Opening Night at The Fringe

Off to a great start with two fine shows and a party

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When a person turns 21 we celebrate their coming of age, and I think the same can be said of the 21st Atlantic Fringe Festival.

For two decades this festival has been offering quirky, affordable theatre experiences, and now it’s ready to take its place on a wider stage by attracting an even bigger audience with more local and international shows.

Opening night included two shows at the Neptune Studio and one great party at the Economy Shoe Shop. Die-hard Fringe fans mingled with Fringe-newbies who were lured from the Mezmerize belly dance audience by free beer tickets from the festival sponsor St-Ambroise. It was also a great chance for the local theatre community to meet and greet the out-of-town artists like Carlo Alban who brought his show Intringulis from New York.

Intrigulis is a remarkable one-man show that explores the plight of illegal immigrants in the United States. Alban tells his own story of leaving Ecuador with his parents and one of his siblings to make a new life in New York where they lived in fear of deportation. Alban, who is a talented actor and musician, manages to make his story very specific (I don’t know any other illegal immigrants who starred on Sesame Street!), but also to deal with bigger issues like what it means to belong. And while it might seem easy as Canadians to dismiss the heartbreaking plight of these immigrants as a uniquely American problem, a lively discussion at the post-show party disabused me of that idea. I imagine this show will spark many such discussions.

Mezmerize came with its own built-in audience of exuberant belly dance fans, but this beautiful show will appeal to everyone. It’s a well-paced, well-orchestrated taste of many belly dance forms, woven with some lovely and amusing circus performances. The show is sexy, funny and jaw-droppingly beautiful. It is a celebration of the feminine form in all its shapes and sizes, and the costumes alone are worth the price of admission (especially the spectacular golden Isis wings). Truly a feast for the eyes.

For shows times and locations visit www.atlanticfringe.ca

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