Two Cents & Two Pence is thrilled to support the artists of the Vancouver Fringe 2019. Please check back regularly during the Fringe as we will be updating daily.

1. R'n'J: the Untold Story of Shakespeare's Roz and Jules 

2. The Walk In The Snow: The True Story of Lise Meitner

3. Princess Rescuers

4. Rape is Real and Everywhere

5. Conduit - Highly Recommended

6. Connect

7. Robber Bridegroom

8. The Trophy Hunt

9. Where the Quiet Queers Are - 2C2P PICK OF FEST

10. Alice in Glitterland - 2C2P PICK OF FEST

1. R'n'J: the Untold Story of Shakespeare's Roz and Jules

Stolen Cactus

Firehall Arts Centre

R’n’J is a lovely, odd beast. An alternative-universe sequel(ish) to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, it’s in blank verse but contains modern sensibilities. The humour can be jarring and works best when it goes full meta and delves into anachronistic absurdity.

Carmina Bernhardt (who also penned the play) gives a deeply felt performance as Juliet. From the opening scene she draws us in with her gravitas, which makes the subsequent deviation(s) so delightful. Through a series of texts, Juliet ends up with her cousin Rosaline (Orna Salinger) and they embark on a sort of Shakespearean Thelma and Louise adventure across Italy. The plot meanders a fair bit - I wasn’t sure always sure where it was going or what the point of it was. Ella McCallum and Arthur Velarde round out the cast playing most of the other roles (as well as Bernhardt, who also plays Rosaline’s friend Livia), but more often than not I got lost for a minute until I figured out which character had just shown up. 

R’n’J asks a lot of its audience, but gives back freely and energetically. The big-screen video portions help give the show more physical depth, making it feel more expansive, which is needed in the roomy Firehall. Bernhardt clearly has a handle on Shakespeare’s style - Juliet’s speech of the universe and existence rivals the Bard himself, and I don’t say that lightly. The play itself treads a line between profound and ridiculous, but it never stops being entertaining. 

-Max Timmins

11. After the Beep

12. SpinS

13. Amelie - Highly Recommended

2. The Walk In The Snow: The True Story of Lise Meitner

big word performance

Carousel Theatre

There’s no denying Jem Rolls is a dynamic performer. The Fringe mainstay has a direct and forceful delivery that demands you keep up, or else. There’s a lot of information in The Walk In The Snow, which tells the story of Jewish Austrian physicist Lise Meitner, much of it relating to her pioneering work in nuclear physics (not exactly for the layman). Unfortunately I didn’t feel the show really got to the heart of Meitner. It lists her impressive accomplishments and exults in her stoic heroism and brilliance, but what the show was missing, for me, was the true heart of the quiet, introverted Meitner. Facts and figures and the name-dropping of famous scientists are all well and good, but with so much crammed into an hour, it gets to be a bit much. I don’t know if Jem Rolls, with his hard-hitting style, is the right person to be telling to story of Lise Meitner, but then, no one else seems to be volunteering, and her name should be better known than it is, so kudos to him for getting it out there.

 

-Lillian Jasper

3. Princess Rescuers

Ben Bilodeau Productions

Studio 16

Princess Rescuers is a roughly spun exploration of  both internally and externally imposed roles in a fairytale farce. 

 

Merc (Chris M. Ward) and Sidekick (Juliana de Medeiros) are hired bounty princess hunters (and leg aficionados) in search of their target princess to be rescued. Merc is boisterous, rough cut and emotionally bound - an ogre if you will. Sidekick is a lover, charismatic womanizer and well, a sidekick. Together they are frat house comedic foils. But all is not what it seems when they set out on their next conquest for the Princess who will not be rescued. 

 

Familiar fairy tale tropes are decentred alongside the fourth wall contributing to the play’s overall comedic effect. The farcical aspects of the play in conjunction with all characters delivering some meta dramaturgy were highlights that gained their potency as the characters developed.  The scene where Princess (Brianna Sacry) and Aliya Boulanger as Witch allow their characters to ‘improv” as their characters to work out their relationship was novel. Though the plot takes a refreshing twist, its conclusion seemed incompletely realized. 

 

Do not expect a lavish set or fantastical special effects, instead, allow the sparse stage elements to herald the intended message of the play that vulnerability is necessary for authenticity and that authenticity is the way to fulfillment. This play delivers entertainment and intends to deliver some poignancy in its purpose with some success.

 

~ Cynthia York

4. Rape is Real and Everywhere

Produced by Emma Cooper

Cultch Historic Theatre

This is a stand up show like no other. Delivered by survivors for survivors of sexual assault and everyone else, Rape is Real and Everywhere is an affirming act of witnessing as comics use their personal stories of sexual assault to champion the courage of survivorship. This diverse group of seven comics creates the opportunity for the audience to laugh, cringe and collectively hold our breath as they offer some comfort to our collective discomfort. Volunteers and safe space are provided for patrons in need of support due to the possible triggering content of the show. 

