Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Fringe reviews

  • Print


Rob Gee

Planetarium Auditorium (Venue10), to July 27

WHEN the lights go up on poet/comic Rob Gee, he is seated onstage, chatting softly to the audience. He is portraying Elsie, a woman suffering from advanced Alzheimer's disease. A former nurse, Elsie knows what's coming, and sweetly wishes her own nurses "good luck in all you do."

Gee has the audience hooked from this poignant point on and keeps them on the line as he switches between 11 characters (you'll think your memory is going trying to keep up) involved in Elsie's story. We meet an assortment of people over the course of 60 minutes, all fully realized by Gee, from zany patients to the equally zany staff, to uncaring officials to a young detective with an amazing talent for mixed metaphors.

Forget Me Not is by turns sad and funny, and just plain fun. This one-man triumph is equal parts mystery, comedy, storytelling, social commentary -- and 100 per cent entertaining. 'Ö'Ö'Ö'Ö'Ö

-- Janice Sawka


Grumpy Productions.

Shaw Performing Arts Centre/MTYP (Venue 9), to July 28.

WITH a miniature model of the fated ocean liner, and the clever use of a ladder, four deck chairs and a sheet of plastic, four actors relive the tragedy of the so-called unsinkable ship. They recount the hubris, the folly and the shocking mix of errors that sent hundreds to their deaths. This tuxedo-clad company takes the phrase "poetry in motion" seriously in this urgent adaptation of Canadian E. J. Pratt's epic poem The Titanic.

The capable young cast from Edmonton, featuring Melanie Godbout, Kate Jestadt, Matt Randolph and Bradley Bergeron, are great storytellers, flying from one scene to another, running the gamut of emotion from the foolish security of wealth to the fear and growing panic of the passengers and crew as the reality of the push and shove of the sinking ship became a reality.

This is a physical and expressive show with strong performances. 'Ö'Ö'Ö 1/2

-- Wendy King


Go Scold Ye Brain

WAG/Muriel Richardson Auditorium (Venue 12), to July 27

Sometimes, when just the right assortment of scientific elements comes together, a reaction occurs that causes a lot of heat. Hot Core, a sci-fi-action-comedy-mystery written by Cody Gabrielson and performed by Winnipeg-based Go Scold Ye Brain, is not one of those times.

The four-person troupe's tale of three scientists involved in a dangerous new energy-harnessing initiative is intended as a humour-laced thriller and a cautionary tale, but the indifferent script's flawed narrative logic fails to create anything in the way of energy, momentum or critical entertainment mass.

It's hard to judge the cast's performances because they have so little with which to work. In short, it's an experiment that produces little in the way of results. 'Ö

-- Brad Oswald


The Three Beggars

Alloway Hall/Manitoba Museum (Venue 4), to July 27

IT isn't a compound title; rather, it's two single-word names for two short-ish plays about unconnected subjects. Television & Error features Brennan Hakes and Kayleigh Nicol as young marrieds whose struggling relationship is being undone by TV-fuelled indifference and passive-aggressive cruelty.

It is only occasionally engaging but has sparks of light humour provided by Daniel Grant and Sydney Wiebe as the embodiment of boob-tube nonsense. Error finds an angel (Shaylyn Maharaj-Poliah) and a devil (Daniel J. Tompkins) arguing over who'll get the soul of a man (Hakes) when his final few deathbed moments run out.

The porous logic of their debate makes the whole exercise rather limp, but Tompkins wrings a few laughs out of a less-than-divine situation. 'Ö'Ö

-- Brad Oswald


White Rhino Comedy

Cinematheque (Venue 7), to July 28

THIS quartet of players from Second City Toronto took a one-word suggestion -- sandwich -- and ran away with it during their opening improvised comedy sketch. Incorporating sex, sushi and swingers, they created a meaty, connected series of sketches that hit the funny bone, albeit with a few forays into easy ethnic stereotypes.

They're confident, fast on their feet and adept at drawing a multitude of well-drawn, recurring characters into the mix, all of which bodes well for future performances. 'Ö'Ö'Ö'Ö 1/2

-- Pat St. Germain


Eeshka Peeshka

Alloway Hall/Manitoba Museum (Venue 4), to July 27

The Winnipeg-based troupe's performance of playwright Sherry Bailey's adaptation of the French novel of Les Catilinaires by Amelie Nothcomb has lofty ambitions, but it's clear from the outset that much was lost in the translation.

