Why so serious? Reviews of 4 dramas at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival

There are lots of comedies at the 2018 Winnipeg Fringe Festival — but a real Fringer cannot live on comedy alone. If you're looking for meatier drama at the Winnipeg Fringe, here's our review crew's take on four more from the fest.

The Winnipeg Fringe Festival isn't just about light laughs. Here are our reviews of 4 dramas at the fest

Justin Fry and Heather Roberts in Confessional at the 2018 Winnipeg Fringe Festival. (Sherab Rabzyor Yolmo)

There are lots of comedies at the 2018 Winnipeg Fringe Festival — but a real Fringer cannot live on comedy alone.

If you're looking for meatier drama at the Winnipeg Fringe, here's our review crew's take on four more from the fest.

James Forsythe in Bill Pritchard's Address to the Jury at the 2018 Winnipeg Fringe Festival. (Root Sky Productions)

Bill Pritchard's Address to the Jury

★★★ STARS

Bill Pritchard was put on trial and imprisoned for his role in the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike, but that isn't really what Dale Lakevold's new play is about.

Instead, Lakevold charts the ideological self-examination of a left-leaning academic via the writers, thinkers and activists he has admired.

This may sound pedantic, but it isn't. Performer James Forsythe brings a warm, even sprightly humanism to the proceedings that doesn't undercut any of the script's intellectual rigour. The symbolically red set is small but well-engineered to evoke the feeling of being alone under a lamp, experiencing new ideas via text and feeling a freedom that only unhindered thought and discovery can truly provide.

Lakevold and his professor conclude that people are more important than rhetoric; ideas more important than parties. At least that's what I think. I also think Lakevold's point is that we each have to figure that out for ourselves.

— Reviewed by Kelly Stifora

Confessional

★★★ STARS

Playwright Tennessee Williams is known for introducing us to people caught in traps, usually at least partly of their own devising. We spend an hour or so watching them variously explain or display how they got there and listen in varying degrees of disbelief to their plans for escape.

This production of Confessional is earnest and heartfelt. It has fallen into one trap of its own. Playing characters who are supposed to appear significantly drunk throughout the show presents some difficulty. Some of the precision of the barbs written so sharply by Williams occasionally get lost or defused by the meandering posture and motion of the main character.

Comedian Foster Hewitt nailed this effect by playing drunk trying to appear sober rather than sober trying to look drunk. Other than this difficulty, the performances in this production are solid and committed and Williams's writing is as fine as ever.

— Reviewed by John Sadoway

​Drops In a Broken Fountain 

★★★ STARS

This play from Emma Leck — the winner of the Winnipeg Fringe's inaugural new play contest — proves the Victoria, B.C. writer is a talent to watch.

Leck's thoughtfully plotted drama tells the story of Sergey (Chase Hiebert), a deeply dour Russian man who we soon learn has good reason to be gloomy. As his relationship with Layla (Taryn Roo Yoneda) unfolds, Leck explores cycles of hate and the haunting effects of the past.

There are strong performances from the leads, and the hour-long drama is sharply directed.

It's unrelentingly grim, however, and teeters on occasion into melodrama and cliché.

While not perfect, it is a thoughtful exploration of the lingering effects of violence, and a promising work from a young writer.

— Reviewed by Joff Schmidt

Jane Walker in See Bob Run at the 2018 Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival. (Snakeskin Jacket)

See Bob Run

★★★ STARS

Daniel MacIvor's See Bob Run script is a gift for any performer: it's textured, it's nuanced, and it's a rollercoaster. A young woman is hitchhiking across the country and through a series of dashboard confessionals and asides to the audience we experience her story.

Jane Walker captures the youthful naivete of Bob, there are some truly charming moments. But there's more to Bob than that and we never get to experience the tortured side. The powerhouse moments in the script are never utilized, the pathos of Bob is never fleshed out.

This is a competent production, but the audience is left wanting more.

— Reviewed by Bradley Sawatzky

With files from John Sadoway, Bradley Sawatzky, Joff Schmidt and Kelly Stifora

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.