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REVIEWS: Ottawa Fringe 2024

ottawa fringe iPhoto caption: Graphic courtesy of Ottawa Fringe.
/By , / Jun 25, 2024

The 2024 Ottawa Fringe Festival has come to a close!

We published mini reviews on our X (formerly Twitter) page, but now it’s time to spread the love.

Below you’ll find every review we wrote for the 2024 festival. Reviews of Trainwreck through The White Crocodile are written by Luke Brown, while In a Café through Buysexual are written by Alexa MacKie.

Trainwreck, Unexpected Theatre  

It’s exciting to see new musical theatre projects in Ottawa, and Trainwreck shows potential. Five university friends reunite a few years after graduation, and we hear how they’re coping with life beyond campus. Well, “hear” is a strong word. I couldn’t catch a good amount of the dialogue. Maybe there were tech issues, but most of what was said didn’t extend past the first two rows. 

A sparkling score injects more energy. Each of the performers, Somya Goomer, Nicholas Maillet, Yan Simon, Kay Sinclaire, and Kayleigh Styles, seem to crank the volume a bit when they sing. Everyone has a lovely voice, and it’d be nice to hear those songs on a future cast recording. The songwriting is smart, and clearly the creators, Malia Rogers and Micah Jondel DeShazer, are well-versed in musical theatre form and song structure.

The reveal in the last 15 minutes or so made me listen even harder. Most of the show covers each character’s inner turmoil, and suddenly we’re confronted with another, more theatrically compelling situation. The first 45 minutes could have made clearer connections to this more interesting premise at the end.

In a future version I’d love to see those cleverly written songs take centre stage. The score has potential to give the plot more punch and make the ending feel more grounded. Who are these friends to each other, and why? Where are they in their lives and what brought them there? And also… what are they saying? Sing out, Louise! 

The City Aquarium is Proud to Present: The Marvelous Mermaids of Merriment™, The City Aquarium 

Charming performances are paired with clever digs at workplace politics in The City Aquarium is Proud to Present (…). Local aquarium CEO Cindy (Amanda Logan) is in hot water after hiring a group of mermaid performers to attract a crowd and improve the organization’s bottom line. The exorbitant expense offends the staff, and an emergency board meeting is called to decide next steps. Cullen Elijah McGrail’s script is funny and well researched, but for me it’s the direction and the chemistry between the actors that keep the show afloat. 

You’ll be reeled in by these performers. Sam Woods and Sam Talajic know how to keep an audience hooked, skillfully tackling Geoff McBride’s physically demanding direction. Logan keeps Cindy likable despite the wild choices she makes to save her reputation. Talajic captivates with a monologue about fish, and I’m thrilled to see this talented Ottawa local back on stage. 

While entertaining, there’s a lot of information on aquarium admin. At times I’d have liked a bit more silly theatre and a bit less corporate talk. I think a future version of me, one with additional decades of experience in not-for-profits, would appreciate this play’s humour even more. And while it appears the play can take different paths with a “choose your own adventure” format, I suspect that’s a red herring. I’ll be chatting with friends in the Fringe Courtyard to see if they had different experiences. It won’t be hard to find people talking: this is going to be a popular one. 

The Vexed and the Vigorous, Dead Unicorn Ink 

Get in, Fringe-ers, we’re going racing.

Patrice Forbes knows Ottawa Fringe like the back of their bloodstained hand. A familiarity with their audiences and a strong grip on Shakespearean style makes The Vexed and the Vigorous a joyful ride. 

If you know the work of Dead Unicorn Ink, you know there will be gore galore, fight choreo, and of course, puppets. What’s not to love? 

Rom (Axandre Lemours) is a hypermasculine street racer, haunted by the loss of his beloved Rosa. His mechanic, L’il Mickey (Michael Kosowan), tells him things are heating up with a rival gang in town. Cue hotshot driver Jules (Kyle Cameron) and the start of a steamy love affair between Rom and Jules. 

