Dispatches from the Victoria Fringe 2017 Day Eight

Dispatches from the Victoria Fringe 2017 Day Eight.

Reviews of The Man Who Sold the World by David Ortolano, Lovely Lady Lump by Lana Schwarcz and Help! I’m American by DK Reinemer.

Since the Edmonton Fringe Festival often overlaps the Victoria Fringe Festival, it is common to have a number of productions arrive after the opening weekend. For my Day Eight of the Victoria Fringe, I saw three performers who have been touring the CAFF circuit.

The Man Who Sold the World by David Ortolano

A man rushes onstage, dishevelled and disoriented—where is he? what’s he doing here? Can we help?

Welcome to the alternate reality of David Ortolano in The Man Who Sold the World.

No longer content to simply helm the Boulder Fringe Festival, which he founded, and, encouraged by Gemma Wilcox (one of Victoria’s favourite touring performers—Magical Mystery Detour, Shadow in Bloom, The Honeymoon Period is Officially Over) he applied for the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals (CAFF) lottery and was one of five lucky winners.

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—for, as Ortolano later reveals, the original script was written immediately after 9/11 and workshopped in 2008, long before the current president was elected—is troubling and timely.  The very nature of power, and corruption come under deep, circuitous investigation.

Travelling through time and space (eerie states conjured magnificently by Kendall Perry’s multi-faceted original score) after a suicide attempt, the man find himself in a pleasant utopia—only to have the inhabitants become infected. His very presence is anathema.

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.

As with most philosophical discussions, there are no clear answers to the man’s questions. The audience is left to puzzle out why society and its citizens offload personal responsibility to a leader. The Man Who Sold the World is a dark cautionary tale, with absurdist and metaphysical undertones.

The Man Who Sold the World by David Ortolano
Venue 2: Dowtown Community Centre 755 Pandora Avenue
Duration: 57 minutes. PG 14+, coarse language, adult themes, violence. MultiMedia storytelling with music
Tickets $11/$9

Remaining shows:

Friday September 1 6:45pm
Saturday September 2 10:45pm
Sunday September 3 5:30pm

Lovely Lady Lump by Lana Schwarcz

Australian comedian Lana Schwarcz was saved by an angel—a woman walking around the dog park telling everyone to have a mammogram.  And, it’s lucky she listened, although as she says, “you know how depressing your life is when having a mammogram is a bright spot”.

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.

In a world where breasts are most often sexualized, this frank (and often topless) comedian doesn’t hesitate to lay out the facts of her diagnosis and treatment with animated slides, catchy tunes, dance numbers, references to The Shining, and—puppets.

Woven throughout is the desire to raise awareness about the difficulty of diagnosing cancer in dense breasts (descriptions of treatment are gruesome and very truthful)—and a shout-out to Dense Breasts Canada.

Laughter is medicine.  Unique personal perspectives are part of the Fringe experience.  A show like Lovely Lady Lump is, probably, never going to end up in the season of a major theatre and that’s a shame.  Attitudes shift when people are exposed to different voices.  What a pleasure it was to see a wide variety of ages and genders in the audience.

Lovely Lady Lump proves cancer and comedy can go together.

Is Schwarcz your “angel”?

Schwarcz has been touring on the international fringe circuit for years, and is a founder of the #FringeFemmes movement to actively promote and celebrate the participation of women artists.

Interview with Lana Schwarcz http://janislacouvee.com/lovely-lady-lump-lana-schwarz-victoria-fringe-2017-interview/

Winner: Most Outstanding Solo (Ottawa), Best Theatre (Dunedin), Best Theatre (Adelaide)

Lovely Lady Lump by Lana Schwarcz
Venue 2: Dowtown Community Centre 755 Pandora Avenue
Duration: 75 minutes Adults only, coarse language, nudity. Comedy multimedia storytelling.
Tickets $11

Remaining shows:

Friday September 1 4:45pm
Saturday September 2 2:15pm
Sunday September 3 7:30pm

Help! I’m American by DK Reinemer

DK Reinemer may be American, but local audiences won’t hold that against him if Thursday’s performance is any indication.  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.

Of course there are references to the current political situation in the United States, and some cute comparisons to the difference between Los Angeles (his home-base) and Victoria, but where Reinemer shines is in his ability to work up the crowd and draw them in to playing along.

“Bob” holds cue cards and patrons reply with gusto—ki yay-ing and yee-hawing in loud chorus when prompted. Soon, he’s drawn one young woman onstage—Megan proves to be an inspired choice of a partner, coming back several times to appear in sketches as a singer and bachelorette—unafraid to whole-heartedly play along.

At one point, he decided to quiz theatre-goers on the facts of the show—most of the contestants failed miserably, except for one stellar exception—someone who was obviously thoroughly engaged and focused on every minute detail.

The sketches follow in rapid succession–Reinemer appears as Buck Winchester the automobile (truck, motorcycle, scooter, horse and dolphin) salesman, skewers TED Talks, performs a strip tease as a children’s magician.

DK Reinemer delivers a fun-time out on the Fringe with Help! I’m American!

Help! I’m American! by DK Reinermer
Venue 4: VCM Wood Hall, 907 Pandora Avenue
Duration: 60 minutes PG 14+ adult themes. Sketch, comedy, improv
Tickets $11/$9

Remaining shows:
Friday September 1 5:30pm
Saturday September 2 7pm
Sunday September 3 3pm


About @lacouvee

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