Hamilton Fringe Festival Reviews 2022

The 2022 edition of the Hamilton Fringe Festival was the largest one to date, featuring more than 60 shows in 12 venues

get me a chai productions, Hamilton
Bridgeworks Stage

A Pang of Displacement comes to the Fringe from “get me a chai
productions” in Hamilton. Written and directed by "A.S.", this show
had a valiant opening in the face of such extreme heat but hopefully
can look forward to cooler nights.

Portraying both the male and female roles of partners Sammy and Maria,
Sarah Moyal, moved from scene to scene donning the costumes and
concerns of each side of this crumbling marriage. What I learned is
that when a man says something is “rocky”, he means he did something
wrong, but luckily got away with it. Like the production, this is both
amusing and sad. Who hasn’t spent too much time postulating the
reasons and lessons of their break up? On some level we can all
relate, and what better place than a darkened theatre to realize that
you may also have been the emotionally tone deaf partner in the

Ultimately, it’s a cautionary tale that reveals relationship red flags
in their earliest forms and how blind narcissism will eventually
devolve into self-harm. This show has a good script with interesting
insights into a very common human experience.
- TK

Only One Chance Theatre, Dundas
Players Guild of Hamilton Studio

A Question of Justice, from Only One Chance Theatre Company in Dundas,
is something that’s becoming a bit of a rarity in the Fringe; an
honest to gosh multi character play with a set. The play, written by
Peter Rosser, and directed by Gregory Flis, tells the story of the
consequences of a fatal boating crash by a wealthy, feckless young

The play features local actors Jessica O’Connor, Kate Racheter, and
Natalie Iggulden.  The Male antagonist, normally played by Joshua
Fleming, was played by the director due to illness. Despite this, all
four gave good performances, and made it easy to overlook the script
in Mr. Flis’s hands.  The stage is well set, with the house of the
survivor, Darlene Johnson, to the audience left, a table centre stage
that serves as a jail and a restaurant, and an area stage right used
for courthouse steps and a lawyer’s office. Lights are used
effectively to differentiate the various areas.

The play opens with the antagonist, Brendan Byrne, meeting his lawyer
in jail after the accident. The play then examines how the legal
system deals with such events, and how the survivors deal with it.
Byrne’s lawyer plays the system like a violin, getting a lesser
sentence than you would expect.  At the same time Darlene vents her
rage publicly and to her friend, Monica. Through the play we watch
Monica gradually come to terms with her new life until the final
scene, where everything might have, might not have come to a chilling
conclusion. The play asks questions about responsibility, justice, and
atonement, but refuses to give us a clear answer.

This is a competent play.  Well written, well directed, well acted.
It’s not going to set the world on fire, but it’s definitely worth a
- JN

Chromedome Productions
Theatre Aquarius Studio

Welcome to Hamilton, Nicholas Rice, a seasoned performer who reminded
me of Larry David, except much, much nicer and, of course, much more
Canadian.  A SIDE OF RICE, has nothing to do with restaurants.  Don’t
let the name deceive you.  It is a set of small stories when stitched
together comes up with one big life.

Rice’s stories revolve around his mother Merle, who like most mothers,
has many, many good qualities and some that are not so endearing.  The
stories range from Merle and Nicholas’s early life in Winnipeg to this
birth of Rice’s child.  This spans everything from the Winnipeg
general strike to the mid-1980’s in Toronto.  What saves the show from
navel-gazing and turns it into a masterful performance is simply
Rice’s ability to tell a story.  He’s been doing it for close to 50
years.  He knows when to pause, when to draw a laugh, and when to draw
in the audience.  His timing and delivery is that of master.

You may ask who cares about a Jewish boy growing up in Winnipeg?  Rice
does.  He intensely cares about this story, and it’s an absolute
pleasure to hear him retell it.  The lighting is simple.  It’s just
all lights up, including the house lights for the duration of the
show.  The staging is simple.  It’s just Rice and a water bottle.
This all adds to the intimacy of the performance.  There’s really no
separation between the audience and the performer.  I sat in the back
row, and it felt like I was in Rice’s living room.

Don’t let the name or the content of this show fool you.  Rice is a
masterful performer.  If you have the pleasure of seeing this show, I
bet that it will stick with you long after the festival has finished.

Nicholas Wallace
BYOV # 3: Staircase Bright Room

Nicholas Wallace strikes again!  This charismatic magician/actor
brings another fine production to the Staircase.  He slowly builds a
theme of ‘Life as Storytelling’ throughout the production. Wallace
starts out building rapport with his audience by getting
participation; as there will be needed participation when the trickery
of his magic unwinds later in the show, he gets the audience willing
to join in throughout.  He also knows how to tease out that

Amongst many stories that Nicholas tells, there is the ongoing tale of
three sisters each separately entering a dark and cavernous cave. And
each’s insights upon viewing the contents.  Through such stories,
Wallace is passing on serious philosophical messages to us. Nicholas
uses a large variety of props to propel his magic and his
storytelling.  Not the least of which is Vincent, a Ventriloquist’s
puppet dummy.  (Based upon Vincent Price, one presumes.)

This reviewer is not at liberty to discuss the illusions.  All he can
say is “watch closely!”  The reviewer could not unravel any of them.
The Bright Room is a difficult room to use, as it is “too bright”
particularly in daytime shows. Wallace used music to better set the
mysterious mood, in addition to whatever his lighting crew was able to

One leaves the theatre amazed and astounded by both the magic and the
stories Wallace tells.

Local Rascal Productions, Hamilton
BYOV # 4: Staircase Studio Theatre

I'm a huge fan of Corin Raymond; it has been at least 11 years now
since I saw his very first play, BOOKWORM. He returns to the Hamilton
Fringe, appearing in the studio at the Staircase, in his latest play
bookmark. It sure is the similar structures the first in the it is
basically a series of stories that all tie in loosely to his love of

The specific story that it hangs on in this instance is the loss of a
book by a woman named Helen Garner in an airport in Australia, while
he was on tour with a fellow Canadian folk singer. A $20 paperback
book causes him to have what basically amounts to a nervous meltdown.
And that leads to a series of stories about his his parents, and most
notably his stepmother who passed away when he was 5 years old.

I was tremendously moved by his recollections of his mother that he
lost when he was a child, and I found myself, admittedly lost within
my own grief, weeping openly durning the performance.

This is a master storyteller at the height of his game; Raymond can
spin a yarn like no one else I have ever heard do so. The monologue is
a staple of The Fringe movement, and in fact this a first performance
of the play, is only the beginning of what is certain to be a much
longer tour, as he internalizes this monologue, and rediscovers it
fresh every night.

The final section, what I found compelling, was his discussion about
the nature of memory and the fact that we were, even in that moment,
already forgetting the play.

While I acknowledge, that for most things in life this is true!
Certainly, I cannot recall many of the plays that I saw in the 2011
Hamilton Fringe Festival, however Corin's play is one that I still can
remember all these years later. It is seared into my memory, mostly
because of our shared love of books, and certain authors discussed; in
this case Ray Bradbury.  Corin still wears a FAHRENHEIT 451, as an
allusion to that earlier play.

I encourage you to check out BOOKMARK, as long as you have empathy and
the ability to listen attentively, you won't be disappointed by it.
- BM

Tottering Biped Theatre, Hamilton
BYOV # 5: Mills Hardware

A solo show by Trevor Copp is always a treat.  When I heard one was on
offering at this year’s Fringe, I had to see it.  It did not
disappoint.  Through his production company Tottering Biped theatre,
Copp has always offered polished, professional and thoughtful theatre
to Hamilton.  BULFINCH’S MYTHOLOGY is not an exception.  In fact, it
may be one of his best offerings to date.

