By Matthew Willis
VANCOUVER — Of the 80+ shows this year, the Fringe Festival’s Program Guide is your best bet for detailed show information. These can be found in most cafes around the city and all over Granville Island. Here are 10 of BeatRoute’s Fringe picks for 2014.
1. Herm and Gertie (Ron Basford Park, Granville Island)
One feature that makes the Vancouver Fringe unique to other festivals is its programming of site-specific performances. Presented by Brain Apple Theatre, Herm and Gertie is one of the many shows dispersed at various landmarks on Granville Island. A post-apocalyptic adaptation of Hansel and Gretel, the audience travels through a blindingly dark forest and witnesses a full set of ghosts and fantastic monsters.
2. Zoo Story (The Cultch)
Aengima Theatre presents three-time Pulitzer winning playwright Edward Albee’s Zoo Story at the Cultch. Two men meet on a bench in Central Park and clamber over miscommunications and struggles with urban alienation. Director Tanya Mathivanan warns you that “your journey may take an unexpected turn, and this play may just end up sucker-punching you in the face…”
Just off Commercial Drive, The Cultch is the hub for the Fringe Festival off Granville Island and easily provides a day’s worth of performances if you stay in the area.
3. Peter n’ Chris and the Kinda OK Corral (Performance Works)
The Vancouver Fringe cannot get enough of Peter and Chris. The comedy duo has been in the main stage festival for the last several years and has busted guts coast-to-coast, winning comedy awards in Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal. This year, they bring you a Western-style comedy that will include guns, fog, and the most ridiculous of shenanigans.
4. Puss: Reboot (Studio 1398)
This new play by Emily Tyler takes the classic children’s fairy tale “Puss in Boots” and reboots it in a futuristic dystopia full of feline cyborgs and enslaved robots. By adding a bit of sexiness and science fiction, the play gives a modern interpretation to the tale’s original themes on capitalism, ownership and deception.
5. Whackjob: The CogSci Spectator Study (Performance Works)
Boondogglers Theatre Company brings a play written by physician-playwright-actor James Jordon who apparently has enough time in life to be a medical doctor and a trained actor. Mr. Corporation is the psychotic C.E.O. of a pharmaceutical company who is gearing up to sell a new erectile-dysfunction-low-testosterone super drug. Simultaneously a play and a “study,” the audience receives a copy of the script full of facts and figures about the play’s content after every show.
6. The Unfortunate Ruth (Waterfront Theatre)
Every year, the Playwrights Theatre Centre awards a prize that offers a script a guaranteed spot in Fringe Festival along with dramaturgical support. Last year’s winner is this year’s show: “The Unfortunate Ruth.” Puppets tell a story of twins in alternate universes, filled with heart, hope and playful shadows. You may have seen these performers at past Fringe Festivals promoting their show with hilarious and adorable puppets.
7. We Are All Mad Here (Graffiti Alley, 1000 Parker St.)
Ramshackle Theatre presents an intense onsite adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. Located at Graffiti Alley, the audience will find itself either recruited as soldiers for the Court of Hearts, part of a grand jury on a grand trial, or a guest of the Mad Hatter. Much like a choose-your-own-adventure, the audience’s actions in the play will influence how the story ends.
8. Lascivious Something (The Cultch)
Another play in the Dramatic Performance Series, written by Sheila Callaghan, this play is about a story of two Americans who move to Greece to start a career in winemaking. Conflict arises when an ex-lover arrives to spoil the couple’s escape from a past life of radical social activism. “I think the heart of the piece is about the ‘butterfly effect’ of our choices,” comments director Sarah Rose, “and the tension between passion and accountability.”
9. TES (Revue Stage)
Steve Larkin is a familiar face to the Vancouver Fringe Festival and one of its favourite performance poets. Returning from last year’s show “N.O.N.C.E,” Oxford-based performer Steve Larkin brings another solo show to the festival, “TES,” A theatrical adaptation of the novel “Tess of the D’Urbervilles,” Larkin’s performance poetry is certainly not to be missed.
10. Chariot Cities (Revue Stage)
This show by Harrison Mooney is half family drama, half folk musical. The audience follows Jack, a folk music icon, and the mess he created from taking his wife, son and daughter on his travelling concert tours. The family tries to patch up deep running feuds while also dealing with their own struggles with drug abuse.BC, British Columbia, Chariot Cities, Fringe picks, Graffiti Alley, Herm and Gertie, Lascivious Something, Performance Works, Peter n’ Chris and the Kinda OK Corral, Puss: Reboot, Revue Stage, Ron Basford Park, Studio 1398, TES, The Cultch, The Unfortunate Ruth, Vancouver Fringe Festival 2014, Waterfront Theatre, We Are All Mad Here, Whackjob: The CogSci Spectator Study, Zoo Story