Finge Guide 2009


These are the plays I've seen and their rating on a scale of zero to ten. They are ordered from best to worst.

The Further Adventures of Antoine Feval

Rating: 9 out of 10

Style: Traditional play

Review: This play has everything. Comedy, drama, and an explanation of Canadian culture. Chris Gibbs continues to be funny and intelligent. He is a master of self-deprecating humor. It is easier to write a review if you list all the things you disliked about a play. I can't think of anything.

Initial Hypothesis: Chris Gibbs is a fantastic artist. His plays are hilarious. This is a sequel to the last play I saw him in. Think of it as Sherlock Holmes, where his Watson is an idiot who thinks a common criminal is a great detective. Wicked fun.

Spiral Dive: Episode Two

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Style: Traditional play

Review: Fantastic, but I think you should only see it if you've seen Episode One already. It would be too hard to follow otherwise. The actors are very good, able to portray multiple characters and make it easy to tell them apart. I especially liked the pilot from Montreal. Only one downside; forgive my language, but I think this blew its wad too early. They had a vivid description of an aerial battle that I think would have been better later in the play. It was too close to the start and I hadn't really gotten into the show yet.

Initial Hypothesis: The sequel to last year's play. This theatre group, THEATrePUBLIC, has done some amazing plays in the past. They aren't necessarily funny, but they are moving. In Letters in Wartime they had one person telling about his bombing run so vividly, I felt I was there. They are now doing an entire series on a spitfire pilot.

The Occulist's Holiday

Rating: 8 out of 10

Style: Traditional play

Review: Stewart Lemoine once again does a nice play. It isn't that memorable, but it has a good story. The characters are interesting and they develop quite a bit. I want to go to Switzerland now.

Initial Hypothesis: The Stewart Lemoine play. He is a Fringe institution. A sure bet.


Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Style: Traditional play

Review: I really enjoyed this. There have been other plays that are more moving, but this one was a comedy that didn't take itself seriously. It was really low on plot, and more focussed on having fun. i.e. Check your brain at the door. And I think they added an extra subplot just to allow the use of special effects on the robot.

Initial Hypothesis: I trust this theatre group. They've done plays that I have gone to see twice. Why wouldn't this be good as well?

A Final Whimsy

Rating: 7 out of 10

Style: Traditional play

Review: A nice David Belke drama. It concerned itself a lot with the stories (whimseys), true and false, that families tell each other. This one has a side-story for me. The ending was ambiguous. I don't like an ending that I can't figure out. It makes me feel dumb, that I missed some clue that would have explained it. I can understand the enjoyment of of having an ending you can think about, but I want to know that the author knows what is going on. Conveniently, the author was right there at the back of the theatre and I could interrogate him. He did know what was going on, but he also repeated the last line. "That's the problem with whimseys. You never know which ones to believe." Hearing that gave a nice recursion to the piece that increased my enjoyment a lot.

Initial Hypothesis: This is by David Belke. He has never been bad, and is as close to a sure thing as there is available at the Fringe. His worst plays are better than most people's best.

Totem Figures

Rating: 7 out of 10

Style: Autobiographical

Review: TJ Dawe isn't as funny as he used to be. But he is more thought provoking. I saw a late night show after a long run so I wasn't paying as close attention as I would have liked. This is still a good play and you get some good insight into who he is. Bonus: You learn how he got his name.

Initial Hypothesis: T.J. Dawe is a Fringe staple. I think he may be starting to get an undeserved reputation. His early work was the best, but as he has become more successful he has had fewer miserable experiences to draw on. That said, he does good work. This is a safe bet.

Grimmer than Grimm

Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Style: ADD Skits

Review: I'm probably giving this a lower rating than it deserves. I had dragged a dozen people to see this, so I was more critical of all of its faults. I liked it, but there were a few slower parts that dragged on a bit. But they did their job of graphically portraying the worst of the Grimm's fairy tales.

Initial Hypothesis: This group, closely affiliated with THEATrePUBLIC and have an impressive collection of great plays. I have confidence this will be good.

The Art of Being a Bastard

Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Style: Traditional play

Review: This was actually very educational. It might have been better titled, "How to Pick Up Girls in Bars". I should have taken notes. Not incredibly funny but I had a good time.

Initial Hypothesis: This is by Matt Alden. I was very impressed with his play, Real Time, but since then his plays haven't been as good. They still entertain.

The Maltese Bodkin

Rating: 6 out of 10

Style: Traditional play

Review: This is an early David Belke work, first performed in 1991. He wasn't quite the powerhouse he is now, but he had good fundamentals. I did enjoy this, but I think I would have liked it more if I knew Shakespeare better. But you only really need experience in that to recognize characters, and it isn't a requirement to get the full entertainment value. However, it really helps to know MacBeth.

Initial Hypothesis: David Belke. See above.

Unsolicited Letters

Rating: 3 out of 10

Style: Traditional play

Review: They did put an honest try into making a good play. And it was a good first try. But they didn't have enough content. There was only one plot-line in the play and it wasn't big enough for the 50 minutes they allotted. It felt like it was dragging at points. I'm glad I got to see it for free, although I would have preferred not to see it at all.

Unseen plays

This year the Edmonton Fringe is from August 13 - 23. Since I'm a chronic theater patron (although I am cutting down), I have a better idea than most as to which plays are going to be good. So here is my list of plays I recommend. (i.e. The ones I'm probably going to see.) Once I start getting to the plays, I will be releasing new commentaries that will reflect what I've actually seen, instead of what I predict.

These are ordered from most confident of a good play, to least confident.

The Further Adventures of Antoine Feval
Spiral Dive: Episode One
I saw this last year. Very good.
Moving Along
This is Chris Craddock's signature piece. I've seen it in the past and it is funny and disturbing.
I saw this play years ago. It is by Chris Craddock who can write very funny and disturbing plays. It is a different cast, but the core product is still the same. Should be good. Early reviews aren't promising though.
This is also by Matt Alden. See above.
Raunch: The Rise of the Female Chauvenist Pigs!
I know the author of this. She is funny. It's been awhile since I've seen her though.
Mockingbird Close
This is by Trevor Schmidt. He does a good comedy/musical but he does a terrible one-woman show. This is a two person show. I consider this risky.

Erik's Rule Of Thumb Rating Guide

These are the ratings of the different styles of plays you can see, and what I initially think of them. If you happen to like a style differently than I do, then you may disagree with my review. The number of stars indicates how much I like a particular style.

I will update this site as I find out more.