The show starts with a tirade on the disgraceful members of society,
particularly gay men.  This put the audience in an almost immediate
state of shock, disgust, and curiosity.  Thankfully, no one left,
because the play was only getting started.  Copp cleverly portrays two
men: the eponymic Thomas Bulfinch, the character responsible for the
anti-gay tirade, and his fan.  Bulfinch, after all, is a minor
celebrity in his time, able to pull a crowd of 30 to 40 people to
speak about his translations of Ovid and Virgil.  The admirer claims
to have been at one of Bullfinch’s lectures, but Bullfinch can’t quite
seem to remember.  It’s funny how a character like Bullfinch can so
easily forget things, or just make things up.

Like much of Copp’s work, this piece is methodical, and moves through
an entire man’s life to reach its final comeuppance.  The language in
the piece was instantly arresting, not only at times for its
directness, but also for its heightened vocabulary.  It helped to
truly immerse the audience in the mid-nineteenth century world of
Thomas Bulfinch.  Copp, being a trained dancer and mime, brings crisp,
clear movement to this piece like few others can.  This show is as
much a physical feat as it is a linguistic one.

There was clearly so much expertise that went into every element of
this show, expert writing, expert choreography and direction, expert
lighting, expert sound, and even a well-placed intermission.  This
show should be on your list, and near the top, if not at the very top.

Fable and Folly Productions
BYOV # 4: Staircase Studio Theatre

Perhaps only at Fringe would you be given the opportunity to view a
live, improvised podcast.  At first, I was skeptical.  Aren’t podcasts
for listening to while you’re doing something else, like gardening or
going for a hike?  CIVILIZED: A LIVE PODCAST EXPERIENCE answered that
question: a live podcast experience truly works on stage.

As a podcast, CIVILIZED has been going strong for four seasons.
Kristi Boulton, Michael Divinski, Sean Howard, Phil Johnston have
already established characters in the world of CIVILIZED.  They were
brought to the planet to terraform it, so that humans could one day
live there.  At least, that is what the characters believe their
mission to be.  For the Fringe version of the show, they invited Alan
Belerique from END WITH A KISS as a special guest.  The audience gave
Belerique suggestions on how long his character had been on the
planet, what his character looked like and what quirks and special
powers his character had.  The show I saw had three distinct podcast
episodes that were all improvised.

Boulton, Divinski, Howard and Johnston have a planet’s worth of
chemistry.  By introducing Belerique into the mix, they were able to
make things very fresh and interesting.  Within the first minute, he
introduced concerns about Imperialism and Colonialism of our would-be
civilizing crew.  The audience howled with laughter throughout.  Eli
Hamada McIlveen, the audio designer joined the other performers on
stage.  It was fun to see him pull out a well-timed sound effect on

Admittedly, I had never listened to an episode of CIVILIZED before
seeing the show.  This did not at all impede my experience.  This is a
show not to be missed, and who knows, maybe you’ll hear yourself
laughing in their next podcast.

Soul Gem Theatre Productions
The Zoetic Theatre

Sondra Learn is a playwright and director, particularly well known in
Burlington, as she has been active for many years in the theatre
community there.

Perhaps if there is a genre ascribed to a play written by Sondra it
would be kind hearted, sweet and possibly just a little magical.  And
love.  There is always love in a Sondra story.

DEDICATION written and directed by Sondra Learn is all of that.
Strong performances by Kyla McCall as Lucy, Inese Hill as Shirley and
Amy McCarroll as Patty give this story form and substance.  The three
women were well rehearsed and confident in their opening Fringe
performance of DEDICATION.

Kyla McCall, particularly stood out in her depiction of Lucy through
several ages of her life from a very young girl to a mature woman.
She is a visually striking woman and able actor.

There is no doubt in my mind, that you will be warmly welcomed when
you go to see this show.
- RW

Mahatmamajama Productions, Edmonton
Bridgeworks Stage

Michelle Todd from Mahatmamajama Productions in Edmonton makes you
want to dance, sing and eat a lot of food. Her energy is infectious
and she sells this cultural fusion memoir with every last drop of it.

Being Canadian can mean a lot of things and Todd gives us a taste of
all of the ingredients that equal her experience. She’s Filipino.
She’s Jamaican. She’s pregnant. How will she pass all this on to her
child? In this production, Todd’s depiction of dance culture alone was
worth the ticket price. In other moments, her opening three prong
conversation with her mother and father  on the phone was spot on and
her depiction of her heavily padded father learning to skate a great
physical comedy moment. What about the influence of her friends and
their heritage? That all gets rolled in to boot and then there’s more

Production values were really solid in this show as well. There were
endless sound and lighting cues all done to perfection giving the show
a dynamic flow that swept the audience along. Overall, well written,
well performed, well executed and full of laughter and energy. A must
- TK

Steven Morton, Calgary
Players Guild of Hamilton Studio

Let me start flat out by saying you must go and see this show.  It is
absolutely a marvellous piece of stage craft, storytelling, and
performance.  Now let me tell you about it.

On the stage are, from audience left to right, a small desk and chair
with a mirror and make up, up centre stage is a screen behind which
Ms. Cupcake changes, and then a hat stand with various wigs and
headpieces hanging from it.  Aida Cupcake is Stephen Morton, a
classically trained opera singer.  Throughout the show Ms. Cupcake
uses wigs and costume changes not to change character, but to portray
various Opera characters she loves.

The play itself is autobiographical, and shows Mr. Morton’s journey to
become an opera singer.  There are highs and lows, success and
rejection, and beautiful, beautiful singing.  We follow Mr. Morton
from Alberta, to BC, to Alberta, and the Germany. In Germany he
receives crushing criticism while training, and returns to Canada,
abandoning singing.  However, a fortunate phone call brings him back
to music, and Aida Cupcake is born to tell us all about it.

Throughout the show Aida moves across the stage, singing and telling
stories.  Each story has a song, and each song has a costume and wig.
The changes are smooth and, from the audiences point of view,
effortless. The character is so strong and appealing and determined,
we in the audience cannot help but share her successes, and also her
failures. Towards the end of the play, when Aida goes away for a bit
and Stephen appears from underneath the makeup and wigs, we are
fascinated to see the man behind the mask,  different from and yet
profoundly a part of the wonderful Aida Cupcake.

I have no doubt this will be one of the hits of the festival, I
recommend ordering your tickets as early as possible.
- JN

Sound Fabrications, Edmonton, Alberta
Family Fringe Bridgeworks Stage

Drums and Stories with Mr. Bob is absolutely magical. Bob Rasko
combines compelling storytelling with a plethora of musical
instruments and audience interaction to wondrous result. My kiddo was
mesmerized, and so was I.

Rasko opens the door to audience interaction by opening his show
entering through the audience playing a magical tune and engaging his
young audience members. Once this connection is established he makes
his way to the stage to his kit of percussion wonders and begins
telling us four fables from around the world. We walk with Rasko
through these tales of: a contest between the elements, a rat that
wished to be the most powerful of all, wild animals on an adventure to
end winter, and finally a tale straight from Rasko's own imagination
about farm animals who want to have their own hoedown.

Throughout these timeless tales, the audience is often encouraged to
participate. We are invited to make noise and tell the stories along
with the captivating Mr Bob. Children are not bound to their seats but
are bound to have a fabulous time. Subtle and supportive lights and
tech make this piece feel polished, a perfect fit for this space.

My Kiddo's Review: "I liked it when we made music and when it went
"crash"! I liked it the most ever! At the end he (the volunteer) asked
if I liked it and I was too excited, and I just said "Thank You!"".

This family programming is a great fit for kids old enough to enjoy
two or three bedtime stories and adults who still love the magic of
fables. It runs 45 minutes, and has no flashing lights.

Red Brick Theatre, Hamilton
BYOV # 4: Staircase Studio Theatre

End with A Kiss is wonderfully silly! One of the things I most
associate with the Staircase Theatre are the improv groups that seem
to produce a lot of work out of it.  I am almost certain that I saw
an earlier work by the same company, back in 2018, certainly I recall
Kristi Bolton as being part of it, and she is one of the standouts in
this year's production.

