Optimistically Cautious

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Live & Let Fringe: Day 1

It is no secret that the Fringe is my favorite time of year in Edmonton - I can just about hear Julie Andrews' voice in my head as I pass the painted busker squares, jewelry vendors, and mini-doughnut stand.

Of course, the main attraction being theatre, I was interested to see if the vibe of the Fringe had shifted at all since the axe fell on sales at the venue door. Picking up my tickets at the unmarked "will call" window in the Arts Barns took a little longer than it should have - it seems one of the patrons at the counter had had some trouble with his online purchase confirmation. To be fair, the festival should be allowed time to work out the inevitable kinks of a new system, but the staff seemed terribly inefficient and ill-trained, deferring their queries to the one person who seemed to actually know what was going on. The queue at the main box office was also very slow-moving; I hope this is not the case later on in the festival, otherwise last-minute decision makers will be forced to adopt a new show selection strategy. As for the satellite box office locations (which weren't open until later that night), I know I'm not the only one who thinks that they look a tad...corporate. With the necessary gate protecting computer equipment (and employee) built into the wooden structures, purchasing a ticket somehow feels less personal than simply approaching volunteers at a makeshift stand in front of a venue.

We watched one show - Matt & Ben (Stage 1), a satire about Damon and Affleck's rise to fame in the form of Good Will Hunting 'falling from the ceiling.' Being a fan of Jocelyn Ahlf (Ben) made this an easy early pick, and she did not disappoint. She demonstrated great comedic timing once again, and her zealous embrace of silly quirks really distinguished her from her co-star. Belinda Cornish was weaker in her portrayal of Matt, but she did better as the ghost of J.D. Salinger. The storyline as a whole was less about "male bonding" as the program portrayed, and more about two foil friends trying to find their way in the world together and as individuals. It was light Fringe fare, and a good way to start off the weekend (both Colin MacLean and Liz Nicholls were in attendance, so expect reviews in the papers tomorrow).

On to day 2!

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