Charlatan: a person falsely claiming to have a special knowledge or skill; a fraud.

From the start, Travis Bernhardt claims this may or may not work: an admitted charlatan. But it does work, and well.

He invites us into his cult, asks us to lift our veil and be open to possibilities which is the very premise on which magic is based. If you are willing to play along, you will laugh and gasp and…take deep breaths? Travis Bernhardt, known for his sleight of hand, brings sleight of mind to this year’s Fringe show, where he reaches...

This production begins with a rousing welcome from a large ensemble of singers. Two-thirds of the-way through, marking a passenger revolt, the talented ensemble is turned loose again and the production bristles with energy. Much of this energy is sustained to the happy, and open, ending.

The first two-thirds of the production are necessarily quieter as we are introduced to a series of characters, mostly in pairs so that the relationships between them and the dysfunctions within them can be unfurled. I found all of these paired performances to be engaging, though quiet and sometimes a bit sketchy,...

This one woman performance  features Diane Barnes, an African-American from California who was practising as a doctor when, at 38, she suffered a stroke while riding her precious horse.

Barnes is a single mother with two adopted boys. This story takes us through her stroke in 2005 and her journey of recovery and discovery since – as a professional and as mother. She recounts in a personal, emotional and sensitive way how she gets to know and accept her changes. This story is from Barnes' point of view -  taking the audience member through a painful and confusing trip on the...

What I expected was stand-up, with a definite nod to the 12 steps of recovery, as so many comics before have been through. What I didn’t expect was original songs, wrenched from the gut slam poetry forged in bodily fluids and the feverish imaginings of a person scraping through the mud, and tales of comrades on the same campaign, struggling with the same demons, searching for those angels of their better nature. Richard Lett has been a moderately successful stand-up comic for several decades, but like so many performers, courage, creativity and reactions came supercharged from external chemical changes. Not...

As I was waiting for Badmatch to start, I chatted with my seatmate about our own experiences with online dating in Vancouver. Clearly it is a subject many are familiar with since Studio 16 was sold out for the show. In Badmatch, Leanne Kuzminski shares the love lessons she learns on her dates from hell as she tries to find love in Vancouver’s notoriously aloof dating scene.

I was a bit impatient with the opening sequence when they asked the audience to recount our first loves and what we would do on our perfect date. All I really wanted was for them to...

Even though the subtitle is actually, “A dark and twisted folktale about a mildly farfetched, highly illegal immigration across metaphysical borders,” I hereby proclaim it as: “Endearingly charming. Mostly magically sweet.” Once Once Producciones based in Mexico City have put together this world premiere and it's one to catch if you can. An aside: “once” in Spanish means eleven.

If you forget the dark and twisted part for a moment, it really is still a story of boy meets girl and the extents that young people will go to in order to be with the one they have fallen...

Charles Ross’s latest geek-fest on speed does the MST3K/RiffTraks treatment to Christopher Nolan’s Caped Crusader trilogy. Told in three acts, with effective, simple lighting, an impressive arsenal of self-propelled sound effects, and impeccable impersonations of trademark celebrity characters, this romp mercilessly lampoons the plot holes, hyperbole and ham-tastic performances that makes Nolan’s take on the DC Dark Knight’s tale a fan’s bushel of belly laughs.

For fans of comic/graphic novel lore and the blockbuster extravaganzas they inspire, come see this tour de force. Ross delights and amazes with his faithful and reverent satire of the trilogy. Come see this show if you’re...

Sharing an audience with Stuart MacLean's Vinyl Cafe crowd, Elliott's homage to a semi-rural Ontario childhood nostalgia-fest is a sure-fire crowd pleaser for anyone from the generation prior to the last three letters of the alphabet. This musical and moving image performance is a confident, well performed and very personal visit to a past that is comforting to the intended audience and likely quite foreign to anyone born after 1970. The subject matter and imagery described and shown is both familiar and nostalgic. The reminiscences are important to recognize, as history informs who we are, even as emotionally reliving...

Maybe it's just luck. This year's Fringe has settled into an overall thematic arc for me about substance abuse and bad decision making. Temptation in this case comes from spirits, and not just the spirit of adventure. We know there is ego involved, as well as power and control. Who has it, and who wants it?

Temptation, history, short term choices balancing long term preferences. Albee and Pinter might nod at the homage. The audience responded well to the continuous reveals, and the plot thickened nicely as the temperature was raised through reluctant alcohol-fuelled reveals.

The simple, functional set...

When your mentor is Yoda and your friends are Sam and Frodo, you need nothing more than the script in your head to live the life you want. Especially when you have the Wolverine three pronged plan and your cactus at your side.

William vs. the World is a stream of pop culture references mostly for boys of the 90s with song and real stories from the geek front lines interweaved throughout. We watch William recount the pain of childhood, construct a carefully planned sanctuary underground, and then navigate through the early stages of adulthood determined to protect...

When rabbit comes hopping out in her bunny suit, one might suppose these two forest creatures are all cute and fluffy. They do seem so on the surface with the soft coats and noses twitching. Are these wild creatures or creatures of comfort looking for their square of land in the high priced land of luxury?

Mika Laulainen has written a clever mix of slapstick comedy and dark statements on environmental profit-mongering all wrapped up in cute fluffy animal costumes.

There are two pieces in this performance set at different speeds. Rabbit and Raccoon find themselves at odds...

Usually stories take a particular path to reach a particular conclusion. We have been lead to believe that order in a story is important to its outcome. We believe that even a collection of stories has an order that is preordained. Jem Rolls has pushed that concept off the back of the train as he tells tales of his travels in seemingly random order.

The order of the stories told in GET LOST Jem Rolls is random. Decided by pink cards distributed throughout the audience, shuffled and reordered with each show, no one, not the storyteller nor the...

The first time I saw Robert Plant walk on stage I screamed like the fan girl I was. When John Bonham died, I cried. So when Stadium Tour brought Zeppelin was a Cover Band to Vancouver Fringe this year, I was curious to say the least.  

Part dinner conversation, part documentary, and part rock concert, Stefan Cedilot takes the audience from Africa to the Mississippi Delta and Chicago to England where the four members of Led Zeppelin got together and became one of the greatest bands of all time. From session musician to the genius behind their...

There’s an obvious choice of word that comes to mind when you hear “the F word”.

It’s the polite stand-in for an expression of profanity, although the full range of this word’s meanings and uses are substantially more diverse. As far as connotations of the word go, it’s very useful. But it’s far from being the most expressive, exciting, or meaningful "F" word in the English vocabulary. Through well-integrated and interspersed PowerPoint slides, playwright and performer Yvette Dudley-Neuman introduces and unravels the definitions of some of the more overlooked "F" words, exploring their significance through the life of...

Hands Around by Arthur Schnitzler, translated by A. Koren, adapted by Dylan Coulter, is disturbing because, though first read aloud in 1900, it is relevant today in its far too realistic account of the messy, gory, sinister assortment that is love.

Set in 1980, Vienna, the story follows ten individuals as they power-play each other in the name of love. As Hands Around progresses, lips are kissed, promises are broken and betrayal becomes expected. There is not simply one perspective of love. One man believes that "all men, really, become disgusted by love." A married man admits to his...

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