I don’t know about you fellow Montrealers, but I’m still pretty darn annoyed that we seemed to have completely skipped Spring. But as my mother taught me its always better to look at both sides of the situation; with the warm weather finally here, summer festival season is upon us!  Whether its stand up comedy, experimental theatre or Drag Queens riding tricycles, I will be spending my June in the Plateau and Mile End watching all the strange and fabulous things the 2013 St-Ambroise Fringe Festival has to offer.

After carefully examining this year’s Press Kit here are the events that I’m most excited to be checking out;

I’ve seen a lot of great comedy shows come out of the Fringe, last year for instance “God is a Scottish Drag Queen” was definitely my favourite thing I saw at the festival. This year there’s a couple of interesting looking comedy shows; “Alex Cross and His Rise to Fame” is one of the first shows that caught my attention, mostly with the shameless poster of a man on a cross with a bunch of hot chicks. A blatant grab for attention, yes, but I admit it was grabbed. The press kit describes the show as;  A talentless philistine sells his soul to the devil for fame and fortune. Follow Alex’s journey during his rise to fame until a conspiracy theorist exposes him and the satanic agenda behind the music industry. What would you give up for fame and fortune? Is this show going to be a satire or a giant mess? I’ll let you know.

I always enjoy watching Zach Adams on stage so this year I’m looking forward to seeing his new show ZACH ADAMS: ZACH TO THE FUTURE. Sillyness and charm is a combination that always works on me and this man’s got it in spades so I have every confidence the show is going to be great. I mean come on, read the description for the show; To find out if his career ever takes Weeping Spoon Productions program and websiteoff, Australian actor/comedian Zack Adams decides to travel through time to find his future self. In the year 2018, Zack finds himself on a comical, musical adventure involving a beautiful parking inspector, a man with two left hands and a 1979 Datsun. Plus how can you not like a guy who makes Back to the Future references?

I’m very excited to check out as many theatre shows as I can; I shamefully admit that as a film and television nerd the Fringe provide me with the very rare treat of going to the theatre. Some of the show’s I’ll be checking is “Around Miss Julie”, “Love in the Time of Time Machines”and “My Pregnant Brother” performed by this year’s Fringe Festival spokesperson Johanna Nutter. The play I’m most excited for is “Cross My Heart” which is described as “What is Love?  What if you could buy it in pill-form, like Viagra for the heart?  Or can you only find Love in your dreams?  Jim and Maggie are arch-enemies at work; but things are different on the Astral Plane.  Cross My Heart:  a romantic comedy with a twist.”  I may just be interested because I’m a sucker for a sappy love story but I also hope its a smart comment on love.

Along with smart plays with characters sharing their feelings, I also enjoy show where characters take their clothes off. (Then again, who doesn’t?) As always I will make sure to check out my friends at Glam Gam productions put on their 2nd Fringe play, the re-vamped “Little Beau Peep Show” and this year I’m also looking forward to seeing “ACME Burlesque”. Other events I’ll be checking out throughout the festival is visual art at Gallery Fringe taking part in drinking and watching a movie with the folks at Bloody Underrated with The Alcoholic Cinema.

By the time the festival kicks off with Fringe for All   June 3rd who knows if my festival plan will be the same, but that after all is my absolute favourite part of every festival. You do enormous research carefully reading through the schedule, and then when the festival actually starts you throw all your plans out the window and sees what actually comes of it. Make sure you check back here at Forget the Box throughout June to find out what adventures I embark on at this years Festival. Happy Fringing everyone!

After winning stunning reviews this summer at the 2012 Montreal Fringe Festival, the play Let’s Start a Country is back in full force  for a four day run at Mainline theater. The play is an interactive experience in which actors Gerard Harris and Shane Adamczak (replacing Asaf Gerchak, who co-created the play with Harris) play off audience suggestions to not only create amusing stand up comedy but, as the title suggests, a whole new country!

front_lsac_amerrev_1_8x11One of the sad things about covering a great festival like the Montreal Fringe Festival is that there’s never enough time to see everything you want to see. And while I saw amazing stuff like Kirsten Rasmussen play TOUGH! and Drag Queens ride tricycles, Let’s start a Country was one of the shows I sadly missed, so I was thrilled when Mainline theater invited Forget The Box to come check out the show on opening night. The basic idea of the show is this; with Harris and Adamczak as the founding fathers and the audience as the Parliament, you spend 60 minutes coming up with your new country’s name, national fighting style and even a flag!

I was slightly disappointed not to see the show with Asaf, who I always enjoyed as a co-host at the Edge of the City live podcasts. But Adamczak, who I’ve also seen perform at Edge of the City shows, is an equally energetic and funny man who was more  than up for the task of stepping into Asaf’s shoes. Be it with weird history facts about founding countries or demonstrating the way people pray to their gods, the mood of the evening was unbelievably silly. With audience participation crucial to the success of the show, a lot rides on the performances of the actors. Not surprisingly, both Harris and Adamcazk were so charming that as an audience member you can’t help but smile and go along with it every crazy request they throw your way.

