Dispatches from the Victoria Fringe 2018. Day Six.

Dispatches from the Victoria Fringe 2018. Day Six.

Reviews of How I Learned to Hug by Jon Bennett and Rocko and Nakota Tales from the Land by Josh Languedoc (will be posted Thursday).

Don’t forget to check out reviews from Day One (The Session, Reminiscences of Reconciliation, Fool’s Paradise), Day Two (Water People, Fado, Carey, OK!)  Day Three (Sherlock Holmes and the Curse of Moriarty!, The Measure of Love, The Boy in the Chrysalis, Para Dos), Day Four (The Birdmann and Egg FINALE, Cornelius and Titania BLOOD RELATIVE), Day Five (Death a Romantic Comedy and Confessions of an Operatic Mute)

The busiest time of the Fringe starts now.  If there are shows you are determined to see, I always advise getting advance tickets to avoid disappointment—by the concluding weekend many are sold-out of pre-sales and line-ups begin well before an hour in advance of door sales.

Take a chance on a show you didn’t intend seeing—that’s part of the joy of the festival.

Happy Fringing.

Day Six of the Victoria Fringe was dedicated to storytelling.  One of my favourite aspects of the festival is the sheer variety of storytelling styles available.

Jon  Bennett:  How I Learned to Hug

Jon Bennett is a perennial favourite on the Canadian Fringe circuit, travelling the country from festival to festival and garnering sold-out crowds everywhere he goes.  Firmly planted in the camp of gonzo storytelling, he races at breathtaking speed from episode to episode, each more outrageous than the last.

His genius lies in a preternatural ability to take a moment in time, and from there, spin it backwards and forwards, drawing on life happenings, to arrive in conclusion at his starting point. His family and growing up in small town rural Australia figure prominently.

Despite his world travels, Bennett has difficulty adhering to airline schedules and airport rules—and finds himself missing flights on a regular basis, a fact that endears him immediately to the audience. Who doesn’t hate flying in 2018?

At the Montréal airport he is detained as a terrorist. To prove he is not, he begins a story.

What follows is a brilliant chronology of love, lust and sex that is frank, explicit and hilarious.  From falling in love at the age of six, to first kiss and first sexual encounter, he runs from heartbreak to heartbreak as life unfolds—walling himself off emotionally—until he doesn’t (and learns to hug in the process). His exploits draw from the well of common human experience—everyone has known the sting of rejection, wondered about changing bodies, fumbled through the agony of break-ups.

Multi-media projections help to ground the tale, which zigs and zags with an astonishing rapidity.  On the scale of words-per-minute spoken, Bennett is definitely in the upper range, keeping the audience on its toes.

Time spent with Jon Bennett is a rush, a true celebration of being alive, even when events take a turn for the worse.

Jon  Bennett:  How I Learned to Hug (Melbourne, Australia)
Venue 2, the Downtown Community Centre, 755 Pandora Avenue
Tickets $11
Duration 60 minutes
Rating: Adults only, extremely coarse language, adult themes, nudity
Genre: Storytelling comedy, multi-media

Remaining shows

Thur Aug 30 8:15pm
Fri Aug 31 11pm
Sat Sept 1 8:30pm
Sun Sept 2 8pm

Rocko and Nakota Tales from the Land

Edmonton-based Anishinaabe playwright and storyteller Josh Languedoc moves with lithe grace across the stage, inhabiting the body of a young boy, Nakota, who is trying to write the best story in the world for his Grade 6 class, before becoming his ancient grandfather Rocko—a man filled with wisdom, and given to quoting rock music lyrics to make a point—and even the trickster Raven.

Drawing from an oral storytelling tradition, Languedoc incorporates myth and legend into a tale that spans deep wells of time—the present and the long-ago past when magic happened.

More focused on the heroes he finds in comic books, Nakota is at first resistant to his grandfather’s teachings—an anxious child prone to fainting, he’s been hospitalized and doctors are puzzled. There’s a battle going on for his heart and mind—will he find the courage to write his own story?

Rocko and Nakota makes very effective use of lighting design—green washes over the stage as trees emerge in the story; at times Languedoc is hidden in a dim world that focuses attention on his face; in the dark his words are compelling.

Rich and engaging Rocko and Nakota is a family-friendly show that reminds us of the power of story to change lives.

Rocko and Nakota Tales from the Land by Josh Languedoc (St Albert, AB)
Venue 2, the Downtown Community Centre,755 Pandora Avenue
Tickets $9
Duration: 45 minutes
Rating: All Ages
Genre: Storytelling

Remaining shows:

Fri August 31 5pm
Sat Sept 1 6:30pm
Sun Sept 2 4:45pm

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. If this is the Janis that lived on Wychbury, just wanted to tell you what a “glorious” afternoon we spent watching Elliott. You must be so proud!

    • Flo, it is indeed. I retired from reviewing last year and am only now seeing this comment. I’m glad you enjoyed “Glorious” at the Chemainus Theatre Festival.

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