This year’s Hamilton Fringe Festival features a total of twenty nine productions; eighteen Digital Exclusives; two Bring Your Own Virtual Venue shows; six Theatre On Demand performances; one Family Fringe show and two Skip the Glitches, which brought live theatre directly to the homes of audiences.
With the exception of Family Fringe and Skip the Glitches, reviewers for Beyond James spent the Festival’s opening weekend watching each show in this year’s Festival. As the 2021 edition of the Hamilton Fringe Festival heads into its final weekend, here are some must-sees (in alphabetical order).
It’s A Beautiful Day for Brunch and to Arrest the Cops That Killed Breonna Taylor (Digital Exclusive)
What It’s About: This cringe comedy from Afterlife Theatre takes a critical look at media sensationalism, social media and slacktivism in the face of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Why It’s A Best Bet: Digital storytelling has been a challenge for every artist over the past year, but the young creators of Beautiful day (part of the #NextGenFringe cohort) manage to present a visually interesting, compelling story that only works in a digital realm. The compilation of video, social media and spectrograms (visual representations of sound) keeps the thirty-minute performance moving quickly and feeling fresh to the end.
Joan/Jehanne (Digital Exclusive)
What It’s About: Friendly Bear Theatre Company’s retelling of the story of Joan of Arc focuses on young Jehanne; a scared, alone girl who is imprisoned and awaiting her fate.
Why It’s A Best Bet: Lead performer Katherine Teed-Arthur offers a masterful performance that accompanies a strong script (also written by Teed-Arthur). A beautiful score and soundscape, along with equally brilliant supporting performances combine together for a fantastic production that offers a new take on an old story.
Relative Loneliness (Theatre On Demand)
What It’s About: Jude and Will (Rebekka Gondosch and Jesse Horvath) are cleaning out their parents home when their aunt (Jen Frankel) joins them. Over the course of this task, they individually and collectively explore the different ways one can feel lonely.
Why It’s A Best Bet: Loneliness and isolation is a theme that has been echoed repeatedly over the past sixteen months, and while playwright Steve Hartwell didn’t mean to write a play about the pandemic, he’s found a way to channel these themes into a fresher and relatable perspective. Paired with solid performances and strong direction, Open Heart Arts offers a production that realizes its potential and timeliness.
Sunny Days Ahead (Digital Exclusive)
What It’s About: Two young best friends, Walt and Pete, are graduating from high school and decide to make a film about Pete’s life from birth to death.
Why It’s A Best Bet: It’s hard to find fault in this production. Pondside Media’s Alex Sykes and Josh Loewen do everything from write, direct, perform and film and they clearly love it- and makes the audience love it too. With a variety of creative storytelling methods, they learn life lessons, learn that much more of life is unanswered and even have a giraffe.
Terminus (Theatre On Demand)
What It’s About: A couple’s relationship is tested in this sci-fi space journey from The 9th that starts to turn into a nightmarish adventure where technology is the villain.
Why It’s A Best Bet: This production successfully marries traditional stage storytelling with a digital format for this year’s Festival. Additionally, while the story is out-of-this world, so many of the plot points are relatable and relevant, including the overarching theme of what the role of technology really is- and should be- in our daily lives.
Editor’s Note: It is recognized that a performer in Relative Loneliness is also a writer for Beyond James. To avoid any potential conflict of interest in writing the review or any additional commentary on the piece, a writer was assigned to this production who had no knowledge of the performer’s past history as a theatre artist or with the blog.