Jeannie MacRae wipes the floor with her standout, clownish performances as innumerable supporting characters. It’s the unhinged playfulness of Kosowan and MacRae that grabbed my attention. Lemours and Cameron play the more straight characters (but strictly in the comedy convention sense).

Seeing this was like watching an actual streetrace, probably. I’ve never been to one, but with the audience whooping and hollering after every scene, I felt part of something much larger than the play at hand. 

It’s not a stretch to say that with a few bolts tightened, this show should be considered for the new work lineup at the Stratford Festival. Stratford, please pay close attention to the brilliance of Patrice Forbes and their clear love of Shakespearean text. 

Campfire Cabaret, Us <3

You won’t find Campfire Cabaret in your Fringe program as it was a late addition to the lineup. Maggie May Harder and Meghan Burns are our charming head counselors at Camp Unicorn Tits, a summer camp for adults. 

The show presents a variety of talent, with one standout being Glenys Marshall and her song about a brief affair with celebrity Jennifer Coolidge. Wait until you hear that Coolidge impression. 

The audience is invited to write their own summer camp experiences on strips of paper, which return in fun ways later on. Boundary work established at the top outlines some rules of audience participation: we’re invited to cross our arms in front of us if we don’t want to engage. This sets a caring tone and welcomes us into the fun that ensues. 

Harder and Burns are sunny and warm, and we get snippets of a storyline as they introduce each act. I’d like to see a stronger connection between that story and the rest of the show, but I also appreciate its surface-level playfulness. Vex Scandal treats everyone to a burlesque performance, and Chantalyne Beausoleil delights with their skillful musical theatre moxie. 

Overall this feels like a group hang. It’s not a show with a lot of depth, nor does it need to be. It’s like a refreshing apéritif: a welcome respite before heading off to the next Fringe show on your list. 

Christian Slut, The Lighter Touch Art Collective

Erik Karklins stands in the tiny DARC Microcinema venue, recounting his stories of sexual escapades as a Christian. From a first kiss to finding useful hiding spots at summer camp, Karklins takes us through a series of exes and the personal discoveries made along the way. 

While religious trauma is a theme, it’s not harped on for too long. It’s more about the excitement of erotic connection. 

There’s some good stuff here. Karklins’ calming presence makes for compelling storytelling. I noticed a couple of wrinkles he may have ironed out afterward. Karklin states they weren’t raised Christian, for example, but soon after discusses their parents’ disdain for them wanting to date a non-Christian girl. There are many ways in which that could make sense, but I’d love to hear them!

A statement near the end of the hour feels larger than maybe Karklins realizes. Those in the audience who were laughing at the uniquely Christian experiences seemed to fall silent. I wonder if that reveal needed a bit more context, as to not leave anyone feeling disconnected. And if it was intentional, slightly more explanation afterward could help make the desired impact. 

Karklins draws attention to the restrictions of organized religion, particularly some of the limits on love and attraction, and I can certainly appreciate that intention. Being human is messy and we should feel free to explore our inherent contradictions. If you need to spend some time getting sultry in a dark room, this is the show for you. 

Cornflake, Dense & Stage

Consider this show if you’re a fan of Twin Peaks or The X Files. Come for the strong performances from Corbeau Sandoval and Masha Bashmakova, and stick around for the highly experimental exploration of neurodivergence. 

I found myself both deeply confused and surprisingly intrigued. If it were a different show I might write something about clarifying the story, helping the audience connect the dots, etc. But this piece doesn’t call for that. It’s something you let wash over you and then maybe reflect on later. 

Rat and Bird are roommates. Bird (Sandoval) is struggling with his career as a standup comic and coming to terms with his sexuality. Rat (Bashmakova) is an uptight door-to-door salesman and very dependent on Bird for their happiness. Both are part of the same being: perhaps representations of contradictory thought patterns in someone struggling with mental illness. References to a mental health facility lead me to believe that’s the situation. But maybe not. 

