Dispatches from the Victoria Fringe 2017 Day Seven

Dispatches from the Victoria Fringe 2017 Day Seven

Years of study and discipline have resulted in the works of three remarkable companies/artists—Beau & Aero: Crash Landing by A Little Bit Off (Amica Hunter and David Cantor); Interstellar Elder (Snafu Dance Theatre) performed by Ingrid Hansen and created together with Kathleen Greenfield, Britt Small and Emma Zabloski; and Olive Copperbottom: a New Musical by Charles Dickens and Penny Ashton.

These three shows have been tearing up the Fringe circuit, in Canada and further afield, and it’s easy to see why. Classically trained, with inventive minds unafraid of experimenting, the performers push boundaries and genres in very different ways, proving that intelligent, thoughtful, superior theatre is being performed far outside conventional streams (although some may argue, given the thirty-plus-year history of Fringe theatre in Canada, that it is now a conventional stream).  To be able to access this level of talent for a mere eleven dollars ($11) is simply astonishing.

Given their popularity, in the final few days of the Victoria Fringe Festival, it is a very good idea to purchase advance tickets.

Beau & Aero: Crash Landing by A Little Bit Off (Amica Hunter and David Cantor)

Did you have a Tickle Trunk, full of costume bits and the odd prop?  Did you dress up and pretend to be explorers, adventurers, pirates and clowns? Do you wish you had some way to re-capture the feeling of freedom and joy you found in playing for hours on end, one silly antic after another—collapsing in heaps of laughter?  Are you thinking, perhaps, it is gone forever?

Not to worry—Amica Hunter and David Cantor have found it for you, and they are willing to share.

Beau & Aero: Crash Landing hearkens back to the dashing times when air travel was a novelty, and intrepid pilots took to the skies, long scarves flowing merrily in the breeze.  And, sometimes plummeted, buffeted by wind and rain, to land in a heap.

Low-tech special effects accompany our heroes in the re-enactment of one such disaster. Marooned, they wait.  Aero (Hunter) can’t help but get into trouble, while Beau (Cantor) tries desperately to maintain some modicum of dignity while struggling to repair their damaged plane.

Owing much to legendary vaudevillians and silent film actors of yore like Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Laurel and Hardy this crazy duo engage in one silly stunt after another, often pulling up an audience member for some help.

Imaginative modern day clowns steeped in rich tradition, and displaying finely honed physical prowess, their zany routines had the audience—from children to seniors—in stitches. In one magical moment, some were so thoroughly engaged they even began to riff off some of the numbers—a delicious back-and-forth ensued.

Drop your adult cares at the door and let your inner child out to play with Beau & Aero: Crash Landing.

An interview with A Little Bit Off from 2016 (Bella Culpa)–insights into their process: http://janislacouvee.com/bella-culpa-at-the-victoria-fringe-festival-2016-an-interview-with-amica-hunter/

Beau & Aero: Crash Landing by A Little Bit Off, written and performed by Amica Hunter & David Cantor
Venue 7: The Roxy Theatre, 2657 Quadra Street
Duration: 55 minutes. All ages. Physical comedy, slapstick, circus
Tickets $11

Remaining shows,
Thursday August 31 7:45pm
Saturday September 2 2:45pm
Sunday September 3 12:45pm

Interstellar Elder by Snafu Dance Theatre, performed by Ingrid Hansen

It’s impossible for me to be impartial when it comes to the work of Snafu Dance Theatre and their co-founder Ingrid Hansen. I’ve followed the company for years, my son Elliott Loran was a member for Pretty Little Instincts (Victoria Fringe 2009) and created and performed Ginger Ninjas with Ingrid at the Fringe in 2010. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen the precursor piece that introduced us to Kitt Petersen, Little Orange Man.

I never fail to be inspired by the sheer craziness of objects used as puppets, the intricacy of the shadow work, the precise nature of movement and the sense of child-like wonder all this exploration induces in audiences, young and old.

Snafu fans will remember some of the seminal plots points from Kitt & Jane, the second show in what is now a trilogy. Genetically modified chard has annihilated all life on earth. Lucas (Jane) Jamieson has invented the Freezitorium, a space-ship filled with cryogenically frozen human cargo, in the hope that one day it will be possible to return and repopulate the planet.

Kitt is chosen to be defrosted, and becomes custodian.

