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Byron’s picks for this year’s Fringe Festival

June 2009

The 19th edition of the St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival runs from June 11 to 21 and includes 90 presentations. Most are about an hour long and will be shown six or seven times each.

Chris Gibbes is detective Antoine Feval

Prices range from $4 to $12. The paid events are spread out in 10 theatres and three “off fringe” venues downtown. In addition, there are 43 free events at the Fringe Central outdoor stage, located at St. Laurent and Rachel, along with the beer tent and box office, where you can pick up the essential free program of events. Now for this year’s top picks.

Brazil Nuts marks the fourth appearance in Montreal of the inventive Susan Jeremy. Her 1998 show Was That My 15 Minutes? won the Just for Laughs prize. Brazil Nuts deals with gay and immigrant rights.

How to get your Foot in the Door Without Losing It brings back Derick Lengwenus, a favourite deadpan comic. jem roll will perform his newest routine, Leastest Flops, having recharged his batteries in Laos and Vietnam. This energizer bunny motor mouth is ready to charm us with updated versions of his best work. As well as adding some new pieces, Jem also promises to be more theatrically physical to heighten his comedic, lyrical and always witty repartee.

The cast of Pre/Intervention

Dance Animal, choreographed and directed by Robin Henderson, is our own Montreal version of Hollywood’s Busby Berkely. Featuring 10 well- coached dancers, this extravaganza literally explodes before your eyes.

Pre/Intervention is written by actor Graham Cuthbertson. Six top young Montreal actors portray a family in crisis as the daughter moves into her first apartment. They describe the piece as a “meta-theatrical comedy of errors.”

Penumbra is directed by Montreal favourite Paul Van Dyck, who has performed in Paradise Lost, Sahara Crossing and Dracula. He has been able to corral an all-star cast of four to put on Katherine Dempsey’s play about sex and technology through two couples at different stages of life and love.

Tired Clichés, created by the “King of the Fringe,” T.J. Dawe, will knock your socks off. Although this year marks T.J.’s first absence in Montreal since his first appearance many years ago, he is well represented by a new production of this show, performed by award-winning Alex Eddington, resident artist at Tarragon Theatre of Toronto.

Last year, Jonno Katz of Australia impressed with his direction of the successful show The Sputniks starring Elison Zasko. This year, he wrote and acts in The Accident, a fusion of theatre, comedy and dance involving two brothers and cooking.

Dance Animal is wild

Six life-size puppets and the live, effervescent Lana Schwarz come from Australia in Granpa Sol and Grandma Rosie. Schwarz plays Nurse Jackie at an eldercare facility, who discovers there is far more to aging than getting old. This highly visual show mixes verbatim testimony with endearing comedy.

Antoine Feval is “Victorian England’s most overlooked detective” who emerges from the shadow of Sherlock Holmes as embodied by Chris Gibbes. Clueless deduction meets deceit in 75 deliciously funny minutes.

Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest is adapted by Neal Corrin into a streamlined 75-minute version.

This group of grads from N.Y.U.’s heralded theatre program have become a favourite of the Edinburgh Fringe. Sportssexdeathporn is described as a dance theatre multimedia work centering on a naïve housewife lured into her husband’s Ponzi scheme.

Don’t overlook the many fine French shows as well, including one by Pablo Picasso (yes, that Pablo!).

For information, call 514-849-FEST or visit



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