Either way, the characters resist change and growth. As the play moves forward, alternating between movement-based segments and more traditional dramatic scenes, a transformation occurs. The two diverge, breaking from imposed restrictions and find ways in which they overlap. Rat coughs up feathers.

Despite being perplexed by the text (I can’t figure out the connection to Corn Flakes cereal, for example), I was still compelled to pay close attention. But it’s a play you have to experience for yourself. 

1-MAN NO-SHOW, ZeekTech Productions

Isaac Kessler is gifting Ottawa audiences with a purposefully unpolished hit of a show. It’s obvious he studied under the best of the best in clown and physical theatre, like Philippe Gaulier and the late Paola Coletto. He has a knack at putting us at ease and on edge at the same time, and it’s delightfully entertaining.

Kessler shepherds the audience in from the lobby and warms the crowd, only to crank up the anxiety. He poses pointed, theatre-related questions at the top: Why are we here? Is this art? The comedic bits that follow are never what you expect, making for an entertaining hour (ish) of what is maybe, quite possibly, real art. But who can say for sure?

Kessler’s charm is powerful, and on the night I went the audience got a tad too comfortable. People kept interjecting with their own attempts at comedy. Participation is baked into this kind of clown work, but it was a bizarre level of interference. I would have liked to see Kessler lean into his experience and fold the incursions more seamlessly into the performance, but it was an uphill battle. 

This is a pattern I’ve noticed at this year’s Fringe. Dear Ottawa: please stop interrupting. Kessler invited participation and there were opportunities to engage. But for the most part we can leave it to the pros. 

It is a wonderful feat of comedy to be a part of, and Kessler succeeds at making us laugh at his flops.

TRUTH, produced by Tim C. Murphy 

If I’m going to be duped, I want it to be by Martin Dockery. The celebrated storyteller recounts seemingly unrelated stories, and in true Dockery form somehow weaves the threads together. Other of his  shows play that game in more satisfying ways, but if you’re looking to settle in for some entertaining one-person showmanship, TRUTH doesn’t disappoint. 

The stories are about what life was like for him and his family as pandemic restrictions eased. Dockery is American, and the title is the recurring theme: In the current climate of both the U.S. and Canada, what can we believe? That question gets increasingly more applicable to the actual, lived experience of watching the show. Where’s the line between TRUTH and fiction? 

Folks familiar with the Fringe circuit know what to expect, and it’s a testament to Dockery’s abilities that his shows continuously sell well (he has a second show in this year’s Fringe, Inescapable, which is also popular). TRUTH fell short for me personally only because his desired effect was successful. He had the goal of making us question his own charm, and he succeeded. I just wanted to giddily submit to the Dockery effect, where great writing offers a satisfying escape, but darn it, stuff got real! 

Joshua’s Witnesses, Joshua Bonnici 

Joshua’s Witnesses  joins the long list of Fringe shows where the audience plays a group putting the solo performer through some kind of trial (oh, I just got the title!)

Joshua Bonnici presents evidence of youthful transgressions, allowing a jury to decide whether or not he gets excommunicated from the Jehovah’s Witnesses. He takes us through a series of lessons on Jehovah’s Witnesses’ rules and how he worked around them. There’s some fun audience participation, burlesque, and quippy jokes. 

The biggest gripe he has with the religious group is their belief that it’s against God’s will to receive blood. This is discussed at the beginning and the end, and it’s unclear to me what the middle pieces have to do with this overarching disagreement. 

Bonnici seemed uncomfortable and closed off to me, which may seem strange to say given that at one point he’s nearly entirely naked. But I’m referring to delivery: there was hesitancy and awkwardness with the lines. This is a relatively new piece so maybe he’s still playing with the structure, or it could have just been an off performance. 

But if I were to see this again I’d like to see more confidence: a relaxed composure that can bring the audience closer without us worrying that he might forget what to do next. 

This is yet another artist with tons of courage to tell their highly personal story. And It’s certainly one to check out if you’re down for a sexy, good time. 

