Montreal, Tuesday, May 30th. The 2017 St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival officially kicked off last Monday night with the traditional Fringe-For-All launch event at Café Campus. Hosted by Al Lafrance and Dayane Ntibarikure, attendees got a taste of what’s to come at this year’s edition as more than 50 local participating companies and artists took to the stage to perform rapid-fire, two-minute teasers of their upcoming shows.
— Montreal Theatre Hub (@mtltheatrehub) May 29, 2017
Fringe Executive & Artistic Director Amy Blackmore and Fringe Porte-parole & musician Paul Cargnello open the Fringe-For-All.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NIGHT
Among the previews of English-language productions that stood out to us at this year’s eclectic Fringe-For-All, Jingju’s The Monkey King Gets His Staff was a worthy opener in its colourful, cross-cultural comedic bit. Featuring dance, puppetry, and martial arts, it appears to be a surefire bet for this year’s fun-hungry Fringe-goers.
Multidisciplinary artist Sophie Post Croteau was next to draw the bait in revealing the self-tattooing premise of Illustrated Lady. Yes, you read that correctly – each night an audience member’s drawing will be tattooed on her, fresh on the flesh. It’s a show to leave a mark.
Montreal drag icon Uma Gahd dressed to impress in the extravagant excerpt of her one-woman comedy, Are You There Margaret? It’s Me Gahd. With two Fringe successes under their belt and a reprise of their latest show Backdoor Queens at the Centaur Theatre’s Wildside Festival earlier this year (we went, we saw, we adored), House of Laureen gets a new dosage of R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
Solo acts can be tough to pull off at the flashy and frenetic Fringe-for-All, but among those most rousing were Hairy Bird Productions’ Crazy Bitch, vi.Va?VOOM! productions’ Nonna’s Story, and Bangers and Mash’s 0 Days Without Crying.
Vertical Heart Productions delivered the intrigue in their parody of the film noir genre, The Detective, the Dame, and the Devil, a clear-cut crowd favourite. Little Toe Entertainment’s own investigative comedy, Precinct: An Improvised Cop Story, soon followed to also receive audience approbation.
The standout musical performance of the night was Stadium Tour’s Them Good Ol’ Boys. The award-winning theatre company behind Fringe hits Vicious Circles and Zeppelin Was a Cover Band brings this new piece looking at the last days of Buddy Holly as he struggles to regain control of his career and his life.
Eccentricity, however, is at the heart of the fest, and 2017 Spirit of the Fringe winner Chocolate Moose Theatre Company returned to excite with Thrill of the Chaise and the punchiest closing line of the night. Then, as one of the final acts, B.A.A.P’s outlandish turkey-cradling act Pluck’d disturbed us in all the right ways. We’ll never hear “It’s A Small World” the same way again.
Our top honour of the evening, however, should perhaps be bestowed upon the company that premiered the groundbreaking work A David Lynch Wet Dream at the 2016 Montreal Fringe. Acherontia Productions’ SCRUM is an ensemble multimedia movement piece examining trauma and the disconnect found in daily life incorporating encompassing soundscapes and stunning visuals for a wrenching experience. In the very words of host Al, it’s presented itself to be a “physical theatre mindfuck.”
Don’t miss these promising shows at this year’s Fringe, running in town from May 29th to June 18th. To reserve tickets, visit www.montrealfringe.ca or call the box office at 514.849.FEST (3378).
Stay tuned for our reviews of all these shows and more (70+!) as we provide extensive coverage of the 27th St-Ambroise Montréal Fringe Festival on our website. All reviews can be found here.