Dispatches from the Victoria Fringe 2018. Day Three.

Reviews of Sherlock Holmes and the Curse of Moriarty by David Elendune, produced by Outpost 31 Victoria, The Measure of Love by Nicholas Billon, The Boy in the Chrysalis produced by hapax theatre and Para Dos by Pointe Tango.

Day Three was dedicated to all three shows at Langham Court Theatre before heading downtown to the Metro Theatre.  (side note: thanks to Langham for this year’s concession, which was doing brisk business in treats—you can get hungry fringing and this venue is not as close to food outlets as others).

Don’t forget to check reviews from Day One (The Session, Reminiscences of Reconciliation, Fool’s Paradise) and Day Two (Water People, Fado, Carey, OK!).  There are also previews and interviews with over twenty artists and companies available here: http://janislacouvee.com/tag/victoria-fringe-festival-2018/

Sherlock Holmes and the Curse of Moriarty

A playwright’s gotta do what a playwright’s gotta do to get their work produced, to garner support and recognition. Local David Elendune is dogged in his pursuit, and entrepreneurial in his approach.  First appearing at the Victoria Fringe in 2009 with Good Night Uncle Joe, an original work that has recently been translated into Polish and produced in Poland, then winning lotteries in successive years—Casino Royale (2015), Winnie the Pooh and Tales of 100 Acre Wood (2016) and last year’s multi-award-winning Leer (Best Drama/New Work/Design)—Elendune has formed his own company, gathered a band of stalwart actors and designers and hit upon the formula of adapting and molding work that is in the public’s cultural consciousness.

Even if people have never read a book by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or seen a film featuring his famous character Sherlock Holmes, they identify with the deerstalker hat and can quote “elementary, my dear Watson”.

In Sherlock Holmes and the Curse of Moriarty! an older, not necessarily wiser Watson (David Biltek is unrepentant and lecherous), has been summoned to the Dragon’s Lair by the new female head of MI 5 (cool as a cucumber Ursula Szkolak) to atone for his indiscretions. Before being shipped off to the antipodes, there is one last mystery to be solved—whatever happened to Sherlock Holmes? Did he truly disappear down a waterfall in Switzerland and why was his body never found?

Time stops in the present (1919) as Watson remembers the circumstances of meeting Holmes (Trevor Hinton) in the 1880s.  His younger self (Ian Simms in a bumbling, self-deprecatory portrayal tinged with sarcasm), recently returned from war, is casting about for rooms when he visits his friend and fellow doctor Bill (Adam Holroyd) at St Bartholomew’s Hospital and is subsequently introduced to Holmes in the laboratory.

All actors are visible throughout, seated along the back wall during intervals when they are not required in a scene—an effect that adds suspense and mystery as the audience wonders who they are and where they fit into the story. Jason King’s projections provide context—titles include date and place to help situate the timeline as the narrative moves back and forth—and his sound designs create atmosphere with the subtle rumble of trains overheard (the Dragon’s Lair is under King’s Cross Station), the burbling of beakers in the laboratory and the imposing crashes of thunder and lightning for the climax.

Hinton is wild-eyed and strange, imbued with a peculiar manner just this side of mad; his actions hint at incredible danger lurking beneath the surface—a danger amplified by an episode with a mad woman (Connie McConnell is marvellously demented with startling moments of lucidity) at an asylum which Bill now heads.

The lovely Ellen Law (The Other Woman) is transformed in an unexpected turn of events. Unfortunately (for readers) I have pledged not to reveal the details of all the twists and turns in this surprising dénouement.

Sherlock Holmes and the Curse of Moriarty! keeps audiences guessing with red herrings and convoluted situations before wrapping up in a startling, brilliant and unforeseen conclusion. Elendune is a literary magician, pulling theatrical rabbits out of the hat—strong acting and appealing design (Coleen Maguire co-ordinated elegant period costumes and Ian Simms the moody lighting) enhance the enjoyment.

Sherlock Holmes and the Curse of Moriarty! by David Elendune, produced by Outpost 31
Venue 5, Langham Court Theatre, 805 Langham Court
Tickets: $11
Duration: 90 minutes
Genre: Penny Dreadful Reimagining
Rating: PG 14+: Coarse language, adult themes, violence

Remaining Shows:

Aug 26 Sunday 04:30 pm
Aug 31 Friday 09:00 pm
Sep 01 Saturday 04:00 pm

The Measure of Love

Happily, and ten years later, veteran Victoria actors Jean Topham (Mabel) and Geli Bartlett (Joan) have reprised their 2008 sold-out show The Measure of Love by Nicholas Billon. Staged in the small space of the Intrepid Theatre Club many patrons, myself included, were unable to get tickets. This year’s venue, Langham Court, guarantees more possibilities of securing admission.

It’s been fifty years since a sudden event that split two convent-school friends apart. Now, Mabel, with a recent diagnosis of “fuzzy connections” has reconnected with Joan and prepared a surprise—a play recounting their lives together—enlisting the audience to be her Greek chorus.

Abilities honed by decades of experience onstage take a theatrical conceit—breaking the fourth wall—and quickly settle into a very natural rhythm.  The pacing is perfect, the humour subtle, the emotion pure and raw.  The wonder of friendship and love is explored in all its innocent depth, rediscovered with the advantage of maturity.  As Mabel and Joan restore that which has been lost, faith in humanity is affirmed. It is possible to rectify mistakes and atone for past transgressions.  Love endures.

