As of January 7, 2013, this website will serve as an archive site only. For news, reviews and a connection with audience and creators of theatre all over the country, please go to The Charlebois Post - Canada.

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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Theatre For Thought, June 30, 2012

joel fishbane
Fringe Festivals have long been a unique way to tap into the zeitgeist and this year’s Montreal Fringe was no exception: there were four shows about the end of the world, three of which involved zombies. At least one show at the upcoming Toronto Fringe will continue the trend, although exactly how remains to be seen. Zed.To, produced by The Mission Business, looks like it might be another zombie-flavoured night at the theatre. A piece of immersive entertainment, its plot actually started way back in 2009, threatening to give new meaning to that old writing technique of starting a story in medias res.
To understand the show, I caught up with one of its creators, Elenna Mosoff. The  artistic associate producer of Acting Up Stage Company, Moseff was most recently seen celebrating the company's accomplishments at the  Dora Awards (for their productions of Caroline, or Change and Ride the Cyclone). But she hasn’t had much time to admire the trophies – she’s too deeply immersed in another, more pressing narrative Since 2009, Moseff and her partners – local hotshots David Fono, Martha Haldenby, Trevor Haldenby and Byron Laviolette – have been crafting a theatre event that involved the creation of an online universe which will have direct consequences on the theatrical experience being planned for the upcoming Toronto Fringe.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

CPM Picture of The Week, June 28, 2012

Glen Mills, Miranda MacDonald, Clayton Labbe and Anna Hurshman
of Village Theatre's upcoming Back in '59

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Beyond Our Fourth Wall, June 27, 2012

French adaptation of Broadway hit The 39 Steps (produced by Steve Gallucio, Denise Robert and Pierre Marchand).
Les 39 marches
July 4 – 21
Théatre L’étoile Banque Nationale

Theatre…en français
by Estelle Rosen

Burlesque dance theatre troupe.
July 7-14-21
Café Cléopatre

Touching and funny stories inspired by family life experiences.
July 6
Monument National

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

After Dark, June 26, 2012

In The Heat of The Night
What is happening to the Fringe and do we all need to worry?
By Gaëtan L. Charlebois

The 2012 editions of the Montreal Fringe, The Ottawa Fringe and the London Fringe are over and that, my friends, is problem number one with that thing we love so much: The Canadian Fringe Movement.

The Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals is the organization that holds the rights, in this country, to that glorious name: Fringe. They can bestow it or not, based on certain criteria. This year they blessed a new Fringe, in PEI, the Island Fringe. But here's what else we THOUGHT they did: maintain order among the festivals. Apparently not.

Monday, June 25, 2012

News: Joel Fishbane on The Frankies (Fringe)

Big winners: Osara Soup for My Exploding Family

joel fishbane
It finally rained on the 22nd St. Ambroise Montreal Fringe, but only at the last minute. After ten days of sunshine – a few of which came complete with a stifling heat wave – the festival came to a close with the usual party / awards show that is the Frankie awards. Shorter than the Academy Awards and a lot more enjoyable, the proceedings were hosted by the hosts of the 13th Hour, the Fringe’s live late-night talk show: perky Kiki Razzle, gallant Philip Fairbanks and bunny-eared Cat Lemieux (it’s better not to ask).
Three dance numbers were interspersed with the various awards and accolades, which included a sneak peek of Fringe favourites Dance Animal’s upcoming show at the Just for Laughs Festival. Artistic director Amy Blackmore was visibly moved by the efforts of her small band of staff and large band of volunteers – over two hundred people gave their time this year to help keep the Fringe festival chugging along. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Tour Whore, June 24, 2012

The Feeling Skin
by Cameryn Moore

You know how you grab your seat in a Fringe venue, and they have the air conditioning on so high that you have to put on a jacket, or you would if you were still carrying a jacket, but you aren’t, so you just sit there and freeze your butt off the whole time? In such a situation, you almost have to dedicate a whole paragraph in the review, right, or in the online comments or handwritten beer-tent buzz sheet to how distressing that is, and how it totally interfered with your ability to enjoy the show. Don’t you hate that?

