Montreal Fringe Festival – In a flurry of multi-coloured confetti shot out of three disposable confetti cannons, the 29th edition of the St. Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival – and Montreal’s summer festival season for 2019 — was officially kicked off.
And the Fringe Fest began in its own inimitable way with their ultimate preview showcase called the “Fringe-For-All”, which was held on May 27 at Club Soda.
A record number of 63 local shows – whether they be comedies, dance, musicals, dramas, solo shows or experimental shows in English or French – had exactly two minutes each to show off to the packed Club Soda crowd what they had to offer if the gathered fringers decided to catch their respective shows at the festival. So armed with our copies of the festival program book and a three-page Fringe-For-All line-up sheet, we were ready and raring to find out how we were going to spend the next three weeks fringing it up.
With the evening’s emcees Kenny Streule, Jessica Beauplat and Anton May dressed up in their black tie best as our guides, we were treated to a sometimes unpredictable, yet always fascinating, three and a half hours worth of Fringe Fest show previews.
As we eagerly jotted down our notes and comments of each show preview on our line-up sheets (which I did with an adamant “yes” or “no”, or a simple question mark if I was left feeling a little wishy-washy about a certain show), a few things crossed my mind about what I witnessed at this year’s “Fringe-For-All”. First of all, I never seen so many clown or clown-related shows that were part of this year’s festival (four in total, including “Why Are You Afraid of Clowns?”, in which this clown in question was like he was straight out of the pages of Steven King’s “It”). Second, unlike previous Fringe-For-Alls, there were very few objects thrown at the audience or spilled on the stage (with the exception of the fun size chocolates that were tossed at us – which I caught one of them – during the preview of “Lear in Limbo”). Third, some shows had some rather unique ways to promote themselves (which was best exemplified by Theatre Sans Froid’s production “Silence”, which was basically two cast members rolling out a large banner with the show’s title on it, and was enthusiastically greeted with shushes and silent applause from the audience). And fourth, I found a new appreciation for puppet shows (“The Adventures of Humphrey Beauregret”) and magic shows (“Me, Myself & Illusion”), and discovered that they are not only for kids’ birthday parties.
So when the lights went up three and a half hours later, and I filled my briefcase with my share of promotional fliers and post cards, here are some early best bets that I plan to catch at this year’s Fringe Festival: “Le Venin de Jocaste”, “Why Are You Afraid of Clowns?”, “A Brief History of Time”, “The Adventures of Humphrey Beauregret”, “Magnificence”, “Edging with Mike”, “Me, Myself & Illusion”, and “The Man Behind the Curtain”.
Happy fringing, everyone!
For more information about these and other Fringe Festival shows, go to MontrealFringe