New retirees Emile and Juliette (Bernard Boland and Joan B. Wilton) think they've found their dream home in the country, until toxically disagreeable neighbour M. Bernardin (Robert King) drops in for a visit. And another. And another. Every day, at the same time, until the new arrivals feel like prisoners in their own space. And Emile is too polite -- or weak -- to turn him away.

It's an intriguing idea, but the stilted dialogue of an awkward translation keeps the story from building any heat or momentum. At 90 minutes, it will likely make others feel captive, too. 'Ö'Ö

-- Brad Oswald


Stumblebum Productions

WAG/Muriel Richardson Auditorium (Venue 12), to July 27

FANS of all things Irish should flock to this show, chronicling the life of beloved Irish poet, balladeer and political muckraker Thomas Moore. Ottawa's Richard Hanna admirably portrays Moore, along with such famous acquaintances as fellow poets Byron and Wordsworth and King George IV, seamlessly transforming from one character to the next.

Seated in an oversize chair (Moore was only four-foot-eight) Hanna brings Moore alive in both flesh and spirit, interspersing moments from Moore's life with a healthy (maybe over-) helping of his songs, in a reedy Irish tenor, of course.

Musically, the show suffers at points when a taped backing track is brought in as accompaniment, as Hanna doesn't always stay in tune or in time. But when on his own, accompanying himself on electric harp or flitting from character to character, Hanna is delightful. 'Ö'Ö'Ö 1/2

-- Barb Stewart


BullPen Productions

Cinematheque (Venue 7), to July 27

AT first blush, the elderly woman in Montreal writer-performer Katherine Turnbull's character portrait is on top of her mental game. Physically infirm, former biology teacher Doreen takes a visitor on a tour of the garden at the care home where she resides, cheerily reciting Latin names for the flora and fauna and easily recalling their distinctive traits. As Doreen likes to say, she knows what she's talking about.

Then she repeats the process. Faltering here, dropping a thread there, she loses her way in detours into the recent and distant past that shed light on her lonely predicament.

Doreen's identity before dementia isn't fully fledged in this evolving work, but Turnbull's nuanced portrayal of her fragmented present life is spot on. 'Ö'Ö'Ö'Ö

-- Pat St. Germain


Puppy in Pants Productions

Tom Hendry Warehouse (Venue 6), to July 28

IN the third instalment of this local fringe fave, seven more tales of shlocky, horror-filled fun are afoot, with the inimitable Satan as host. Edgar Allen Poe, '50s sci-fi, the promised 3D and general silliness, mayhem and cheekiness ensue. Starting and ending on high notes, with some excellent fake movie trailers, such as The Horrors of the Island of Nazi Dinosaurs and the ingenious inclusion of live 3-D, the comedy does ebb and flow during the show, which could stand to be shorter than its 75 minutes.

The inclusion of foul-mouthed, lascivious Satan seems incongruous with a send-up of entertainment from a more innocent time, but if you sit back and shut off your brain, you're sure to enjoy the ride. Just make sure you check out the lobby seating chart to clarify your sissified seating needs. 'Ö'Ö'Ö 1/2

-- Barb Stewart


Aerial Angels

Tom Hendry Warehouse (Venue 6), to July 28.

GOOD storytellers are believable because they have a certain confidence. And perennial Winnipeg Fringe Festival favourite Erik de Waal always brings the confidence.

This year, he lends his unique storytelling style to Edgar Allan Poe's The Telltale Heart, and then proceeds to tuck shivery stories from his own experiences between traditional favourites from North America and his home in Cape Town, South Africa. De Waal mesmerizes with tales of graveyard hangers-on and some really unappetizing porridge, and the strange lure of a golden arm as well as a few humorous touches to ease the spooky tension. Some of the stories will be familiar, such as his adaptation of The Monkey's Paw, and some are variations on stories that seem to be part of every cultural tradition. Great fun for general audiences. 'Ö'Ö'Ö'Ö

-- Wendy King


Third Jerzy

Shaw Performing Arts Centre/MTYP (Venue 9), to July 27

READING the program blurb describing The Good Hustle does little to explain what it's about. Seeing The Good Hustle is no help either.

The local duo of Megan Sekiya and Leigh Ann Parry take the audience out to the ball game, but it's more oddball than baseball. The pair, clad in their smart black and grey uniforms, come out running, sliding and limbering up so one will be warmed up to bring the action to a dead stop as the other explains at length the dynamics of the knuckleball.

Of course, then it is time to make real lemonade from scratch, followed by a little pitch and catch and some batting practice, not with a bat but a long broom handle. Don't ask about the mechanical arm one of the players later has attached.

