3 must-see Calgary Fringe Festival shows
Theatre critic Jessica Goldman's top picks
The Calgary Fringe Festival is in full swing and the Calgary Eyeopener's theatre critic Jessica Goldman has been busy attending performances.
Goldman says there are a number of shows that have been really fantastic so far this year, but chose these three to share.
- Listen as Jessica Goldman shares her hits and misses:
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Til Death: The 6 Wives of Henry VIII
The play is a one-woman show where actress Tara Travis plays all of King Henry's distinct wives after they have passed away.
Held in the afterlife by Saint Peter, they are told that only one is allowed to join Henry in the "royal heaven," says Goldman. The rest have to go to the "not as posh" regular heaven.
The women must decide amongst themselves who that will be there by sharing stories about how they met Henry and their royal lineage.
This takes place while they argue with one another, she says.
"What the audience does not realize is as this is going on is the incredible amount of research that went into this show and how much history that we are getting as we are watching the show, as we are laughing hysterically at things like Travis playing Anne Boleyn as only a head," says Goldman.
She says it was thoroughly entertaining and thinks that it should go into the high school curriculum.
"If I learned English history like this I would never forget it," says Goldman.
Fruitcake: 10 Commandments from the Psych Ward
Actor Rob Gee’s one-man performance is inspired by his 11 years as a psychiatric nurse in an acute care ward.
He has taken his experiences and created a vignette show around it, says Goldman. The performance is a bunch of scenes that gives insight into what it’s like to be a psych ward nurse.
The U.K. actor introduces some of the patients he has worked with through stories.
The audience meets Duncan, the paranoid schizophrenic who is sure experiments people are doing to his head are the cause of his schizophrenia. There is also Andrea, who hits a police officer with a chicken in a Safeway because she is sure that both the police and the chicken are trying to poison her.
"What I really liked about this show is that while it's really funny and there is a lot of dark humour going on here, he's never disrespectful of his patients, we're laughing at their circumstances not at them and that really elevates them to a quality show."
The Show Must Go On
"Truth be told it was a show that I was kind of dreading," says Goldman.
The show is about an actor named Jeff that’s part of a touring children’s theatre group that must do 186 shows at schools across Canada.
Goldman says it was the marketing material that turned her off. It talked about "pee-covered gym floors" and "human secretion-soaked hotel room carpets," she says.
"For sure it’s a bit over the top but what I didn’t expect was this amazing, physical and dramatic performance from Jeff Leard, who plays all of the characters in the show."
The writing is also surprisingly touching and clever, says Goldman.
"If you want your humour sharp, edgy and most of all intelligent than this is really going to hit the mark. I’m extremely glad I went against my instinct on this one."
The Calgary Fringe Festival runs until Saturday, Aug. 10.