Or you know, you’re standing outside in a line-up, the sun is beating off of the concrete surroundings, at least you have water and the door will be opening soon, but good god, it’s hot. And when you finally file into that air-conditioned space, ugh, it hits your sweaty skin and then all you can talk about with your neighbor until the lights come up on the show is how much you hate the chilly air. It feels good for a few minutes, but then you’re too cold, and can’t someone do something about that anyway? You know what I’m talking about? Yeah?

Shut up. Just shut up. I’m not going to feel cool again until September.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Theatre For Thought, June 23, 2012

joel fishbane
Here’s a funny story: last winter I auditioned for the Montreal premiere of Elizabeth Rex, Timothy Findley’s award-winning play about a meeting between Queen Elizabeth and Shakespeare’s company of actors. After discussing the show, director Mike Payette asked if I had any questions. “Just one,” I said. “Is Leni Parker playing the Queen?” Mike’s smile was almost imperceptible as he neither confirmed or denied the question. Suffice it to say I didn’t get the part; but a few weeks later, I learned that Leni Parker would indeed be playing that most famous of all British queens.
I can’t take credit for putting the idea into Mike Payette’s head; he’s a smart enough guy that he had already offered her the role by the time I came along. And why not? Leni Parker is one of Montreal’s most respected talents, a Concordia grad who has become known for the regal bearing she brings to every role she plays. Whether it’s the titular Baroness in Michael Mackenzie’s The Baroness and the Pig or the romantic heroine of Collen Curran’s True Nature, Parker can be countered on to provide an imposing presence and the sort of wit that can turn a simple greeting into a cutting remark.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Review: No Fixed Abode (Fringe)

by Élaine Charlebois

After reading the brief and vague description of No Fixed Abode, I had no idea what to expect out of this rap/poetry one-man show. I was pleasantly surprised. 
Ashton Francis, a.k.a. Vandal St. Hodgepodge, is a skilled performer who completely embodied his character with unwavering energy and gusto. Playing the part of a young runaway who has renounced his privileged upbringing after witnessing the guards of “The Man” (Hodgepodge’s father) brutalize a helpless beggar, Francis succeeds in drawing in the Petit Campus audience from start to finish. His quick tongue and intelligent rhymes showcase his talent as a performer and his ability to hold his own throughout an entire show. 
What was additionally impressive about Francis’ performance was his physicality and sense of self-awareness. In spite of the fact that I missed a few words or rhymes here and there throughout the show, Francis’ body language and physicality ensured that the message of his story was not lost on me. 
Though a show like No Fixed Abode may not be for everyone, it is certainly an impressive piece of solo work.  

CharPo's Real Theatre! June 22, 2012

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Review: Vicious Circles (Fringe)

by Sarah Deshaies

A few decades down the road, Sid and Nancy now seem like they are from a different age. How else would you explain the Vicious Circles program, chock-full of explainers mapping out their tragic tale? Well, if you either didn’t experience their story, or you just don’t remember it, their punk plight is being recounted viscerally by a trio of young actors. Punk groupie Nancy Spungen was found dead in a Chelsea Hotel bathroom in 1978, a stab wound below her navel, while her Sex Pistols bassist boyfriend Sid wandered the hall in a drug haze. Accused of her murder, he later died from an overdose, and there have been interpretations of their punk ballad ever since. This version, written by Ben Kalman and directed by Stéfan Cédilot, is a bit of a rambling mess, with characters wandering in and out and frequently passing out. Granted, this is not linear storytelling, but the tension failed to come to a crescendo. And at 75 minutes, this punk project goes around in circles, begging for some razor cuts. Sid (Patrick Rogers), Nancy (Kathleen Aubert) and Johnny Rotten (Sebastian Samur) are interpreted to a t. (Pretenders singer Chrissie Hynde said of Nancy, “When she started up that incessant whining she was more than the human mind could bear.” Aubert does this to perfection.) The music and strewn garbage onstage hits the right note. And the accents? I found them passable, but I have it on good word (aka a British friend who caught the Fringe-for-All) that they may be a deplorable Cockney mess to those with the finely-tuned ears. To conclude, I’d like to pay homage to the program blurb: sex. drugs. loud music. screaming. go. if. you. can. handle. screaming. vicious. circles.


