Monday, September 03, 2007

Live And Let Fringe: The Doc's Week-Old Impressions

Oh, The Fringe. It was a crazy one this year: both the organizational shuffle and the Vancouver-in-March-like weather cast a literal and metaphorical cloud over the whole shebang. There was a great deal of complaining about how The Fringe ran this year (i.e., not smoothly), and a lot of the performers that I spoke to weren't happy about how they were finding the experience and were planning on voicing some very stern comments to the powers-that-be. Apocalypse Kow had a decent Fringe: our shows were pretty good, from a performance standpoint, and we had many nice comments from the old guard of faithful Apocalypse Kalfs and a lot of familiar faces, too. Our shows weren't numerous, and thanks to the weather not always well-attended, but they were successfu in the sense that people seemed to enjoy themselves and didn't run away avoiding us when we came out with our hats. We had our own share of internal problems, too, but they were very small share and hopefully they'll work themselves out at our next meeting.

What I'll remember most about The Fringe are the shows and getting to talk to other performers again. First of all, the shows: I saw four great indoor shows this year. NinjaStan and I saw Cabarlesque!, a great cabaret/burlesque show that told three stories, one set in 1930s Berlin, one in Amsterdam in 1961, and finally in New York in 2006. The musical performances were great, the dancing was fun and sexy, and the first two stories were really engrossing (the last one, while still entertaining, was more of a "characters sit around and talk" piece than a story). Then I saw a dance show from Jolene Bailie, private I, with Jago, which was really interesting. It's been a while since I've seen a show like it: a performance art showcase, some monologue and a lot of dancing, with excellent lighting design and great music from The Hylozoists (warning: MySpace link). I also saw Scorpio Theatre's Sacrilicious, which was a much better show than some of its reviews indicated. The show consisted of three short scenes: the first told the story of how Jesus and Superman got in a boxing match, the second had Zeus, Kali, and Thor hanging around the prayer phone waiting for it to ring, and the third (and best) had an Atheist at the gates of Heaven talking to an irksome St. Peter. Although I'd seen the last scene before, here it was tighter and much better paced, and even though it was definitely my favourite, the others were pretty good too. My favourite moment in the whole show was when Zeus first looked at Thor, who was decked out in his old-school Marvel Comics finest (and I'm paraphrasing):

Zeus: What are you wearing?
Thor: Check it out! This is what they think I look like down there! I'm a superhero! And my hammer even has my name engraved on it!

I laughed so hard my throat was sore afterwards. Finally, I took The Peach out to see Cyranose, an adaptation by California's Sound & Fury company, which was raucous and fun, and even had Mad Libs. Combine those four shows with the half-dozen outdoor shows that I saw and you have the best-attended Fringe for many years, by me at least.

The other great thing about The Fringe 2007 was getting to see old acquaintances again and meeting a few new ones. Dan Craig, of the remarkable Dan Show, slept on Jago & NinjaStan's couch, and it was good to see him and catch up. We even brought him on stage for a special guest spot during one of our shows, which was fun. We got to see Aytahn again as well, and his Circo Abra was a delight as well. I got to meet and chat with some of the Aerial Angels, which was fun. My favourite moment from them was when one of them asked if it liquor stores in Edmonton were open on Sundays. We answered strongly in the affirmative, and she seemed very relieved.

Kow even got to be in the Fire Show, the outdoor stage Fringe, which was a bit of a gong show. Everyone on the outdoor stages who have fire tricks get together and put on one show of nothing but fire tricks. I arranged "Ring of Fire" in the hopes that we could be involved somehow, thinking that we could sing while other people juggled or something. What actually happened was that we were the second-last act of the night, before the big finale. Having, of course, no training in the use of fire torches, and figuring it unlikely that Dan or The Wombats would let us use their props, we brought out some candles and sparklers. Which didn't light. So we sang Ring of Fire and held unlit candles in front of us and the audienced seemed to enjoy our silly antics, which was nice. And we finally got the sparklers lit for the finale, where we stood at the back of the stage waving them over our heads while the professionals juggled and blew REAL fire.

So there's Fringe 2007 from my perspective. Kind of a letdown, thanks to the depressed mood and the weather, but I still had a good time. And I finally had some deep-fried Mars bar, which was good for a few bites but I wouldn't recommend eating the whole thing yourself. Unless you're Jago.

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