September 13 Fringe reviews from Colin: The Immaculate Big Bang, Teaching Shakespeare

Here you go: Fringe reviews numbers 26 and 27 from me. Including Deneh’s reviews, that means that there are 36 reviews on this site so far. More to come.

Stand-up comedian Bill Santiago is presenting The Immaculate Big Bang at the Vancouver Fringe Festival.

It took me a while to adjust to Bill Santiago’s energetic performance style. How Canadian is THAT reaction?


Bill Santiago’s comic monologue is so much better than the rest of the stand-up I’ve seen at this year’s Fringe that he makes the other guys look like they’re sitting down.

Sparked by the death of his father and the birth of his daughter Cielo, The Immaculate Big Bang is about the meaning of existence and the nature of reality—so, yeah, it’s ambitious. And Big Bang finds its core when that ambition kicks in—not just when Santiago explores the weirdness of the multiple, bubble-like realities posited by quantum physics, but also when he delves deeper into his family history, including his beloved father’s compulsive philandering.

Once that groove is established, some of the funniest material is about religion. This includes Santiago’s suggestion that the Bible’s book of Leviticus be replaced by Green Eggs and Ham: “Sam I am. I am Sam.” It’s so cryptic and redundant, he argues, it would fit right in.

There are some great quick jokes. Dogs are now allowed into heaven, he reveals, on the condition that they’ve only had sex people-style. And there’s a hilarious bit involving a Kermode dragon that I’ll leave you to discover for yourself.

Santiago is still working on this material and it needs tightening, but the morning after seeing Big Bang, I’m still laughing at my favourite bits.

Remaining performances at Studio 1398 on September 15 (10:25) and 17 (6:30) [Read more…]

Two fave Fringe holdovers

Peter n' Chris, Vancouver Fringe

Peter Carlone and Chris Wilson get all metatheatrical—and existential—in Here Lies Chris

This is the perfect opportunity for you slackers who didn’t see enough at the Fringe.

Two of my favourite shows from are being held over as part of the Granville Island Public Market’s Pick of the Fringe, which runs from September 23 to 27.

Tonight (Wednesday, September 23), you can catch Peter n’ Chris present: Here Lies Chris. These guys make sketch comedy look a lot easier than it is.

And, on Friday (September 25), you have one last chance to see Brendan McLeod’s Brain, in which the charming writer and solo performer explores consciousness—his own—and its pitfalls.

Both shows run at 8:45 at the Revue Stage. Book ’em, if you know what’s good for you.

Acting at the Fringe

Kyle Jespersen, The Fighting Season, Vancouver Fringe

Kyle Jespersen delivers one of the standout performances at the Fringe. (Okay, so this photo isn’t from The Fighting Season, but it’s him.)

There’s a lot of excellent acting at the Vancouver Fringe this year.

Under Evan Frayne’s direction, everybody in The Fighting Season is terrific. I’m talking about Kyle Jespersen, Tom Pickett, and Siona Gareau-Brennan. Jespersen’s portrait of a traumatized medic is a heartbreaker.

I was very excited to discover Naomi Vogt in Faroe Islands, which is playing with Ostrich. Her performance as a disappointed environmentalist is so seamless that you might think what she’s doing doesn’t take much skill. Don’t make that mistake.

And, if you want to know something about timing, watch Peter Carlone and Chris Wilson (Peter n’ Chris present: Here Lies Chris) in action.

One weekend left, folks. Wallow.

P.S. And then there’s Chase Padgett, whom I saw in Nashville Hurricane after I wrote this post. I’d seen this show years ago and had forgotten how good he is. Five vivid characterizations from this guy. Amazing.

P.P.S. The folks from Rumble would like me to credit the photo of Kyle, which I snatched from the internet. Apparently, it’s from Rumble’s production of Penelope, and the pic was taken by Chikenskratch Productions.

How to get Colin Thomas to like your show: theatrewire

Sara Bynoe, Colin Thomas, theatrewire

Sara Bynoe gives good interview.

“How to get Colin Thomas to like your show.” That’s the title of this post on, a new initiative from the First Vancouver Theatrespace Society (the folks who produce the Fringe), the Playwrights Theatre Centre, and the See Seven Performing Arts Society.

This blog entry is a short interview clip hosted by the lovely and talented Sara Bynoe.


Magic Unicorn Island takes the Critics’ Choice Award

Jayson McDonald Georgia Straight Critics' Choice Award Vancouver Fringe

Jayson McDonald accepted the Critics’ Choice Award at the Vancouver Fringe (photo by Paul Czene)

On Sunday night Kathleen Oliver and I gave the Georgia Straight Critics’ Choice Award to Jayson McDonald’s Magic Unicorn Island.

McDonald is an immensely skilled performer: he’s got a great sense of theatricality and few people can portray innocence as convincingly as he does. But what really moved me was that, in Magic Unicorn Island, McDonald addresses global warming and world militarism—issues that paralyze most of us with despair—and addresses them in a creative and openhearted way.

Nominees for the GS Critics’ Choice Award

Vancouver Fringe, Loretta Seto, Dirty Old Woman

Loretta Seto’s witty script and a stellar cast earned Dirty Old Woman a Critics’ Choice Award nomination

Kathleen Oliver and I have picked the nominees for this year’s Critics’ Choice Award at the Vancouver Fringe. They are: Chase and Stacey’s Joyride, Dirty Old Woman, Little One, Magic Unicorn Island, and Moonlight After Midnight. Terrific shows, all of ’em.

Thanks to all of the artists, staff, and volunteers for making this another solid Fringe. A special thanks to Cara Cunningham, the head of box office, who made these last few days a lot easier for me than they would have been without her.