Victoria Fringe Festival 2017. My away picks.

Victoria Fringe Festival 2017. My away picks.

In 2006 I celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Victoria Fringe Festival and got truly bitten by the Fringe bug.  I saw many more shows than originally planned, and had so much fun I decided to volunteer the following year (and did so until 2014 when I switched to reviewing).  Over the years I’ve met many Fringe artists and followed their careers—both in Victoria and further afield.

Even before social media became mainstream, I was sharing news and tips about the #yyjfringe, publishing my first “picks” post in 2010.

As always, these are some shows to consider for your viewing pleasure, based on artists whose work I admire and advance intel from other Fringe fanatics in cities along the CAFF circuit.  That said—Fringe is about taking risks.  I highly encourage people to take a chance on artists who are unknown and emerging—it leads to very pleasant surprises.

These picks are listed as they appear in the Victoria Fringe Festival programme, per venue.

Do you have a pick to share with me?

A reminder:  patrons need a Fringe button ($6) to attend shows.   It is good for all shows.  Proceeds benefit Intrepid Theatre, producers of the Fringe, and help defray the costs of producing the Fringe.  ALL ticket sales go to the artists.

HINT:  50% of tickets are reserved for advance sales.  Some of the more popular shows will sell out of advance tickets, particularly near the end of the Fringe.  50% of tickets are available at the door although it may mean lining up well in advance.  If you have decided on your schedule, it is well worth buying a 5-Show Munch Pass ($57) that you can even share, and which will allow you to pre-book tickets with no service charges.

Venue 1: Victoria Event Centre

Gigantic Lying Mouth by Kevin P Gilday, Rhyming Optional Productions

I have a penchant for spoken word, and was thrilled to see several spoken word artists in this year’s program. Gilday is an award-winner from Scotland who has performed at the Edinburgh Fringe and Glastonbury, among others.

Gigantic Lying Mouth is like a variety show in one. It contains spoken word, theatre, multimedia and comedy, and mixes it all through a postmodern blender until you’re left with something entirely unique. It’s the very definition of what a fringe show should be.

My interview:


Edmonton 2017:

Jon Bennett: My Dad’s Deaths (A Comedy)

Jon Bennett has a following with his particular style of gonzo, full-tilt and brutally honest storytelling, based on life with his dysfunctional family. A master of the narrative arc, he’ll draw you along at full gallop and leave you marvelling at his prodigious ability.

Just for Laughs Award nomination for Best Comedy (Montreal Fringe)
Best Solo Show Orlando Fringe

Edmonton 2016
Orlando 2015
Broadway Baby 2013

Venue 2: Downtown Community Centre

Lovely Lady Lump by Lana Schwarcz

Lana Schwarcz is one of the originators of the #FringeFemmes hashtag, and has been performing on the Fringe circuit since 1996. This veteran comic takes her experiences with breast cancer and turns them into an award-winning show, teaming up along the way with Dense Breasts Canada to raise awareness.

My interview:


Edmonton 2017
Calgary 2017
Winnipeg 2017
Ottawa 2016

Most Outstanding Solo (Ottawa)
Best Theatre (Dunedin)
Best Theatre (Adelaide)

Venue 3 : Metro Studio

Olive Copperbottom: A New Musical by Charles Dickens and Penny Ashton

Ashton is wickedly funny with a knack for pastiche, performing classic tales (first Austen and now, Dickens) as rowdy musicals and taking on all the roles.

Best Female Solo, Victoria Fringe

My interview:


Wellington NZ 2017
Toronto 2017
Winnipeg 2017
Edmonton 2017 

Venue 4 : VCM Wood Hall 907 Pandora

Awoken by Fireflood Entertainment, written/created by Nicholas Dave Amott

I was tipped to this performance by my fellow Fringe fanatic Brian Carroll, who reviews from Ottawa.  The show was originally Wake.

A one-man “tour-de-force” where every light is controlled by the actor on stage… except one.


Ottawa 2016
Ottawa 2014

Venue 5 : Langham Court Theatre

Blood Countess by Sharon Nowlan (Prairie Fire)

It’s been a fair stretch since Sharon Nowlan last performed at the Victoria Fringe with her beautiful classic burlesque routines.  Blood Countess is a departure—recounting the life of Elizabeth Bathory, reputed to be the world’s most prolific murderess.  I’m eager to see this other side of Nowlan’s creative mind.

Hyena Subpoena by Cat Kidd

Cat Kidd has been described as “one of Canada’s most talented wordsmiths”. Given my personal interest in spoken word, I’ve definitely noted this show as one to watch.


Toronto 2017
Winnipeg 2017
Edmonton 2017
Singapore 2016
Montreal 2014 (of the chap book and CD)

Venue 6: Fairfield Hall

The Birdmann and Egg: Birdhouse

Victoria has fallen in love with The Birdmann and it’s mutual—along with his partner Egg they’ve chosen the city for the world premiere of their newest work. Expect the absurd, the quirky, the weird. Definitely a must for anyone who wants to truly appreciate what the Fringe is all about.

3 time Pick of the Fringe—comedy—Victoria Fringe

Venue 7: Roxy Theatre

Aspergers: A Tale of a Social Misfit

Once again, this recommendation is based on a tip from my Ottawa Fringe buddy, Brian Carroll.  Winnipeg-based comedian Adam Schwartz is on the Autism spectrum.  His dead pan delivery style has been described as “awkwardly brilliant”. Local comedian Curran Dobbs has assisted in the creation of the show.

Edmonton 2017
Toronto 2015

Beau & Aero: Crash Landing

A Little Bit Off, producers of last season’s hit Bella Culpa, are back with their blend of physical comedy, slapstick and circus.  A wee bit of silly fun suitable all-ages.

Favourite Duo/Best of Fest Edmonton 2016
16-time award winning company


Orlando 2017–aero-crash-landing-story.html
Edmonton 2017
Winnipeg 2015

Venue 8 St Andrew’s Kirk Hall, 860 Courtney Street

The Inventor of All Things by Jem Rolls

Rolls is a veteran performer on the CAFF circuit with well over 100 festivals to his credit.  A master of words and ideas, he is my Fringe constant.  This show was performed at the 2015 Victoria Fringe when Rolls needed to leave early. Thus, he’s back, for everyone who missed out.  In a departure from his spoken word shows, he tells the story of forgotten genius Leo Szilard, the man behind the atom bomb.

Ottawa 2017
Winnipeg 2017
Toronto 2016
Toronto 2015
Saskatoon 2015
Edmonton 2015
Victoria 2015

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