Find out what’s hot at this year’s Vancouver Fringe Festival!
This is Deb Fong’s third year reviewing shows for VocalEye at the Fringe. Deb has partial vision and will attend a dozen performances this year, many on the Low Vision Friendly Fringe List (recommended as accessible for people with vision loss without description), plus VocalEye’s described performance of Precious Little. Check out Deb’s tips for having Fun at the Fringe Festival (Word doc)
Deb was a part of the “Mainstreeters Artists Collective”, which began in the 70s and spanned 20 years. She has acted in several art performances, including one that toured Canada and New York. As well, she created videos and animations and produced promotional materials for film festivals and arts organizations.
For the Festival’s full accessible services, visit Vancouver Fringe Accessibility
50 Fun Things
In this show, two young people meet, fall in love and support each other through dire circumstances, by finding 50 fun things to do. This show was low-vision friendly and was easy to follow through dialogue and songs.
Venue Notes: The Cultch Historic is accessible. The main entrance to the theatre is level. Steps to seats are alternately coloured. We received priority seating and a volunteer escorted us to our seats and to the exit after the show. Front desk staff were helpful and accommodating as well.
A Brief History of Beer
This zany and informative comedy follows the history of beer and gets the audience involved. Every time the Quantum Pint Machine falters, the audience has to sip of beer and wiggle their arms in the air. This show was easy to follow, though there were images projected on a large screen which I could not see.
Venue Notes: Performance Works is accessible. No steps, sloping floor to cabaret-style table and chairs. The front table was reserved for us and we were escorted to our seats. Staff were friendly and accommodating.
A Canadian Bartender at Butlin’s
This fast-paced, hilarious and witty show was TJ Dawe’s 113th Fringe performance. TJ, a Jessie Award winner and master story-teller describes his life while working in a seedy holiday camp in England. This highly-enjoyable show did not have any props or complex actions and was low-vision friendly.
Venue notes: The Firehall Theatre lobby area seems cramped. There are many stairs in many directions and is not easy to navigate. Staff were friendly and accommodating and I received priority seating.
Auguries of Innocence
This dramatic play was written by a Blake scholar and included several Blake poems. The show was not on the Low-Vision Friendly list. Six cast members portrayed three generations of characters, including the spirit of William Blake. It wasn’t easy to identify who the characters were during the group scenes.
Venue Notes: This show was in the same theatre (Cultch Historic) as 50 Fun Things. The Cultch has a lounge so my companion and I could wait there between shows.
Die Hard – The Musical
This fun, raucous, fast-paced musical was entertaining, but not low-vision friendly. It wasn’t easy to see the movements and gestures of the large group of choreographed dancers. I followed the story by listening to dialogue and parodies of popular 80s songs.
Venue Notes: Studio 1398 is a smaller theatre on the second floor. Two rows of chairs are placed on each riser, so best to sit on the front edge of the riser, or else your view may be obstructed. Staff were friendly and accommodating and I received priority seating.
Field Zoology 101
This show transforms the theatre into a classroom with the audience as students. Professor Brad Gooseberry, teaches zoology with humorous illustrations from an overhead projector. This show was partially low-vision friendly, but I missed some parts because I could not see the projections or small gestures. This show was Favourite Comedy at the 2016 Victoria Fringe Festival.
Venue Notes: This show was in the same venue as Gossamer Obsessions. We had the same seats reserved. Staff were friendly and accommodating and we received priority seating.
F*ck Tinder – A Love Story
Comedic storyteller David Rodwin describes his life as he finds himself back on the dating scene in San Francisco. This one-man show was low-vision friendly as there were no props or subtle movements.
Venue Notes: Performance Works is accessible. No stairs, sloping floor to cabaret-style table and chairs. Staff were friendly and accommodating and we received priority seating.
This off-beat show was sketch comedy at it’s most absurd. The show was low-vision friendly as there weren’t any props or special effects. The comedy duo performed several hilarious sketches.
Venue Notes: The Revue Theatre is accessible. No stairs to the theatre. Steps to seats are well-marked. Staff were friendly and accommodating.
Magical Mystery Detour
In this hilarious, high-energy, solo show, Gemma Wilcox, 20-time Best-Of-Fest winner, seamlessly switches between 23 characters, which include a mosquito, her dog, her car and the Queen. This show was low-vision friendly, though a few gestures were not easy for me to see. But Gemma’s dialogue, sound effects and musical soundtrack help bring the scenes to life.
Venue Notes: Studio 1398 is a smaller theatre on the second floor. Patrons usually walk up the stairs, but we were escorted up the elevator and to our seats. Seats are on risers, so best to sit at the front edge of the riser or you view might be obstructed. Staff were friendly and accommodating.
Martin Dockery: Delirium
Brash, fast-talking, Brooklyn-based storyteller Martin Dockery tells the true, bittersweet tale of falling in love, losing his dog and becoming a dad. This one-man show was low-vision friendly and was the winner of Best Solo Show at the Orlando Fringe 2017.
Venue notes: The Waterfront Theatre is fairly accessible. There is now a white stripe at the edge of steps making them much more visible and safer. Staff were friendly and accommodating.
This compelling play depicts three women across three generations who use various forms of language to connect with one another and with a gorilla at the zoo. A thought-provoking production, this show was easy to follow with VocalEye’s audio description.
Venue Notes: The Culture Lab is accessible. No stairs to the theatre, stairs to seats are marked. Staff were very helpful, friendly and accommodating, and we received priority seating.
Shape of Things
This modern-day romance with a twist questions the moral limits of art. Excellent performances from the two main characters. This show was primarily low-vision friendly except for a few art pieces.
Venue Notes: The Culture Lab is accessible. No stairs to the theatre. Steps to seats are well-marked. Staff were friendly and accommodating and we received priority seating.
The F Words
In this entertaining and lively show, Yvette Dudley-Neuman takes you through her journey of awkward youth and mid-life contemplations. She encourages the audience to sing and dance along with her. A funny and poignant look at human nature. Most of the performance was easy to understand, though there were images and words projected onto a large screen, a few masks and some gestures that I could not see (this show is not on the “low vision friendly” list).
Venue Notes: Performance Works is very accessible: no stairs, sloping floor to cabaret-style table and chairs. Staff were friendly and accommodating.
In this solo show, Thomas Jones portrays Woody Guthrie and tells the story of Woody’s life and music. Thomas sings 19 of Woody’s songs and plays 25 other characters. The show was low vision friendly. Thomas interacted with the audience and prompted them to sing along.
Venue Notes: The Cultch Historic’s main level is accessible. No stairs to the main entrance to the theatre. Stairs are marked. Staff were friendly and accommodating and we received priority seating.