Theatre review: Gruesome serious fun at the Fringe

Vancouver Fringe Festival

To Sept. 17 | Various venues

Tickets & info: $14 at vancouverfringe.com

Fringing is part science, part art and lots of luck. You read reviews, note the shows your friends are in, listen to the buzz, go with some crazy titles. But with 100 shows to choose from, there will be surprises no matter how due your diligence.

That’s part of the Fringe fun. It’s like buying tickets for a lottery where you’re guaranteed to win … something.

Comedy is the primary Fringe genre, funny and bizarre two of its most common denominators. My first three shows offer some substance along with the weirdness and laughs.

Gruesome Playground Injuries at The Cultch Vancity Culture Lab

Unlike the original, self-penned works that make up much of the Fringe, Rajiv Joseph’s Gruesome Playground Injuries is practically a classic. A Pulitzer Prize finalist, it’s been staged in Vancouver before. Mel Tuck’s production finds new emotional depth in a script that sometimes sacrifices character for quirkiness.

Kayleen (Gina Leon) and Doug (Michael Germant) meet every five years from age 13 to 38. Adventurous, accident-prone Dougie shows up with a ridiculous new injury each time, from cuts and broken bones to worse. After a while you’ve gotta wonder what’s going on.

Kayleen’s injuries are more obviously self-inflicted. We get hints about the sources of her troubled life but Doug’s backstory remains a mystery.

These two damaged, profoundly connected characters provide each other’s balm and — you hope — salvation in a sweet, funny, tender, neurotic and very sad love story. The scene changes take too long but the acting is very fine. Leon, especially, delivers an emotionally devastating performance.

University of Manitoba philosophy professor Neil McArthur’s solo show Let Me Freeze Your Head plays at the Waterfront Theatre as part of the Vancouver Fringe Festival. [PNG Merlin Archive]
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University of Manitoba philosophy professor Neil McArthur’s solo show Let Me Freeze Your Head plays at the Waterfront Theatre as part of the Vancouver Fringe Festival.

Let Me Freeze Your Head at the Waterfront Theatre

University of Manitoba philosophy professor Neil McArthur’s solo show, advertised as “a meditation on love, mortality and cryonic preservation,” takes the form of a lecture-cum-sales pitch for us to consider preserving our severed heads after death.

With deadpan earnestness, McArthur plays an ex-philosophy prof who explains how capitalist reward-card culture cheats us of full

Source:: Vancouver Sun – Entertainment

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