The White Crocodile, Plan B Productions

Laurie Fyffe’s skillful writing is on display in these three pieces on environmental disaster and the traumas of war. The actors (David Frisch, Kelsey Rideout, Chelsea Passmore, Élise Gauthier and Kenney Vandelinde) all have memorable moments. 

The thread that ties the show together was easiest to follow in the first piece, Dammed. A scientist, William (Frisch), is desperate to convince a bureaucrat, Gabby (Rideout), that the surrounding area is about to be flooded due to cracks in a local dam. We feel William’s struggle as he’s confronted with red tape, and the pacing moves at a rapid rate. 

Chelsea Passmore presents the movement piece I Am Oil  in the middle, with projections and voiceovers telling the story of the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster. I found this was the less engaging of the three pieces. What was missing for me was the understanding of Crude Oil as a character. 

I wonder if Passmore could find more subtle ways to explore how Oil relates to the audience. Would small choices like piercing glances or deceitful smiles help make Oil feel more human, and further illuminate our society’s complicated relationship with the fossil fuel industry? 

Rideout, Gauthier, and Vandelinde play the same woman at different times of her life in The White Crocodile, a reference to a Cambodian legend. In each period she is confronted with a life-altering event related to war and conflict. Ultimately the three become one and find peace within. Stunning design and effective choreography make this final piece stand out from the others. 

In A Café, Vivid Strokes Collective

With a gentle guitar melody singing in the background of a quaint café, best-selling author Milana Moore sits in a stylish maroon dress, with pearls around her neck and a gold watch on her wrist. She scribbles in a notebook, patiently awaiting her date. Her seventh date — or “subject,” as she calls them — of the week.

But Milana’s oh-so-intricate plan to find the formula for a perfect first date is threatened when Meredith, the café’s waitress, intervenes. As Milana and Meredith sit down together, we slowly learn that resentment simmers beneath their pleasantries. 

In A Café is simple and wildly effective in conveying the turmoils of its central characters. Meredith is haunted but unflinching; Milana is crafty but captivating, gloriously vile in her manipulations of others.

And no matter how hard Milana tries, she can’t shake off Meredith’s hold on her. In A Café is evocative and entertaining, spitefully digging into the cost of what it takes to find a profitable story. 

So, You’re Stuck in an Underground Bunker, Faerie Goblin Productions 

Maybe the end of the world is simpler (and gayer) than we thought. 

In Harley Wegner’s So, You’re Stuck in an Underground Bunker, the last remaining people on a nuclear war-destroyed earth are, you guessed it, trapped in an underground bunker. Oh, and every single person in the bunker is a member of the LGBTQ+ community. 

The characters are wonderfully eclectic and playful. My queer heart was elated to watch a tight-knit, gay group of friends joyfully poke fun at one another. Each of them (nerdy Luke, feisty Amy, sunny Bee, cynical West and closed-off Carrie) are distinct beyond their sexualities and genders, painted with both flaws and redeeming qualities. 

The simple premise of the show is part of its undeniable charm. The group is bored out of their minds, sharing coming-out stories and watching endless reruns of Batman & Robin. This narrative structure showcases the quippy writing, rife with hilarious queer references. 

It’s refreshing to see such fleshed out queer characters, depicted in all of their flaws and glory. They are lovable and endearing, but each suffers relatable strifes, from clinging too dearly to films, to becoming controlling or pushy with loved ones. That humanity, both the good and the bad, is what makes So, You’re Stuck in an Underground Bunker such a tasteful celebration of LGBTQ+ friendships. 

Almost 13, Ego Actus Theatre Company

At the beginning of Almost 13, there’s a charming relatability to the mundane, summer-soaked happenings of its events. 

Created and performed by Joan Kane, the autobiographical solo drama follows Joan, a tween on summer break in her Brooklyn, New York neighbourhood. The show begins with an aching sense of familiarity: gossiping neighbours run their mouths and Joan learns how to use petroleum jelly, bubble gum and string to fish for money in subway grates. 