Working alongside director Wendy Merk, Topham and Bartlett bring nuance and finesse to this delicate and intelligent story. The Measure of Love is simply superb.

The Measure of Love by Nicolas Billon, produced by Tops Theatre Company
Venue 5, Langham Court Theatre, 805 Langham Court
Tickets: $11 regular, $9 seniors and students
Duration: 60 minutes
Rating: 14+ adult themes
Genre: Drama

Remaining shows:

Aug 26 Sunday 07:15 pm
Sep 01 Saturday 06:15 pm
Sep 02 Sunday 12:30 pm

The Boy in the Chrysalis

Dive for one brief interlude into the life of a young gay Grade Two teacher, bereft at the recent loss of a relationship, heartbroken, imagining himself in Paris rather than his small bachelor apartment—alone.

Shedding the accoutrements of his daily life, disrobing before opening a bottle of wine, he slowly slides into melancholy—having given up so much for his former lover, abandoning his drag persona to the demands of societal propriety and the concerns of students’ parents, he is left with nothing more than the bottle and illusion.

Vaughn Naylor displays traces of the former drag-queen’s bravado before revealing a tender vulnerability that dissolves into wrenching grief.  The teacher’s personal circumstances are amplified by a student’s tragedy.

The Boy in the Chrysalis is a quiet reminder that despite the belief diversity reigns in the nation, the reality can be lamentably different.

Designers have created an intimate boudoir on the vast Langham Court stage with hanging panels, warm lighting and projections to increase the visual appeal.

The Boy in the Chrysalis by Liam Monaghan, directed by Heather Jarvie
produced by hapax theatre (Victoria BC)
Venue 5, Langham Court Theatre, 805 Langham Court
Tickets: $11 regular, $9 students and seniors
Show Run Time: 40 minutes
Genre: Dramatic monologue
Rating: PG 14+ coarse language

Remaining shows:

Sunday Aug 26 – 3:00pm
Monday Aug 27 – 7:00pm
Saturday Sep 1 – 8:30pm
Sunday Sep 2 – 4:30pm

Para Dos by Pointe Tango

If ever there were a place for experimentation and innovation, it would be at the Fringe. Audiences have the opportunity to stray outside their usually conscribed boundaries to experience work in a wide variety of genres. Thus it is for me with dance—which, despite my best efforts, continues to elude me.  Have no fear—Para Dos by Pointe Tango is readily accessible, even to a dance neophyte.

Marrying the technical difficulty of ballet’s dancing en pointe with the smoldering sensuality of Argentine tango, Para Dos simmers with passion and precision. Dancers Alexander Richardson (also the choreographer) and partner Erin Scott-Kafadar left Montréal for Buenos Aires and for the past two years have immersed themselves in a rich cultural mosaic. Para Dos is a love letter—to dance and the city.

Inspired by classical music and Spanish-language poetry they have melded these elements into their performance alongside the more fiery rhythms of guitar, accordion and keening violin. Dramatic costumes and lighting take a key role in the visual composition of the show—the startling volume of red fabric as it fans out behind Scott-Kafadar or wraps around her body, the counter point of two dancers highlighted in circles of light, the crisp black and white outfits as the two battle playfully over one chair, the glamour of a sexy gold lamé dress, or bodies outlined in undergarments—each element has been carefully considered in crafting the whole.

Gasps echoed around the Metro Theatre at the sheer daring and acrobatics of lifts—swiftly resolved in a lingering embrace as Scott-Kafadar is held aloft by one hand to then drop suddenly, swiftly and tenderly into Richardson’s arms—a profound visual metaphor for the power of love, danced to a slow rendition of Wicked Game.

Audiences were encouraged to cheer and express their appreciation throughout—and did, finishing in a rousing bout of prolonged applause and standing ovation for the audacity and vision of these accomplished dancers. Para Dos deserves to be appreciated by anyone with a love of polish and expertise.

For more information about the music and poetry and a description of the various dance numbers.


Para Dos by Pointe Tango, performed by Alexander Richardson and Erin Scott-Kafadar
Tickets: $11
Duration: 45 minutes
Rating: All ages
Genre: Contemporary Dance

Remaining Shows:

Aug 26 Sunday 04:00 pm
Aug 28 Tuesday 07:45 pm
Aug 31 Friday 09:00 pm
Sep 01 Saturday 08:30 pm

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. William Tate says

    In searching for public reviews of this year’s Victoria Fringe, I am happy to have been directed to you by a friend, who somehow found your page. Just read your review of Sherlock, which I too have seen, and want to congratulate you on an excellently writter description. I do, however, have another opinion of the “play”. The acting, and all the other aspects of the production were great. Professional. Unfortunately, all this was wasted on a terrible example of a play, with no real plot, that seemed to be a collection of improv pieces around the theme of Sherlock Holmes. Sort of a dream, nightmare by the author. There was no satisfying story. The ending, therefore, seemed more like an afterthought, to try to add a few thrills to the show.
    I’d really like to see this troupe perform a good play. That’s why I came away confused and disappointed by the script.


  1. […] 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 […]

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