The Victoria Fringe Festival once again achieves resounding success for independent performances
On Sunday, September 4, the 35th annual Victoria Fringe Festival came to a close after 12 days of independent performances. I watched five of the 28 shows and was surprised, engaged and entertained by what I saw.
I started with the Outpost 31 The Science Fiction Sampler. This is presented in an interesting format, featuring several self-contained sci-fi stories interwoven into each other. The tone and quality of the skits are, of course, all over the place, and while there were a few that I just didn’t like, there were also two thought-provoking drama pieces that were well written and well played. Overall, whether the pieces are weird and wacky or deep and serious, the collection is certainly reminiscent of pulp fiction sci-fi magazines from the 50s through to the present day, and it’s absolutely an effective sci-fi sampler. .
After that I looked Eleanor’s Story: An American in Hitler’s Germany by Ingrid Garner, which features the true story of her grandmother enduring the horrors of World War II. Garner skillfully portrays the complex emotions of a developing girl trapped in wartime, with heartfelt and genuine moments of humor and emotion, interspersed with harrowing depictions of horrific trauma.
The show uses multimedia elements to great effect to engulf the viewer, and Garner is able to make creative use of very minimalistic props to convey the rapidly changing world that his grandmother lived in. With a captivating stage presence and the graceful movements of a dancer, Garner captivated audiences from the opening minute to the last.
Bookmarks by Corin Raymond blends stand-up comedy with eloquent spoken-word narration as Raymond invites audiences on a journey through his life and his immensely complex relationship with books. Throughout the piece, Raymond shows the audience an intimate portrayal of his inner self, moving smoothly from heartbreaking satire and effective improvisation to deeply moving moments where he reveals his humanity to the listener.
The flippant jokes sown early in the series are reaped much later, with payoffs that reveal deep, serious meaning within them. By the end, what initially seemed like a silly story about someone who loves books with an almost inappropriate intensity had morphed into a heartfelt portrayal of someone whose intense relationship with the written word is a way to process loss and grief, and to become a stronger and better man.
Next was Gangland Productions Looking for cruise control, where stand-up comedian James Gangl takes audiences on an NSFW adventure through his story and his tragically hilarious sexual misadventures. Gangl is the quintessential comedian, using only a chair, a microphone, and an endless reservoir of energy and charisma to make the audience scream.
I found, however, that about halfway through the show took on a much darker tone, discussing Gangl’s experience as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Although, like Raymond in Bookmarks, Gangl sets up a serious talk with a seemingly irreverent comedy that pays off later, something about the delivery didn’t work for me. While Raymond’s comedy is frank and subtle, Gangl’s comedy is so explosively crude and over the top that the distance between the explosive peak of sarcastic wit and the startlingly shattering crater of life-ruining trauma is too great. While Raymond’s reflection on his existential emptiness sounded heartfelt and genuine, Gangl’s delivery of his message seemed forced and over the top, and he failed to pull himself out of the tonal sharpness well enough to completely rescue his blinded audience from the dark. abyss.
Finally, I ended the festival with domestic disputes by Material Theatre. It’s a hugely satirical solo performance lamenting the crazy life of a stay-at-home mom and housewife in the 1950s, but its themes and observations are timeless, and the ridiculous, often raunchy humor, depicts the utter despair and tragic banality of a life consisting only of laundry, chores and endless childrearing.
Marya Folinsbee kills the scene with a hilariously high-energy physical comedy, which is cleverly belied by the show’s opening, where she stands completely still in one spot for a full 15 minutes, monologue with little expression. It tacitly inflicts on the audience an unconscious tension, an irritable boredom, a desire for movement, for engagement, for action, anything to stir up the monotony, and as soon as we start squirming in our seats, Folinsbee bursts into the tragically comic efforts of a bored housewife bordering on madness.
Once again, the Fringe Festival provided an impressive array of talent in a series of intimate, no-frills venues. This tradition has been going on longer than most Camosun students are alive, and I for one am already looking forward to next year’s lineup.