The great thing about the show is that every time it’ll be different; while I got to be part of creating the great nation of Beeravoot, who’s national fighting style is snuggling and who’s national flag had an octagon and Rosemary’s baby, you’ll get to experience something completely new!

Let’s Start a Country runs until Saturday. For more information contact Mainline Theater.

 

For my last day at the 2012 Fringe festival, I had the pleasure of heading back to the Cabaret du Mile End to catch a performance of TOUGH! a one woman play/musical by Kirsten Rasmussen. Rasmussen was one of the co-hosts at this years 13th hour and has become quite the buzz worthy lady around town. I first saw Rasmussen take part in a improv show with Uncalled For! and also caught some of her stand up at the Edge of the City live podcast this year. Since then, I’ve seen Rasmussen pop up in articles in The Gazette, Nightlife, and the (sadly now defunct, RIP) Montreal Mirror’s Noisemakers list this year.  So needless to say when I saw she had her own solo show I was immediately interested.

Rasmussen is simply put, a force of nature. When she’s in full out performance mode its impossible not to want to hear what she has to say. I get cranky when my festival schedule goes past my regular bedtime. This lady meanwhile was not only performing hosting duties at 1 am every night, but also doing multiple performances of a show that sometimes exhausting just to watch! Continually shifting back and forth between different characters, TOUGH is the story of two very different women: an alcoholic lounge singer with a famous father, and a tough lady boxer training for her first big match. With completely different lives, these women come together at the end of the show in a satisfying and unexpected way. (I won’t spoil it for you in case Rasmussen puts on the show past the Fringe.)

In this show Rasmussen was required her to pull of comedy, drama and even sing a few songs all the same time. Like I’ve said I’ve seen her do improv and stand up comedy and after watching TOUGH I do think her greatest strength lies as a comedienne. I think she has the potential to be a just as strong dramatic actress but she’s quite there yet, and honestly my only real criticism of the show is that she should stick to acting as oppose to singing. I know that singing is crucial to this show and with the clever lyrics and Rasmussen’s engaging personality she manages to keep the show rolling, but when Rasmussen told the audience after the show that she’d be selling a CD from the show I quietly left. But I will be back for the next time she does stand up in a heartbeat.

* Photo by Chris Zacchia

Spending last weekend Fringing made me feel warm and tingly all over. Not the kind of feeling one might contract frequenting the seedier parts of the Plateau, but rather the puppy and unicorns gee shucks kind of warm and tingly. I shamefully admit that I’ve had those moments where I find myself falling out of love with this fair city of ours and I start to see myself in other parts of the world. But then those moments come along when you find yourself chilling at Fringe Park with a beer, good buds and amazing tunes, and you can’t possibly imagine being anywhere else.

The love continued into Saturday, and in the most unexpected of ways.  On a Fringe friend date with fellow FTBer Jess Klein, we headed down to the Cabaret du Mile End to check out the show Zombie Apocalypse: A Love Story. Still on a zombie kick after getting hooked on The Walking Dead this spring I was definitely interested to see how the Fringe Festival would handle the walking undead.

Despite hearing some mixed word of mouth reviews amongst my colleagues here at the website before heading down, Jess and I had a great time at this show. It was the little touches that I personally really appreciated. A zombie ripped our tickets at the door, and then as people took their seats for the show zombies casually made their way around the theatre. It wasn’t creepy to see zombies wandering around the cabaret du mile end but rather set the light-hearted tone that was to continue throughout the show. As soon as I sat down at the venue a big smile crossed my face and didn’t leave until I’d left.

The premise of the show was simple enough; four friends meet up on a  rooftop for beers and a few laughs, and instead find themselves in the middle of a full on zombie apocalypse. As some friends are presumed dead and others lose their mind, two bickering friends must finally admit their love for each other. Oh yeah and its a musical.

While the plot may sound like a bad romantic comedy I found the writing to be very clever and the line readings to be razor sharp from the show’s actors. Unfortunately not everyone had the singing chops to really carry off all the musical numbers, but that didn’t really bother me too much. What you did take away from the show was just how fun it was to fall in love during the apocalypse.

*Photos By Chris Zacchia

The Harvester

fringe for all

The 22nd Annual St Ambroise Fringe Fest kicked off last Monday night in the opening fun-filled event: Fringe for All!

In a light-hearted evening of persuasion, the players of Fringe had the chance to impress the audience in a succession of preview performances. Vying for the audience members’ attendance at their upcoming shows, each performance group was granted two-minutes of stage-time to entice, persuade and promote.

These condensed, preview versions give fest-goers the opportunity to praise and appraise and to start shortlisting their must-sees. As a new friend of the Fringe, overwhelmed by the sheer scope of the festival, I was very pleased at the chance to sample what is to come. Personally, the night functioned as a sort of test. In preparing for the upcoming weeks, I shortlisted a few shows, based mostly on hearsay and the flyer-filled press package.

But “Fringe for All” acted as a preliminary control for my previous purely “cover-judging” opinion. Perhaps not surprisingly, what brilliance cannot be contained a leaflet, can definitely be relayed in two minutes on stage – even if sandwiched between hours of other snippet long performances. In some respects, I was impressed with my gut but there was plenty of room for short-list revision.

