It’s time for Victoria Fringe Festivalfavourite festivals in Victoria, and I try to catch as many shows as possible in between my crazy life. Here are my notes on shows I’ve seen. (I will add as I see more shows.)

Unpossible! by Travis Bernhardt

IMPROV CLUB: An Improvised Chuck Pahlaniuk by Dave Morris

The New Conformity by Implied Intuition

High Tea by James & Jamesy

The Suitcase of Wonders: Comedy Magic Show by Ryan Pilling

Magical Mystery Detour by Gemma Wilcox

The Middle of Everywhere by Wonderheads

Confessions of a Redheaded Coffeeshop Girl by Rebecca Perry

Unpossible! by Travis Bernhardt

unpossible

Magic show/Venue 6: Fairfield Hall/All Ages

My first Fringe show was by Travis Bernhardt. He is a professional magician based in Vancouver. I love a good magic show! Don’t you?
Apparently there are six magic shows at this year’s Fringe. Yippee!

I saw Travis on the Fringe Preview on Wednesday in Centennial Square and thought he was funny.
Bonus point: It’s an all-ages show. So I took my teenage son with me.

My friend Laura once told me about this; when you’re in a live show environment -be it a speech or entertainment – you’re often 1) Afraid of the speaker 3)Afraid of each other.
I often worry about the person on the stage when he or she seems nervous or uncomfortable. That’s 2).

Travis was very good at playing the nervous, not-so-confident magician. I say he was playing, because his trick were all pretty amazing, Don’t trust this guy. He says he made a mistake…but now, did he, really?

The problem with magic shows is that you can’t really tell you what happens in the show.  You will know what I mean when you see it. In short, MIND. BLOWN.

Again, I can’t tell you too much without spoiling it for you.
Even after the show, I w it’s incredible. You can enjoy the show well after you’ve finished watching it.

I urge you to see Unpossible! You won’t regret it.

UPDATE: Unpossible! Won the Pick of the Fringe in Favourite Cabaret/Variety/Magic Show category. Congrats!!!

 

 

IMPROV CLUB: An Improvised Chuck Palahniuk by Dave Morris

improv club

Comedy, Improv/Venue 1: Victoria Event Center /PG14+

Second show I got to see this year was Dave Morris’ IMPROV CLUB: An Improvised Chuck Palahniuk. I love Dave Morris, and I’m not the only one. He’s got a pretty big following here. There’s something about him, and I find him so funny. I’ve been a fan since I saw him in “Life and Death of Dave Morris” at 2012 Singe Festival.
My 16-year-old son, who is an aspiring actor, was interested in seeing Improv Club, so I took him along with me.
As the title suggests, this show is an homage to Fight Club. First rule of the Improv Club is… Chuck Palahniuk fan to enjoy this show.
As he always does, Dave asks the audience some questions to get the story going. The night we saw it, his job was neuropsychologist. And the story unfolded with an neuropsychologist and his strange patients…
I really enjoy improv shows. Dave is a pro at getting the story going, and had the audience laughing most of the time. It was a bit of a dark ending for the evening we saw it, but the fun thing about improv is that you never get the same show twice. You can go see every show and still get different stories. If you want to laugh, go see the Improv Club...and tell everyone about it.

UPDATE: Dave Morris Won the Pick of The Fringe in Congats Dave!!! 

The New Conformity by Implied Intuition

Contemporary Theatrical Circus/Venue 3: Metro Studio/All Ages

Today I went to see The New Conformity with my 6-year-old. At shows I’ve seen so far, or in the lineups, I’ve heard that the “juggler guys” are really good. These tips from other Fringe goers are so useful! Besides, we saw them juggle at Market Square during FringeKids festival, so I knew they were good.
My son and I took the first row seats. The four guys came out, all in suits – and they started juggling. Everything was in sync, and beautiful. But eventually— a misfit breaks out from the team and starts doing his own thing. I loved this first guy —Chris Murdoch— with a stunning crystal-ball-rolling act. The balls are a lot heavier than the juggling balls. Seriously mesmerizing.
One by one, a member breaks out from the team, or “society”, as I interpreted it, and finds individuality. There is no talking in this show, but the story and the characters were very clear, and I’d like to congratulate the team on that.

There were also rings, hat tricks, stage combat, dance, and of course, lots of juggling. Oh, also there were many “Whose hand is this anyway?” amazing juggling trick moments, which was fascinating. I have never seen anything like it. It was a very sophisticated circus. With great music!
What I especially liked in this show, just like in Unpossible!,  was, calculated mistakes. You’d think they screwed up on something, but in fact, it is often very much the part of the plan.
Another thing to note is that one of the members, Yuki Ueda is Japanese— I love meeting Japanese talents in Canada, and Yuki and I got to chat a little bit after the show. He said that the Victoria Fringe was the debut of this New Conformity, and they’d started practicing around spring. This show —the story of transformation and conformity— was written by Sean Bossard, and they worked together to polish it. It was extremely well done. I would love to see them again. Still not convinced? See the trailer here.

