Before issuing media passes this year, the Fringe organization required the media to sign a document that was unacceptable to me and many of my colleagues. As I could not sign, my reviews are limited to companies that invited me to attend and write about their shows. Iris Winston
Miss Bruce’s War
By Jean Duce Palmer
Director: Angela Boychuk
A fictionalized account about playwright Jean Duce Palmer’s experiences as a young teacher in a one-room school in rural Alberta during the Second World War, Miss Bruce’s War brings moments in history to life with a fine cast of students headed by Sophia Swettenham in the title role.
As well as having an excellent singing voice, Swettenham brings warmth to a demanding part as she delivers patriotic British songs to a community that was first settled by German speakers. She is well supported by the rest of the 12-member cast, particularly Madighan Ryan as Irene, the youngster in whose home Miss Bruce boards and whose bedroom she occupies.
There is also excellent cooperation among the ensemble in arranging and re-arranging the simple and well-conceived set pieces.
A first-class high school production, Miss Bruce’s War is an unusual but very worthwhile presentation for fringe theatre.
Next performance: June 25, 12 noon, Academic Hall
By Abi Morgan
Third Wall Academy
Director/designer: James Richardson
Young people are among the most vulnerable victims of violence. Kojo, the key character in Abi Morgan’s Fugee, saw his parents and younger brother murdered on his eleventh birthday. He was captured and turned into a child soldier. Three years later, he is a refugee to Great Britain. But unaccompanied minors receive protection only if they are under 16. His age is in dispute and the system fails him.
The system is rotten screams Morgan in her angry indictment of the political background that includes her turning Kojo into a murderer for no clear reason.
The members of the Third Wall Academy, directed by James Richardson, turn a flawed script into a strong theatrical presentation headed by Patrick Bugby as Kojo and well supported by the ensemble, particularly Helen Thai, as Ara, the youngster who befriends him.
Fugee continues at Academic Hall until July 25.
By Kurt Fitzpatrick
Director: Jeff Culbert
This is THE fringe show for movie buffs, but it will have far less interest for those who are not knowledgeable about the Academy Awards over the years.
A comedy with a laugh a minute, it zips through references to and excerpts (of sorts) from Oscar winners from 1927 to 2015. Pairings of titles are frequently clever and miniscule moments of characterizations and self-deprecating humour very amusing.
The fluidity of performer Jon Paterson’s movement is also noteworthy.
While some of the jokes fizzle, the general impression is of a slick piece of comedy with a similar claim to elegance as the performer who wears running shoes with his tuxedo or the writer/performer who goes from suave evening wear to jockey shorts (for no apparent reason). For that matter, why does the third performer have her shirttails hanging beneath her vest?
Best Picture continues at Studio Léonard Beaulne to June 26.
Kurt Fitzpatrick, Rachel Kent, Jon Paterson