Vancouver Fringe Festival 2017 suggestions (mostly) from the Victoria Fringe

Vancouver Fringe Festival 2017 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. It was also my fourth year of reviewing and I contributed 26 reviews (as well as 27 interviews, two “picks” posts and an article about the #FringeFemmes at this year’s festival).

Here are my recommendations for shows that have been at the Victoria Fringe, either this year or in recent years. However, my taste in theatre may not be yours. Caveat emptor!

Almost a StepMom by Keara Barnes (2015 Victoria Fringe)

I saw Almost a StepMom at the 2015 Victoria Fringe when it was in its early stages of development, and was very impressed by Barnes’ ability to distill the ups-and-downs of a 3 ½ year relationship into a taut drama that reveals heartbreak, revenge and thwarted attempts at creating a new family, as well as self-reflective and comedic moments.


Beaver Dreams by Lost & Found Puppet Company

Maggie Winston and Mika Laulainen have got to be the cutest anthropomorphic creations to grace the stage in quite some time. Beaver Dreams is inventive and sure to tickle the funny bone of adults and children alike, with fantastic puppetry and a memorable soundtrack that transports the audience through time.


Runner Up: Victoria Pick of the Fringe

Favourite Visual Theatre/Puppetry
Favourite Family Friendly

Blood Countess by Sharon Nowlan (Prairie Fire)

Some veteran Fringe fans will know Sharon Nowlan for her burlesque performances, certain elements of which—notably the whip work (in an eerie illuminated cat-o-nine-tales scene, among others)—are evident throughout Blood Countess.  Her regal bearing, and ironic sensibilities bring famed murderess Countess Elizabeth Bathory to life in a manner that is artistic rather than voyeuristic.  Nowlan spent years in precise research to paint a picture that highlights the difficulty of being a woman, alone, and with considerable power at a time when men ruled.

Bushel and Peck by Stéphanie Morin and Alistair Knowles 2016 Victoria Fringe

Stéphanie Morin-Robert (For Body and Light) and Alistair Knowles (James and Jamesy) have established solid reputations for their work with other companies. Now, they join forces to bring you Bushel and Peck, a celebration of the unadulterated joy of play.

From surrealistic considerations employing balloons and magnifying glasses to graceful dances with blow dryers and their multi-coloured cords—Knowles and Morin-Robert move to the edges of the genre.


Field Zoology 101 by Shawn O’Hara 2016 Victoria Fringe

Brad Gooseberry is the clueless dimwit field zoologist created by Victoria-based comedian Shawn O’Hara, and test-driven in short routines at the numerous comedy clubs. When no other than God herself (Mike Delamont) places Field Zoology 101 on a “10 shows to watch” list, it’s time to pay attention.

WINNER: Pick of the Victoria Fringe 2016 Favourite Comedy


Gigantic Lying Mouth by Kevin P Gilday (Rhyming Optional Productions)

Kevin Gilday is an accomplished wordsmith with a flair for the theatrical who isn’t afraid to push the boundaries of spoken word. This Glaswegian poet doesn’t take himself too seriously, in a clever and dark meta-theatrical, multi-media show containing set pieces and featuring poems about toxic masculinity, pornography and life’s utter futility.



Help! I’m American by DK Reinemer

This boisterous sketch comedian has an enthusiasm that shines through any situation—even technical glitches—and enough energy to spare for any late-night Fringe appearance. He delivers a fun-time out on the Fringe with Help! I’m American!

Spirit of the Fringe award Montreal Fringe


Hyena Subpoena by Cat Kidd

Cat Kidd is an acclaimed Montreal-based spoken word artist and author who moves beyond the boundaries of spoken word with a lithe performance combining projections, shadow puppetry and inventive costume pieces to create a world inhabited by strange animals.

Interstellar Elder by Snafu Dance Theatre, performed by Ingrid Hansen

Year after year, Snafu Dance Theatre, and performer Ingrid Hansen, astonish by their inventiveness and ability to create a profound sense of empathy in their audiences.  From the creators of Little Orange Man and Kitt and Jane.  Multi-award winning Fringe artists.

Hansen is an accomplished physical performer who happily plays at the edges.  Interstellar Elder combines signature quirky elements in an emotionally resonant show. An ending that needs to be experienced to be believed.

Winner Pick of the Fringe Victoria

Favourite Solo Show

Best Performance by Any Artist



Lovely Lady Lump by Lana Schwarcz (That Girl Entertainment)

Lovely Lady Lump is a gigantic F*ck You to cancer, filled with irreverent and bitingly honest commentary on everything from the co-opting of the colour pink, to the triviality of the word “journey”—Schwarcz prefers the words “hostage taking” and points out the skewed policies of government who would rather fund the military than health care.



The BIRDHOUSE by The Birdmann and Egg (Downunderground)

Victoria audiences have loved The Birdmann since his first appearance in 2011. Expect dead pan humour, run-on jokes, visual non-sequiturs and tugged heartstrings in this story with an environmental message.

The Birdmann and Egg: BIRDHOUSE delivers full-on crazy fringy fun with humour sure to appeal to the inner kid in everyone.



The Inventor of All Things by Jem Rolls, Big Word Performance Poetry

Jem Rolls is a Fringe legend, performing in well over 100 Fringe festivals on the CAFF circuit over the past 10+ years. His command of the English language is formidable, and his ability to wrestle words to his bidding—astonishing.  In this departure from his usual spoken word performances, he has researched the life of physicist Leo Szilard—the forgotten genius with the original idea for the chain reaction.

On a bare stage, with a few lighting cues, and the atmospheric notes of Hungarian gypsy music and Big Band wartime tunes, Rolls compels attention as he recounts the inventions and personal life of the eccentric genius who had his breakthrough idea while stopped at a crosswalk.

I originally saw this piece at the 2015 Victoria Fringe. It has been further developed. Rolls is a not-to-be-missed performer.


The Man Who Sold the World by David Ortolano

Ortolano has a commanding stage presence and ease in his movement, much of which is underscored by music, adding another layer to this already complex monologue.

The Man Who Sold the World delves deep into no less than one of life’s major philosophical questions—what is truth?  And, what are facts?  At a time when both appear to be under major attack this prescient fiction is troubling and timely.  The very nature of power, and corruption come under deep, circuitous investigation.


Six Fine Lines by Mack Gordon (Level-Headed Friends Productions)

“There are no written rules in life. It’s only what we make up, so let’s make some good ones”.

Part game-show and part lyric essay, Six Fine Lines was the surprisingly moving end to my 2017 Victoria Fringe.  It couldn’t have been more perfect.

Anyone who loves language, and unexpected surprises, will enjoy this thoughtful and thought-filled show.


‘Tween Earth and Sky by Mark Lyon (Windwhistle Theatre)

Lyon is a practiced storyteller, with over twenty years’ experience as a performer.  He scoured his collection of Irish folk tales for the most supernatural, and uses his considerable abilities to bring sixteen characters to life. It’s easy to see how the “little folk” might still be abroad in the world today in this spell-binding show.




About @lacouvee

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