Across the Board Game Cafe

I’m interrupting my Fringe reviews to post a restaurant one. Although, it does have a Fringe connection. Across the Board Game Cafe is a new restaurant located just off of Old Market Square. For many years the space was occupied by The Fyxx, and then by something else whose name I don’t remember. I used to go to The Fyxx whenever festivals were on for their frozen teas. This year I decided to find out what Across the Board Game had to offer.

Across the Board games

There are plenty of games to choose from at the Across the Board Game Cafe.

Across the Board Dining Options:

When you walk up the stairs into the restaurant one of the first things that strikes you is the number of shelves full of board games. This is not a place with a restaurant and a couple of old Monopoly sets around. They seem to have just about every board game imaginable. $5.00 will get you game play that is generally unlimited unless the place is really busy in which case they reserve the right to impose a three hour limit. Not sure what game to play, there are employees there to recommend and explain various options to you.

Even more Across the Board Games

Even more games to choose from.

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Stitch in Time – Knitting Cabaret

Yes, the title is not a misprint. Last night at The Fringe I went to see Stitch in Time: A Knitting Cabaret. You might wonder what would make anyone go see a show on knitting. I have a two word answer. Melanie Gall. I enjoy any type of show that involves good singing, and Ms. Gall is a very good singer. She is my can’t miss performer when it comes to The Fringe.

Beyond her singing Ms. Gall’s approach to her subject matter helps to set her shows apart. Surprising as it may seem, songs about knitting could be open to ridicule. Yet Ms. Gall treats them for what they are historical artifacts from a bygone era. It should be noted also, that all the songs in the show are real songs about knitting. At one point in the show Ms. Gall stated that she had now collected almost 100 different songs.

Stitch prop

A single microphone is the only prop used in Stitch in Time

Stitch in Time: Show Times

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Essentia – Winnipeg Fringe

As those who read this blog regularly are aware, I have my favourite places and spaces. Most recently Fools and Horses Coffee has becomes such a place. Coffee shops seem to be a great way to get to meet creative people, as so many of them work in the service industry to pay their bills. This is how I ended up taking in Essentia. 

Essentia is a dance show collaboration between Hilary Crist and Janelle Hacault, two young dancers/choreographers. Ms Hacault also works at Fools and Horses, and when she told me about her show I put it on my list of shows to take in.

Essentia: Show Times

Essentia consists of two works. Each of the two performers having choreographed one of the pieces. The first is The Hopeless Dream of Being (Crist choreographer), The second is Impimatur (Hacault choreographer). While different in style and tone, each work has a theme of conflict that runs throughout the piece.

Essentia Cover

From the Essentia program cover

Conflict is unsettling, and both pieces project a certain violence that leaves you on edge. It is perhaps more unsettling for the fact that in many cases it is muted.
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Sea Wall – Theatre By the River

One of the things that The Fringe Festival reminds us of every year is how much acting talent Winnipeg possesses. Some of this talent only appears at The Fringe, but much of it is available all year round. Theatre by the River is one such company.* This company has been producing challenging and entertaining theatre works for the last decade, and their 2015 Fringe show Sea Wall is no exception.

Sea Wall: Show TImes

Sea Wall draws us into the life of Alex. In the beginning it is a life almost anyone would want to be part of. Yet Alex’s life is not as it appears. What ensues is an intense, look into the life of a man whose world is changing in ways that he is not prepared for. Along the way if also forces the audience to ask questions of themselves and the things that shape the way they live.

A large part of what makes Sea Wall so compelling is the performance of Rodrigo Beilfuss as Alex. Told as a monologue the story requires the use of the audience’s imagination for scene setting. Beilfuss does a great job of painting word pictures that allow you to imagine yourself being in the story’s various locales.

Sea Wall Program

Program cover from Sea Wall.

From the beginning Beilfuss projects a warmth and likability that draws the audience into his story. He does this so thoroughly and completely that, as the story turns darker, you realize you couldn’t abandon it even if you wanted to.  On top of this he creates empathy that guarantees you won’t want to.

The play is only 30 minutes in length. This is a good thing. Given the intensity of the subject matter and the depth of Beifuss’s performance a longer play might be too overwhelming.

Sea Wall is must-see Fringe.

*Make sure you check out Theatre by the River’s Wine and Words next spring.

Chess-Winnipeg Fringe Festival

One  would think that the game of chess wouldn’t make for a good dramatic subject. However, throw in some Cold War politics, a character based on a quirky legend, and you have the makings of an interesting show. This is the premise of the musical Chess. Created by lyricist Tim Rice (Jesus Christ Superstar) and Bjõrn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson of ABBA fame, Chess explores the collision of politics and popular cultural. Think of it as the Summit Series without Paul Henderson.

Chess Poster

Poster for Chess – The Musical

Chess: Show Times

If Chess were a movie it might begin with a screenshot saying “inspired by true events.” In this case the events are the Fischer-Spassky World Chess Championship match of 1972.

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Lorca – Bolero Dance Theatre

I’ve been visiting The Fringe Festival regularly for about the last five years. Lately, I’ve been attempting to see a dozen or more show a year. I have various criteria for choosing what shows to see. My number criteria, however, is shows that are put on by people that I have a connection to. Lorca, by the Bolero Dance Theatre is one of those shows.

Bolero Dance Theatre is a Winnipeg dance troupe promoting traditional Spanish dance. Led by Pedro Aurelio, my connection to them is that they rent space at St. Philip’s, where I’m priest. They’ve been great tenants and always a pleasure to work with. Their presence at St. Philip’s has also introduced me to a really enjoyable dance company that I might never have heard of otherwise. When I found out they would be doing a show at The Fringe, I immediately put it on my list of shows to check out.

Lorca program

The cover shot from the Lorca program

Lorca: Show Times

Lorca tells the story of Frederico Garcia Lorca, an early 20th century Spanish poet and political victim. Along with the arc of his life, the show focuses on his close relationship with the painter Salvador Dali. A relationship that waxed and waned over the years. Continue reading