The only funny bit was when the two got too frisky patting each other on the butt. Otherwise The Good Hustle is disjointed, confounding and shouldn't expect a call up to the big leagues. 'Ö1/2

-- Kevin Prokosh


Jazz Squared Theatre

Shaw Performing Arts Centre /MTYP (Venue 9), to July 27

THE Beaver Den is a nearly defunct Canadian kids' TV show that has one last shot at survival, so it does the logically Canadian thing: it brings in an American actor. But Johnny (Bryden Rutherford), the disgraced host of Flint's Hints and fresh out of rehab, turns out to be the thorn in Tom's side (Dan Curtis Thompson), another new cast member planning to use the show to launch his own career in the movies.

The seven-member cast out of Toronto brings high-energy performances to funny numbers like Tap That Tree (which has nothing to do with maple syrup and everything to do with six feet of lumber in a plaid shirt) sung by a fearless Greg Carruthers, who plays both Beavy the puppet and his master Derek, a young man longing to um -- express himself.

A combination of funny bones, bright performances, relentlessly cheerful Canadian goodness and wacky songs (Good Morning, Like a Maple Leaf, Keanu and Me), composer/writer Taylor Abrahamse's The Beaver Den is a toothy little Canadian musical with a lot of cheek. 'Ö'Ö'Ö'Ö

-- Wendy King


Chris Funk Magic

John Hirsch Mainstage (Venue 1) to July 28

CALLING your show Wonderfully Amusing could be considered risky or cocky. Thankfully, comedian Matt Falk and magician Chris Funk are pretty much right on the money with the title of their 75-minute production.

The likable pair play off each other like skilled veterans and both local performers get a fair share of laughs. There is plenty of audience participation during the illusions and no seat is safe if you want to avoid getting on stage. Some highlights include a variation of Russian roulette, an arts and crafts segment, a bit of sleight of hand with a 10-dollar bill that is almost better in slow motion and a grand finale that earned them a well-deserved standing ovation on opening night.

And, of course, there are some card tricks, because what would a magic show be without a card trick? Funk asked.

"Original," Falk deadpanned.

Wonderfully Amusing is entirely entertaining. 'Ö'Ö'Ö'Ö

-- Rob Williams


Run Ragged Company

MTC Up the Alley (Venue 2), to July 27

A CLICH©D script blights this fairly polished piece of community theatre about a redeemed workaholic. Rude and bitter Jeremy Fast (Dave Pruden) is so obsessed with his computer business, he has alienated his son and all but ended his marriage, until he is transformed by a heart attack, a hospital stay and an encounter with a wise old man.

It's a worn-out formula, made worse by stale one-liners and hackneyed characters -- the angry jerk who complains endlessly about his naggy ball-and-chain and his ne'er-do-well son who sleeps until noon. It's a simplistic reduction of modern life. It's also oddly unbelievable -- what woman would allow her husband to tell her she can't work, and what nurse would put up with Jeremy's relentless insults?

The able cast of six local amateur actors could shine with better material. 'Ö'Ö 1/2

-- Mary Agnes Welch


Hot Thespian Action

Gas Station Theatre (Venue 18), to July 28

WINNIPEG sketch comedy troupe Hot Thespian Action is a longtime fringe fan favourite for good reason: Every freaking thing they do turns to comedy gold.

The five-member outfit has come up with 13 sketches based on a range of comedic devices, starting off with a terrible pun that nonetheless proves very funny -- sorry, no spoilers here -- before broadening out into serious stagecraft based on mime, modern dance and painstakingly practiced physical comedy.

These Winnipeggers make it look so easy you'll be too busy guffawing to geek out over technique. And the verbal humour is accessible: there's some perceptive social commentary, a smidgeon of expected edginess -- you will hate yourself for laughing at a prostitute-homicide joke -- and lots of straight-up gags about familiar characters, including technophobic senior citizens, inappropriately horny gym rats and out-of-touch gay fashion designers.

That said: An anthropomorphic abandoned tampon almost steals the show. 'Ö'Ö'Ö'Ö

-- Bartley Kives

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 20, 2013 A27

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Key of Bart - Four Little Games

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A young gosling flaps his wings after taking a bath in the duck pond at St Vital Park Tuesday morning- - Day 21– June 12, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • May 22, 2012 - 120522  - Westminster United Church photographed Tuesday May 22, 2012 .  John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press

View More Gallery Photos


Are you concerned about the number of homicides so far this year?

View Results

Ads by Google