Ready? Yes. It’s Another Incredible James & Jamesy Show

By Jay Menard

James & Jamesy are Fringe veterans who have built up a sizeable – and passionate – following thanks to their two “Tea” productions. This year, they’ve stripped their production down to the absolute basics: black, white, and light. And the result is something magical in James & Jamesy In the Dark.

It is a comedy, yes. But it can be better described as performance art. Continue reading

FRINGE 2015 – One Last Blast; a Too-Long Fuse

By Jay Menard

There’s a moment of wonderful, though likely completely unintentional, self-awareness in Last Blast: Chet Baker Checks Out. It’s when Chet himself states, “Why don’t you just let me kill myself instead of dragging this thing on.”

Last Blast has its moments. And it has some wondering performances – notably Chris McAuley in the title role. But it’s a production that could do with some editing and a bit less beating of an obviously dead horse. Continue reading

FRINGE 2015 – A Perfect O

First, let me dispense with the pleasantries. There are two things you need to take out of The Story of O’s.

One: I have, in the past favourably likened Tonya Jone Miller to Spalding Grey in terms of format and delivery. The truth is, I believe she is one of the most unique, challenging, and talented monologists since Mr. Grey battled his Monster in a Box.

Two: You must see this show. Period. You will be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t. Continue reading

FRINGE 2015 – A Successful Launch to — and for — Mars

A critical mission for humanity; a critical exploration of humanity. An off-course mission to save humanity is right on target when it comes to entertainment, poignancy, and thought.

Now, let’s not go crazy here. Mars is not an hour-long delving into the depths of the soul. Instead, it is an entertaining presentation in the theatre of the mind. While the writing and direction are solid, it is the combined performance of leads Valerie Cotic and Mark Nocent that makes this play — pun fully and unabashedly intended — out of this world. Continue reading

FRINGE 2015 — Tacking a Tower of Song

By Jay Menard

If you like Leonard Cohen, then Lara Loves Leonard is clearly a show for you. And in addition to reminding you why you love Leonard in the first place, you may find yourself developing a little musical crush on Lara MacMillan herself.

The show is stark in its simplicity. Just MacMilllan, standing on a stage, with only a music stand in front of her. Next to her is a black-draped stool, with a single red flower in a vase.

That’s it. And it works. Continue reading

FRINGE 2015 — A Period Piece that Uses Too Many Exclamation Marks

By Jay Menard

There is a really solid play in the midst of The Second Self. Unfortunately this period piece is overwhelmed by hyperbolic performances and a heaping helping of melodrama.

The play, examining the lives of a combined family of friends, set in 1944 amidst the backdrop of World War II, is designed to explore how people embrace the next stage of their lives after their regular plans are wrested — often violently — away from them. Continue reading

FRINGE 2015 — A Worthy Examination of the True Casualties of War

By Jay Menard,

In life, we fight many battles. Some are physical, others are mental. In Lest We Regret we are presented with a story of casualties of war.

But these casualties extend well beyond the field of battle and into the two characters’ minds, bodies, and souls. Continue reading