Review: Zombie Apocalypse: A Love Song (Fringe)

by Sarah Deshaies

I am so over zombies.

And so is one of the characters in Zombie Apocalypse: A Love Song, who laments: “They’re so passé.” Perhaps this, and the fact that there are a gazillion zombie plays at this Fringe, is an indication that this genre may have run its course. Either way, the slovenly undead are here, and you can’t do anything but let them eat your brain in a darkened room.Sometimes I felt this was happening to me at Zombie Apocalypse, a musical take on four friends watching the zombie end-of-time unfold around them from a rooftop. Dane Stewart and Holly Brace-Lavoie are dating, and Matt Lacas and Shannon McNally are unrequited lovers, surrounded by a cast of enthusiastic zombie extras who serve as a nice footnote. Our four ill-fated lovers attempt to resolve their issues as the world goes to pieces. The tunes are sweet little numbers with lines like, “You’re walking slowly, but your heart is still beating.” (As I can recall it.) But the combination of rock songs on one side of the stage and tired banter on the other is jarring; sometimes, you can barely hear the actors over the Brainiacs, the zombie house band. Lacas, McNally and Stewart performed in another musical piece at an off venue last year, EDGES: A Song Cycle. This time, like last, the show comes across as amateurish. But this is what the Fringe is for: young artists, onstage and off, cutting their teeth and finding out what works. Hopefully, next year, they’ll be back with something more polished.


Review: Peter ‘n Chris and the Mystery of the Hungry Heart Motel (Fringe)

by Sarah Deshaies

It’s a credit to Peter ‘n Chris’s deft comic ability that during their show, my mind drifted to the sad tale of the Butcher of Montreal only... twice. Last year, the improv comedians endeavoured to save the world. This Fringe, they’re on the run from a crazed killer in Mystery of the Hungry Heart Motel. Less a mystery and more of a bloodbath (killer’s identity revealed straightaway) this escapade involves dirty sheets, confetti vital fluids and lots of stabbing. But Peter Carlone and Chris Wilson are so smooth, so good, you’ll find yourself snorting the whole way, and not necessarily flashing back to the recent brutal murder of a Montreal student that has occupied people’s attention.  Peter and Chris crash their car and seek refuge in a creepy motel, whose poor denizens are at the mercy of a twisted killer. Cue lots of running on the spot. I understood that their show last year involved much more improv. Hungry Heart Motel is a tightly-knit tale, but Peter ‘n Chris’s fans might be disappointed by how much they stick to the page this time around, and all under an hour. The Vancouver duo, newly nominated for “Best Sketch Troupe” in the Canadian Comedy Awards, is sharp and funny, and is a sure bet. Buy your tickets ahead. 


News: Nominations for Frankie Awards (Fringe)

(photo credit: Cindy Lopez)


Here are the nominations: 

Beyond the Mountain – Beyond the Mountain Award 
  • POP! Productions - Kissed by a Butterfly
  • Kirsten Rasmussen Productions - Tough!
  • Capricornucopia - The Little Prince As Told By Machiavelli
  • Contingency Plan Productions - Apocalypse Solo
  • Right Now! - Jocasta's Noose
  • Two Seul - The UPSHOT
CEAD – Promising francophone playwriter
  • Le Rétroviseur, by Dominique Piché
  • Comme d’eux, by Sabrina Connell-Caouette
  • Un parfum de Montgolfière, by Alberto Lombardo

Review: God is a Scottish Drag Queen (Fringe)

by Janis Kirshner 
I had been looking forward to this show; it came with good cred from previous performances. I could see that Mike Delamont is a veteran stand-up comedian with wonderful audience rapport and a quick off the cuff wit. There’s a great opening voice-over. However, perhaps an off night when I saw it, the show never really took off for me. I love the concept - God has come down to earth wearing a women’s power suit from the 80’s and no shoes. There were some very good lines, notably: “I should have stopped at monkeys”, “I made a mistake with redheads - they’re either beauty queens or garden gnomes” and “The bagpipes - leave it to the Scots to make our national instrument out of our national food.” But most of the jokes just didn’t seem fresh. Mind you, he doesn’t always get through all his material and does go off on tangents, so perhaps other nights were more on the mark. He is however a likeable performer and his sincere, tender farewell put a smile on my face.

