Vancouver Fringe Festival 2016 suggestions (mostly) from the Victoria Fringe

Vancouver Fringe Festival 2016 suggestions  (mostly) from the Victoria Fringe.


It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say I’m a bit of a Fringe fanatic – over the years since I got back in to fringing, I’ve gone from seeing a handful of shows in 2006 to 40 shows at this year’s Victoria Fringe Festival. In my third year of reviewing I also submitted 31 reviews and 18 interviews and preview articles.

Here are my recommendations for shows that were in Victoria this year (or last), either at the Fringe Festival or Intrepid Theatre’s UNO Fest. However, my taste in theatre may not be yours. Caveat emptor!

I normally list my suggestions for the Vancouver Fringe in alphabetical order, but readers will excuse me this year for playing favourites.

Not only did Space Hippo, the science-fiction puppet adventure walk off with FOUR Pick of the Fringe awards at the Victoria Fringe, including Best Overall Production, my son, actor/musician Elliott Loran wrote the 24-song soundtrack.  I have loved the work of Daniel Wishes and Seri Yanai (Mochinosha/The Wishes Mystical Puppet Theatre) since they arrived at the Victoria Fringe with Oni in 2014 and when my son informed me he was collaborating with them I was “over the moon”.

Space Hippo by Mochinosha The Wishes Mystical Puppet Theatre
Winner Victoria Fringe Festival 2016 Pick of the Fringe for: Overall Pick of the Fringe, Favourite Visual Theatre/Puppetry Favourite Show Design, Favourite Performance by an Under-Represented Artist (Group)

Everyone falls in love with Space Hippo, sent into space to save the human race from its folly.  Filled with cheeky subversive humour, exquisite shadow puppets and a sound track with haunting melodies.

Bella Culpa
winner of Pick of the Fringe Victoria 2016 for Favourite Duo

High energy and tightly executed physical theatre suitable for all ages.  Despite my plans, I sadly did not see Bella Culpa (which received rave reviews from audiences). Interview with the creators:

Best Picture by RibbitRepublic

If you love movies, this show will definitely tickle your funny bone.  88 Best Picture Academy Award winners parodied in 60 minutes!  Review link below:

Butt Kapinski by Deanna Fleysher

When no less a personage than God (Mike Delamont) tells you not to miss a show—I pay attention.  Deanna Fleysher appeared at Intrepid Theatre’s Uno Fest in 2013 and soon had the entire audience involved in her elaborate detective noir caper. Impressive doesn’t even begin to cover the experience of over 50 patrons, completely engrossed in creating a story together.

Charlatan! by Travis Bernhardt
winner Pick of the Fringe Victoria 2016 for Favourite Musical/Variety/Magic/

How does he do that?  This year Travis Bernhardt ventures into the world of mentalism and mind reading for a magic show unlike any he has performed before as he intuits the questions from audience members which have been placed in a sealed box. Review link:

Dirk Darrow:  Two Ruby Knockers, One Jaded Dick

With rapid patter and jokes so cheesy you could cut them with a knife, the master of manipulation, the prince of prestidigitation, the one and only noir detective/magician Dirk Darrow (Tim Motley) returns—world weary and spouting classic one-liners at an incredible rate, this fim-noir magic show astonishes.  Review link:

Does Not Play Well With Others by Moon Dinosaur Theatre
From the talented creators of one-person puppet hits Paleoncology (Kira Hall) and Baker’s Dozen: 12 Angry Puppets (AdamF rancis Proulx) comes this tale of a network show in meltdown and the rivalries between puppeteers.

Timely and topical, Does Not Play Well With Others combines sharp satire, insightful drama and abundant puppet skills in a well-written and tightly performed piece that examines the pressures inherent in the life of creative individuals.  Review link:

Fat Sex by Steve Larkin

I’ve admired Steve Larkin since he arrived on the Victoria Fringe scene with TES his dark, dystopian re-imagined Tess of the D’Ubervilles. In Fat Sex he returns to his slam poet and musical roots, offering up poems and music with an anarchist’s sensibilities.

A prophet poet for today’s dangerous times, Larkin is best enjoyed live.  Review link: and interview:

GET LOST jem rolls

It would not be a Fringe festival without an appearance by jem rolls, arguably one of the veterans of the Canadian Fringe circuit.  GET LOST is a departure from his usual long form pieces, composed as it is of tales from his travels, selected at random by the audience from notes on cue cards.

Philosophy and poetry meld into a perfect whole in this ultimate road trip narrative by a master of the genre who finds fascination, everywhere he goes.  Review link:

Happiness TM by MayCan Theatre

Frighteningly accurate (and biting) in its depiction of the pressures in network marketing, sales and the industry of positive thinking, Happiness then takes the audience behind the scenes for a look at the reality of always being “on” as drama upends the parody.  Chilling!

