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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Theatre For Thought, June 14, Fringe Edition

joel fishbane

So the Fringe is in full swing now and while the artists are struggling to stand out, I’m dealing with a problem of my own: objectivity. It’s a tough thing in our small community, where I’m just as likely to share a beer with an artist as I am to see them on stage. This makes the two main jobs of a theatre reporter – promotion and criticism – especially difficult. If you promote a show starring a friend, you get accused of bias; and if you criticize your friend’s show, they may or may not egg your house. 

I’m going to take the lesser of two evils and promote a few shows involving friends of mine (hopefully, they won’t mind being outed as my friends). There are plenty of good, objective reasons to see these shows but here’s an openly biased one: whether luck or the grace of God, I’ve managed to amass a lot of f#@*ing talented friends.

THE BIRTH OF WEZA (Freestanding Room)
I know everyone involved with this production which makes it mandatory that I attend less I get kicked out of the Montreal theatre community. Joanne Sarazen (Jesus Jello) has a sharp tongue in person (she’s cut me down to size more then once) so you can expect some quirky, quick-witted comedy; meanwhile, director Tamara Brown has long been honing her talents over at Black Theatre Workshop. Then there are the actors – Owen Clark, Lindsay Wilson, Mike Payette and Catherine Lemieux – all of whom have a tendency of stealing every scene they’re in. Word of warning: Freestanding Room gets pretty warm, so bring water and a fan.
Robin Henderson, of Dance Animal fame, is a bit of a workaholic and last year she participated in the 24 Hour Musical event produced by the Nouveau TSC. Now she and writer Alain Mercieca have returned to the entry they created for that event to produce what has been described as a “tragic-comedy musical about love, life and aprons.” Robin’s becoming a sharp director and has always been a great choreographer while Alain Mercieca (who I don’t have the honor of knowing) has been writing theatre and short fiction for a while now, so whatever else happens, it should be a good time.

Yes, yes, we all know that these boys are so ubiquitous during Fringe time that it’s hard to spit without hitting Dan Jeanotte in the eye (take my word for it). But that won’t be forever – this is the last summer Uncalled For will be appearing at the Fringe, which makes it all the more reason to check out their latest improv show, Trial of the Century. In recent years, Uncalled For has focused on their exquisite brand of sketch comedy, but I’m glad that for their Fringe swan song they’re going back to their roots. 

I first heard of Zip & Wick while in rehearsal with C’est La Vie Theatre which, as you may know, have been releasing podcasts of new plays. My director, the uber-ambitious Sarah Mahoney, was working to sell the show to one of the other actors. “It’s the end of the world,” she said. “And two failed superheros meet for the last time.” Talk about a great elevator pitch. The premise definitely has Fringe written all over it and the show, written by McGill student Tabia Lau, already got its feet wet at the McGill Drama Festival. So in a summer of comic book blockbusters, it’s entirely possible that this will be one more show to add to the list.

Also check out Crazy Love, written by playwright David Sklar who shared a stage with me last autumn; and Remember Ezra by AndrĂ© Simoneau, who’s giving Montreal what I think is his playwriting debut

A side note: if you’ve always though we were friends and you have a show and I didn’t mention you, you have every right to be hurt. But keep in mind I’m old and forgetful. The other day I dropped a bill off at the vet and then tried to mail the cat. And what with Canada Post on strike, I still haven’t gotten him back. True story. 


  1. Uber-ambitious, I like it! If this weather ever gets any better I hope to find you at the beer tent, I would love to buy you a drink and find out what you really thought about Zip & Wick. I promise not to egg your house. ;)

  2. Joel, really sorry to hear about the cat.


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