 

Rape is Real and Everywhere is an absolutely courageous, utterly political social triumph that not only proves that comedy is coping, but humour is humanizing. This is an indelicate and radically authentic should see event.

 

~ Cynthia York

5. Conduit

The Body Orchestra

Jen Aoki Producer

Jenn Edwards Choreographer

Cultch Historic Theatre

There is nothing so anticipatory as sock feet on bare floor… Conduit is one of the few dance offerings at Fringe this year and well worth experiencing. The intimate venue means an intimate performance where the audience is seen and drawn in. Conduit consists of three pieces choreographed in collaboration between Jenn Edwards and the other dancers performed without intermission. 
 

The first piece premiering at Fringe this year is Imposter Syndrome, a percussive and solid piece with good use of weight and contrast. Conversive and vocal elements were layered and engaging and added to the frenetic commentary on the need to keep up, be seen and known while we are aware that we might be found out. There is a nice play between mechanical vs. organic themes in this piece that is only shined up by the glorious original soundtrack by Mary Jane Paquette which serves as an equal player on stage with the dancers.

 

Other Creatures (2017) begins with two dancers enacting an intimate trial of the limitations of the body’s form and compatibility. Lighting and music again serve integral punctuation to this piece in most delicious ways. This piece, uses canonned movement juxtaposed with comforting unison.

The sunglass movement is a treat that moves to the observation and cataloguing of allowances in a system of ecology enclosed in a navel gazing world - wait for the canned music. 

 

Finally, the title piece, Conduit (2016), is a meta musical piece on bodies in music, bodies as music and music through bodies. This playful piece embodied the language of dance in harmony with that of music as dancers even embody notes on a staff and the competing through lines of counterpoint and harmony until the conductor can set it all to right. The ending of this piece was incredibly satisfying as dancers revealed the music of their design process. 

 

There cannot be enough said about the musical contribution of Mary Jane Paquette to these pieces - a rare treat to witness in collaboration.

 

~ Cynthia York

6. Connect

Aaron Alexander Presents

Arts Umbrella


Self explained as TED talk meets human magic, this intimate show is a dark horse of the Fringe. Held at Arts Umbrella in a small theatre space, this performance boasts no illusions of grandeur except the possibility of what is experienced together. Part participatory, part human psychology, part connecting to the ephemeral imagination of humans, Connect provides a lens on how build our worlds and how we might build them together in deeper connection. 


If you are expecting a show with a narrative, this performance will confuse you for a time. Stay with it. There is an offering and invitation here to change our own narratives as collectively we examine who we are if we allow ourselves to play in the spaces and relationships between our imagination and our attention. Aaron Alexander comes across as an ernest hawker of human possibility and wonder. Are you buying?


~ Cynthia York


7. The Robber Bridegroom: A Grimm Fairy Tale

Chimera Theatre

Waterfront Theatre


Warning: Grimm’s fairy tales are in fact grim, bloody and cautionary, and this one is no different. This show asks you, the audience, in a real way, what will you do when the wolf comes to the door? Will you act? 


Based on The Brothers Grimm tale of the same name and adapted by Andrew G. Cooper, this performance sets the classic fairy tale as bookends to a maiden’s marriage to a swarthy and yet unknown man of riches. It is the maiden’s wedding day and she faints. Insert cautionary dream here. We witness the maiden’s wedding day fainting dream of the miller’s daughter moving through the dark woods to visit her bridegroom’s house. There she witnesses a woman murdered and dismembered and eaten by her fiance - I will say here that the portrayal of this section, through very lifelike puppetry, did not make the gruesomeness any less alarming. The miller’s daughter takes the severed hand of the murdered woman with her as proof. The maiden then awakes from her fainting spell at the altar of her own wedding and the ceremony continues - or should it?


The soundscape for this performance was appropriately creepy though too loud during scene transitions. The actors masterfully brought the physicality of the puppets to reality down to their hand gestures however, the choice to use constant vocalizations to represent speech was overwrought and distracting where a silent moment and reliance on their expert manipulation of the puppets might have been more powerful. 


This production may shock you into looking away, but it also asks you to look to your conscience in real time and act.


~ Cynthia York



8. The Trophy Hunt

November Theatre

Ron Basford Park

The Trophy Hunt is a roaming 3-act performance weaving the hunter, the tracker and the hunted in a connected circle of political, social and karmic dirty handshakes. 

 

The Trophy Hunt attempts to weave the social and economic complexities of the African Safari hunting experience with a touch of naive tourist hilarity. The first two acts provide some connected and grounded context to the topic while the final act seems to attempt to cleanse the palate with humour which seems to lessen the overall impact. 

 

Your tour guide is Amy, and she is as enthusiastic as she is petrified offering a character foil to the weightiness of the topics presented. Be forewarned introverts,there are some participatory elements. Be prepared to sing some old camp favourites and word to the wise the correct thing to repeat when a person says, “This is a repeat after me song!” is “This is a repeat after me song!” Amy will make sure you get your perfect shot, just don’t lose your hat, or your head.

