It’s hard to believe, but this weekend will officially wrap up the 2019 edition of the St. Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival. With the Frankies Awards show capping off the festival this Sunday night at Club Soda, there is still plenty of festival shows to catch between now and Sunday night, so that you can see on your own which ones created the most buzz at the Fringe this year.
I scrambled around the Fringe site throughout the past couple of weeks to see my share of shows, and here are capsule reviews of some of my personal favourite shows that you can consider for your last minute fringing.
Some Montreal Fringe Festival capsule show reviews
• “Le Venin de Jocaste”. I have been covering the Fringe Festival for the Montreal Times since 2012; and yet throughout that time, I always caught and wrote about English language shows at the Fringe. This year, I decided to catch a French language show at the festival for the very first, and I couldn’t have chosen a better one for that inaugural French show than “Le Venin de Jocaste” from the Uptown Crew theatre company. It tells the story of a toxic mother-daughter relationship between 19-year-old Ines and her mother Rita. It’s a wonderfully performed 45-minute piece of how a traditionally-minded mother tries to handle her overly rebellious daughter as she struggles with many complex world and personal issues and is filled with plenty of humour, anger, conflict, music and a mean solo dance routine.
• “Eye Candy”. Local actor/writer/producer Stephanie Morin-Robert returns to the Montreal Fringe Festival after a two-year absence with a new solo show which is a sequel to her hit solo show “Blindsided”. This time, she recounts the trials and tribulations she and her husband Alistair go through as she is pregnant with their first child (who ends up being their daughter Olive, who makes a live cameo appearance during the show). Ms. Morin-Robert tells the story of this difficult pregnancy with plenty of laughs, honesty, some literal body performing, and masterful storytelling. A great piece of live entertainment for veteran and first-time parents.
• “Magnificence”. And speaking of masterful storytellers, Fringe veteran Keir Cutler performs his 10th piece of originally-written monologue, which recounts his life with his famous mother, the late May Cutler who was best known as the publisher of Tundra Books and as a former mayor of Westmount. Cutler delivers a well crafted and structured monologue, and certainly knows how to weave a good story from beginning to end, especially when he fills it with lots of heart, humour and reflection.
• “Me, Myself and Illusion”. This is a real fun show. Magician Jody Mihaly uses his skills as a magician, along with some music and multimedia, to tell his story of how he developed his magic career. But what makes this show so enjoyable is Mihaly’s personable style, which is so well exhibited throughout the show; and yes, there is plenty of audience participation, too.
• “Lights! Camera! Odd Jobs?”. Vancouver-based actor Arthur MacKinnon gives a genuine, highly enjoyable performance in this solo shows that recounts his struggles of trying to carve out a career in acting, and the odd jobs he has to take in between acting gigs in order to survive day-to-day and pay the bills, too (such as call centre representative and cherry picker). This show can also serve as a primer to those who want to aspire to a career as a professional actor.
For more information about Fringe Festival shows you can catch during its final weekend, go to www.montrealfringe.ca, or call 514-849-FEST.