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August 18-31
VOL.14 ISSUE. 26

See Some Shows

Nathan Raine
Published Thursday August 6, 05:46 pm
The street stuff is cool, but the plays are the thing


Runs to Saturday 8

Broadway Ave.


Ah, the Saskatoon Fringe Festival! A place where children, hipsters and hobos alike can congregate under the harmonious guise of a street festival that offers a little bit of something to everyone. Relish in the jugglers, buskers, magicians and more as they perform! Buy some art, jewellery, clothing, etc.! Gorge yourself on the saucy, greasy deliciousness provided by an endless bombardment of food trucks!


Oh, and watch some plays, dammit! They’re kinda the point of the whole thing, you know.


But you’ve only got a scant few days left to do so, so what to watch? Editor Kirkland, in a spate of theatricality himself, smashed a fist down on his desk and told me to get out there and ask some Fringe-goers which productions they liked best.


I started my task like anyone should: By dodging my responsibilities and heading straight for a burrito. In line, I caught a girl next to me looking at the notebook under my arm — practically an invitation to hit her with stupid questions, right? I asked her if she had seen any shows here, and she replied in the affirmative.  Her favourite so far?


“Probably No Belles. Not 'Nobels', but like 'NO Belles',” said Alice. She made a flutter with her eyes and, amazingly, I understood what she meant. “It’s about how women in science are often neglected. It was actually really beautiful.”


I thanked Alice, chomped down my burrito, and continued on with my quest to find the best Fringe show. Quickly, I discovered that things weren't quite as effortless outside the burrito queue. My pseudo-friendly assault on people's Fringe wanderings to ask, “Hey, what's been the best show you've seen so far?” mostly produced responses like “um...” and “none.”


But Kirkland had told me that this would be easy: “Just find the people who look like they go to all the shows. You'll see.” Hmm. A family of six with multiple screaming children? Nah. A couple of dorks on the curb, cat-calling women? Probably not. A gaggle of high-school girls sharing a bag of popcorn? Yeahhno.  So I focused very hard on people who looked like they had an interest in the arts, the “people who look like they go to all the shows.” Here's what a few of them had to say:


“I liked Are my Hands Too Big? Sort of awkward stand-up humour, but it was good.” - Matthew


High Tea. Definitely. It was hilarious.” - Jessie


“I think it was called Attention to Detail.” (It’s actually called A Tension to Detail. Oh, the irony.) “It was really relatable, actually. A little crass though.” - Neil


“Man, I've only seen a couple, but for performance alone, it's gotta be the dick one [2 Ruby Knockers, 1 Jaded Dick: A Dirk Darrow Investigation]. Audience participation was funny too. I'm just glad he didn't call on me.” - David


No Belles was fantastic. I think some people will assume it's a feminist play, which I hope doesn't scare anyone away. I think everyone should see it.” - Rachel


“I loved Dance Pants. My wife hated it.” (His wife chimes in with a “Yup!”, and they both laugh.) “What can you do?” - Simon and Greta


Look/See was cool for more campy, horror fans. Or people who don't really like all that goofy standup shit.” - Tyler


After about an hour of timid verbal harassment, these were the only [usable] answers I received from the weekend Fringers. I texted Kirkland: “I haven't got much yet. I'm bringing in reinforcements.” Those reinforcements were in the form of my friend Mark, a strapping lad who certainly doesn't have my reservations about approaching strangers. I got him a pen, some paper and another burrito, and gave him my task. No more than 15 minutes later he came back with this:


Bear Ass. High Tea. Loon. Bells. And some dick one.”


“No, man!” I said to him, “we need actual quotes! With names!”


“Oh. Yeah that makes sense. This is an article.”




With the mission clarified, we hounded strangers for another half-hour before we broke for beers.


“We have kids, so we don't really get a chance to see the adult stuff. But the mime guys, sorry I forgot the name [Beau & Aero], were surprisingly great. I'd see it again [laughs].” – Colin, Jane and two very well-behaved children.


“Lots of adult humour, probably more than some would like, but I really liked A Tension to Detail. It's the kind of play you hope to find at the Fringe. Or are afraid to find.” - Rob


“The standout for me was Loon. Different than anything else here.” - Morgan


Loon was weird. Go see that one.” - Kyle


“Some of my friends told us to check out A Tension to Detail, so we did. It's good, but I think moreso for guys.” - Elizabeth and Tani [Mark's notes: Pretty sure those girls gave me fake names]


“There's shows here? Who cares?” - Derrick


All the Voices in my Head was hilarious. I liked that one. And the comic was cute.” - Anna


“My name is Tom and I liked No Belles” - Tom


“I've only been to a couple but I was impressed by Look/See.” - Ryan


“I usually have no idea what I'm getting into when I go to these shows, but I was pleasantly surprised with the ‘Ruby Detective Dick’ one. It's a bit wild but I liked it. The performance was great too.” - Alicia


Overall, while many of the shows seemed well-attended, it might be safe to say that the majority of the weekend Broadway loiterers came to the Fringe for food, and maybe some sidewalk performances. If we learned anything about the Fringe shows, it might that the lack of a “stand-out” play is a testament to the overall quality of the productions.


But, if a few did stand out, it seems that No Belles left the strongest impression, while 2 Ruby Knockers had the most fun performance, and Loon was the strangest experience. But from the comedies of A Tension to Detail and High Tea, to some of the local productions like Bare Ass and Look/See, the cliché sticks: there really might be something for everyone. Except that Derrick guy.

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