Review: Tugg and Chugger's Midnight Barbecue (Fringe)

by Élaine Charlebois

This mish-mash of sketch comedy and improv, framed within the premise of a barbecue organized by low-lifes Dwayne Tugg, a “soccer dad without any kids from Lethbridge, Alberta” who is running for Prime Minister in 2015, and Chugger, his future Minister of Self Defense, repeatedly fell flat during its 60 minute time slot. The show began with an awkward introduction of the two characters (which I assume was improvised) which had me looking at the time within the first fifteen minutes of the spectacle. Though Scott Rawson (Chugger) had a few good lines that made me chuckle, the unpromising start to the performance had me convinced that I was in for a disappointing experience. 
Though there were funny moments here and there throughout the show (mainly to the credit of Rawson’s impersonations), Tugg and Chugger’s Midnight Barbecue definitely lacked the wit necessary to keep an audience engaged and laughing. 

Review: The Upshot (Fringe)

by Janis Kirshner

Our national, local treasure, the National Theatre School, continues to produce/offer fine actors, writers, directors and teachers. The Upshot, a triple-solo show, is a case in point. This is the group’s ‘upshot’; the outcome of their three years at NTS. Despite being recent graduates, Flora Quintus, Sébastien Heins and Nico Racicot have the chops to deliver.  Okay, in all honesty, I wasn’t convinced when I booked my ticket, but with Jody Essery and Adam Lazarus in command, I should have known better. Flora’s Herman is a ‘transmutational’ love story about a woman falling in love with a chair. We see the arc of the relationship from early lust (quite imaginative!) through the getting-to-know-you phase (his baby photo is in the Ikea catalogue), to frustration: “Sometimes I feel like I’m living with a desk or a lamp.” Odd? Yes, but it held me and I kinda liked it.
Next up was Sébastien’s Brotherhood: The Hip Hopera. I could watch this guy move all night. He reads strong, sensitive and passionate while spouting hip-hop vulgarities and obscenities; all in the name of the game of course and not gratuitous.  I mostly liked the story of two hip hop performing brothers, Cash Money & Money Pussy and their subsequent falling out.  Beautifully crafted lyrics though the singing was just okay. But ooooh the ‘dance’…

Review: The Tin Can People (Fringe)

by Rebecca Ugolini
The Tin Can People presented by Diana Productions and the John Abbot College Department of Theatre and Music is a stunning production of Edward Bond’s play exploring the transformation of society and individuality after a nuclear apocalypse. Acclaimed for their presentation of The Tin Can People in the Edinburgh Fringe Theatre Festival of 2011, John Abbot graduates, current students, and director Joan McBride treat Montreal to their visually arresting and acrobatic interpretation of the play. 

Review: The Little Prince as Told By Machiavelli (Fringe)

by Jordanna Weiss

An immoral morality play - brought to you by Capricornucopia. 
The play has an interesting premise - the plot of The Little Prince through the eyes of Niccolo Machiavelli, the calculating 16th century author of “The Prince”. The script itself could have easily become overly didactic but manages to stay just on the right side of charming. The energetic cast is cohesive and their mask work and characterization is particularly strong. 

Review: Elizabeth Rex

Enter The Queen
Tableau d'Hote conquers the heat
by Anna Fuerstenberg

Last night’s performance of Elizabeth Rex was a kind of coming of age for Montreal Theatre. It is a fantastic script, written by the inimitable Timothy Findley, and directed with tremendous grace and extraordinary intelligence by two of this city’s finest directors. Mike Payette and Liz Valdez created a work that is wonderful for any audience, and has an added layer of insights for the lover of Shakespeare’s canon.

The imaginative story pits Elizabeth the first, brilliantly performed by Leni Parker against William Shakespeare, delightfully portrayed by Arthur Holden, and his leading man/lady, Ned. Brett Watson as Ned gave a tour de force performance that left the audience breathless and is worth crawling through the unbearable heat to witness.  The repartee is brilliant and the tension as they await the execution of the Earl of Essex thrilling. 