But it’s the 1960s. The Vietnam War has raised tensions and racism is rampant. Joan shares candy and makes friends like any other city-grown child, but she also undergoes traumatic events that leave a lasting impact on her life. 

It’s a harrowing, deeply personal story. Kane performs every part herself, slipping back and forth between characters. At times, it’s difficult to differentiate who’s who when her voice doesn’t change too much in timbre. Otherwise, Kane’s emotions always tremble at the surface, and her voice quivers at her most distressing encounters. 

The lighting design narrows in its spotlight when Kane is at her emotional lowest, or shines blues and reds for distant Coney Island fireworks while she caresses her injured friend. That focus is purposeful and effective, generating a tenderly vulnerable story, as Kane weaves in a mature understanding of her trauma. 

UNSUNG: The Accidental Villains in History, Duck and Roll Theatre

“If you want to learn a history lesson, don’t go to the theatre,” the actors sing in the opening number of UNSUNG: The Accidental Villains in History. 

And that’s true. UNSUNG is knee-slapping and supremely well-written, but it certainly isn’t accurate — nor does it have to be. Instead, writer/composer Mackenzie Langdon invites us to learn the stories of the forgotten villains in history responsible for world disasters including the sinking of the Titanic and the Trojan War. 

The four actors (Langdon, Adrien Pyke, Meg Barbeau and Dawson Fleming) navigate the sparse stage with simple props. However, the show never feels lacking as they harmonize with ease or prance with lively vigour.

The physical comedy peaks when Fleming, with a ballerina-esque flair, pulls on a rope and we hear the drop of a guillotine offstage, and he emerges with slices of watermelons. How was the melon merchant supposed to know that his invention would soon be used to chop off people’s heads!?

Langdon’s lyrics are clever — “His work did not impress / Traded art for artillery / And, well, you know the rest,” they say of a certain dictator’s rejection from art school — and her piano melodies are simple but pleasant. 

Whether dressed as a cow blamed for the Great Chicago Fire, or mastering a puppet version of Annie Taylor on her journey in a barrel down the Niagara Falls, the singing and dancing paired with the exceptional direction make for a joyful, original piece of musical theatre. 

The Kid Was a Spy, Jem Rolls / Big Word 

If Jem Rolls was my history class lecturer, I’d give him a glowing review on Rate My Prof. 

Rolls wrote and performs The Kid Was a Spy, a monologue about Ted Hall, the youngest physicist involved in Oppenheimer’s Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb. 

But with the speedy delivery of familiar names and the rapid explanations of complicated historical events, the show at times feels less like a work of art and more like an info dump.

Rolls is vigorous whilst performing. His gestures and pacing around the stage show he’s passionate about his subject, and his voice rises and falls for dramatic effect. However, without visual aids, sound effects or lighting cues, The Kid Was a Spy is often closer to a spirited university lecture than a solo show.

The monologue is certainly informative. Rolls walks us through what happened and the political implications, and then provides an analysis of their effects. He then asks the audience whether they think Ted Hall did the right thing. Judging by the limited number of hands that went up for either option, it’s apparent that the question is too complicated to answer. 

Rolls assures, however, that he wanted his show to elicit that divided response. 

If you were able to follow along and take notes, you’d walk away with the preliminary information for an interesting research paper on the subject; but probably not with the thought that you’ve witnessed a particularly memorable work of theatre.

Drinking With Plants, Drinking With Plants Productions

Sarah spent COVID-19 lockdowns like many of us: curled up on the couch with a blanket, and ordering lots of take-out.

In Drinking With Plants, however, Sarah goes one step further whilst suffering in isolation. When she’s finally fed up with her spunky neighbour’s off-key singing, Sarah turns her into a plant. Later, when a delivery boy rebuffs Sarah’s affection, she turns him into a plant too. Both are now a part of her talking botanical collection. 

