Dispatches from the Victoria Fringe 2016. Day Seven.

Dispatches from the Victoria Fringe 2016. Day Seven.  Victoria Fringe Festival August 22-September 4, 2016.

Reviews of A Tension to Detail by Gerard Harris and Divided Heart by Allie WeighThe Lion the Bitch and the Wardrobe by Sharon Mahoney

As always, my complete Victoria Fringe Festival 2016 coverage can be found HERE:

Be sure to page through since there are dozens of entries–previews, and picks, as well as reviews. I have written 17 previews of shows I will either most likely not see, or will see too late in the festival to write reviews.  I hope to post reviews daily of shows I’ve seen the day/night before–some days are “show heavy” and it may take a day or two to catch up.  My final reviews will be posted Friday September 2nd.


  • The last weekend (Thurs/Fri/Sat/Sun) tends to be very busy, and many shows sell-out their advance tickets (although 50% of the tickets are reserved for sales at the venue IF you are prepared to line up well in advance).  If a show you really wanted to see is completely sold out, please–take a chance on a show by an unknown or lesser known artist.  That, to me, is the true joy of the Fringe–the unexpected and pleasant surprises.
  • Don’t forget–you need a Fringe button ($6). One of the guiding principles of the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals CAFFTM is that all ticket sales go directly to the artists.  The sale of Fringe buttons helps Intrepid Theatre produce the festival.
  • Don’t be LATE–the show WILL start without you.
  • Embrace the line-up. Get to know your fellow Fringers. Many a friendship has been made as a result of a casual conversation.
  • Don’t be afraid to embrace the weird, wacky and wonderful shows at the Fringe. Pick a show that got a one-star or so-so review. This is what Fringing is all about.  Pick a genre you aren’t very familiar with, and go for it!

A Tension to Detail by Gerard Harris

Gerard Harris is a restless bundle of energy, barely able to contain himself as he launches—abruptly, admitting he really doesn’t have a proper intro—into an explanation of storytelling and its massive resurgence on the Fringe.

Everybody wants a good story to be true, he maintains, but—and it’s a big “but”—are spectators simply being gullible? Perhaps it’s better to trust the tale and not the teller. Do we grow into our stories? And, what is the prevailing narrative in the family and culture we come from?

A Tension to Detail is a series of inter-locking stories, told through intensely personal episodes, which begins at the beginning—birth, almost strangled by the umbilical cord, to an extremely nervous mother in 1970s South Africa.

From near death, to early love interests and sexcapades, close calls, out-of-body experiences, and the difficulties of moving to a new country, Harris charms, in a self-deprecating manner with nonchalance and awareness.  Above all, it’s his story, and how he processes life. Long periods sometimes yield very short stories—ten years of marriage, gone in a flash—and short episodes spin out.  As is also likely for his audience, stories are a way for Harris to find meaning in life—even if 90% of the narrative needs to be discarded and the majority of them are made-up.

At his best when describing a furious pair of lobsters, intended for a romantic dinner, Harris ends by poking fun at himself—again.

Harris is a comic in the British tradition—dry wit and pointed humour—and a versatile storyteller.  Regardless of where is he going—and where he might end up–audiences can’t help but follow, inspired by his mischievous grin.

A Tension to Detail by Gerard Harris.London, UK
Location: VCM Wood Hall (Fringe Venue 4)
Tickets: Advance price: Regular $11/ St & Sr $9 + s/c* Door price: Regular $11/ St & Sr $9
Duration: 60 mins
Rating: PG 16+: Extremely Coarse Language
Genre: Storytelling

Remaining shows:
Fri Sept 2 – 5:00pm
Sat Sept 3 – 5:45pm
Sun Sept 4 – 4:00pm

Divided Heart by Allie Weigh

Sex educator and therapist, musician and mother, Allie Weigh will forever have a Divided Heart—navigating intense maternal feelings while trying fiercely to protect her own creative nature, and find a place separate from eternal mother guilt.

Life is Relentless—a never-ending hamster wheel of needs to be met, work to be done, and moments that cannot always be savoured—made all the more formidable by the realization she is a Mother for a Reason.

In a long tradition (Woolf wrote “A Room of One’s Own” in 1929) Weigh measures her own needs—sexual (Magic Wand) and creative—against the needs of others (To (not) be selfish) as her offspring grow into teens and then young adults.  Rejoicing in a new found freedom and sexuality (A fish for myself), her journey as a woman in the 21st century continues.

Words, beats and music combine in a gentle tale that is frank and affirming, with a simmering passion hovering quietly below the surface. Weigh is an accomplished musician and capable guide. Despite being told from a decidedly women’s point of view, anyone can find comfort and truth in her realizations and honest questions about our gendered roles in today’s society.

Divided Heart by Allie Weigh. Montréal, QC
Location: VCM Wood Hall (Fringe Venue 4)
Tickets: Advance price:  Regular $11/ St & Sr $9 + s/c* Door price: Regular $11/ St & Sr $9
Duration: 55 mins
Rating: Adults Only: Coarse Language/ Adult Themes
Genre: Stories, Original Music

Remaining shows:
Thu Sept 1 – 6:45pm
Sat Sept 3 – 1:45pm

The Lion, the Bitch and the Wardrobe by Sharon Mahoney
(review from a previous performance at the Victoria Fringe in 2014)
Also at the Vancouver Fringe September 8-18, 2016.

Sharon Mahoney knows audiences, having played to hundreds of thousands world-wide (from London to Melbourne and across North America) as the “Canadian” busker, even appearing at the famed Glastonbury Festival.

You would think, after having tamed rowdy crowds bent on interrupting, heckling and slut-shaming, that confronting an appreciative group of Fringe fans would be a veritable cake-walk.  Not so, for after more than 15 years touring, Mahoney found herself before a most terrifying nemesis—crippling anxiety she dubs “the lion”.

What’s an inveterate performer—on the edge of 40—to do to conquer this fear but write a Fringe show.  Assisted by director Trent Baumann (aka The Birdmann) and Atomic Vaudeville’s Brit Small, Mahoney bares all.

With lithe grace, power and ferocious energy, she prowls the stage like her titular namesake and soon has us eating out of her hand.  “Cheer”, she commands, and we obey. Anecdotes from her travelling show have us in stitches.  She relates how, slowly, with the assistance of health care professionals and cognitive behavioural therapy she got the lion under control—but it’s not without a vicious whip-cracking puppet battle.

A cameo episode featuring a motivational speaker is particularly satirical and biting.

Fear conquered, and once again comfortable in her skin, Sharon Mahoney is a joy to watch. You’ll cheer!

The Lion the Bitch and the Wardrobe by Sharon Mahoney
Location: The Roxy Theatre (Fringe Venue 7)
Tickets: Advance price: All Seats $11+s/c* Door price: All Seats $11
Duration: 60 mins
Rating: PG14+: Coarse Language/Adult Themes
Genre: Comedy/Drama

Remaining show:

Sat Sep 3 – 5:30pm

About @lacouvee

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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.

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