Hansen has the preternatural ability to provoke immediate empathy in her audiences—as she repeats endless housekeeping chores, and ages, perceptibly (in an inspired flash-forward sequence).  Her battles to stay engaged, whiling away the hours with furtive rebellious outbursts, are a stark reminder of the existential and often lonely nature of humanity.

Hansen is an accomplished physical performer who happily plays at the edges.  Interstellar Elder combines signature quirky elements in an emotionally resonant show.

A surprise revelation sparks revolt and an ending that needs to be experienced to be believed.  In Little Orange Man, Hansen stole hearts.  With Interstellar Elder, she liberates them.

Interstellar Elder by Snafu, written/created by Kathleen Greenfield, Ingrid Hansen, Britt Small & Emma Zabloski, performed by Ingrid Hansen
Venue 3: Metro Studio, 1411 Quadra Street
Duration: 75 minutes PG 14+ theatre, comedy, puppetry
All seats $11

Remaining shows:

Thursday August 31 5pm
Friday September 1 11pm
Saturday September 2 8:45pm
Sunday September 3 6pm

Olive Copperbottom  a new musical by Charles Dickens and Penny Ashton

A true quadruple threat Penny Ashton has a fine mind and incomparable abilities—how else to convey the remarkable display of ingenuity and virtuosity that is Olive Copperbottom. Following her sold-out houses for Promise and Promiscuity (has it really been four years since her last appearance at the Victoria Fringe in 2013?), in which she lampooned Jane Austen’s work in a made-to-measure musical, she has once again immersed herself in an author—Dickens—to pull out tropes and treasures.

Applying her sharp satirical skills to then layer in numerous references to the current political climate south of the border, alongside bawdy and suggestive comments and lines, as well as copious musical allusions (see below for the complete list), and then to top it all off by conjuring up a complete and distinctive cast of characters—from virtuous heroine, to dashing hero, from dastardly villains to tiny orphans—Ashton had the audience enthralled from the first line.

Olive Copperbottom is literate and intelligent, abundant in ideas and wordplay. Theatre-goers with a rich background in Dickens and classical music, as well as interests in politics and a bit of a dirty mind, are going to get the maximum enjoyment from this marvellous pastiche, but anyone who enjoys a fine tune, engaging singing and booing the bad guy will applaud this spunky Kiwi as she cavorts and capers, non-stop and with brio, for seventy-five action-packed minutes.

Irrepressible and infectious. A highlight of my Victoria Fringe 2017.

My interview with Penny Ashton: http://janislacouvee.com/olive-copperbottom-by-penny-ashton-victoria-fringe-2017-an-interview/

Olive Copperbottom A New Musical by Charles Dickens and Penny Ashton
Venue 3: Metro Studio 1411 Quadra Street
Duration: 75 minutes. PG 14+ musical theatre comedy
Tickets $11

Remaining shows:

Thursday August 31 9:30pm
Saturday September 2 6:30pm
Sunday September 3 3:15pm

More information about Penny Ashton.  http://www.hotpink.co.nz/

Written by: Penny Ashton and Charles Dickens (numerous quotes and allusions throughout.)
Musical Score: Robbie Ellis
Directed by: Ben Crowder
Costume: Elizabeth Whiting
Music Recorded at: Orange Studios, Christchurch

Musical Pieces and Allusions: Sailor’s Hornpipe – Trad, Raggle Taggle Gypsy – Trad, Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture – Tchaikovsky, La donna è mobile – Verdi (Rigoletto), Nocturne Op 9/1 in Bb minor & Nocturne Op 9/2 in Eb – Chopin, Libiamo ne’ lieti calici – Verdi (La Traviata), In the Hall of the Mountain King – Edvard Grieg (Peer Gynt).  Symphony No 7 in A, 2nd mvt – Beethoven, Symphony No 2 in B minor, 1st mvt – Borodin, “Pour, oh pour the pirate sherry”, (The Pirates of Penzance) – Gilbert & Sullivan, Overture to /A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Mendelssohn,  Scotland the Brave – Trad, Ding Dong Merrily on High – Trad, plus original compositions by Robbie Ellis

Conducter: Michael Bell, Piano – Alison Holden, Violin – Jonathan Tanner, Cello –  Tomas Hurnik, Flute – Rebecca Robinson, Clarinet – John Robinson, Engineer: Thom O’Connor, Assistant Engineer: Cara Wylde

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