This is a fully improvised script, inspired by Hallmark movies, which
have occupied our screens, mostly the small ones at home, for the past
30 years. There is certainly a formula to them, and that is why this
particular production is so wonderful, because there's a great deal in
the source material, to make fun of. It's hard to review something
like this for the very simple reason that the play that you see if you
attend it will of necessity bear very little assembly, very little
thing in common with the others

End with A Kiss, had a wonderfully engaged cast; what always gets me
while watching improv is essentially seeing the wheels turning in the
brains of the performers. They immediately react to almost everything
that happens, so it's a bit like jumping off a cliff without a
parachute.  There was a massive pile of props and wigs available to
each cast member, but you could clearly see, where the point was that
they began making it up as they went along.

I must particularly acknowledge and give enormous credit to Jacob
Oliver, the musical director who essentially was composing an original
soundtrack on the keyboards to whatever was happening on stage. Trust
me, this is a very difficult thing to do in real time!

Craig Logue, the founder of the group, also had a great deal of fun
playing the creepy innkeeper, while Aaron Boyd, and Jo Anne Tacorda
portrayed the roles of two high school sweethearts, who after much
struggle, and complications, ultimately end up becoming a couple.
Yes it does indeed, end with a kiss!  At least, it did at the
performance that I caught!  Who knows what will happen next time?

If you've seen one of those Hallmark Movies, and who hasn't? You kinda
know how it ends before going in; but I gather that is precisely the
point. The best note I can give about the production is that it was
fun! And who doesn't need a little bit of fun in this world?
- BM

Company of Hags
Fringe Mini-Bar Series; Casbah Lounge

Flag and Pile lives and dies on the charm and chemistry of its two
performers.  The script is witty and has some very funny moments, but
in the hands of two less delightful actors would come off as one-note.
Certain phrases are repeated so often as to risk losing all meaning.

However, Company of Hags knows exactly who these characters are and
what this show is about and their confidence allows this weird little
vignette to come alive.  I found myself fondly rooting for FLAG AND
PILE and their strange, perfect, (non) sexual love.
- RM

Great City Theatre Company, Hamilton
BYOV2 (Online Shows)
HAMMERED 2.0 is a stylishly produced horror-comedy set right here in
the Hammer.  Playing like a mash-up of HEAVY METAL, PARKING LOT and
THE WALKING DEAD; HAMMERED will appeal to a specific crowd and that
crowd will love it.

Anchored by strong performances from Melissa Murray-Mutch and Jason
Thompson, this amusing commentary on personal freedom and flesh-eating
hordes will have you laughing and reaching for another beer.
- RM

Teen Creation Collective
BYOV #2: Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts

In the relatively new beautiful ‘black box’ theatre in the HCA concert
hall, a well-trained group of five teenagers devised a dramatic work
facilitated by HCA folk, Stephanie Hope Lawlor and Erica-May Wood.

They gathered to ”explore what it means to be a generation unlike any
who came before.” This conceit was difficult for this reviewer to
accept, as he is well-versed about his own parents’ generation who
grew up in a horrible Depression (1929-39), and then were obliged to
go to war (World War Two) where some were killed or maimed. Whatever.

But the Collective did a good dramatic job of presenting their points
of view about how they perceive their world and the uncertainties that
they feel they face.

They moved well together, the scripting was easy to follow. They acted
well. And isn’t it so that “the play’s the thing?”

The passion of the actors was very evident.  And very enjoyable to see.

This production was the culmination of a three part age-structured
system for young people developed by the Hamilton Conservatory for the

Mixtape Productions/Killing Time Productions
The Zoetic Theatre

Killing Time debuted, at the Helen Gardiner Playhouse in Toronto, a
few months back, with the same cast.  Therefore, unlike many
productions in the festival this year, it is polished and well
rehearsed, as it is clear that the entire company has done this

The musical is written, directed and choreographed by Margot Greve,
with music and lyrics by Dan Kopp; this is a completely professional
production.  It is fast paced, beautifully directed and performed, and
very funny.  A pleasure in every way.

Nick Dolan as Sloane Sherman, is the slimy star of a popular game
show, the "number two day-time show on TV".  Emma Everett and Shaun
are the lucky guest competitors played by Claudia Nigro and Steven
Hao.  Maddy Hodges gives us Alexa Alberts, dramatic showgirl sequinned
in gold.    Kendra Cordick as Wendy Watson, and Ben Yoganathan as Todd
Tweedie round out the show’s production team.

SPOILER ALERT: Just as we’re getting to know these characters and
expecting the games to begin, Sloane is murdered.

Enter Holly Scott-Black as Detective Madeleine Murphy and Kole
Durnford as Lieutenant Gregory Green and the search for the murderer
takes flight.  At about 75 minutes long, this show is a complete
audience pleaser.  I loved all the characters however Steven Hao was
my favourite.

This is a show with buzz.  Don’t miss it.
- RW

BYOV #2: Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts

Running only on opening weekend was Kinderfest.  You got it – a
festival for little Kinders!

This is part of the Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts’ initiative for
children.  It brings children aged 1-6 into the theatrical world. The
aim is “to inspire early minds.”

If audience participation is your thing,  then you ought to have seen
this production.  110% audience participation. Unlike adults, the
score or so of attending children jumped into the show with enthusiasm
- after getting over their occasional deep initial shyness. Even the
most shy child was jumping for joy with their peers at the end.

The facilitators warmed up the children,  who mostly did not know one
another, using all the traditional warmup skills.  Then they slowly
developed a story around a large masque dragon!  By the end, everyone
was dancing and singing tales connected to the dragon’s ‘tail’.

Sid Ryan Eilers, Hamilton
The Zoetic Theatre

Sid Ryan Eilers has choreographed and performed a very personal
biography in dance.  They are telling the story of their Russian and
German ancestors from tsars to Nazis, to #metoo.  Eilers employs
costumes and dialogue to imagine her grandfather, grandmother, mom and
themselves as a teenager.  These snapshots of pivotal moments in Sid’s
life question the gender binary, queer existence and how they came to
be who they are today.

I loved Sid’s Chaplinesque depiction of their grandfather.

This is a very active, modern dance performance using every inch of
the stage.  Shn Shn composed and performed the music that accompanies
the piece.  Her haunting voice is lovely and lends an ethereal air to
the production which is presented before a stormy sky streamed on the
upstage screen.  Dramaturge Anna Chatterton spoke to me at length
after the show, she said that "the stormy sky represents the chaos and
darkness of Sid’s story".

My companion who balked at attending a dance recital announced that he
loved it as we left.  He particularly enjoyed the physicality of the

Hamilton needs to see this production.  Go see it!
- RW

One Playwright Productions, Toronto
BYOV2 (Online Shows)
Norm Reynold’s life could serve as an object lesson about pursuing
your dreams.  Indeed, one of the themes of MAKING IT UP is that if you
want something, ask for it.  The worst they can say is no.  But many
people, including iconic playwright Edward Albee, said yes to Norm
Reynolds and it paid off.

This short film chronicles Reynold’s life as an actor, writer,
teacher, insurance salesman, and passionate theatre lover.  His
stories are inspiring, the glimpses of his own work are intriguing,
and the chance to get to know a bit more about a major American artist
like Albee make MAKING IT UP well worth your time.
- RM

Afterlife Theatre
Bridgeworks Stage

Carly Anna Billings is both the playwright and the sole performer of
this work brought to you by Afterlife Theatre from Hamilton/Toronto.
Billings’ energy is undisputed. Both physically and vocally the
performance is vibrating but regrettably it was sometimes hard to hear
all of the words being spoken because of the speed she was speaking.

This was unfortunate because it’s an interesting story based on a true
account of Billings’ discovery of her native heritage. It brings up
thought-provoking ideas about how we perceive who we are. Billings was
also part Italian and so naturally she would feel very connected to
that culture because she was practicing it for many years: eating the
foods, sharing the family dynamic, etc. Through recipes she tries to
fuse together her memories and ideas of her old and new found self.

