The Big Kahuna: Day 4

My Sunday began with the third instalment of Maggie-Now. I hadn’t seen either of the two previous parts at the last two Fringes, but I remembered the stellar reviews, and vowed to see what the hype was all about this year. The summary on the back of the program neatly caught me up on what I missed, though even without the background, one would be able to stumble right into the story without difficulty. Part 3 focuses on the disappearance of Maggie-Now’s husband, Claude, and the affect of his absence on the family unit. There was nothing ground-breaking about the show, but there doesn’t have to be for a solid, enjoyable production. I loved the simple staging (plain wooden chairs supplied the backbone of the audience’s imagination), and Kendra Connor as the titular character was a vision. My only criticism was the rather abrupt ending (so much so that it took the audience a few seconds to take the cue for applause), likely an arbitrary one to ensure that Part 4 could stand alone as well. If not for my upcoming trip to Vancouver, I would definitely be returning to the venue to find out what would become of Maggie-Now and her family.

Afterwards, I sauntered over to B-Scene Studios (an awkwardly-arranged BYOV) to wait in line for TJ Dawe’s first Edmonton Fringe show in four years, Maxim & Cosmo. I loved him in Canadian Bartender in Butlin’s, the only show of his I have ever seen. For someone who prefers group productions, it surprised even me that I enjoyed Dawe’s standup shtick as much as I did. Maxim & Cosmo is Dawe’s diatribe on gender stereotypes, expectations and fears. As I hoped, his performance was witty, insightful and intelligent. If insuring body parts are the norm these days, Dawe should buy insurance for his tongue – his lightening quick delivery keeps audiences on their feet, listening for the next pun or joke around the corner. Seemingly tailor-made for the Fringe, Dawe’s relatable observations about life make the hour vanish into a cloud of laughter, self-reflection and appreciation for his inherent talent.

My last show of the day was one of two wild cards this year. The program description for Sylvie sounded interesting, but unlike most of my other picks, I had no knowledge of the company, director, writer or actors involved. As such, this play about a chance meeting between a naïve Canadian and a homeless man in Edinburgh turned out to be a nice little surprise. I was immediately drawn to Elisa Benzer’s energy, and her character Anna’s willingness to jump (sometimes recklessly) into new experiences. As a writer, Anna had a tendency to see everyone as a character, including this poor street soul. Their connection and unlikely friendship, supplemented by flashbacks into her homeless companion’s life, and Anna’s struggle to maintain her devotion to a loving boyfriend back home, made for an interesting seventy five minutes. My only quibble was with the uneven lighting, but that could be excused given the student/recent graduate status of everyone involved. Not pretending to be more than what it is, Sylvie provides an intriguing lens into a moment when two divergent paths crossed.

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