Uncalled For begins its farewells, 60 companies say hello
by Valerie Cardinal
You know the Fringe Festival has started when your evening includes breakdancing, drag queens, karaoke, rapping grannies, promises of nudity and more. Over 70 English, French and dance shows had the opportunity to introduce themselves in two minutes or less at last night’s Fringe-For-All at Café Campus. The night included almost all companies except for those from out of town. The nearly four-hour theatre extravaganza was hosted for the last time by Uncalled For, who are abandoning their 13th Hour hosting duties to become producers of online videos. With so many shows and so little time, it’s difficult to remember all the companies that took the stage. Even one-off events such as Art Camp and the Grindhouse zombie night were given their chance to shine.
|The Anger in Ernest and Ernestine|
The ones that stood out featured outstanding performances or surreal shock value – for example, 8 Ways My Mother was Conceived brought on a piñata of the Virgin Mary, and then proceeded to stab her repeatedly with the sharp end of bat in an effort to crack it before their two minutes was up. Equally successful in the surreal was the Horrific Hysterical Improv Walking Tours, featuring an increasingly frantic Beaker from The Muppets running around in circles on the stage. Best of Montreal favourite Shayne Gryn was also involved in not one, not two but three productions (with multiple instruments, too).
There were performances that genuinely worked up interest in the shows. Antonio Bavaro’s performance as the titular Hedwig and the Angry Inch was dead-on, cramming in as much sex, drugs and rock & roll as his two minutes would allow. The Motherhouse helped round up the night with Amanda McQueen’s pissed-off Grey Nun Constance McMullen. All in all, it’s looking like an interesting Fringe, as always, with shows both dramatic and comedic trying to push the envelope and an overabundance of one-man shows.
Top 10 Shows I’m looking forward to (based on the Fringe-For-All)
(links are to each company's EVENT listing here at CharPo)
Hedwig and the Angry Inch made me want to see more of Antonio Bavaro. (Read Richard Burnett's round-up of Gay Fringe shows, including Hedwig and Crossroads - mentioned below - here.)
Zip & Wick #72: Endings featured some impressive acrobatic stunts and post-apocalypse superheroes.
Rains Down in Africa, because who can resist a sing-along to Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer?
Who is Aristippus? fit a large cast and an enormous banner onstage, and managed to pull off an awesome steampunk dance party.
EDGES: A Song Cycle and their charming, banjo-accompanied sung plea.
Uncalled For presents: Trial of the Century: Objections! Legal jargon! Closing statements! Audience participation! Mass confusion?
Crossroads featured a performance by the unreal Shijia Jiang that promises an impressive show.
The Anger in Ernest and Ernestine presented some solid clowning, lots of silly dancing and a broken broom.
Austen for the Attention-Impaired. I can’t resist a good rap when it involves Jane Austen.
The Motherhouse, for Amanda McQueen’s hilarious performance.