I saw the show too late to write a review but my interview with the creators is here:

I Forgot to Fly Today by Trent Baumann
winner Pick of the Fringe Victoria 2016 for Favourite Moment From a Show

Leaving behind his Birdmann persona, Trent Baumann launches into an investigation of what is possible when you leave your comfort zone (“it’s not like it’s going anywhere”) I Forgot to Fly Today takes fringy to the next level with polish, panache and playfulness.
Review link:

In the Blue of the Evening by Amelia van Brun (Bad Bad Bunny)

I saw In the Blue of the Evening at Uno Fest 2016.  When years bedevil and the body fails, when family is nowhere to be found, what else is there to do but laugh at the situation?  Amelia Van Brunt proves the revelatory nature of comedy as she ferociously attacks one of the last bastions of prim and proper—old age.  Full review here:

In the Trenches: A Double Feature by The Dog Was A Band Now

What would World War I, in the trenches, look like if clowns were soldiers?  Filled with slapstick, human and pathos.  Commedia dell arte inspires the second vignette about a strong-willed daughter and the father who tries to marry her off.  It’s an opportunity to laugh and be silly along with the performers of this high energy romp.

I saw In the Trenches too late at the Victoria Fringe too late to write a review.

James Jordan Vaudevillian

In a year that saw FIVE magic shows (2014) James Jordon Vaudevillian stood out with the incredible professionalism and pizazz of his presentation.  The Vaudevillian was a highly entertaining and polished performance that combined vaudeville, variety, magic, music and comedy. It’s suitable for all ages.

The Jupiter Rebellion by Jeff Leard

Jeff Leard, now a veteran of the Fringe circuit (Sperm Wars, the Show Must Go On), never fails to impress with his uncanny kinetic ability to portray multiple characters with voice inflections guaranteed to bring ready laughs.  Review link:

The Lion, the Bitch and the Wardrobe by Sharon Mahoney

Sharon Mahoney has entertained thousands as the Canadian busker. Now, she takes us into the world of her struggle with mental illness (the Lion).  How does she tame the beast?

With lithe grace, power and ferocious energy, she prowls the stage like her titular namesake and soon has the audience eating out of her hand.  Review link:

nerdfucker by Cameryn Moore

Cameryn Moore is a provocative playwright and performer.  Her stories never fail to push boundaries, forcing audiences to think as she examines worlds and characters most will never come in contact with.   nerdfucker departs from the personal realm; although Moore does admit to knowing many nerds in her life, this story never happened.

Edgy and topical, nerdfucker is sure to engender many spirited conversations for those willing to partake.

Review link:

The Old Woman by John Grady

I saw The Old Woman by John Grady at the 2015 Victoria Fringe Festival (the link to my complete review is below)

The Old Woman is shattering, beautiful and brave.

Grady’s discombobulated dance solo —where once simple movements deconstruct and become impossible to perform—is grief made visible, technically challenging and unparalleled.

One Man Dark Knight: A Batman Parody by Charles Ross

Any fan of Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies will want to see Charlie Ross (One Man Star Wars, One Man Lord of the Rings) take on The Dark Knight in this referential remake of these new classics. Many inside jokes.

Perpetual Wednesday

Prepare for some high-octane razz-a-ma-tazz as master showmen Walter (Jacob Trillo) and Bruce (Anthony Arnista), dazzle with displays of physical prowess, attempted magic and appealing shadow-puppetry.  Surreal physical theatre! Review link:

Til Death Do Us Part: The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Tara Travis

Tara Travis is a master of the quick switch—moving from one character to another in the blink of an eye.  An incredible race through history!

2 for Tea by James and Jamesy

Taking Victoria (and the Fringe circuit) by storm in 2013, this “British” duo are gifted physical performers with a penchant for the absurd. James and Jamesy have the unique ability to successfully involve a large number of audience members in their complex shows. Hilarious! Bring a teacup.  All ages.  Winners of over 15 Best of Fest awards.

V.R. Dunne by Howard Petrick

Howard Petrick met V.R. Dunne, the organizer of the 1934 Minneapolis truck driver’s strike in the 1960s.  His story of hard-won labour fights is as timely in 2016 as it was in 1934. Learn more about the struggles of working class people. And–hear it from a simply wonderful storyteller we haven’t seen up here for a bit.  I saw the show too late to write a review but my interview with Petrick is here:

Wild Society

I can’t get to them all!  Sadly the best of plans went awry and I missed Wild Society.
Here is an interview with the creators.

I regret that I also missed WHODOO

Shows I haven’t yet seen by performers I really enjoy.

The performers below need no introduction to Fringe audiences. They are multi-award winning comedians, storytellers, musicians, puppeteers and physical theatre practitioners guaranteed to provide an outstanding performance.

Jon Bennett: My Dad’s Deaths

Gonzo story-telling like no other.  Check out reviews from his other shows here. Winner Pick of the Victoria Fringe 2016 for Favourite Performer

Burn Job by TJ Dawe

Master of the reflective monologue and veteran of over 100 Fringe Festivals. Any show by TJ is worth watching.

Windy Wynazz: Rich and Famous

I fell in love with Windy last year with her crazy hot mess of a show.

Curious Contagious by Mind of a Snail

Shadow puppets on a large scale. Need I say more?  I have been lobbying the artists to bring Curious Contagious to Victoria for months—and have followed their work since Against Gravity at Intrepid Theatre’s Winterlab in 2014 and Caws and Effect at Puppets for Peace in 2015. Always a treat!

Piaf and Brel: The Impossible Concert by Melanie Gall

Melanie Gall has a beautiful voice that will keep you entranced as she tells the stories behind the performers.


About @lacouvee

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