Billings is enigmatic and her physical comedy really held the
production together. My favourite moment was her pride and sharing of
her status card. If you’ve ever found a new relative or heritage, you
will particularly enjoy this production. I personally did.
- TK

Fringe Mini-Bar Series; Casbah Lounge

Meditaish is a must-see, a 20 minute masterclass in comedy that could
easily have run for 2 hours without missing a beat.

It’s one of the funniest works I’ve seen in years.  Eliza-Jane Scott
is a genius, and her star turn is wonderfully complimented by Rick
Roberts as the straight-man judge to her wild and wonderful Broadway
diva Elinor Russett.

The musical direction is spot-on, the physical comedy is perfect, the
many, many (many!) theatre history references are
fall-out-of-your-seat hilarious.  I want more MEDITAISH and I will
slap as many stage managers as I need to to get it.
- RM

Brianna Seferiades
Theatre Aquarius Studio

For Fans of Greek mythology, there is a feast on offer this year at
the Hamilton Fringe.  The play Medusa re-images and re-imagines what
these myths are, and this is particularly important because these
myths play such a strong part of our culture.  Even the word Medusa
instantly conjures an image of horror, of a woman with snakes for hair
and a gaze that can turn mere mortals into stone.

Medusa, the original play by Brianna Seferiades, takes a look at these
myths through an exploration of mental illness.  The script is poetic,
and wavers between a re-telling of Greek myth and showing the tragedy
involved in these stories.  Interspersed throughout the play is shadow

The Duo of Mimi Han and Claud Spadafora move back and forth seamlessly
through these various story-telling mediums, and in fact at times it’s
as if they step into each other’s shoes.  The variety of medium of the
play make it enjoyable to watch.  The shadow theatre is a standout.

The play did make me re-examine my own relationship to Greek
mythology, and how much of it seems to underlie everyday life.  This
is a thinking play, and particularly suited for those familiar with
and perhaps fans of Western mythology.

Chasing Shadows Productions, Hamilton
BYOV #7: Westdale Theatre

Will Gillespie with his creative partner Susan Robinson, have created
an amazingly powerful one person solo story telling show. Really it's
an excuse to bring twelve original story songs in front of an

Gillespie's play is a 12 song cycle of music and stories related to
the same small town in Northern Ontario, where Will grew up, called
South Porcupine.  If you haven't heard of South Porcupine it's to the
west of the real Porcupine mine and it's just outside of modern day,
Timmons, Ontario.

Anyway, I am happy to report, that with the cooperation of the Timmons
mining museum Will and Susan, have created an astonishing little gem,
dare I say a gold nugget even, of a show that is currently playing at
the Westdale theatre out on Main Street West.

It's an incredibly courageous thing to book a 300 seat theatre for
yourself, particularly when you're the only Fringe show playing in the
venue, and the other shows around you are in fact movies!  But the
advantage of this decision is that it gave them the access to the
projector and a large movie screen, which is essential to telling
their story, and upon which the rich plethora of images, and
historical photographs can sweep across the stage.

The individual songs are all very strong; a number of which are
reminiscent of the Wade Hemsworth / Gordon Lightfoot canon of Canadian
song, a specific variety of tunes that find you infectiously clapping,
and singing along, after only hearing the chorus only once!  I
sincerely hope that this short play can be developed into a longer
full length work, because the rich tapestry of stories that that the
play MINE contains are certainly worthy of such an endeavour.

The current one man solo version of MINE continues as part of the
Hamilton Fringe until Sunday, before going on tour to Guelph, North
Bay and ultimately to back to Timmons where Will and Susan, will
present the play back to the community that inspired it.

The characters, that the play tells about including a female native
elder, the sad story of the Weiss family, the three naval aviators
lost in the wilderness after a balloon disaster, all of it is a rich
tapestry of history and folklore, that reminds one directly of the
influence of Robert Service, who mined similar stories out of the
Yukon, but published volumes of poetry instead of releasing CDs.
It's an easy comparison to say that Will Gillespie, is the Robert
Service of Porcupine Ontario.

This is essential theatre Hamilton!  You should get out and see it so
that you can say, that you were there when it all started!  It's
Canadian, it's Ontarian, it's Northern, it's Hamilton, all in equal
measure.  It's everything I like about the Hamilton Fringe Festival,
the discovery of that wonderful little show that you know is on the
verge of going big!  I am pleased that I made the effort to catch it,
and the experience will live in my memory for a long time to come.
One of the songs has already become an ear-worm!

By The Right To Play Youth Ensemble, Hamilton
BYOV #2: Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts

This delightful production of devised work of four young people –
pre-teens? – was produced on the main stage of the black box at HCA.
As the Fringe program describes, they were invited to explore “what it
means to have the right to speak, be seen, be heard, and take their
place in the spotlight …” This they did! The show had an easy
confidence, with each of the four carrying their role well, and
working well as an ensemble – fitting to their group name.

After introductory statements, it started with one saying, “I had a
dream.” And any adult in the audience will immediately connect this
statement to the famous MLK speech of 1963.  This reviewer did.
Another piece had time travel interviews of people in 2020, 2012,
1999, and 1970 – which were obviously meant to lampoon some aspect of
adult thinking in those times. I do not know how thirteen year olds
know of those earlier periods’ fallacies.  Someone must have told
them.  In any case, these drew laughs from the audience more than

Another scene pierced an adult who was driving while texting (DWT) to
the dismay of their young passengers. Many absurdities of modern
adults were examined and critiqued humorously by the ensemble.

Before the production, the Artistic Director of HCA, Vitek Wincz,
described to me his structured system of developing age appropriate
performance work. All three of this past weekend’s HCA sponsored works
were a piece of this system.  When appropriate,  the cast-ensemble has
a major role in devising the content and presentation of their work.

Particularly if you have young arts oriented children, you should see
this play.  Maybe you will be seeing a future ACTRA star performing.

Theatre Praxis, London
Bridgeworks Stage

From London, Theatre Praxis, presents this collective vision of senior
moments starring Tim Bougard as the Old Fart Tom. Tom plays some tunes
that we all know somehow even though we weren’t born when they
written. I sang along and I’m sure most audiences will. He’s telling
an easy tale in a relaxed style.

You never feel rushed in this show because the production values are
well choreographed and executed to perfection. That is to say that
Bougard is an organized and focused performer who creates an ease for
the audience. I love his clever renaming of common landmarks in our
culture. Also of note is his hysterical brush with pornography on his
new telephone.

It’s a one man show yet he creates warm relationships with other
characters by drawing them clearly. This show has its tender moments,
its musical moments, its funny moments and of course its senior

If you are an old fart, you‘ll have much to commiserate with in this
production. If you know an old fart, you might learn a thing or two
about what they are really thinking. Bring the whole family to this
one. It would be lovely for the grand kids to get a better idea of
what their grandparents are up to.
- TK

Spindle Collective / Riot King, Toronto
The Zoetic Theatre

Samca, the 2022 winner of Hamilton Fringe New Play Contest is by
Natalia Bushnik and Kathleen Welch and is definitely the show Hamilton
Fringers want to see.  It is charming, intelligent, political,
musical, creative and beautifully performed by a troupe of seven young

SAMCA is a bit of Romanian folklore turned into a stage play about an
old crone forest demon who steals unborn fetuses from pregnant women.
The trauma of unwanted pregnancy hangs over the narrative like an
ominous cloud of grief.

The setting of an old forest is depicted with projected images on a
large upstage screen.  A rug coloured in earth tones at centre stage
lends the feeling of a forest floor.  Two chairs complete the
furnishings of this simple set.  Several of the actors accompany the
singers with musical instruments.