Written by Lisa Meuser, the show is darkly funny, packed with plant puns like “chloro-fill you in,” and “first I was afraid, I was plant-ified,” the latter sung in the tune of “I Will Survive.” 

The over-exaggerated acting is just as amusing to witness. As Sarah, Olivia Gault flails with little coordination. Her facial expressions are phenomenally similar to those of an over-excited child, as she haphazardly traipses through her apartment and converses with the plants. 

Jack Dillabough and Jordan Quayle are just as uproarious as clueless cops, fumbling across the crime scene with surly expressions, making finger guns, and each confidently donning two sets of eyeglasses at once. 

Drinking With Plants is best consumed by those craving a laugh with a sprinkle of sentiment. When coupled with audience interaction — the crowd I was a part of sang a very enthusiastic “Hooked on a Feeling” intro when prompted — the show is a camp-y spectacle about the detrimental effects of loneliness, masked as a farcical skit for plant moms. 

Adonis and the Gods at War, Lockpick Theatre

A basic knowledge of Greek mythology will tell you that angering or falling in love with a god will secure your one-way ticket to death.

In Adonis and the Gods at War, Adonis does both. 

When he falls for the goddess of love, Aphrodite, her god of war husband, Ares, grows jealous. Written and directed by Iris MacKay, some scenes are unnecessarily lengthy when the characters’ dialogue dances around the point. 

But the breadth of this retelling breathes agency and modernity into the myth. 

Daniel Braun in the titular role is emotional as needed: their breath quickens for anxious moments and they wither to the ground when anguished. Ares is usually the cause of Adonis’ torment, but Shane Bouchard’s shifting eyes and lack of conviction in his voice often reflect annoyance or exasperation instead of evoking fear. 

Fern Marwood plays an alluring, quietly intimidating Aphrodite, donning a lilac floor-length dress. Adonis also wears a shade of purple under his white wrap-around, a costume detail that symbolises their unity.

Marwood’s chemistry with Braun heightens the significance of Aphrodite and Adonis’ relationship. However, Marwood’s prideful struts with her head held high accentuate the imbalanced power between the two. 

Pride and love are woven throughout the show, anchoring the characters’ conflicts. The gods’ inability to escape their ego drives a wedge in their relationships; meanwhile Adonis believes love will conquer all. 

The result is a slightly overstuffed story that is nonetheless rich in stirring themes, as pride and love clash against each other. 

The Williams Family Reunion, Alli Harris

What better way to cope than turning trauma into art? 

In The Williams Family Reunion, the fictional Jennifer Panini does just that: by staging her ex-boyfriend’s family reunion and performing. 

Written by Alli Harris, who also portrays Jennifer, the musical comedy tracks the demise of Jennifer’s relationship with her ex, Liam Williams. The performance feels like a laidback comedy show with crowd participation encouraged, as Harris’s songs demonstrate her natural stage charisma and razor-sharp wit. 

Harris’ priceless lyricism elevates the simple, if at times sonically repetitive guitar melodies. Her songs transcend stages of grief, and she adjusts her performance to reflect the shifting tone.

“Your family must pay / It’s time to work through my PAIN,” she sings with a rageful glare and voice laced with spite. Harris then dips into a nostalgically mild timbre when recounting Liam and Jennifer’s meet-cute at an East Side Mario’s.

Harris also brilliantly infuses pop culture references fitting into the show’s satirical premise. At one point, Harris waves a script and calls for a volunteer to play Liam — “preferably someone who’s tall, and an idiot,” she specifies. Then the two reenact love confessions from Nicholas Sparks film adaptations. 

The hilarity of the references, and the vibrant energy Harris elicits from the crowd, make for a witty delight. The show doesn’t try to be anything but silly, despite Jennifer’s unwavering determination to exact revenge. And thanks to Harris’s magnetic stage presence, we too start to root for Liam’s downfall.

