Hot picks to close out Fringe fest

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2 for Tea.

Just one weekend left, and Fringe 2013 has reconfirmed what we already know and love to hear again and again: Montrealers and their friends can act, sing, dance, ukulele, strip, mime, puppet, emote, party and still radar in on choice poutine at 3:30 a.m. With just a few nights left to make sure you haven’t missed the show that everyone waiting in line has been talking about, here are our favourites.

If there’s a Mr. Bean shaped hole in your heart, the physical comedy 2 for Tea might be your cup of … oh … English Breakfast. James and Jamesy are upper-class Brits who hold weekly tea parties. Cups, chairs and kettle are placed just so. Proper arrival etiquette is required. Compliments on brew selection necessary. But, high-strung, foppish Jamesy and well-heeled James are not the sort of men who sip quietly by when patriotic duty calls. The British front lines require special tea and madcap adventures ensue. Although the show starts tepidly, this gentle clowning duo soon serves high comedy when unsuspecting audience members are drawn into their antics. Good chemistry and a nice aftertaste. (RL)

SNAFU Company’s Little Orange Man. Photo by Al Smith.

Consider selling your first born for a ticket to see Little Orange Man. Danish 6th grader Gitte (aka Kitt) uses a week’s worth of lunch leftovers to animate Hans Christian Andersen’s gruesome tales for the Kinder on the other side of the schoolyard fence. When tales of de-footed maidens and people with pecked-out eyes result in a story-telling ban, Gitte turns to the audience for help. This hilarious and daring show is a must see and your life will be emptier for missing it. Gitte is a memorable nonconformist who sneaks her ADD pills to goldfish. Her battle against the monsters, both real and imagined, are epic. (RL)

But, wait, wait, wait, I have another must see pick. Curse you Fringe for being so damned good. Peter N’ Chris Explore Their Bodies is an anatomically incorrect masterpiece. Best friends Peter and Chris use a magic bathrobe to journey into Chris’s body. The “Evil One” has control of Chris’s brain and is using his peon Percy to aggravate hypochondria. Peter and Chris wend their way from stomach, liver, artery and brain to re-establish order and escape. Kittens, bunnies, food fights, Jesus. It’s all in there, somewhere. These two talented actors deftly master a full cast of characters and leave no pop culture stone unreferenced. Make sure to pee ahead of time, or risk pissing yourself with laughter. (RL)

From the sinister side of puppetry (is that the left hand?) comes the unhappy family of Artichoke Heart Collective’s We Walk Among You. This ambitious tale has a Dr. Frankenstein-like scientist attempt to revive his deceased son. His wife has gone all “Yellow Wallpaper”, and every maniacal experiment fails until a magic butterfly appears. Get past your preconceived notions about puppets. Puppets can be as real and as emotionally evocative as any human being, with a rich inner tapestry of complicated motivations like jealousy and ambition. The innovation and precision of this collective comes through in everything, from the character of their puppets, to the creative instrumental stylings,to the haunting story itself. (RL)

DeAnne Smith and Leighland Beckman.

I really like dark humour: when something is so awful that your body decides that laughing is the appropriate response. DeAnne Smith and Leighland Beckman provide you with just that through a barrage of these types of cringe-y anecdotes in Horrible Things. The entire show is funny from tip to tail, mixing Smith’s stand-up with Beckman’s humourous jams, along with reading and enquiring about some of the audience’s own “horrible things” that they’ve done. My only mild, and I’m talking mild, complaint would be that Smith’s performance is so strong, and so gaffaw-worthy, that I’d find myself during other portions of the show waiting for her to take the mic again. Beckman is lovely and his tune “Prolapsed Anus” was effortlessly full of ha-ha (the audience clearly loved him), but I can’t help but feel that Smith delivered the best moments. (KMH)

Quick picks around the theme of unusual romantic pairings: Angel’s Share explores the intricacies of a December … um … March “platonic” relationship in the Scottish highlands. Touching drama, lyrical dialogue, and heart-squeezing acting. Bring tissues if you cry in your whiskey. The eight unlikely couples in smoking hot Circle show that you can’t always get what you want, especially if what you want is to connect. Dialogue so sharp, characters so momentarily real, I’m sure a few from the audience checked their gmail history to make sure no one had access to their real lives. Zack to the Future asks the most fundamental time travel question of all: what is more important: finding love with your future girlfriend or finding yourself (literally)? (RL)

The Fringe Festival continues to June 23.

By Rachel Levine and Kayla Marie Hillier.

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