I can honestly say that I didn’t always completely understand the
story but the production was professionally staged by director Brandan
Kinnon, almost without error.  The show engaged me completely and I
loved it.  If you’ve never seen someone play a saw as a musical
instrument then you must see this! The seven woman ensemble of pretty
voices which included both playwrights was exceptional.

Highly recommended!
- RW

Spindle Collective/Riot King
The Zoetic Theatre

This is a beautiful and thoughtful production, featuring a cast of
seven young women who sing, speak chorally, and play a number of
acoustic musical instruments.

It's a variation on a ghost story, filtered through the trauma of
unwanted pregnancy. The production is a very powerful one, and there
is a beautifully shot film that plays in the background, and adds a
great deal to what is happening on stage.

The narrative focuses on two sisters, who live alone after the death
of their mother. The older one hopes to get pregnant, while the
younger much more innocent one ultimately does become pregnant after
their first sexual encounter.

The climax of the piece was beautifully staged, and director Brendan
Kinnon does a wonderful job in managing his ensemble and putting them
into beautiful stage pictures. There is that ballet of objects, that
keeps effortlessly supporting the narrative.

Playwright Natalia Bushnik, plays the role of Miha, while the older
sister Prava is played by Kathleen Welch; it is the powerful interplay
of these two siblings as they attempt to deal with trying to deal with
an wanted pregnancy, that is at the core of this award winning play.

There is lots of heavy and powerful emotional material woven through
the story, but in the end I was simply haunted and mesmerized by the
music, and the profound atmosphere of darkness that was created on the
stage. To me this is the best of what the Fringe offers!  It's well
worth your time.
- BM

Little Terrier Productions, Toronto
BYOV2 (Online Shows)

A radio play for young audiences that doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but
is solidly entertaining.

Two alienated middle-schoolers travel through “the arctic continuum”
to a frozen fantasyland and experience adventure and friendship.

Excellent sound design ensures that this audio journey will entertain
young theatre lovers and their parents alike.
- RM

HB Productions
Theatre Aquarius Studio

Gillian Bartolucci is a live wire, a manic, electric live wire.  Her
offering at this year’s fringe, SOMETHING SMALL, SOMETHING SWEET, is
collection of comedy sketches that reminiscent of the TV show
Portlandia.  She is very energetic and the show is well executed.  As
someone who grew up in Hamilton, she manages to reflect this community
in a way that will be all too familiar to many Hamiltonians.

She starts her show by playing a man taking out the recycling, and she
nails some local details, like ensuring that paper coffee cups go into
the compost instead of the recycling.  She then goes on to portray a
number of characters and locations, from the gym to the club, to
underaged drinking at the park, to a remarkably painful beauty
routine.  There’s a lot to laugh at during this show, and a lot to
care about.  It’s clear that Bartolucci cares about the environment,
the unreasonable beauty expectations put on young women and, of
course, her family.  Through the laughs, we get to something
completely sincere and, when taken as a whole, gives a display of
Bartolucci’s wide array of comedic talents.  She has been a part of
Second City and Just For Laughs, after all.

What’s clear at the end of this, is the amount of polish and talent
that has gone into SOMETHING SMALL, SOMETHING SWEET.  I’m sure her
team of Carly Heffernan (director) and Matt Kevins (Stage Manager)
have actively contributed to the success of this show.  Although this
show may be most appropriate for the thirty-something crowd, a wide
range of people will enjoy and laugh with this show.

Conscious Fool Theatre Company
Theatre Aquarius Studio

Give into the clown, if you dare.  In SQUID, Mario Lourenco brings an
interactive performance that truly engages the audience, and is
certainly one of my favourite shows that I’ve seen at the Festival so
far.  Like previous clowns at the Fringe, such as Ewerton Martins a
few years ago, Lourenco’s show will leave you better off as a person,
if you fully engage with him, for the forty-five minutes of the show.

Lourenco portrays two characters, the eponymic Squid, and his
arch-enemy, the Bully.  Bully has harassed Squid and now Squid seeks
revenge.  To obliterate the Bully, Squid seeks various forms of
self-improvement, including military training.  The audience is
invited to join Squid on his journey.  One audience member was even
brought on stage.  It was great fun, and it was theatre in the best
sense.  As an audience, we were on a collective journey, and there
truly was a bond amongst strangers by the end of the show. SQUID ends
with something so simple, yet so profound, it’s hard not to describe
the ending as brilliant.

This is not a show for young child, as there are some sexually
suggestive scenes, but some older children may get a kick out of it.
And, the theme of the show, how to deal with bullying seems so
universally applicable and of especially important to children going
through adolescence.  I googled Lourenco, and he appears to be a
psychotherapist by training.  This doesn’t surprise me.  There’s a lot
going on in this show, and it truly has the potential to transform its
audience for the better.
- BB

Stolen Theatre Collective, St. Catherines
BYOV # 5: Mills Hardware

Stage Fright, a comedy/drama written and performed by Danielle Wilson,
with direction and dramaturgy by Gillian Raby was the first production
I caught at Mills Hardware.  One person shows are a staple of The
Fringe festival, this one Stage Fright, is more heavily influenced by
the use of mime and clown work than most. Wilson is an engaging
personality, with a great deal of self-deprecating humour.

Reflecting upon her experiences in high school, stuck in a locker by
bullies, after her teenage self praised The Mary Tyler Moore Show;
Wilson then proceeds to spend the next 35 years locked "in the
closet", metaphorically speaking.  Her character engages a life coach,
a smarmy British woman named Emma, in a funny hat who wanders the
world engaged in environmental activism.  They communicate over the
internet, which allows Wilson to transform herself into the first of a
succession of characters, supported by cleverly created video clips.

As with most good Fringe shows there is a message to be delivered
alongside the fun, comedy, and entertainment. It seems clear to me at
least, that the writing is something auto-biographical, just filtered
through a comic sensability.

Again I think the reason why this works is simply because Wilson is
such a charming and engaging personality.  There's also some audience
engagement and participation, when she wanders down front and asks us
to take part in her show.  It's all done with a great deal of gentle
humour, and yet there is some wisdom behind the show as well.

In the end I had a good time, Wilson who is from St. Catherines
obviously did not have as many locals attending her show as she
deserved; but I can report, that those who were in the audience
enjoyed themselves a great deal. I would have no hesitation in
recommending this production to anyone who enjoys a good laugh, some
wit and lively conversation. Her skills as a mime and as a clown are
- BM

Ed Hill Comedy, Vancouver BC
Players Guild of Hamilton Studio

Stupid Ed is a one man stand-up comedy routine written and performed
by Ed Hill, on a stage devoid of set pieces except for a stool for him
to sit on.  Mr. Hill, originally from Taiwan, came to Canada at age 10
and now lives in Vancouver.  He has been performing stand-up since
2009, with a number of tours and Television/radio appearances to his

The 60 minute routine is observational comedy, dealing with the
foibles of his Taiwanese family, and also some of the challenges of
being a visible minority in Canada.  He starts his routine with a few
jokes about Hamilton, and then leading in to his upbringing, and his
relationships with other family members. His family tales lead us down
to routines about accountability, and truth and love.  There is depth
and humanity to these stories and Mr. Hill gently makes us think about
our own relationships, both with those we love, and those around us.

When you see this show, and you should, don’t expect belly laughs and
zingers in the style of Chris Rock or Ricky Gervais.  You’ll laugh a
lot, no question, but at the stories and the gentle, and sometimes not
so gentle, love of the friends and family he tells us about.

