Four Shows From the Fringe

We’re about halfway through the 2010 Vancouver Fringe Festival, and I’ve made it to four shows. Here are some quick reviews:

Dirt – A provocative monologue by a self-loathing Iraqi refugee illegally living in an American city. Christopher John Domig convincingly plays Sad, a man at sea in a foreign land. Domig is a patient, confident performer, and he commands the script by Robert Schneider. The dialogue gets a little too circular by the play’s conclusion, but otherwise it’s excellent. It’s heavy subject matter, but ultimately a rewarding show.

The Dk and Morgan Show – Sketch comedy is hard. After all, even Saturday Night Live’s writers and cast regularly miss with their work, and they’re presumably among the best on the continent. DK Reinemer and Morgan Grobe deliver some funny bits–a song about hunting and gathering and a horny ATM are two standouts–but a number of sketches fall pretty flat. The show also felt a little under-rehearsed–the transitions and timing could have been tighter.

Teaching Shakespeare – Keir Cutler’s show is something of a Fringe classic. It features a quirky college professor teaching a college class about Shakespeare. The script here is great–a wordy, nerdy monologue about Shakespeare’s language. And there’s some fun satire of college and the bardolatry of academia. Everybody else in the audience–it was a full house–seemed to really dig the show, but I wasn’t sold by Cutler’s performance. His decisions in performance seemed to be oddly safe, and he rarely seemed interested in the possible subtext of his script. His work is more presentation than play, more recitation than monologue. Still, he did teach me the word deracinate. And, like I said, the rest of the audience were laughing their heads off.

Wanderlust – Martin Dockery spent five months traveling across West Africa searching for meaning and wisdom. Did he find either of those? Maybe, maybe not, but he’s got some tales to tell. He’s an intense, manic performer with a gift for making the particular universal. His script is full of wit and nice turns of phrase–“crickets are the soundtrack of silence”. I thought he could have found some more layers in the text, thus enriching the play’s conclusion. In any case, it’s a pacey, entertaining show, and I highly recommend it.

Dockery is performing another of his shows, The Bike Trip, as a Fringe fundraiser on September 22.

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