Manitoba

The party winds down: Top picks for the Winnipeg Fringe Festival's closing weekend

The 2019 edition of the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival is entering its final days — but you still have a few more opportunities to see any of the 178 shows on offer at this year’s theatre party. Here are some of the CBC review crew's top picks heading into the last weekend.

From smart comedies to high-flying acrobatics, here are some of our favourites from the 2019 Fringe

The After After Party is one of CBC Manitoba's top picks for the final weekend of the 2019 Winnipeg Fringe Festival. (Sarah Mabberley)

The 2019 edition of the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival is entering its final days — but you still have a few more opportunities to see any of the 178 shows on offer at this year's theatre party.

CBC's review crew has delivered their take on nearly 100 of those shows. Here are some of our top picks heading into the last weekend.

For comedy fans:

If you like it a little raunchy and definitely wild, The After After Party is a winner. From my review: "Picture mixing Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas with a bit of The Hangover and an Adult Swim cartoon in a bathtub full of Fireball whiskey."

Juliet: A Revenge Comedy offers smart, but accessible, laughs. (Submitted by Monster Theatre)

If you're looking for comedy that's a bit brainier, Lara Rae calls Juliet: A Revenge Comedy a "time-shifting, mind-bending comedic confection" that's "cerebral without ever being inaccessible."

And Michelle Palansky says Pack Animals is "satirical and silly with a strong message and a good slug of nostalgia, just like summer camp."

For something more serious:

A Confederate Widow in Hell is creepy, intelligent and a memorably unsettling experience, says reviewer Kelly Stifora.

For a memorable and creepy Fringe experience, check out A Confederate Widow in Hell. (Dan Norman Photography)

The latest from Fringe fave Jem Rolls, The Walk in the Snow is "a gem of a stripped-down, bare-bones but utterly compelling tale of one of history's hidden female figures," says the review crew's Lara Rae.

And both of the plays being presented at this year's festival by Pulitzer Prize-finalist Will Eno — Wakey, Wakey and The Open House — offer dark laughs, but also probing takes on weighty topics like life, death and family.

Will Eno's The Open House offers dark laughs, but also a probing take on family. (Sherab Rabzyor Yolmo)

For a good story, well told:

The Ghost Project is "a masterclass in performance and storytelling," says Kelly Stifora.

On a lighter note, he also says Hot Dogs at the Eiffel Tower is superb storytelling, but "with a vibrancy and positivity that will brighten anyone's day, like a long cold drink on a hot Fringe afternoon."

Meatball Séance is 'one of the campiest, most outrageous and most original shows we'll ever see at the Winnipeg Fringe.' (Paul Clark)

Meatball Séance also offers laughs, along with engaging audience participation and "one of the campiest, most outrageous and most original shows we'll ever see at the Winnipeg Fringe," says Kaj Hasselriis.

I Lost on Jeopardy, meanwhile, is "about as crowd-pleaser-y as it gets," says reviewer Andrew Friesen. "Come for the behind-the-scenes peek at a daytime TV trivia show, stay for the profound meditation on the nature of failure and hope."

If you like it a little more 'fringey':

Bossy Flyer's Three is a marvellous acrobatic take on Jean-Paul Sartre's No Exit that I called "an engaging story about relationships told through top-notch physical theatre."

Bossy Flyer delivers spectacular acrobatics in Three. (Submitted by Bossy Flyer Productions)

The new show from Devon More, Hits Like a Girl, is a "weighty and profound" story told through a mix of songs, spoken word and storytelling by "a captivating performer," says Marlo Campbell.

For family fun:

El Diablo of the Cards is a five-star pick that "will entrance audience members of all ages," says reviewer Kaj Hasselriis.

Throwback! is "a variety show of standup, juggling, acrobatics and aerial work" and "pure yummy, delicious eye candy," says Michelle Palansky.

For Science! is 'ridiculous good fun' and 'utterly charming in its execution.' (Daniel Torres and Matt Schuurman/Small Matters Productions)

And Marlo Campbell calls For Science! "ridiculous good fun" involving audience-participatory "experiments." The result is "utterly charming in its execution."

About the Author

Joff Schmidt

CBC theatre reviewer

Joff Schmidt is a copy editor for CBC Manitoba. Since 2005, he's also been CBC Manitoba's theatre critic on radio and online. He majored in theatre at the U of M, and performed in many university and Fringe festival productions along the way (ranging from terrible to pretty good, according to the reviews). Find him on Twitter @JoffSchmidt.

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