His delivery is smooth, but not too smooth, sometimes giving us the
impression he’s just thought of the story he’s about to tell us.  He’s
also not averse to the occasional shaggy dog story, which eventually
wind their way to the punch line.  Stand up is perhaps the most
difficult of all performance arts, as it relies on having to generate
a reaction from the audience every minute or so to continue to engage
them.  In STUPID ED, Mr. Hill shows he has mastered the art in a show
that is time well spent.
- JN

Justin Shaw
BYOV #8: Mosaic

Have you ever been to the Seventy Mile Costal Yard Sale in Prince
Edward Island?  No?  Me neither.  But after watching Justin Shaw’s
Tales From Island Boy Public Journal, I’m tempted, very tempted.  I
have no desire to pick up used record or a pin from a long-retired
wooden ship.  Shaw, however, portrays the Seventy Mile Costal Yard
Sale as a treasure trove of quirky stories.  That’s what I want.  And
with Tales From Island Boy Public Journal, that’s largely what Shaw

Shaw tells stories of growing up in PEI, and in particular uses the
Seventy Mile Costal Yard Sale to convey to his Ontario audience the
quirkiness of the folks from PEI.  Ultimately, the stories hold
together for many laughs and thrills by way of Shaw’s uncanny ability
to tie together different parts of his story through well placed
details and by turning a yard sale into a quest of epic proportions.
I took a look at the audience a few times during the show, and they
were totally enthralled with Shaw’s story.  His delivery is spot on,
and he truly knows how to work the room.

The Mosaic is not a typical Fringe venue.  It is a neighbourhood bar,
and has all the offerings of same, including the occasional interested
passer-by.  Shaw, too, is not your typical Fringe performer. Firstly,
he gave me a firm handshake and introduced himself on my way in.
Secondly, he’s a comic.  Armed only with a mike, a speaker and a
corner of the bar, he’s instantly in his element.  Thirdly, it’s just
him, as writer, director, stage manager and performer—with a little
help from his landlord.

It can be hard to venture away from the main venues of the Fringe, but
some of the most rewarding shows I’ve seen at the Fringe have been at
one-off locations.  Shaw’s show follows this tradition.  It’s
definitely worth the journey to the Mosaic.

Unit 5 Theatre Collective
Bridgeworks Stage

Playwright, co-director and actress Karie Richards shares this labor
of love from Unit 5 Theatre Collective in Toronto. Richards has a
lovely voice which is particularly evocative in her musical moments.
It’s not full out musical theatre song. It’s the type of singing you
do to yourself or you hear others do from another room in the house: a
real sense of eavesdropping.

These haunting echoes tie in perfectly with her collage of stories
exploring both the uniqueness of an individual and the commonality of
human existence. We all reach our exit but no journey is the same.
There is a warning of grief and death but ultimately as the
performance rounds out, the losses really outline how truly deep our
souls connect to one another.

Our inevitable loss creates our inevitable connection. It’s hard not
to reflect on your own experiences as an audience member but
understanding that tragedy, irony and ultimately death are not things
that only you will experience somehow makes you feel less alone in the
world. This show is in the end a very life affirming spiritual
- TK

Hyperbolic Research Laboratories
Fringe Mini-Bar Series; Casbah Lounge

The Big Lie is timely and addresses a topic that many Canadians do not
want to hear about and need to hear about.

To say much more would spoil the intentions of its creator.  It is
designed to be experienced, slowly revealing its message over its 20
minute length.  I wish it had gone further theatrically, incorporating
more mime and commanding our attention from the beginning the way it
does in the end.

Still, it’s message is vital and worth your time and attention.
- RM

Bururet Collective
Fringe Mini-Bar Series; Casbah Lounge

The most traditional “play” of the Mini-Bar series, THIS COAST WAS
NEW, feels like an excerpt from a larger work.

Set in an import food store/café run by immigrants from the former
Yugoslavia and dealing with themes of war, displacement, love and
family which feel more relevant than ever right now, it has almost too
much story going on.  It can be confusing at times to piece together
the timeline of events that links two cousins, one of their
ex-boyfriends and the owner/operator of the café where the other one

The performances are universally strong and the cast admirably keep
the momentum going while still finding moments for quieter, more
subtle character work.  A 20 minute sketch that contains as many
layers as an oil-painting, or a much longer and more-developed show.
- RM

Properity Mule Productions, Edmonton
BYOV # 5: Mills Hardware

Comedian Leif Oleson-Cormack shows us where the future of stand- up
comedy should lie. The days of sexist, profanity ridden, toilet,
humour are over. This new, intelligent, witty, well-constructed,
storytelling/comedy fusion is the new face of stand up. All Hail!!

Oleson-Cormack tells a lot of truths in this partially self-
deprecating, true tale of mostly unrequited love, but he does tell one
big FIB. He makes folly of his playwriting degree and implies it’s not
all that he expected. The truth is he’s a fantastic writer and the
very formation of this riveting comedic tale is proof of the value of
his achievement. I’ll forgive him and so will you because this
performer never lets the ball drop: just one man with no props, no
lighting design, one sound cue and a lesson in love.

Other themes find their way into the fabric of the piece: life with an
arts degree, coming out to your parents, coming out to yourself,
meeting a Sugar Daddy, kissing Frank Sinatra and the list goes on.
But where does Disney fit into all this? You wouldn’t believe it. This
is why you must come and see the show. Only Leif can do it justice.
Then later when you go home, you’ll be sitting in front of the
television and have a second good laugh as you remember the whole
story is TRUE. TRUE!
- TK

Choripan Theatre, Toronto
Players Guild of Hamilton Studio

The Foot Doctor from Choripan Theatre of Toronto, reframes the idea of
ghost hunting to look at the contemporary concept of ghosting.  How do
you find a friend who doesn’t want to be found? Irene, played by
Joanna Decc, is looking for a long time friend who left Irene’s life
and has not reconnected. Irene hires Enrique, who can find the living
through mystical means, to track her own.  Enrique, played by Durea
McFarlane, uses quantum entanglement to locate people.

The entire play takes place in an antique store where Irene works,
perhaps owned by her family.  Although On stage there’s a desk and
three display cases, one of which contains an urn with a family
members ashes.  In the opening scene, there are issues with the ashes,
but I found it difficult to understand what was happening, not least
because a video game one of the characters was playing overwhelmed the

This sensation of not fully understanding what was happening state
with me for most of the play, partly because I missed a good deal of
the opening scene, and partly because the play is written almost as if
it’s a screenplay with information provided visually. The actors
co-wrote the play, and there are blanks in the audience’s information
about the characters and situation that the actors know and
understand, but are not made clear to the audience.

The acting is excellent, and there is a scene between Joanna Decc,
Claire Shenstone-Harris, and Duncan Derry that is painfully tense due
both to the situation and the sub text that is played brilliantly.

This is exactly the kind of play one expects from The Fringe; rough
around the edges and unpolished, but with sparks of brilliance. It’s
definitely worth a watch.
- JN

The Alosh Movement
BYOV #6: Defining Movement Dance

I am a sucker for dance at The Fringe.  It’s almost always
interesting, and breathtakingly beautiful and athletic.

With The Movement Museum, The Alosh Movement has done something
different and unique.  Making full use of the venue, dancers were
given various rooms in the studio, and told to create something site
specific. The audience is split up, and then moves from room to room,
enjoying the various styles of dance and creative use of the spaces.
The dancers really overcome a few difficulties to pull this off.
Whether you like hip hop, tap, Egyptian Style dance, or Modern Dance,
there is something here for you to enjoy.

At the start of the show, the audience waits in the central dance
studio, until Josh Taylor, the owner of the Dance School comes out,
tells you what’s going to happen.  You are then sent off to various
rooms to enjoy a short dance, and then, when the music plays, you move
on the next room. It’s a charming way of putting dance in a context of
a more traditional art display.

If I have a gripe, it’s that in some cases the music from a room
beside you overwhelmed the music of the dancer or dancers you were
watching, which made it difficult to fully enjoy the performance in
front of you.

Aside from this, however, it’s well worth the trip to the Mountain to
take in this show.  The talent and athleticism of the dancers is
breathtaking, and because of the smallness of the rooms, you have a
chance to appreciate dance at a much closer range than you normally
- BB

Theatre Erebus, Hamilton
The Zoetic Theatre

At the opening performance of The Night They Raided McMaster the
audience saw a generous portion of a historically destroyed film, as
it runs on a large screen on a bare stage furnished with three chairs
to accommodate our three protagonists, Brian Morton as John Hofsess,
Chris Cracknell as Ivan Reitman, and Greg Cruickshank as Dan Goldberg.

