ARTS PREVUE // FRINGE
Earlybird fringe picks
Some pre-review entry points into the festival's spread of shows cer, Bruce Horak has established a fair bit of festival cred. The premise behind Assassinating Thomson sounds convoluted on paper but should be intriguing to watch on stage: Horak, who is legally blind, will be painting the audience whilst weaving together the story of Canadian painter Tom Thomson's unsolved murder with stories from Horak's own life, focusing on his series of 400 portraits that are meant to be viewed from a close distance, wearing strong prescriptive lenses, with one eye closed—similar to how Horak sees the world. If anyone is able to tackle the challenges of such an unusual premise, it would be this charismatic performer. MP
You Killed Hamlet
here do you even start? With more than 200 Fringe shows vying for your hard-earned ticket money, choosing what to see, especially early on, can be daunting. Of course, taking a risk on anything that intrigues you lends you a certain theatrical bravado, but we've got a couple suggestions, too. Aside from Vue's complete coverage of the festival—with reviews of every ticketed show being posted up on edmontonfringe.ca by Monday (save the lone Tuesday opening)—here are a couple of earybird picks from some of the members of our intrepid reviewing team. We can't guarantee anything, of course, but these are the shows that are intriguing us from the precipice of the festival. Earlybird picks by Paul Blinov (PB), Saliha Chattoo (SC) and Mel Priestley (MP). Nashville Hurricane (Venue 14: Strathcona Library) Chase Padgett is both a talented musician and skilled storyteller, and at last year's Fringe he found a way to exploit both talents to great effect with 6 Guitars—it was one of the best shows of the festival. This new effort looks to be very similar in format, with Padgett switching between an assortment of various guitar-wielding characters, though this time around the narrative framework appears to be more storybased. Sure, Nashville Hurricane may end up being a rehash of what Padgett has already done—but you know, had he decided to do a completely identical remounting of 6 Guitars I would have happily seen it again anyway. MP
and counterpart to A Wake's exploration of death: Held examines the moments before birth and the impact of inherited traits and family history. It will be fascinating to discover how the setting will inform and expand upon this year's narrative (and for those of us who saw last year's show, to compare the two). MP Assassinating Thomson (Venue 4: Academy at King Edward) As the creator and performer of the acclaimed past Fringe hit This is Can-
Grim and Fischer (Venue 41: La Cité Francophone) In 2011, Grim and Fischer made its Edmonton Fringe debut, and the Portland-based artists of Wonderheads Theatre quickly found themselves swimming in four- and five-star reviews. More than that, though, the show became an audience favourite, taking attendees on a deeply honest and poignant emotional journey. Three actors in full-face mask portray the characters, and the story—told
through actions instead of words— which follows an elderly widow avoiding Death's pursuit. We singled this show out as a Fringe favourite two years ago, so if you didn't catch it last time, this year is your second chance to see a true theatrical gem. SH Magical Mystery Detour (Venue 6: C103) Gemma Wilcox has been winning awards for her Fringe shows since 2003, and she's back this year with Magical Mystery Detour. Known for her one-woman multi-character productions, Wilcox will play more than 25 characters this time as she tells a tale of life on the road. Wilcox's past shows—most notably The Honeymoon Period is Officially Over and Dangerously Safe—have been praised for their tight storylines and the sheer force of Wilcox's acting abilities. If you're looking for a one-woman show with high entertainment value, Wilcox's Fringe record suggests this one is a solid bet. SH Or (Venue 8: Old Strathcona Performing Arts Centre) Trunk Theatre, the production com-
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Held (Venue 15: South Side Memorial Chapel) The South Side Memorial Chapel is quickly becoming one of my favourite venues, even though they only became a BYOV last year when they hosted Mindhive Collective's beautifully choreographed A Wake. On the surface it might seem gimmicky and/ or ghoulish but it's actually a lovely, intimate space, and Mindhive tactfully engaged with the charged emotions inherent in such a place. The Collective is back there again this year with a piece that stands as both complement
pany behind the Sterling-nominated Dying City is back this year with the 2009 off-Broadway show about Aphra Behn, the first professional female playwright. Or follows Behn through a particularly chaotic evening as she's racing to meet a deadline while balancing the attentions of her three lovers. The show is armed with a strong cast of Edmonton-based artists, and coupled with a Neo-Restoration comedy slant, it's likely that Or will transform the familiar premise of life's complicated mess of passions into something inspired. SH You Killed Hamlet, or Guilty Creatures Sitting At A Play (Venue 7: Yardbird Suite) A pair of foul-mouthed, gleefully offensive bouffon clowns riffing on one of the Bard's greatest tragedies? Yeah, You Killed Hamlet looks to be the extreme sort of show to polarize a Fringe—but there are enough glowing reviews and best-of-fest buzzes from previous festivals to suggest it's more than a costumed pissaround. Still, sounds like one for the bravest of audiences: don't expect the fourth wall to save you, or that the accusations stop with the show's title. PB
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Touring festival artists find camaraderie on the road