Dispatches from the Victoria Fringe 2016. Day Three.

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

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

All shows at Venue 2: The Downtown Activity Centre, 755 Pandora Avenue.

Winnie the Pooh and Tales of the 100 Acre Wood by Outpost 31, Charlatan! by Travis Bernhardt, nerdfucker by Cameryn Moore, Field Zoology by Shawn O’Hara, Jon Bennett: Fire in  the Meth Lab. 

The reviews of Charlatan!, Field Zoology 101 and Jon Bennett: Fire in the Meth Lab will be posted Monday.

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 first few days of Fringe are a wonderful way to “front load” the Fringe experience–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.

Winnie the Pooh and Tales of the 100 Acre Wood by David Elendune Outpost 31.

In ninety years, the stories of a certain beloved bear have lost none of their endearing appeal, passing from one generation to the next as eager parents and grandparents introduce them to their children and grandchildren.

Now, Outpost 31, in a smart and witty adaptation by David Elendune (directed by Ian Case and Hannah Case) sets the action during the Nazi blitz of London just before Christmas 1940, in a children’s hospital relocated to the Baker Street subway station.

For Christopher Robin (Ellen Law), the imminent danger from falling bombs juxtaposes with the comfort of a fantasy world populated by Pooh (Ian Simms), Piglet (Kelly Hudson), Rabbit (Emily Case), Eyeore (David Elendune) and Owl/Tigger (Melissa Taylor).  This ability of children to maintain wide-eyed wonder in the face of terrible reality lends a haunting and poignant note to these cheery tales.

Design elements heighten the nostalgia—songs and announcements crackle and fade, a prominent Christmas tree sports simple decorations, Nurse and Doctor are attired in crisp and starched uniforms (costumes-Hannah Case)—and the fear—bombs fall in the distance, lights fade in and out—balanced with the excitement of a child’s adventures.  Transitions from human to animal are swift—with the benefit of simple headwear.

Outpost 31’s Winnie the Pooh & Tales of the 100 Acre Wood is faithful to the original–retaining all its original charm–yet is also filled with quips and jokes suited to an adult audience. A return to childhood is guaranteed for happy Fringe-goers who can choose to partake on their own or bring a young friend or relative.

Winnie the Pooh and Tales of the 100 Acre Wood by David Elendune Outpost 31.Victoria, BC.
Downtown Activity Centre (Fringe Venue 2)
Tickets: Advance price: Regular $11/St & Sr $9 + s/c*Door price: Regular $11/St & Sr $9
Duration: 65 mins
Rating: All Ages: 5+
Genre: Family Entertainment

Remaining shows:
Sun Aug 28, 6:30pm
Wed Aug 31, 9:45pm
Sat Sep 3, 6:45pm
Sun Sep 4, 4:45pm

Charlatan! by Travis Bernhardt
Also at the Vancouver Fringe September 8-18, 2016.

Multiple Pick of the Fringe-awarded magician Travis Bernhardt (Lies, Victoria Fringe 2012, Unpossible! Victoria Fringe 2014) is accomplished– a card trick employing the entire audience of Fringe patrons?—no problem!  Now he turns his talents to the realm of the mentalist and psychic in order to confound a more-than-willing audience.

In the line-up, people are asked to write a question on a card. Cards go in a locked box, and for the next hour, Bernhardt proceeds to intuit the contents of some of these cards.  First, with his quiet, humble and approachable manner he sets the parameters for a non-stop hour of mind-blowing tricks, determining the believers and sceptics among the crowd and granting permission to lift the veil of doubt and disbelief.

From the seething hate felt by a local YouTuber, wondering if she’ll be internet famous, to the young student concerned about the project she should do at the Science Fair, to the anonymous contributor fearful of a situation at work—Bernhardt has an answer to predicaments.

Solliciting two members of the audience to join him onstage, he proceeds to some impressive feats of auto-suggestion (how can a person not holding the object feel as if they are, and then identify it?) and then channels the spirits of the departed in order to help a woman talk to her aunt. Furthermore identifying her as someone who has seen his show before—he pulls not only the name of her long-dead dog, but also her birthday, from out of the air.  How does he do that?

Tricks and deception or true gift—Bernhardt has the audience in the palm of his hand.

After the show, I told him I was a true sceptic—and he knew the content of my question. How does he do that?

Charlatan! by Travis Bernhardt, Vancouver BC
Tickets: Advance price: All Seats $11 + s/c Door price: All Seats $11
Duration: 60 mins
Rating: All Ages
Genre: Psychic Performance Art

Remaining shows:
Mon Aug 29 – 9:30pm
Tue Sep 1 – 7:45pm
Sat Sep 3 – 2:30pm
Sun Sep 4 – 9:15pm

 nerdfucker by Cameryn Moore
Also at the Vancouver Fringe September 8-18, 2016.

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.  Previous visits to the Victoria Fringe–Phone Whore and Slut r(evolution)–have introduced audiences to her life as a phone-sex operator and other sexual escapades.  nerdfucker departs from the personal realm; although Moore does admit to knowing many nerds in her life, this story never happened.

A large woman is surprised onstage; the audience is already here, and she’s naked.  Lights are on (the show hasn’t started) and will remain on, uncomfortably blurring the boundary between stage and patron (it’s not the only boundary to be blurred in this sensitive piece).  Quickly bundled into a robe, and forced to improvise, she continues to prepare for the main event—a chess match between two grand masters—while jollying ticket-holders along with revelations about her life; there is a logical if somewhat troubled explanation as to how she came to be a human table at a geek convention.