At times I found it difficult to decide where to focus my attention.
The constant shifting in the streamed video drew my eyes away from the
actors on stage.  This is a very new play and likely being rewritten
in real time.  Certainly a challenge Cracknell and Cruickshank met
with strong performances.

John Hofsess was a mature student who founded an organization of
student filmmakers called the McMaster Film Board in mid sixties.
Later John directed a film titled Columbus of Sex, produced by Reitman
and Goldberg.  All three were arrested by the Vice Squad after an
August 8th screening in Hamilton in 1969.

What is the playwright’s intent?  The play appears to be a comment on
the change of mores from 1969 to 2022; surely this puritanical view of
an art film wouldn’t be tolerated today?  Or would it?  My news feed
seems to be riddled with reports of sexual assault of one type or
another.  As modern as I think myself to be I found myself cringing at
some of the salty language in the soundtrack, while the images floated
by unremarkably.  Is that the playwright’s intent?  I hope so.
Because surely the point of the Fringe is to embrace ideas, outrageous
though they may be, and to encourage discussion.

McMaster University was a hotbed of avant-garde filmmakers in the
1960s; with names like Andy Warhol and The Velvet Underground, Eugene
Levy and the afore mentioned, Reitman and Goldberg.  Despite the
humiliation accorded to these men for their artistic efforts, several
went on to stellar careers in the film industry.

The three characters in Morton’s new play tell the tale of their
arrest, their trial and subsequent penalty.  A little McMaster
History; it was fun to listen to after show comments from fellow
audience members.  Many were McMaster grads no doubt, fascinated with
local lore.  Now you can be the judge!
- RW

Family Fringe Bridgeworks Stage

The Storyteller is the type of show that makes me love the Fringe.
Written, composed, costumed, and narrated by Kathleen Mills; this
piece is an explosion of creativity, talent, and skill that delivers a
memorable story, endearing characters, and catchy songs in less than
an hour. My kiddo summed it up best: "That was great!"

In The Storyteller we follow the adventures of an inventor, a
musician, an innkeeper, and a girl with hope in her heart as they
attempt to bring back spring. Our unlikely heroes have come together
at an annual spring festival and rather than facing a villainous
character they face their own insecurities, the expectations of
others, and the challenges of accountability.

Memorable performances by Jillian Cooper as Ana, the girl with
unquenchable hope, and Jeremy Foot as Axel, the soon to be famous
inventor, keep us captivated as our adventurers navigate love,
friendship, and a frozen mountain. A narrator guides our story keeping
things running smoothly and 4 chorus members populate our world and
transform a minimal yet flexible set. Lights and sound blend
seamlessly into the action of the story. Just like it's quirky and
nostalgic costumes, The Storyteller is an endearing and wholesome
patchwork of music,  movement, and of course; story.

Kiddo Review: "My favourite part was when he used his invention and
the lights went "woosh" and something magical happened. It was good.
It's a story about love and stuff."

This Family Programming is the right fit for kids old enough to watch
a feature length animated musical from the magic kingdom, and for
adults who also know all the words to the sidekick's big song.  A
special note for photosensitive folks: bright moving lights (LED
flashlights) are briefly directed towards the audience.

Doolally Productions
Players Guild of Hamilton Studio

The Trillionaire, from Toronto based Doolally Productions, tells the
story of the world’s richest man as he and his wife prepare to leave
the Earth for the Moon, due to extreme climate change.  Written by
Michael Moss, and directed by Alan Kinsella we watch as William
Alexander Doyle  as Leon Zobes, and  Justine Grimes as his wife
Arabella take us through the pair’s journey to space.

The play opens with the characters apparently in space an under
attack.  We than flashback through decades to the inception of the
project.  Almost the entire play is delivered in a series of speeches
to the audience, with very little interaction between the characters.
While the speeches are entertaining, and the actors give it their all,
it’s very difficult to sustain pace and interest with so little
interaction between the characters.  On the few occasions where there
is interaction, the actors shine, and they even have a chance to
demonstrate their dance and singing chops.

The social commentary about the ultra-rich and their effect on society
is done with some subtlety, however. It would be easy to make the two
protagonists cardboard villains, but instead the two clearly love each
other, as is shown near the end of the play in a touching scene with
the two actually interacting.

The play makes some valid points about climate change and the wealthy,
and it is well performed by two actors who clearly know their stuff.
I wish though, that the playwright had chosen to make his points
through dialogue and conflict, rather than in monologues.  It’s not an
unpleasant way to spent an hour, and there is food for thought in the
message.  If you’re new to Fringing, it’s a safe way to get your feet
wet before diving in.
- JN

Into the Abyss Productions
Theatre Aquarius Studio

This was my first Fringe show this year, and it reminded me of how
great it was to be seeing live, local theatre.  The Duo of Holly
Hebert and Asenia Lyall give a short, power-packed performance that
questions, and dare I say, deconstructs Shakespeare’s female

As the play opens, we find Juliet over the body or Romeo, about to
insert the dagger into her heart.  Thankfully, Lady MacBeth enters to
remonstrate with Juliet that her planned action is folly.  Through
words and action, the duo explore what it means to be trapped in their
roles as Shakespearean women.  You don’t have to be a Shakespeare
scholar to appreciate this play, you just have to know the basics.
Juliet, in Shakespeare’s play, kills herself after her love life goes
all wrong, thanks in no small part to the meddling relatives.  Lady
MacBeth, in the original Shakespeare play suffers a similar fate,
after prodding and cajoling her husband to become King.  You’ll have
to see the play, if you want to see how these women fare unshackled
from their male counterparts.

The play is billed as a dramedy, somewhere between a drama and a
comedy, and I can see why that label may be appropriate.  I really see
the play as something else: a great exploration, at times funny, at
times heart-breaking, and always heightened.  This show is highly
recommended for anyone who loves Shakespeare.  Even if you’re not a
Shakespeare fanatic, this short, twenty-minute play offers important
insights into the lives of women.

Wonder Jones Productions, Toronto
BYOV2 (Online Shows)

The basic premise of Time Limits Dropped on Easter Sunday is disconcerting.  The idea
that we could use AI to animate pictures of our deceased loved ones,
that deep fakes could be a component of the grieving process, is to me
inherently troubling.  The execution of this idea is even more
disconcerting.  Over a 57 minute video call, 4 members of a
bereavement support group experiment with animating pictures of their

The result is a roller coaster of emotion and a show that tackles a
lengthy list of themes including racism, domestic abuse, generational
trauma, work/life balance, the list goes on and on.

Sometimes I was touched by Time Limits Dropped on Easter Sunday, sometimes I was
uncomfortable, sometimes I was scared.  All the time, I was engaged.
This is a show that grapples with big questions, not always
successfully.  But a key component of art is ambition, and Time Limits Dropped on Easter Sunday is ambitious.  Theatre that tackles the truly existential can
be rare, and should be rewarded with your attention.
- RM

Dog Martin Comedy
BYOV # 3: Staircase Bright Room

Paddy MacDonald and Steph Haller delivered an interesting two hander,
styled through Improv principles about their failed and behind-them
relationship! This improv-styled show which has already run at two
earlier Ontario summer fringe festivals, played in the intimate Bright
Room before a fairly large audience.

The pair began with a musical (guitar) entrance, that did not figure
significantly further in the show.  Using fairly standard improv
techniques, they warmed up the audience and established their premise
that the show would be exploring how they started dating some time
ago, and how they later broke up.

