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The Montreal Fringe Festival has been up and running for over a week now. My show has been doing great (thank you for asking! Check it out here). The fringe events and the park have been amazing. One thing is very different for me this year though… This is my third year presenting a show at the Montreal Fringe Festival, but it is the first year I have the time to actually enjoy the festival.

Yes, you read that right, I have been partaking in all of the glorious shows and happenings offered by the fringe for the first time. Now, you might ask, “How is it possible that you have been a part of this Festival for 3 years now and you have NEVER experienced it truly?” Well, let me give you some perspective: I WORK WITH DRAG QUEENS (House of Laureen). This means that our pre-show ritual normally takes about 3 hours. Makeup, costumes, wigs, setting up the stage, warming up, etc. Then, at the end of the night, we have to reverse the whole process which takes about as much time since the backstage tends to look like a post-apocalyptic war zone. Costumes, props, wigs, makeup, strewn everywhere backstage in the frenzy of performance.

Yes, the show we produced this year is still a drag theatre piece, but it is a solo show which gave me just enough wiggle room to really live the #fringebuzz. I shared my top 10 shows with you in my previous article, sadly I was not able to actually make it out to all of them and I wanted to showcase as many shows as possible. Here is my review of five shows that caught me off guard, shook me, and made me smile. I could give you a theatrical analysis of each one, but I won’t. These shows were magical and I want to preserve that essence.

Nonna’s Story

I have to start with this show because it is a creation of Antonio Bavaro, who is the face behind the Rock’n’Roll mama at House of Laureen: Connie Lingua. I have worked with Antonio for a few years now, we have created two Fringe hits and we produce a monthly Drag Cabaret. I’ve also seen him perform in many plays, but I have never seen him being so true. This show, inspired by the passing of his beloved Nonna (bless her heart), is honest and real.

Antonio takes you along to meet his various family members as they regale you with tales of the Bavaro family matriarch. Oh yeah, and he plays all of them, which is a tricky feat that he accomplishes intelligently. This personal tale resonates with so many of us because we can almost all relate to his sense of loss and sorrow that is so poignant, but also because he knows how to spin a tale of nostalgia and love.

Montreal Fringe will have you #Nostalgic4Nonna

The Morning After The Life Before

This is a touching tale about personal growth entangled with one of queer history’s most iconic moments: The referendum on marriage equality in Ireland. Ireland was the first country to legalize same-sex marriage through popular vote on May 22, 2015. Oh, but don’t worry this story is not your typical queer play comprised of a tragic story of suffering and loss, it is actually quite inspiring.

OK, I must admit that Ann Blake and Lucia Smyth, managed to make me very emotional and a little teary-eyed, but only because this story highlights the beauty in the world in a way that is tangible and filled with hope. The mechanics of the play are also very engaging, expertly crafted to bring you from one scene to the next with simplicity and elegance. The stage is bare with only a table, two chairs, a guitar on a stand, and a wedding gown on a coat rack, yet I was transported to a new location with every scene.

Montreal Fringe will have you #Inspired2Love

Poet VS Pageant

Sometimes you have to get behind enemy lines in order to accomplish your devious plans. A poet joins a beauty pageant. Why you might ask? I will not tell you, because I cannot do justice to the exquisite lyricism of the script. Not only are the words escaping from Telia Nevile’s mouth enthralling, they are also quite clever. Oh, how competition changes an individual… How do you think our laureate fares in this blood bath of beauty and grace? Are her quick wits and sharp tongue enough to keep her alive? A light and fresh story that makes you smile and giggle, but also manages to make you ponder and get your blood pumping. Isn’t that what the Montreal Fringe is about?

Montreal Fringe will have you #Rooting4Carnage

Old, Fat and Fucked

Puelo Deir is old, fat and fucked. He has no problem in telling you that. But how did he get here and why should you even care? His honesty is blunt without trying to get in the shock factor, his story is real and anchored in the history of our queer city, and the show gives a voice to many who often cannot find their own. I’m always fascinated by queer history, because it is not taught to us by the mainstream media. This is why you should care about this show. It is living history and it is personal. I could have listened to Puelo for hours on end. Oh yeah… They also provide snacks!

Montreal Fringe will have you #Snacking2QueerHistory

My Montre Fringe #Obsession for 2017 is…

OSCAR

I am a book worm. I have been devouring books since I was a toddler reading Dr.Seuss.  By the time I was 8, I was reading Sherlock Holmes because I had finished the 10 library books I had borrowed and my mom had left her book in the living room. There is nothing I love more than books (OK, maybe my husband, my family, and my dog)! So, when I heard that Johanna Nutter was creating a show based on Oscar Wilde tales, I was beyond excited. An amazing artist creating content around one of my favorite things, what more could I ask for?

Even with the blistering heat, I climbed up the stairs to the Freestanding Room and sat in the cramped room with barely any air circulation for 45 minutes and… I could not have been happier! I was transported into Johanna’s world and did not want to leave. For a show that mostly consists of someone else’s words -Oscar Wilde- Johanna managed to make her show so personal and poignant. The use of the space, the framing device and the special surprise are all brilliant!  You will not get anymore details, because you MUST experience this show for yourself. I was left in awe and couldn’t even put my thoughts into words. I did manage to say thank you to Johanna though.

Montreal Fringe will have you #vulnerable2dreams

The Montreal Fringe ends this Sunday, June 18.  Get your tickets now, because shows are selling out fast!

Tu peux aussi voir les suggestions de spectacles francophones à ne pas manquer ici!

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Mathieu Flageole
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Full-on book nerd, gamer, and art producer, Mathieu is also the editor of The Booklet. This means he spends his life oscillating between fantasy and...

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