Cabaret of Murder, Blair Moro

“This is not going to be comfortable,” says a booming voice as darkness overtakes the theatre at the top of Cabaret of Murder.

Performers Isabella Ciccone, Paulina Pino Rubio, and Katie-Rose Connors then emerge and strike a pose in white tank tops and black suspenders. They list off famous serial killers: Ted Bundy. Charles Manson. John Wayne Gacy. Besides their heinous crimes, artistry ties the murderers together. 

Blair Moro’s script jumps from serial killer to serial killer, and their often terrible artwork — from poetry to screenplays — is vigorously put on display by the acting trio.

It’s an immensely thrilling show. The performers are loud, sharp, and boisterous, whether reciting a poem by Dennis Rader (who broke into a potential victim’s home only to leave when she didn’t show up), or performing “Mad Man in Waco,” a song by leader of the Branch Davidians, David Koresh.

The actors interact with the front row and move throughout the theatre. Their eeriness and extravagant movements evoke the uncomfortableness promised at the start of the performance. However, they’re equally comical when chasing each other with a toy chainsaw or delivering darkly humorous lines. 

The show isn’t perfect. The sometimes unfocused script tackles so many serial killer-artists that there’s little context provided about the crimes or perpetrators, and some of the emotional impact is lost. But otherwise, the performers expertly navigate the shifting focus and slip into multiple characters with ease. Cabaret of Murder is rambunctiously entertaining, if chaotic and over-eccentric at times. 

Buysexual, The Persuasion

Thirty-four years into marriage, what more could someone want outside of grocery lists and annual puffin-visiting trips? That question — when is it too late to want something more in life? — is the crux of Buysexual

Poignantly written by Andrew Riddles with Elle Attson’s smooth direction, Brian and Leslie’s dynamic as a sixty-something married couple shifts when Brian expresses his desire to sleep with a sex worker.

Harold Swaffield and Kim Blanche as Brian and Leslie expertly demonstrate domestic quirks, and brewing inclinations to branch out of familiarity.

There’s an endearing whimsy to character idiosyncrasies, elevating their charm: Swaffield as Brian joyfully pours his tea into his saucer before returning it to his cup, insisting that doing so cools the drink by increasing its surface area.

But there’s also an aching amount of social thoughtfulness, striking a sentimental balance to the humour. At one point, the perceptive sex worker, Cordelia, played by an assertive Heather Trent, says to Brian: “We don’t need safer jobs, we need safer men.”

Leslie realizing that she can also crave something bigger than her quiet life is just as entertaining as Brian’s acquired wisdom. Blanche is both hilarious and strong-willed as Leslie, whether brutally chopping vegetables or chatting about her husband to her sister, Amanda (played by a spunky Heather Evens).

Buysexual’s uniquely sincere characterizations highlight its impactful story. Riddles impeccably weaves comedy with feeling. The result is laughter, and a desire to  break out of society-imposed conformities. 

You can learn more about Ottawa Fringe here.

Luke Brown

Luke Brown

Luke (he/him) is a theatre artist and arts administrator living in Ottawa. After completing a master’s thesis on queer theory and theatre at the University of Ottawa, he decided to stick around. He started a career in arts philanthropy and is now Development Officer, Major Gifts at the National Arts Centre Foundation. Recent theatre credits include writing and directing Honey Dew Me at the undercurrents festival (2020) and Fresh Meat (2017), as well as directing the first iteration of Even Gilchrist’s Re:Construct for Ottawa Fringe (2018). Luke recently served on the Board of Directors for Theatre Artists’ Co-operative: the Independent Collective Series (TACTICS).

Alexa MacKie

Alexa MacKie

Alexa MacKie is a journalism and law honours student at Carleton University in Ottawa. She dabbles in all areas as a freelance reporter, but her favourite coverage is of the arts and local communities, with bylines in Apartment613, the Glebe Report, and the Charlatan. She likes to read, write, listen to show tunes, and binge watch new seasons of her favourite TV shows.



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