A standard improv ask, resulted in the invitation to use “You should
see me now!” as the basis for some of the Improv work onstage.  It
worked well as they were able to humorously discuss who should see
them now, and how they felt now.  That is, they were quite happy to be
not dating one another, as in retroflection they “were not a good

There was good chemistry onstage between the two actors, which caused
one to wonder why there was no ongoing intimate relationship.  Sort of
a conundrum for the audience. A large part of the show focussed on how
they started dating when a three way friendship disintegrated.  This
segment was the most solid part of the show as it was seemingly based
upon the utter reality of what actually occurred.

A number of later segments were based upon stories not related to the
main theme – the relationship. These were well done, but felt to this
reviewer as somewhat disjointed. A show worth watching!

Lisa Pezik
Players Guild of Hamilton Studio

Too Big for Her Britches is a one woman show about a woman’s recovery
from an emotionally abusive childhood; it was written and performed by
Lisa Pezik, of Ancaster, Ontario.

On a set with a couple of benches and a chair, Ms. Pezik portrays 25
characters who’ve affected Luna, the main character, through her life.
As if that’s not challenging enough, she also performs seven original
songs through the play.

Ms. Pezik clearly has some familiarity with the psychology of dealing
with pain and trauma.  Folded within the show are lessons on dealing
with verbal abuse, and self-help techniques to strengthen the soul.

Watching the show, the audience comes to share the experiences of
Luna, cheer her victories, and feel her pain. Apart from Luna, the two
main characters in the play are internalized personalities that Luna
uses to help her through her life.  The conflict in the productions
sees "Shame" fighting "The Warrioress" to help Luna deal with her

In addition there are other major and minor characters that are all
illustrated through physical mannerisms and stances, and vocal style.
This is done so well that at no time was I confused about which
character was speaking.  If I have any criticism, it’s that some of
the characters are almost caricatures rather than flesh and blood

This quibble aside, to do a 75 minute performance with multiple
characters and songs is quite an achievement, and one I recommend you
- JN

This is Not A Theatre Company, New York
BYOV2 (Online Shows)

Tree Confessions is mesmerizing.  Fascinating, moving, mystical,
informative; I could list a dictionary’s worth of adjectives and still
not fully describe how special Tree Confessions is.  Kathleen
Chalfant’s gentle voice invites us into a world that does not feel
created but revealed.

Best experienced on a sunny day, sitting under the shade of a tree; a
tree that has so much more to offer than any of us know.  Tree Confessions is an audio-only piece that is so fully realized you can
see it.  Please take half an hour and listen to Tree Confessions and
be changed for the better.
- RM

Levity Theatre Company, Ottawa
Bridgeworks Stage

Coming direct to Hamilton from runs in the Ottawa, and Toronto Fringe
festivals, is Unmatched, a two-hander by Caity Smick and Eve Beauchamp
that explores the unfortunate side of dating, in this world of mobile
apps and online hookups.

What follows is an hour of humour, that at times feels like a bit of a
stand-up comedy routine, but at other times also hits the beats of sad
reflective drama.  The device of a comic using a microphone is merely
a clever frame, that then takes us into a series of dating
experiences, which range the gamut from horrible to pathetic.  It is
clear that both of these actors have great skill in creating empathy,
and we gamely followed them waiting for the moment when they finally
discovered real love.

To say more would spoil the ending, but I personally was quite
emotionally involved in this story. This production comes to the
festival later than most, starting on the Sunday of the first weekend.
I hope this delay arriving does not prevent them from finding the
audiences that they certainly deserve.

I would have no hesitation in recommending this, to anyone who is
still flying solo, but who hopes to find that special someone in their
- BM

Nour Hadidi
Bridgeworks Stage

From Toronto, Nour Hadidi and Natalie Norman delight and sometimes
horrify with their dating histories, witticisms and official power
point presentations. Further, they are looking for dates and are
willing to date you (yes you there in the audience).

The girls have a nice banter and complement each other’s comic styles.
Is one more desperate than the other you might ask? It’s hard to say
but both confess to near misses with their cousins. Hadidi is perhaps
the more critical eye and Norman more like the movie “Jackass” with a
dating theme: willing to try anyone (thing) and tell all. For Norman,
who has a disturbing penchant for Virgo men, I offer this official
piece of information: Virgo males represent the largest percentage of
known serial killers.

I love their dating site tips, because who knew Bumble was a hub for
anti-vaxxers? This show is a public service for anyone who dates and a
memory lane of laughs for anyone who is thankfully done dating. Rock
on girls!
- TK

Let's Get Wet Productions, Toronto.
The Zoetic Theatre

Performed on a bare stage furnished with two bathtubs and two showers,
Wet establishes its watery environment with sound effects.  Glug,
glug, glug.  Imagine a more rhythmic glug and you’ll get the idea.
Where ever did they find the bathtub with the curlicue legs at centre
stage?  Great choice!

Director Celeste LaCroix says that Wet is a devised collection of
stories about what happens when we "take off our clothes, leave our
phones on the counter, and simply wash our bodies". And that is
exactly what it is. Here we have an original script that is pure
Fringe.  An unconventional theatrical performance distinct from the
mainstream.  Unselfconscious, female centric, sex positive, authentic.

Performers Julia Murphy, Carina Salajan, Zoe Marin and Robert Follows
represent three women and one man, bathing sometimes collectively,
sometimes not.  The lighting crew was experiencing some technical
difficulties at the opening performance.  Kudos to this cast for never
missing a beat even when the lights were not quite where they should
be. Plenty of shampoo and body wash and a gentle sprinkle of water
here and there lent authenticity to the action as well as splotches of
dampness on the actors.

WET is involving for the audience.
- RW

Same Boat Theatre Company
BYOV #2: Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts

Whale Fall is a new play by Hamilton playwright Stephen Near of Same
Boat Theatre Company; it was performed by two talented Hamilton
actors, Stephanie Hope Lawlor and Raymond Louter.

It is obvious to me, why this play was the first runner up in the 2022
Hamilton Fringe New Play contest. It's a very well written and
developed piece of theatre.  I sincerely hope that this wonderful play
gets produced in many other venues beyond the world of the Fringe.

The audience enters the Hamilton Conservatory of the Arts to find a
‘theatre in the round’ environment, drenched in a piercing blue light.
The title of the play lets us know that this is a play deeply
connected to the sea.  The intense light immerses you in ocean

The play tells the story of the extinction of Southern Resident orcas,
often known as ‘killer whales’.  Near gives us an impassioned drama
of a young woman Rebecca searching for the Last Orca, while dealing
with reminiscences of her departed father.

The actors delivered strong and powerful performances,  under the
expert direction of Aaron Joel Craig - also a local actor and theatre
person.  The chemistry between the two actors was obvious and
enjoyable. It was also obvious about the fact that they were both
delighted to be back on a stage once again, in front of a live
audience. It oozed through the whole production.

As the complex story required many flashbacks to her childhood and her
journey; Stephanie Hope Lawlor’s clever use of a childlike accent and
her body language described these shifts in time superbly well.

A new sound effect was used by the director to indicate some scene
changes; it was “Kwoosh.”  This is the sound an orca makes as it
surfaces and expels her breath!  Get ready for it when you go and see
this charming drama.

Please note: Several productions were not able to be reviewed; either
due to scheduling issues, the fact that they were sold out, or that
the production has withdrawn from the festival.  We regret their
omission from this article.


Bryan Boodhoo = BB
Crystal Rose Haygarth and her "kiddo" Arthur = CRH
Tamara Kamermans = TK
Rachel More = RM
Brian Morton = BM
Julian Nicholson = JN
Barry M. Spinner = BMS
Rozz Woodcock = RW

There will be another article wrapping up our Hamilton Fringe coverage
later on in the week; where each writer will assign their "VIEW
Critic's Pick" award.

July 20 - 31, 2022, at twelve venues in the city

Reach the Box Office at or 289-698-2234.

Tickets will be available for walk-up sales at all in-person venues 60
minutes before the scheduled start time.

Direct weblink to buy tickets online

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