines (Fat Sex—a found poem comprised of headlines clipped in a selection of them), to railing against the dangers of Disney’s saccharine anthropomorphizations  that keep children dull and docile, incapable of seeing reality (Ape) to a send-up of the current crop of poets (a superb Wannakah) Larkin clips along in mordant fashion.

Despite the bleakness of the situation Larkin continues to believe social change is possible and has dedicated his life–from being a charity “mugger” to donating a percentage of his income to save the orangutan—to this pursuit.  Acidic social commentary balanced with joy in a life that is, after all, sweet—Steve Larkin has the audience on their feet pogo-ing along with the best of them, dancing like the demented fools the situation demands.

A prophet poet for today’s dangerous times, Larkin is best enjoyed live—Victoria Fringe audiences are fortunate.

Fat Sex by Steve Larkin, Oxford, UK
Location: Langham Court Theatre (Fringe Venue 5)
Tickets: Advance price:  Regular $11/ St & Sr $9 + s/c* Door price: Regular $11/ St & Sr $9
Duration: 60 mins
Rating: PG 14+: Coarse Language /Adult Themes
Genre: Stand Up Poetry

Remaining shows:
Fri Sep 2 – 7:30pm
Sun Sep 4 – 1:00pm

Everlast by Kevin Koch

Everlast serves as a good reminder that reviewers (even this one) represent one opinion.  The Fringe is a chance for audiences to experience theatre “outside the box” and definitely outside of their own personal comfort zones.  Some people go to be entertained, some to be challenged. Some choose to stay within the limits of the forms they know and understand, and some actively search out the weird, wacky and different.

“See a show with a one star review”—no one is sure who said it first. Was it noted performer Chris Gibbs after his acclaimed show Antoine Feval received one star at the Toronto Fringe?  No matter, it’s good advice that I try to remember every year.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to include Everlast by Kevin Koch (last seen in An Improvised Tragedy at the 2015 Victoria Fringe) in my schedule but now, I’m pleased that I did.

It’s time. God’s not dead but he’s gonna be, and Pope Martin VI is just the man for the task. Rough-edged and rowdy, Marty has a checkered past. Brought up on the tough streets of New York by a mom who boxed professionally, then consigned to a Catholic orphanage (where he develops a life-long friendship with patriarchy-busting Lucy) upon her tragic demise—Marty ascends to the Holy See through a series of inspired boxing matches—taking out Pope Francis and all his cardinals.

The author of a new New Testament—Everlast (“we alone can bring ourselves to everlasting life”)—Marty propounds his philosophy in a series of pithy readings and back stories.

Beyond the comedy of a pugilistic pope, Koch develops a complex treatise filled with notions of battling and dismantling the patriarchy and existing power structures.

Lucy is a fine social justice warrior (“no one has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the senses of those who are oppressing them”) who works tirelessly to educate Marty to the reality he inhabits, until—having seen enough, he cracks and sets up the match with God.

In the end—who wins?

Everlast is provocative and satirical; Koch delivers a one-two punch of anarchist rant and comedic character that is bound to have audiences laughing one moment, and pondering the next.

Bowser by Joyce Kline (Tribal Writes)

Dotted along the beautiful coastline of eastern Vancouver Island, backwater communities stretch from Victoria to Port Hardy, populated by recently arrived well-to-do retirees and the long-term characters and eccentrics who call them home.

Bowser is the story of Elaine (Christine Upright), former exotic dancer, abandoned first by a spite-filled husband and then by her “sailor boy”.  Now, life is arranged with a quieter rhythm—days spent quietly painting on the beach and assembling driftwood sculptures sold at the local craft store for income.

One day an unlikely confidant shows up—a seagull curiously picking away at her basket.  Crotchety, Elaine wants to have nothing to do with the “shit hawk” but is quickly won over by his sly tilts of the head and introspective squawks.  Puppeteer Ian Chapin brings the creature (puppet design Tim Gosley) vividly to life, soon disappearing into the backdrop as he manipulates rods with ease.

As Elaine unfolds her life—full of grief and heart break–Upright captures defeat and pluck, sensuality, resignation and the courage to move forward.

Bowser is an intriguing character study filled with warmth and humanity made all the more interesting by the skilled interactions of human and bird.

Bowser by Joyce Kline, Victoria BC
Location: Fairfield Hall (Fringe Venue 6)
Tickets: Advance price:  Regular $11/ St & Sr $9 + s/c* Door price:  Regular $11/ St & Sr $9
Duration: 45 mins
Rating: PG14+: Adult Themes
Genre: Monologue with Puppetry

Remaining show:
Sun Sep 4 – 5:30pm

About @lacouvee

Community Builder. Catalyst. Speaker. Writer. Arts Advocate.

Passionate about bridging online and offline communities to effect positive change.

I truly believe that one person can make a difference and that we all have our own lives to live, creatively, while respecting the unique nature of others.


  1. […] prophet poet for today’s dangerous times, Larkin is best enjoyed live.  Review link: http://janislacouvee.com/dispatches-from-the-victoria-fringe-2016-day-eight/ and interview: […]

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