Here are a few memorable moments that have warranted my attendance in their upcoming shows:

The Harvester
The Harvester at the Fringe

The Harvester

Silencing and holding the audience under a darkened stage, a figure dressed in radiation suit and nuclear mask slowly enters the scene. A grimly composed voice-over captivates with a tale of a post-apocalyptic world in which “time”, liquid and commodified, has cured illness, ended famine, and now, promises eternal life. But through this promise, liquid time has fallen into grave shortages. This is the story of those who hold the power of harvesting time. I later found out that this show is written and directed by the notable Paul van Dyck. But what is truly notable is that the preview was convincing independent of name-dropping.

Venue: Mission Santa Cruz – Performance dates: June 16, 17, 18, 21, 22, 23rd

 

Pitching Knife Fight

(Win free tickets through ForgetTheBox by guessing the film’s body count!)

Opening on the 15th, Walter J. Lyng puts on what will undoubtedly be a riotous good time. Centered around the movie franchise “Knife Fight”, the show will feature a series of promotional materials, as presented to potential investors. Well-known for his comedic ability, Walter is sure to deliver an energetic and contagious performance.

Venue: Théâtre MainLine Theatre – Performance dates: June 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 24th

*** To win tickets to this show simply leave a comment below or on FB @forgetthebox or send us a tweet @forgetthebox guessing what the body count for the film #KNIFEFIGHT will be.

 

The GASSBAM Prize

Put on by the Montreal Improv duo Zoe Daniels and Carmen Rose, this “two-person, one PowerPoint play” centres around Dr. and Mrs. Doverman-Brack’s entry for the illustrious GASSBAM prize. Hard-hitting and hilarious, this preview earned a room full of laughs.

Venue: OFF A – Montreal Improv – Performance dates: June 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 22, 23, 24th

 

The Little Prince as told by Machiavelli

A short-list revision: “The Little Prince as told by Machiavelli” takes a heartwarming favourite and turns hilariously grim. Giving a colourful and animated preview, the Capricornucopia group retakes a classic inspiring story and adds totalitarian ruling advice. In a convincing and keenly entertaining performance, The Little Prince is sure to delight.

Venue: Théâtre MainLine Theatre – Performance dates: 16, 17, 18, 20, 22, 23rd

The 22nd Annual St. Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival is fast approaching. As FTB’s newly appointed arts and culture writer, and newer still friend of the Fringe, I was assigned what seemed to be the daunting task of writing a Fringe Fest week #1 Preview.

From June 4th to 24th, the Plateau Mile-End area will be overrun with more than 500 local and international artists, performing an array of music, theater, comedy and dance. By determining the line-up through lottery and keeping ticket prices low, the festival presents itself in the pursuit of wholly autonomous, uncensored and accessible art. But this vast and unrestrained collection can leave someone newly-acquainted with with the festival with an overwhelming sense of beginner’s block.

Luckily, alongside their artistically liberating mission statement, comes some very welcomed words of encouragement: “At the Fringe, word of mouth is king. Ultimately, it’s the audience who decides which shows are good and which aren’t.” These words thereby suitably announce the debut of my entirely unjustified, and mostly unqualified word. And all in the open, egalitarian spirit of Fringe.

Fringe’s success hinges on audience participation and interaction. The unmediated festival is driven by the audience members’ ensuing reaction. And this opportunity leaves every Internet-accessing Fringe-goer the sense of being both pioneer and critique, which is a delightful dream come true in what has otherwise been deemed an overpowering world of inaccessible high art.

In light of this, the first week of Fringe should be approached with inquisition, interaction and a little DIY initiative. “Fringe is about discovery.” It demands fest-goers do some serious research and investigation. Be prepared to take some time working through the many pages of information and multiple links uncovering the vast selection of events. And be sure to keep an open-mind. Allow yourself to be captivated by the seemingly strange and outrageous. The festival invites goers to be shocked and scandalized, so test your intuition and take a risk.

Here are a few considerations…

As reviewed  last August, Glam Gam Productions is staging their roughly-burlesque murder mystery show If Looks Can KillThey Will. If their performance past is any indication of what is to come, the shameless and unabashed Glam Gam troupe is sure to charm audiences in an uproarious and outrageous good time. This is a definite not-to-miss.

Running Friday, June 8th-16th at Cafe Cleopatra.

As part of the Fringe Festival’s “After Dark Series”, Seska Lee presents ACME Burlesque. A risque cabaret of belly dancing, circus performers and a striptease, the show promises to thrill audiences in a “truly interactive experience”.

June 7th, 21h at MainLine Theatre.

As the name suggests, Fringe’s Edition of the Strip Spelling Bee is an adult bee inviting guests to test their spelling skills at the cost of clothing. Get in the Fringe Fest spirit with an interactive After Hours evening of whooping and heckling. Takes place Wednesday, June 6th at MainLine Theatre. Consider overdressing.

Also, for a taste of visual art be sure to check out the Galerie Fringe Vernissage, Friday, June 8th at Studio Beluga.

For information, visit Montreal Fringe Festival’s website.