FRINGE 2018: Short Reviews for Fringe-Packed Days

I was going to start off this article by saying that Montreal’s Fringe Fest can “be hectic at times,” until I realized I used those same exact words last year. I suppose that’s the case every year. The sheer amount of shows to see can be overwhelming, not to mention other events like the Tunes at the Fringe Park and the 13th Hour. Sometimes, you will be forced to make last-minute decisions, especially in the event where a show is sold out.

Here are some short reviews of shows I managed to catch in the span of one day.



Upon entering the theatre, I was handed a program with a David Lynch quote on the front. On the back, a note from the director recommending that audience members do not attempt to find a meaning in the absurdity of the piece. After seeing […]morph (pronounced ‘Ellipsis Morph’), I’m glad I didn’t waste any brain activity trying to pick apart what was presented to me. It’s hard to describe exactly what the play is about. It consists of five actors, whose behaviours switch between that of playful children and of frightened animals. Projections of light define the barriers and mood of each new sequence. There is no spoken word, except for a song at the end. Because of this, I was more aware of other sounds, like the footsteps and breathing of the actors. In less than 45 minutes, the show was over and normality was restored.



I unfortunately missed Sketchfest this year, so I’ve been looking to get my sketch comedy fix for a while. Luckily, Pope Joan (and friends) got what I needed. The show offered a variety of bite-sized comedic bits; there were musical parodies of well-known hits, a dance number with plastic bags and short videos were projected during costume changes. Accompanied by musical interludes provided by Sacha Crow, the five women cast members raced about the stage, embodying characters like mustachioed lawyers, elderly feminist militants and a can return machine. The sketches took shots at easy targets such as organized religion and Canadian culture. Overall, a very fun show.


Don’t Read the Comments

I ended up at this show on impulse, having no idea what to expect. It was set up like a talk show, in which the host and panelists debated about consent and the “grey areas” of sexual assault. That doesn’t sound too entertaining, but the catch is that the characters were over-the-top clown versions of a pussy-hat wearing feminist, an over-performative male feminist vlogger and a female politician intent on maintaining the status quo. Together, they used common arguments for consent, stretching them to lengths of exaggeration and buffoonery. As the panelists fell over each other in attempts to make their opinion heard, the host would gage audience reactions. The mood took a sharp turn for the serious when director Sarah Segal-Lazar came on stage, wearing no clown makeup, and shared a personal experience where her consent was violated. The details were very specific and by end of the story, I felt sick to my stomach. I supposed the moral is that in the process of debating consent, we tend to make clowns of ourselves, yet the subject is not to be taken lightly.


Is That How Clowns Have Sex? A One-Woman Queer Clown Sex-Ed Show

Performed by a real-life sex educator, Fiona Ross takes on the clown character of Beatrice. In the first five minutes, everything I had initially learned in sex-ed was lampooned in a juvenile puppet show. Beatrice then presents a revamped curriculum, with a better understanding of contraception, STI prevention and queer politics. Yet it was still explained in a humorous fashion, with mimed demonstrations and oddly shaped dildos. At the end of her lesson, Beatrice has an identity crisis when she realizes that is still only a “sexpert in training.” With the remaining time, Fiona removed her clown nose and answered audience questions about sex, which she collected on anonymous pieces of paper, stored in her homemade stuffed vulva. This was the sex education I wish I had in high school.