Skip to content

Fringe reviews: 3 to see at Fringe fest (Catch 'em while you can!)

The Fringe has everything--sweet and poignant musicals, terrifying horror dramas, and everything in between!

Everything is Beautiful

Kick Point Old Strathcona Performing Arts Centre

8426 Gateway Blvd NW

4 stars out of 5

We've all walked past old folks sitting on a park bench--but have we paid attention to them, or what they're talking about? This sweet, poignant Fringe offering gives us a glimpse into the everyday beauty of the elders in our lives--and reminds us that what they say matters.

Everything is Beautiful is tender, funny and totally real: Grumpy Robert, spends hours in front of his grandson's school hoping to see him. His friend Jean, who sees the world through 'rose-coloured glasses', joins him on the park bench, trying to bolster his spirits. Gilles Denis and Andre Roy, ages 73 and 79, respectively, bring to life the realities of old age: loneliness, aches and pains, bitterness and happiness--all wrapped up in a satisfying 50-minute show.

There's an easy chemistry between Roy and Denis, who've done this show for French communities across the prairies over the years. With this English translation, the pair is able to bring their warmth, charm and 'old people's stories' to new audiences--lucky us. Strong performances tie together the moments we can all knowingly nod our heads at--the truths of aging and staying relevant in a world where old people feel discarded; it's touching and well worth your one hour at the Fringe.

Take your grandparents, take yourself to see this touching piece that reminds...whatever our age, no one is invisible. We all have something to offer.

"I visited this performance today. Great acting! A simple play that perfectly and humorously reveals the experiences of older people. I recommend you to watch it!" said one viewer.

--Lucy Haines

Morningside Road

The FOH PRO Stage

10014 81 Ave, 

4.5 stars 

Morningside Road is described by its creators, Mhairi Berg and Simon Abbott, as a new Celtic musical about the pursuit of truth. But it could also be called a love letter from granddaughter (Berg as girl/Elaine) to grandmother, St. Albert's Maureen Rooney (Granny), and featuring Brennan Campbell (Lad). As the girl seeks advice from her Granny, who shares memories of growing up in Scotland, the stories alter in the face of the elders' dementia, leaving the girl questioning what is real in her life.

This is a beauty of a play; an impressive musical effort directed by Sarah Dowling, with Simon Abbott as music director (on piano), and Viktoria Grynenko (violin).  Playwright Berg is radiant as an earnest granddaughter and alternately her own grandmother (in memory sequences); with expressive, beautiful vocals and a lovely stage presence. Campbell's Lad is strong too, a young man at the start of his life in wartime Scotland. The pair embody young love with pretty harmonies and playful teasing--it's a nice contrast to present time moments with Granny, where tensions set in as memories alter and fade.

Rooney is great as Granny, effectively showing the fear and frustration of someone losing touch, holding on to fleeting memories. The musical moments with all three performers are strong and true.  What a lovely, lovely production.

--Lucy Haines


The Cabin on Bald Dune

Varscona Theatre

10329 83 Ave.

4 stars

With excellent performances, moody lighting and creepy sound effects, The Cabin on Bald Dune is a horror movie, on stage. April Banigan directs Jezec Sanders' tight thriller with tension that builds through the hour--that's also thanks to local actors Kristi Hansen and Jenny McKillop, both great and unsettling in their roles.

When we join the action, Jeannie and Clara are arriving at an isolated cabin to plan a new restaurant/tourist attraction. As weird as that is, it's nothing compared to Jeannie's odd behaviour. All is not as it seems, after all, (is it ever in a thriller?), as a presence on the island becomes more clear, and Jeannie's sleep walking is freakin' terrifying. Tensions rise right from the get go, of course. Do these two really know each other? Are they really alone in the cabin? And what is that strange knocking in the night?

McKillop is pitch-perfect as the unaware Clara, uncomfortable and slow to screw up the courage to challenge the increasingly unhinged Jeannie. Hansen is terrific and terrifying as Jeannie--a total whack job keeping us all off-balance with her sinister intentions. We never do quite get the answers to the questions posed in this drama, but it's a fun ride. 

--Lucy Haines