Fringe favourites

The Philanderess, All Our Yesterdays and Summerland wowed us


This year’s Fringe Festival was one of the smoothest-running in recent years. The weather wasn’t hot and humid, rain was minimal, and venues didn’t seem plagued by many latecomers insisting that because they’d driven down from Thunder Bay to see their niece in a show they should be let in after it had started.

With 148 shows in 28 venues from July 1 to 12, viewers had plenty to see. Audiences took full advantage of the wealth of local, national and international theatre and dance.

This record-breaking year, Fringe artists received over $467,000, and audiences bought more than 64,000 tickets. At the Visual Fringe, the artists took in $17,000. Even Tip The Fringe donations were high, the plastic watering cans at venues filled to the tune of $40,000.

Established companies and artists – Shakey-Shake and Friends, Morro and Jasp, Shakespeare BASH’d, Gavin Crawford, Dwayne Morgan, Sex T-Rex, Ryan G. Hinds, Sam S. Mullins – provided the laughs and drama we’ve come to expect from them.

Not every show was an artistic success, but even then there were surprises, like the folks behind the Fringe bomb Everyone Loves Sealand mounting a campaign that embraced their bad reviews. That’s the spirit!

But the highlight of the Fringe is discovering unknown (to us anyway) artists whose work marks them as creators to watch. Sophia Fabiilli‘s The Philanderess, featuring the playwright in the title role, is a terrific contemporary feminist rewrite of Shaw’s The Philanderer, while Chloé Hung‘s All Our Yesterdays, about two Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram, still resonates days after we saw it.

Anika Johnson, Barbara Johnston and Suzy Wilde‘s musical fantasy Summerland ran previously at Wexford Collegiate, but the shortened site-specific version for the Fringe was a justified hit, part of its success due to the young, talented cast. And we’re sure the members of the sketch troupe Dame Judy Dench, who put on That’s Just 5 Kids In A Trench Coat, will be popping up in the comedy scene for a while.

Here’s NOW’s list of Fringe highlights.

OUTSTANDING NEW PLAYS

All Our Yesterdays A Man Walks Into A Bar People Suck The Philanderess Summerland Untitled Sam Mullins Project

OUTSTANDING PRODUCTIONS

All Our Yesterdays Buckle My Shoe Caws & Effect Hamlet… A Puppet Epic In Case We Disappear A Man Walks Into A Bar Morro And Jasp Do Puberty My Big Fat German Puppet Show The Orchid And The Crow People Suck The Philanderess pool (no water) Skunkweed Summerland That’s Just 5 Kids In A Trench Coat

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A Man Walks Into A Bar walked away with great word of mouth.

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCES

Gavin Crawford (“Friend” “Like” #Me) Ryan G. Hinds (Starry Notions) Frank Meschkuleit (My Big Fat German Puppet Show) Ellora Patnaik (Rukmini’s Gold) Daniel Tobias (The Orchid And The Crow)

OUTSTANDING ENSEMBLES

All Our Yesterdays Buckle My Shoe Deadmouse: The Musical Hamlet… A Puppet Epic A Man Walks Into A Bar The Merry Wives Of Windsor Morro And Jasp Do Puberty People Suck The Philanderess pool (no water) Served Skunkweed Summerland SwordPlay: A Play Of Swords That’s Just 5 Kids In A Trench Coat

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Summerland gave us something to dance and sing about.

OUTSTANDING DIRECTION 

Marty Adams (That’s Just 5 Kids In A Trench Coat) Michelle Alexander (The Philanderess) Tom Arthur Davis and Graham Isador (Served) Kerry Griffin (People Suck) Jill Harper (pool [no water]) Chloé Hung (All Our Yesterdays) Lara Johnson (Life Records) Byron Laviolette (Morro And Jasp Do Puberty) David Matheson (A Man Walks Into A Bar) Dale Miller (Deadmouse: The Musical) Kyle Tingley (“Friend” “Like” #Me) James Wallis and Catherine Rainville (The Merry Wives Of Windsor)

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Hamlet… A Puppet Epic! delivered big laughs.

OUTSTANDING PUPPETRY

Caws & Effect Hamlet… A Puppet Epic My Big Fat German Puppet Show


Check out all of this year’s Fringe reviews here. 

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