In a breathy, anxious voice, filled with excitement for the milieu, Moore moves from joy at being involved to slow awareness of the betrayal perpetrated by her boyfriend Tyler, the event organizer.  Moore, a confident performer, touches on topics of body positivity, boundaries, geekdom and humilitation as her character slowly reaches her limit and explodes in anger.

In a world obsessed with body image, where women are held to higher standards than men, anyone can empathize with a woman who is invisible due to her size.  And it certainly isn’t a stretch to imagine what she would do for a little attention. With lights blazing on full and nowhere to hide, the audience is also forced to ask themselves the same uncomfortable questions.

As the players approach, the question remains—will she refuse, finally to participate, or not?

Cameryn Moore takes the unknown and uncomfortable, the taboo, and makes it safe for audiences to take a peek. Edgy and topical, nerdfucker is sure to engender many spirited conversations for those willing to partake.

by Cameryn Moore, (Somerville, MA)
Downtown Activity Centre (Fringe Venue 2)
Tickets:  Advance price: All Seats $11 + s/c* Door price: All Seats $11
Duration: 60 mins
Rating: PG 14+: Coarse Language/Nudity
Genre: Solo Drama

Remaining shows:
Sun Aug 28, 8:30pm
Thu Sept 1, 6:00pm
Sat Sept 3, 8:45pm
Sun Sept 4, 1:00pm

Field Zoology 101 by Shawn O’Hara.

If the reaction of the audience on opening night of Field Zoology 101 is any indication, the world is Brad Gooseberry’s oyster.

Gooseberry is the clueless dimwit field zoologist created by local comedian Shawn O’Hara, and test-driven in short routines at the numerous comedy clubs around town (this is the first appearance in a full-length show).  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.

Gooseberry is a loveable goofball, attired in a uniform more commonly seen on the pukka sahib of the African or Indian continents.  Here for a presentation on the study of field zoology—a lecture accompanied by child-like hand-drawn slides—he moves from one nonsensical and suggestive story to another; battling raccoons one moment and seals the next; slagging botanists in one breath and tarantulas in the other while “air-quoting” believable—if erroneous—facts and slipping in all manner of pop-culture references.

O’Hara has impressive improvisational chops too, as he proved in the last portion of his show when he answered questions the audience had written on cards upon entering the venue.

“How hard are tortoise shells?”  “Not hard enough” as he describes the misfortunes endured by a hapless creature.

“Why do female lions do all the hunting?”  “Because it’s 2016.”  And the audience explodes in laughter.

Brad Gooseberry takes his rightful place in the pantheon of characters birthed locally (God is A Scottish Drag Queen, Vasily Djokovich, and innumerable denizens of Atomic Vaudeville cabarets).  For a theatre or comedy geek, there is no greater joy than being able to say “I was there for the very first show”.  If this describes you—grab tickets now.  O’Hara is definitely a comedian to follow—as a character Brad Gooseberry has legs that will carry him far.

Field Zoology 101 by Shawn O’Hara, Victoria, BC.
Downtown Activity Centre (Fringe Venue 2)
Tickets: Advance price: Regular $11/St & Sr $9 + s/c* Door price: Regular $11/St & Sr $9
Duration: 50 mins
Rating: PG 14: Coarse Language/Adult Themes
Genre: Comedy

Remaining shows:
Mon Aug 29 – 6:00pm
Wed Aug 31 – 8:00pm
Fri Sept 2 – 6:30pm
Sat Sept 3 – 4:15pm

Jon Bennett: Fire in the Meth Lab

Bored at sitting backstage waiting for his show to begin, Jon Bennett wanders in, seats himself in a dilapidated armchair (part of the chaotic set) and starts to chat up the audience—“don’t worry, it’s not part of the show, what have you seen that you liked so far at the Fringe?”.

Bennett is an amiable performer, a nervous bundle of energy and live-wire spark plug; it’s not hard to imagine his escapades, stuck like glue to his older brother Tim, growing up in a small town in Australia’s outback.  In the canon of dysfunctional families, the Bennetts take a prime place—a mom so exhausted at trying to separate two active and rambunctious small boys that she seats them on the floor with entire buckets of ice cream to keep them quiet; an older brother that delights in one bullying move after the other.  In Fire in the Meth Lab Bennett seeks to understand how a much-loved brother goes from growing up in a religious family to being a meth addict doing time.

In circular style, he moves from childhood episodes of sibling bullying, drawing parallels to the audience’s own experiences—and asking painful and pertinent questions about trauma—to poking fun at his brother’s at-first rather normal addiction (to Australian pop star Jason Donovan) before revealing details of the definitive horrible road trip (to his grandmother’s funeral).

Then, as if turning a switch, he moves to introspection and begins to measure his own actions. “Who am I to judge—I’ve done terrible things”—winning over the audience unabashedly with his brave truth-telling.  It’s one thing to laugh at others; it’s something else completely to turn the lens to your own foibles and faults.  Throughout, Bennett’s love for a flawed past and flawed family is evident.  When the final story—the actual fire in the meth lab–is revealed, Bennett’s virtuosity is too.  Fire in the Meth Lab is gonzo story-telling of the finest calibre, delivered with flare and humility.

Jon Bennett: Fire in the Meth Lab , Melbourne, Australia
Downtown Activity Centre (Fringe Venue 2)
Tickets: Advance price: All Seats $11 + s/c* Door price: All Seats $11
Duration: 65 mins
Rating: PG 14: Coarse Language/Adult Themes
Genre: Storytelling Comedy

Remaining shows
Tue Aug 30 – 7:45pm
Fri Sep 2 – 10:15pm
Sat Sep 3 – 12:30pm
Sun Sep 4 – 2:45pm

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. […] 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: http://janislacouvee.com/dispatches-from-the-victoria-fringe-2016-day-three/ […]

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