Live & Let Fringe: Day 2

Walking the grounds this year, it appeared that vendor numbers are down, with less food and merchandise kiosks on site. At least, the glut that usually line Gateway Boulevard and 104th Street are missing; I wonder if less permits were distributed this year?

I asked Dickson and Mack to join me for two shows on Friday evening. The first was The Power of Ignorance (Stage 5), a show that was impossible to get tickets for when it premiered in Edmonton in 2003. I am not a fan of solo performances, but after this, I now know that I simply have to choose the ones involving stand-up comedians. Chris Gibbs was hilarious as the (de)motivational speaker Vaguen. He had the perfect voice for the part, and could have easily been cocking his eyebrow for the duration of his satiric performance. Much of the punchlines were delivered rapid-fire, so I can’t say that I picked up everything, but the script was extremely clever, pulling apart popular expressions and universal truths. I also enjoyed the segue ways into his childhood – the anecdotes humanized Vaguen, and rounded out the play nicely by providing a storyline of sorts to follow. Get tickets while you can – the play garnered a 4.5 rating in the Saturday Journal.

We had some time to wander and relax before our second show, so ended up sitting in the near-empty beer tent on “Westjet Way” (compared to the standing room only one next to the Walterdale), and saw at least four Die-Nasty cast members leaving the tent. So if you want to do some celebrity-spotting…

Die-Nasty has been on my hit-list for years, but the late showtime has always been a deterrent, so I was glad to finally be able to participate in this Fringe tradition (Stage 8). I was sad to see that Jeff Haslam was absent from the cast, but Davina Stewart/Mark Meer/Leona Brausen had their A-games going, so that made up for the void somewhat. At the other end of the spectrum, I suspect the actress who played the Constable was smashed, because she was annoyingly disruptive and intruded on quite a few scenes; hopefully she straightens up for the rest of the Fringe run. There were many inside theatre jokes (including Ron Pederson’s comment about the pretentious “scarf-wearing” public, a reference to his recent letter to See Magazine and the subsequent ripple effect), but much of the humor came from the snide remarks directed at the changes in this year’s festival (buying tickets at “West Edmonton Mall”). It occurred to me that this troupe of actors are very lucky to have such a venue to publicly air out their grievances with the Fringe leadership – but if anything, they’ve earned it. In all, this episode wasn’t as funny as the season finale I attended back in May, but I can now remove it from my Fringe to-do list.