CPM Picture of the Week, June 21, 2012

Our choice for Best Picture of the Montreal Fringe
Kissed by a Butterfly

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Beyond Our Fourth Wall, June 20, 2012

A musical journey into a kaleidoscopic dreamworld.
La Chapelle Fringe Venue 10

Theatre…en français
by Estelle Rosen

Poetic drama about how a young boy with cancer spends his last days in hospital.
4247 St-Dominique  Fringe Venue 4

Two authors, two personalities. The goal: combine their destiny. An opportunity that doesn’t happen often.   
4001 Berri Fringe Venue 3

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Review: ZACK ADAMS: A Complete History of Zack Adams

by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

Once again a performer at this Fringe had to do battle with his venue and the heat got so bad my glasses were fogging up. I wish I was exaggerating. But Zack Adams - a nerdy beanpole of a guy - just makes you smile to look at and through music (and some pretty amazing - and goofy - dance moves) the story of his career in show biz and his utter charm, he fought through the heat to a packed house's appreciation.  The show is personal, inventive, silly and energetic and now - having seen him at last - I understand why he is a Fringe favourite. Hey! how can you not like a guy whose fetish movie is the old version of Fame and who goes inside it enough to relive Coco's best scene.


Review: The Ukrainian Dentist's Daughter (Fringe)

by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

Again, oppressive heat in the venue. Again a performer having to work extra-hard just to keep her audience from keeling over. But this did not seem to slow Yana Kesala down for a second. However, the show was not without two off-putting things right at the start - both theatrical pet peeves of mine: a grown woman playing a cutesy kid and a toss-off reference to the Holocaust (especially off-putting because anyone who knows history has a fairly dim view of the Ukraine's treatment of the Jews).

But Kesala worked and the story she tells - adapted from her own mother's life-story - is an interesting one and her mother sounds like a remarkable and funny character and it is clear that Kesala is mad for her. The person is vivacious, full of hope and trying to get beyond the fact that she is a pudgy young woman with apparently no prospects for a decent marriage. It is, ultimately, the story of that glowing, radiant personality and we stay glued to it right up to its cliff-hanger ending. Bring cold water, dress light, take your fucking shirt off if you have to, but give this one a look.


Review: Eidolon (Fringe)

by joel fishbane

Most people come to the Fringe with a one-person show, but this is the first time in recent memory that the one-person has been a cello. Cellist / composer Francesca Mountfort lets her instrument do all the talking in this exquisite concert that mixes film, music and abstract expression. 
Mountfort, who hails from Australia, stays completely silent in her china doll make-up: words have no place in this eclectic show that seems perfectly comfortable in letting you walk away with whatever you can. Being the pessimistic sort, I was struck by the sorrow of the music and found the compositions rich with both whimsy and melancholy. Perhaps it was the persistent sound of a ticking clock, but something in the concert left me with a deeper sense of my own mortality.

Review: FUCKING STEPHEN HARPER: How I Sexually Assaulted the 22nd Prime Minister of Canada and Saved Democracy (Fringe)

by Élaine Charlebois

FUCKING STEPHEN HARPER: How I Sexually Assaulted the 22nd Prime Minister of Canada and Saved Democracy is a one man show in which Rob Salerno shares with the audience his quest to get an interview with Conservative PM Stephen Harper in order to confront him about his political disregard for Queer issues in Canada. After feeding the Petit Campus with an overwhelming amount of political facts regarding the federal government’s lack of support for the LGBT community in Canada, Salerno finally gets to his story: he launched himself onto Harper in an attempt to grab the Prime Minister’s attention, but instead grabbed his balls in order to break his fall. 

Review: The Good, The Bad and the Stupid (Fringe)

by joel fishbane
Straight from San Francisco comes the most dastardly quartet ever to wield a set of juggling pins. Don’t let the fact that they’re wearing clown noses fool you: these four are a deadly troupe that will split your side and roll you through the aisles. And that’s just in the first ten minutes.
Whether they’re staging a mock horse race, a gunfight or performing a belly dance that would make the girls at Ethereal Tribe blush with shame, the clowns of Pi are a riot to watch. Each of the four has their persona down to art and they excel at their various acrobatics and schtick, especially the four-person, twelve pin juggling routine that is the highlight of the show.