Sunday, November 27, 2022

6 Fringe Passes 6 Ways: Your Go-To Guide To The 2022 Fringe Festival

This year’s Fringe Festival is its biggest yet. Sixty shows. Fourteen stages. Three hundred and fifty performances. You could be forgiven for feeling a little overwhelmed. Some people thrive on seeing as many shows as possible over the Festival’s ten-day period. Others would prefer a more curated experience. 

For those who hold a six-show pass to the Fringe, but aren’t quite sure how to use it, we’ve provided six recommendations of six shows; each inspired and connected along a central theme. 

Pass #1- For Those Who Love (or Hate) Love

These six shows feature the quest for love and what happens when you find it- or you realize that it’s definitely not for you. 

  • A Pang of Displacement (Bridgeworks)- Local company get me a chai productions’ one-person show of two partners navigating the dissolution of their marriage.
  • End With A Kiss (Staircase Theatre, Studio Theatre)- an homage to Hallmark movies, including the cliched ending- completely improvised for a comedic twist.
  • The Disney Delusion (Mills’ Hardware)- unrequited love and the romantic trip of a lifetime to Disneyland that gets detoured by Barack Obama’s 2008 inauguration, a sugar daddy and a Frank Sinatra impersonator. 
  • TMII: Too Much Information, Improvised (Staircase Theatre, Bright Room)- former-flames-turned-improv-duo use their failed relationship as inspiration for improv comedy.
  • Unmatched (Bridgeworks)- Using real stories from real date-goers, Eve Beauchamp and Caity Smyck explore the funnier side of dating in a world of smartphones and swipes. 
  • We Will Date You (Bridgeworks)- Best friends and comedians Nour Hadidi and Natalie Norman share stories of crushes, dating and love. The audience gets to decide at the end which one of them they’d rather date.

Pass #2- For the History Buff

Sometimes, history is better than fiction. And when that happens, playwrights are there to take note. Here are six shows inspired by mythology, proven historical events and the past.

  • Bulfinch’s Mythology (Mill’s Hardware)- head back to 1850s Boston to explore myth, mime, theatre and the impacts when something is lost in translation.
  • Medusa (Theatre Aquarius Studio)- the story of an old myth, told through new lenses and interesting storytelling features.
  • MINE! True Stories and Legends of the Porcupine Gold Rush (Westdale Theatre)- go back in time to learn the true stories of Northern Ontario’s turn of the century goldrush, primarily told through original songs.
  • SAMCA (The Zoetic)- set in Transylvania, this multi-disciplinary, contemporary horror folk tale explores themes of fertility, pregnancy and childbirth.
  • The Night They Raided McMaster (The Zoetic)- a fictional reenactment of a 1970 trial of three McMaster students, convicted of film obscenity. 
  • Tree Confessions (Virtual Venue)- an audio-only immersive experience, told from the point of view of a tree that’s been around for generations. 

Pass #3- For Those Looking to Return to Their Roots

Families are a source of comfort, inspiration, frustration and tradition. For those looking to learn more about their identity, family- and genetic connection- is usually a good place to start. These six shows are all inspired by, or written about family bonds (or a lack thereof).

  • Dedication (The Zoetic) the story of the life recollections of three sisters.
  • Deep Fried Curried Perogies (Bridgeworks)- the coming-of-age story of Michelle as she explores her identity of being raised by a Filipino mom and Jamaican dad.
  • Meat(less) Loaf (Bridgeworks)- the autobiography of storyteller Carly Anna Billings, from exploring her Italian heritage through cultural food and traditions as a vegetarian to learning about her Indigenous background.
  • Stupid Ed (Players’ Guild)- Comedian Ed Hill reflects on his childhood, family, and how they’ve shaped the person he is.
  • Too Big for Her Britches (Players’ Guild)- Lisa Pezik battles shame to find her inner warrior and confront her past traumas in this performance filled with original music.
  • Whale Fall (Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts)- one woman’s quest to find the last orca whale against the juxtaposition of her relationship with her father.

Pass #4- For Those Searching for Answers

Fringe shows can bring knowledge and profound wisdom. From those offering fresh perspectives on life to sharing the experiences of a lifetime, these six Fringe shows promise reflection and lessons to be learned.