 

~ Cynthia York

 


9. Where the Quiet Queers Are

Amplify Choral Theatre

Old Bridge Indoor Parkade

It is in the parkade. There are parking lot fluorescents, oil stains, parking cones and coloured lanterns. You can hear cars parking on adjacent levels, their wheels squeaking on concrete and in the quiet moments, the sound of liquid moving through pipes and then they all arrive. And they are not quiet. 


This performance is acapella magic, meets heartbreakingly poetic spoken word, meets she/ her/ hers falls for them/ they/ their, meets community celebration. Deeply beautiful harmonies and complex soundscapes under the direction of Elyse Kantonen, in such a resonant space underground is perhaps metaphoric for building courage and community in transient spaces.   


This show has so much to offer and delivers entirely in novelty, intimacy and skill. This is a must see performance.

~ Cynthia York


10. Alice In Glitterland

Geekenders

Wise Hall

This immersive and interactive show is a sensual feast of non-stop action, sexual magnetism, jealousy and redemption - oh, and there is an adult ball pit. Join Alice, the Door Mouse, the March Hare, White Rabbit, Red Queen, White Queen, White Rose, the Caterpillar, Mad Hatter, and the Cheshire Cat and friends down the rabbit hole to Glitterland - you will not be disappointed. 

 

The Wise Hall provides fully for the ninety-three scenes that are acted or danced by over ten actors throughout the evening either concurrently or overlapping. After donning masks to hide your identity and to make voyeurism more comfortable, follow any characters you wish to see as their story unfolds. You may be invited to interact and perhaps be led to a side alcove for either a private or public scene with a character. It is impossible to see it all and this is part of its charm and its invitation to attend multiple times. Consider it a choose your own adventure musical showstopper you can see again and again without duplication.

 

A very talented and dance ready cast play out key scenes in the main space that draw you into their characters. Be prepared for intimate prophetic discussions on life and love and the limitations of perception, aerial hoop work, and grand tea parties - or perhaps that was just my experience. Pay close attention to the Red Queen, her face will tell you everything you need to know.

 

Alice in Glitterland is a sexy beast of a feast not to be missed.

 

~ Cynthia York

 


11. After the Beep

Pamela Bethel

The Nest

After the Beep is an honest, celebratory and sometimes humorously cringe-worthy look into one woman’s developmental indiscretions as recorded on her 1990s answering machine. Pamela Bethel plays digitized recordings from her actual answering machine cassettes and weaves them into a retrospective narrative about life’s most vulnerable and awkward transitions. The staging is minimal as the focus is on the audio track that is captioned on a screen for clarity. Her story is about risk, reward, triumph and the importance of evidenced thresholds. This show has upped my game for outgoing voicemail messages and renewed my love of pie charts. 

 

~ Cynthia York

 


12. SpinS

Janaoah Bailin 

The Nest

 

SpinS is a humble and humbling whirly-gig of clowning prowess. Janaoah Bailin is altogether human and vulnerable in his brilliance. This performer tips out a veritable tickle trunk of juggling props all over the stage and into the hands of the audience as he plays from scene to scene. This is extreme skill in action with a pulse of whimsy - the audience could not hide their amazement. This is not your usual Granville Island street performance; it is a brave and ballsy show (pun entirely intended).

 

~ Cynthia York

 


13. Amelie

West Moon Theatre

Firehall Arts Centre

 

Amelie is every bit as quirky and heartwarming as the movie but with the kind of creative workarounds that only live theatre can impose. Folks drawn to this musical because of their relationship to the movie will not be disappointed. 

 

This musical follows Amelie as she sets out to spread kindness in the world to unconsciously fill the void of her own family’s sadness and in doing so, orchestrates her own happiness. Tessa Trach plays a charming and plucky Amelie with a homegrown mischievous feel and is mirrored exceptionally well by her younger counterpart, Georgia Acken as Young Amelie. 

 

Expect to be charmed by the use of the simple set and cast members as set elements backdropped by projections and interspersed with quirky and beautiful surprise elements. The use of the gilded frame as a threshold is both a pragmatic and delightful focal point for the whimsy of the show. 

 

With twenty-five live musical numbers directed by Peter Abando, this show is a steady build to the final and touching scenes. The company really shines in “ A Better Haircut” and “Times are Hard for Dreamers” and throughout as musical emotional punctuation. Enoch Choi (Nino) has a silky voice with round depth and effortless runs that makes numbers like, “When the Booth Goes Bright” and “Thin Air” land as moments, as does, the duet “Stay” with Tessa Trach’s depth of feeling and crystalline pitch. The live music on stage is a treat, and though the venue is intimate, moved to the front if you want the best balance between voice and accompaniment.

 

This show will leave you with that beautiful heartsick, empty-full chest feeling of love’s sweet restraint and fulfillment - you know the one.

 

~ Cynthia York