I spent a whirlwind 6 days in Edmonton in August, catching 20 shows over 5 days, and proving to myself that there IS such a thing as too much theatre. I stayed at my uncle’s house within walking distance of Whyte Ave, so I got the full overwhelming Edmonton Fringe experience.
There were 214 shows at 52 venues this year. I had already seen 9 of them at previous Fringes… so… barely any. It took very little time to get my bearings – 52 venues may sound like an enormous number, but they’re virtually all within a 10 minute walk from each other; it’s quite incredible. There were always buskers everywhere in the “village,” plus food stalls (I got slightly addicted to a bubble tea stand) and merchants (clothes, jewellery, face reading…) and at least 3 beer gardens. The village would benefit from a quiet area for people to just breathe in between shows.
Edmonton Fringe really is the audience’s Fringe. They are savvy. They read reviews, follow the buzz, make lists, and see tons of shows. Meanwhile, the artists are tough to track down. So basically, I had a blast, but didn’t connect with anyone except the marvelous Gadfly folks (admittedly I was REALLY BUSY and pretty much didn’t stop for 5 days straight).
Reviewing was an interesting experience. At Montreal Fringe, Al had chosen all our shows for us (since we covered every single anglophone show). That meant that I saw some major duds as well as the good stuff. When left to my own devices on the other hand, I have really good “Fringe senses,” resulting in 20/20 seriously excellent shows. This may sound like a great thing… but it also means that the standards of what makes a show exceptional go up. WAY UP. That being said, some highlights were Little Lady, Bookworm, and Dying Hard (and of course I saw my Fringe crush of many years Ryan Gladstone in No Tweed Too Tight).
Edmonton Fringe was a Fringe of small dogs, mosquitoes, and buskers. It was hot. It was incredibly busy. I’d do it again in a flash.
What I saw (and reviewed for Bloody Underrated):
- Skydiving in Suburbia
- The Birdmann in The Episodes of Momentous Timing
- Little Lady
- No Tweed Too Tight
- Vernus Says SURPRISE
- The Wasteland
- The Adversary
- Redheaded Stepchild
- Gadfly: Sam Steiner Dodges the Draft (twice… preparing to take over as stage manager in Vancouver!)
- Til Death Do We Part
- The Ballad of Herbie Cox
- Dying Hard
- Parlour Song
- Progressive Polygamists
- The Hunchbacks of Notre-Dame