London Fringe 2018: Beaver Dreams – Silly Fun that You Can Really Sink Your Teeth Into

By Jay Menard

Beaver Dreams (La Fievre du Castor) is a wonderfully engaging production that combines puppetry, visuals, costumes, and humour to present a show that combines warmth, laughter, and gently delivers a message of environmentalism.

It’s not a preachy show by any means. The focus is on humour and an incredible array of brilliant visual elements. But, at the root of it, is a story that holds up a mirror to human’s desire to “own” pristine pieces of the environment (and keep others — and development — at bay), with that of the wilderness who already call these places home. Continue reading

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London Fringe 2018: So Tevye — Unbalanced Screed on Faith Fails to Live Up to Its Name

By Jay Menard

So Tevye may not need another daughter, but it clearly can use some refinement, edits, focus, and better pacing. There is a rudimentary foundation of a story in this play, but a lack of subtlety in delivery and challenges with its pacing causes that promising potential to be lost.

The production is Monda Halpern’s So Tevye, Could You Use Another Daughter. And there’s a certain chutzpah involved with name dropping Tevye in a production. Due to the iconic status of the character (known from Fiddler on the Roof and the Tevye series of novels from whence the film and play were inspired), you’re setting expectations extremely high about the quality of the content, at very least. When those expectations are elevated, it’s beholden on all involved to live up to them. Continue reading

London Fringe 2018: The Awesome 80s Prom — Radical? Tubular? Take Your Pick. This Prom’s a Blast

By Jay Menard,

There are moments and shows where you say, “They get it. That’s Fringe.” Describing what’s “fringey” is hard to do — you just know it when you see it. The Awesome 80s prom fully embraces the Fringe ethos and delivers a show that makes the most of its story, cast, and event its venue.

The Awesome 80s Prom, put on by London’s Original Kids Theatre Company, is a fully immersive experience — even before you enter the venue. The cast mingles with attendees in the line, fully in character. One big-haired, puffy dressed prom queen candidate angles for votes with the patrons. A convertible rolls by — guys and girls hooting at the crowd; upon its return, one football player spills out and immediately vomits on the ground.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Wannaget High prom of 1989. Continue reading

London Fringe 2018: ADHD Project – A Story About a Brain that Touches the Heart

By Jay Menard

The ADHD Project is a wonderfully told story of Carlyn Rhamey’s life with ADHD. It’s a story that’s filled with warmth, humour, a touch of sadness, and hefty dose of uplifting messaging that combines to have you fall in love with the story and the storyteller alike.

It’s hard not to like Rhamey. She’s vibrant, engaging, and fills the room with the force of her personality and joy. She punctuates many lines with a wonderfully expressive face and body language — which makes her moments of sadness and melancholy all the more jarring. Her story is crafted in such a way that we feel her highs and lows, and are not mere spectators, but partners in her quest to understand who she is, how her brain works, and where she fits in a society that’s all too quick to put people with ADHD in a box. Continue reading

London Fringe 2018: Gamer Boy – a Seriously Funny Production

By Jay Menard,

What happens when you’re chasing a dream, but can’t let anyone know you’re running after it? In Gamer Boy Patrick Avery-Kenny answers that question in hilarious fashion — and also discusses what comes next once that race is run.

Gamer Boy is a story of Avery-Kenny’s dreams to be a professional gamer, centred around when a 13-year-old Avery-Kenny earned his way into a Halo gaming competition, then had to concoct a plan and deceive his parents to travel on his own to the 2006 Free-for-All Tournament in Dallas, Texas. Continue reading

London Fringe 2018: Cleaning Up – A Well-Polished Show that You Shouldn’t Sweep Under the Rug

By Jay Menard

Cleaning Up is ostensibly a story about people who deal with what others “leave” behind, but this charming and hilarious show is, at its roots, about the wonderful (and sometimes not-so-wonderful, yet still memorable) moments and people that we take with us along the way.

There is so much to love about this show. From the delightfully endearing and conversational nature of playwright and lead Tammy Vink, to the wonderfully entertaining, wink-and-a-nod-melodrama of Sookie Mei, to the charming versatility of Dinah Watts (who embodied several ancillary roles and went from bratty to tender with aplomb), the three main actresses weave together a story that is exceptionally paced, light-hearted, and eminently relatable. Continue reading

London Fringe 2018: HOUSE – An On-the-Ball Performance of Verbal Surrealism

By Jay Menard,

Daniel MacIvor’s HOUSE, as performed by Jon Paterson, is a show that is at once extremely compact and incredibly expansive. It is a show that both is perfectly confined by TAP Centre for Creativity stage, but demands a release of its boundless energy. It’s exhausting, uplifting, depressing, and enervating — all at once.

The show can be described as a manic ballet of verbal surrealism that all takes place within a two-square-foot area. Paterson rarely strays from his simple chair in the middle of the stage. A single white spotlight illuminates him and, even in his brief forays breaking the fourth wall, the audience is drawn into the intimacy of the performance. Continue reading