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Vancouver Fringe, Day One

Timing is everything during the 11 days of the Vancouver Fringe. Show times and running times are equally important--every show starts on time, no latecomers allowed, no show is longer than 75 minutes. The map in the Fringe guide includes walking times to the nearby off-island venues, and the time and distance feature of Google maps is essential for navigating the 26 BYOVs throughout the city--independent venues that are on the fringe of the Fringe itself. Who can see the most shows becomes a bit of a game among Fringe volunteers--racing to shows between volunteer shifts, time in the Fringe bar and oh yeah, a full-time job--and the Fringe guide and a watch become a uniform. Day One, game on.

I will admit that Jonno Katz is a Fringe favourite of mine: weirdly creative stories mixed with enthusiastic physicality performed solo with no props. So when I saw he was in this year’s line up with a new show, The Accident, I had to find a show time I could attend. The opening was a beautiful mix of music and movement that introduced two brothers, Roy and Sebastian, and hinted at a slightly more serious story than previous Katz outings--their parents have abandoned them and tough guy Roy takes on the role of brother's keeper because Sebastian might be 'retarded'. The physical clowning was brilliant, but the story, however funny, somewhat missed the bar he set in his opening. One of my favourite things to say after a Jonno Katz show is, “Go see this show, it’s hilarious and he’s amazing, I’ll see it again,” but this time around I’ll just be saying, “Go see this show, it’s hilarious and he’s amazing.”

I only had time for the one show before my first volunteer shift at Performance Works, partly because I wanted to make sure the venue was ready to go. It was, but typical first night chaos ensued anyway--volunteers who didn't show up, training 'floaters' how to sell tickets in 30 seconds, patrons at the wrong venue, patrons who had the wrong tickets, people hanging around and asking what all the fuss was about. The house count for the two shows during my shift were small for the venue but healthy for the first night, and audience members were smiling and still laughing after Today Is All Your Birthdays.



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