  • A Side of Rice (Theatre Aquarius Studio)- Nicholas Rice’s one-man reflection on his family, and seventy years of living.
  • Old Fart (Bridgeworks)- ukulele-playing, goofy Old Tom embraces everything there is to about getting older.
  • Something Small, Something Sweet (Theatre Aquarius Studio)- a hilarious and genuine look at the good and not-so-good of life.
  • The Beauty We Carry (Bridgeworks)- an intimate look at empathy and connection.
  • Thy Name is Woman (Theatre Aquarius Studio)- two female figures from Shakespearean history debate what makes a life worth living.
  • Wet (The Zoetic)- four individuals’ reflection of the fast pace of life and expectations of living.

Pass #5- For Those Who Hate Theatre

Traditional theatre shows aren’t for everyone. Fortunately, Fringe Festivals offer a lot of variety, and it’s possible to attend more than just a play. These six shows promise the opposite of a traditional theatre experience.

  • Civilized: A Live Podcast Experience (Staircase Theatre, Studio Theatre)- the popular sci-fi-inspired improvised podcast recorded live in front of an audience.
  • Kiss The Stormy Sky (The Zoetic)- music, projections and contemporary dance collide in this performance about memories.
  • Squid (Theatre Aquarius Studio)- face your fears and clown around in this audience-driven show. 
  • The Movement Museum (Defining Movement Dance)- from tap to hip-hop to bellydance, get a guided tour through a variety of dance styles featuring local dancers.
  • Tales from Island Boy Public Journal (Mosaic Bar)- Through standup comedy and storytelling, Justin Shaw brings to life stories from his home province about their epic 70-mile yard sale.
  • The House Key Project (Theatre Aquarius Backstage)- take a walking tour through four separate worlds and hear the stories of four separate emerging storytellers in this limited-capacity show.

Pass #6- For Those Looking For An Escape

Some people go to the theatre looking for a place of escape and rejuvenation. If it’s not over-the-top, outlandish or surreal, it’s not for them. These six shows offer the opportunity to transport you to new worlds. 

  • A work of fiction (Staircase Theatre, Bright Room)- magic and storytelling collide in this exploration of truth vs. fiction by magician Nicholas Wallace.
  • BOOKMARKS (Staircase Theatre, Studio Theatre)- get lost in this story about the powerful impact of stories and books.
  • Drag Me to the Opera (Players’ Guild)- One man’s transformative journey to becoming an opera singer as told by drag queen Aida Cupcake.
  • Killing Time: A Game Show Musical (The Zoetic)- a whodunnit about the murder of a gameshow host featuring original music.
  • The Role Play (Virtual Venue)- explore the psychology behind role playing games like Dungeons and Dragons in this virtual performance.
  • The Trillionaire (Players’ Guild)- to escape climate change, the richest man in the world and his wife decide to move to the moon.

Bonus Pass- For Those Who Want Someone Else to Decide

Maybe you aren’t interested in attending shows based on a theme. Sometimes, we’d rather trust the recommendations of others as to what we should see. Fear not- the Beyond James Review Team is here to assist. All Beyond James 2022 Fringe Reviewers were asked to pick their favourite show in the festival (so far), with no explanation required. The below list of seven shows (just in case one is sold out or cancelled) is that compilation.

  • BOOKMARKS (Staircase Theatre, Studio Theatre)- get lost in this story about the powerful impact of stories and books.
  • Deep Fried Curried Perogies (Bridgeworks)- the coming-of-age story of Michelle as she explores her identity of being raised by a Filipino mom and Jamaican dad.
  • Killing Time: A Game Show Musical (The Zoetic)- a whodunnit about the murder of a gameshow host featuring original music.
  • Tales from Island Boy Public Journal (Mosaic Bar)- Through standup comedy and storytelling, Justin Shaw brings to life stories from his home province about their epic 70-mile yard sale.
  • The Foot Doctor (Players’ Guild)- When Irene is ghosted by her best friend, she calls in a medium to assist.
  • Tree Confessions (Virtual Venue)- an audio-only immersive experience, told from the point of view of a tree that’s been around for generations. 
  • Whale Fall (Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts)- one woman’s quest to find the last orca whale against the juxtaposition of her relationship with her father.

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