Festival season is coming to a close in my fair city, signaled by the end of the Fringe last weekend. For those of you who are not of my town, the Fringe is a two week long theatre festival. It showcases street performers and stage performances of all shapes, sizes, and genres. Contrary to the belief of one individual I know, it’s not a bunch of “leftist, artsy-fartsy crap.” Yes, you get your bits with interpretive dance and no dialogue—which vary in quality; I generally will not enjoy such performances if I give up on interpreting the story—but there are also one-man shows, musicals, and comedies as well.
I saw three plays this year.
First weekend of the Fringe, my family went to see Hitchcocked, a three man show done in the style of a Hitchcock movie, but with more comedy and improv. Admittedly, I haven’t seen as many Hitchcock movies as I probably should, so a few things may have gone over my head. Frankly, when a play basically starts with a man walking into a room, declaring “Hello, I’m Sean Bean,” and falling over dead, I’m expecting good entertainment to follow.
The play was funny and well-paced. Some of the improv fell short in one scene, but to no fault of the actors. When they asked an audience member to draw the lead, they were expecting a stick figure with a curl of hair. They were surprised by the fact that they got a decent artist instead.
It was an enjoyable show from start to finish, and a good start to my Fringing.
I had planned to see more shows this year, but my Fringing partner had gotten sick during our scheduled meeting day. We didn’t get to see each other until the following Sunday, at Coraline the Musical.
Of course I was going to go see Coraline. I’ll admit, I haven’t read the book yet (it’s on my to-read list), but I have seen the movie. My friend confirmed, as expected, that the play was closer to the book. There were some excellent performances and prop use in this one. The guy playing the cat got that self-righteous strut down; Coraline was adorable; the Other Mother was creepy as hell.
The songs were hit-and-miss, and the pattern was inconsistent. At first it seemed like the whole play would be a musical (ala Repo! The Genetic Opera), but it went down to a more standard musical (Disney Animated) style, with passages of dialogue between the songs, near the end. I felt it was a little inconsistent that way.
But I was entertained.
They also managed to scare a little girl sitting behind my mom, so kudos to Coraline.
Finally, my friend and I split from my family and went to see Confessions of a Redheaded Coffeeshop Girl. I had desperately wanted to see this one, as it sounded like something I could relate to. I worked at a Starbucks for four years, after all. I figured I’d be able to connect with this play on a personal level.
And holy shit did I connect.
Coffeeshop Girl was a one woman show about Joanie, a writer (like myself!), who worked at a coffeeshop and how she dealt with everyday life there. The play left me crying because of how hard I was laughing, and I audibly groaned several times at some of the shit Joanie had to deal with. I enjoyed every second of it.
The ending was unexpected though. It was sobering and familiar. I honestly think it was the best play I saw this year. Joanie the Coffeshop Girl is right up on the list of characters who I feel I have a personal connection, alongside Mulan, Tiana, and Penny Proud of Disney.
I felt it was a good Fringe season for me. After the shows, I also learned a valuable lesson during supper at Hudson’s Canadian Tap House.
Just because a lot of your small, skinny friends can eat massive amounts of food, doesn’t mean they all can. There were so many nachos.