UPDATE: The New Conformity Won Pick of the Fringe 2014 for Favourite Show!!!! Congrats!!! 

 High Tea by James & Jamesy

James and Jamesy

Physical Comedy/ Venue 4: VCM Wood Hall/All Ages

I saw James & Jamesy at last year’s Fringe Preview, but sadly I missed their actual show, 2 for Tea. This year, they’re back with HIGH TEA. I barely knew much about them, except for that they are really good. When we were in the lineup for The New Conformity, James gave us his flyer and reminded us that his show was for all ages, so again, we took out 6-year-old with us. The venue was packed. Many people brought their own tea cups as per the instruction on the flyer and tea was served for those who were so inclined.
Again, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the show, but I was laughing out loud from the get go. 4th wall was broken, and the audience participated. It starts out as physical comedy with James and Jamesy with their crazy imagination. They find out they are drowning in the sea of high tea! No wonder people loved this. The whole house was participating, and my son was having a blast. But it’s not just funny. It’s also very, very well written. It’s a story about their adventure as well as their friendship. I was also fascinated with their miming – I mean, when they are drowning, they look like they’re drowning! That’s talent.
Halfway through the show, I was starting to believe this was just it, funny-improv like style. But I was wrong. The ending was pure brilliance. Loved it, loved it, loved it. Wow.

UPDATE: High Tea won Pick of the Fringe for Favourite Comedy! Congrats!!!

Suitcase of Wonders: Comedy Magic Show by Ryan Pilling

Ryan Pilling

Magic Show/Venue 8: The Roxy Theatre/All Ages

Saturday at 5:54pm – so we had families and rather “intimate” crowd. It was my first time at The Roxy Theatre, and it was lovely, but maybe it wasn’t the best venue for a magic show. Of course, it is not at all the magician Ryan Pillling‘s fault. It started out somewhat cheesy, but in the end, it starts to grow on you. (No, really!) It was a good family fun, almost all the audience got to participate in the show (I got to write my name on a card, and it magically reappeared in the most expected way. Awesome. ) Ryan is friendly and easy to relate to. I liked this guy! Hope he comes back next year. I love magic shows.  It’s an art of distraction and misdirection. There is one more show this afternoon (Sunday) at 2pm. Take your kids!

Magical Mystery Detour by Gemma Wilcox

gemma wilcox

Comedy-Drama/Venue 2: Downtown Activity Center/PG13+

I didn’t know much about this show, and I assume that is usually the case, unless you 1) Are huge fan of the performer 2) Have seen the show elsewhere 3) Did all the homework before coming to the show.

But I think “not knowing what to expect” should almost be the point of the Fringe Festival. Taking risks and discovering something new.
Gemma Wilcox‘s Magical Mystery Detour, is a one-woman show about Sandra, who goes to see her aunt after her mother’s death. It was absolutely mesmerizing as she performed a total of 23 characters – human, animals, mythical, and steel! The first word that came to mind was SOLID. She knew what she was doing and we could just relax and marvel at her talent. What a privilege.
So many hilarious moments, but my favourite character was the Tree.
As soon as the show starts, it pulls you into the story with great force. 60 minutes fly by. It was funny, but also heartbreaking. There is one last show today at 2pm. Don’t miss it.

UPDATE: Gemma Wilcox Won Pick of the Fringe for Best Female Performer! Congrats Gemma! 

The Middle of Everywhere by Wonderheads

Wonderheads

Last day of Fringe. I went to see The Middle of Everywhere by Wonderheads. They are from Portland, OR, and they actually produce these masks themselves. They specializes in visual storytelling, without words.
Whimsical comedy with quirky masks about two (+1) strangers who unexpectedly set out for an adventure of time and space. Really cute and funny. Lots of dancing and fun music. I think my kids would have enjoyed this. Hope they come back!

UPDATE: Wonderheads won Pick of the Fringe in Favourite Visual Theatre/Puppetry! Congrats!! 

Confessions of a Readheaded Coffeeshop Girl by Rebecca Perry

Readheaded CSG

Joanie Little, with an anthropology degree works at a coffee shop. Her hero is Jane Goodall, and she studies her “animals” at her coffee shop just like her… It’s a solo comedy/musical. Man, the girl can sing! There are several musical numbers in the show and it was a pure joy of listening to a great singer. Funny line- “15 minute break is long enough to know how tired you are, but can’t do anything about it.” Funny, feel-good story with a happy ending. Perfect way to end my Fringe 2014. I want Rebecca Perry back in Victoria!

I’d like to thank Intrepid Theatre for putting such an amazing event, and particularly my friend Connie McConnell for helping me out with all these shows so that I can review them. Looking forward to the next year!