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Theatre Reviews

This year’s Win­nipeg Fringe Fes­ti­val fea­tures over 170 dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies pre­sent­ing shows in a vari­ety of gen­res includ­ing com­e­dy, dra­ma, improv, dance, musi­cals, cabarets, children’s shows, spo­ken word and mul­ti-media. It’s impos­si­ble to see all of the shows dur­ing the 12 days of the Fringe. So, you will have to choose which shows you are going to see. The fol­low­ing tips will hope­ful­ly make your Fringe expe­ri­ence enjoyable. 

1. Buy a pro­gram. They cost $5 and are avail­able right now at Liquor Marts and the Roy­al Man­i­to­ba The­atre Cen­tre. After the Fringe starts Wednes­day night, they will be avail­able at the var­i­ous venues. After you buy a pro­gram, read it. If a show descrip­tion sounds inter­est­ing, chances are you’ll like the show and you should go see it. 

2. Talk to oth­er Fringers. Get to shows ear­ly and talk to oth­er peo­ple wait­ing in line. Also, after the venue opens and you get a seat, talk to the per­son next to you. Ask them what oth­er shows they’ve seen and what they liked and did not like. Try to engage in a mean­ing­ful con­ver­sa­tion. If some­one tells you they saw an amaz­ing show, ask them what was so spe­cial about it? Was it the act­ing? The script? The direc­tion? If a per­son can describe to me what was won­der­ful and get me excit­ed about that show, chances are that I will go and see it. 

3. Be media savvy. Read a wide vari­ety of media out­lets. Win­nipeg has a lot of media out­lets that cov­er the Fringe. The list includes the Win­nipeg Free Press, CBC, UMFM, and the Jen­ny Revue. Each day each of these out­lets post dozens of reviews. Read them. If you read a review and the review makes the show sound inter­est­ing, go see it. Do not only look at the star rat­ings media out­lets assign to a show because star rat­ings are not con­sis­tent between review­ers (i.e. Two review­ers can have dif­fer­ent def­i­n­i­tions of 4 stars). I’ve seen bril­liant 2 stars shows and rather dull 5 star shows. 

4. When plan­ning what shows to see, think about how you are feel­ing. If you’re tired, don’t see intense dra­ma. Gen­er­al­ly, I see the heav­ier shows (dra­ma) ear­li­er in the day when my brain is most alert and save the come­dies for the late night shows. 

5. Buy a Fringe pass at the Roy­al Man­i­to­ba The­atre Cen­tre, which saves a cou­ple of bucks off the stan­dard $12 tick­et price. 

6. If you are still not sure what show you might want to see, try one of the shows that offers 2 tick­ets for the price of 1 (2 for $12). They are high­light­ed in yel­low in the pro­gram. Many shows also offer dis­count­ed rates for stu­dents, seniors and after­noon shows. After all, every Win­nipeg­ger likes a bargain. 

7. Wear com­fort­able walk­ing shoes. Even though most venues are close to Old Mar­ket Square, you will have to stand in line, because they don’t open up the venues until about 15 min­utes before the show. 

8. Bring a water bot­tle (or two or three). Dur­ing the sum­mer, it can actu­al­ly get pret­ty hot in Win­nipeg. We’ve had a heat wave dur­ing the last cou­ple of weeks. Some venues have poor air cir­cu­la­tion. So drink lots of water. 

9. Lis­ten to the radio and find out the weath­er before you head down to the Fringe. Or, google Envi­ron­ment Cana­da to get the weath­er. And dress appro­pri­ate­ly for the weather. 

10. Between shows, check out the free music and ven­dors in Old Mar­ket Square. 

11. Even if you see the absolute worst show in the world, there’s always the beer tent in Old Mar­ket Square to look for­ward too!