With almost 200 shows at the Edmonton International Fringe Festival, it can be a bit overwhelming to decide on what to see. We’ve rounded up a few fan favourites that we’ve watched and enjoyed in previous years that are BACK for Fringe 2023. Plus, keep an eye out as we update our blog with some new recommendations throughout the run of the festival August 17–27.
1) The 11 O’Clock Number! (genre: Improv/Sketch)
Venue: #17, Grindstone Theatre
The cast of The 11 O’Clock Number! check all the boxes for the makings of a great improv team: they’re bursting with energy, they work well together to smooth over slip-ups, and they’re hilarious! In this improvised show, the cast borrows the life story of an audience member to build their musical around. Be sure to bring a friend with you so you have someone to re-live all the inside jokes with as no two shows will be the same.
2) Absolute Magic (genre: Magic)
Venue: #17, La Cité Francophone Auditorium
Voted Toronto’s Best Magician, Keith Brown has been performing magic tricks for over 20 years. This is no surprise—spend a couple minutes in the audience of Absolute Magic and it’s clear that Brown is a seasoned professional. Opening with some jokes, some storytelling, and a whole lot of heart, Brown’s show is sure to stun audiences no matter their age, interests, or background. Magic is for everyone, especially in the hands of Keith Brown.
3) Charade (genre: Comedy/Drama)
Venue: #18, the FOH PRO Stage
Edmonton has its very own Audrey Hepburn?? Based on the 1963 film starring the famous actress, Charade is a romantic-comedy mystery, with a local Fringe cast stepping into multiple roles rather seamlessly—and quite humorously. When Regina Lampert’s husband dies suddenly, she’s pursued by several men itching to find a missing fortune, with local performer Sarah Dowling stepping up as the new doe-eyed Hepburn. No one here may be trustworthy, except for us telling you to see the show.
4) Die-Nasty: The Live Improvised Soap Opera (genre: Improv/Sketch)
Venue: #11, Varscona Theatre
The legendary Die-Nasty Improvised Soap Opera is back! And there’s a reason why this production has been around for 30 years in Edmonton: it’s hilarious, fast-paced, and there’s a new show every time.
5) Epidermis Circus (genre: Cabaret/Variety)
Venue: #18, the FOH PRO Stage
A boob doing stand-up comedy, a rap about pimples, and a tragic love affair between a fuzzy sock and a pair of panties: this is only scratching the surface of Ingrid Hansen’s Epidermis Circus. Although Hansen usually puppeteers for Sesame and Henson, she forgoes puppets for her Fringe performance. Relying on props, cameras, and her own body, Hansen creates a unique puppet cabaret that will undoubtedly leave audiences talking.
6) Fake n’ Bake (genre: Comedy/Drama)
Venue: #29, Roxy Theatre’s Lorne Cardinal Theatre
A bit of singing and humour softens the true story about one woman’s struggle with her identity, an eating disorder, and various addictions, but it doesn’t weaken the messaging. Ellie Heath’s experience is relatable and shared genuinely, even when accompanied by the dramatized demons in her head and a round of audience singalong.
7) God Is a Scottish Drag Queen (genre: Comedy)
Venue: #24, Garneau Theatre
Fringe veteran Mike Delamont is back with his much-loved character, God, who just happens to be a Scottish man in a woman’s power suit. Fans of previous iterations of this show are sure to love God’s usual outrageous insights on politics, celebrity news, and other current events. Due to his many converts over the years, this show is quick to sell out, so it’s best to get your tickets sooner than later!
8) Late Night Cabaret (genre: Cabaret/Variety)
Venue: #02, Fringe Theatre Arts Barn’s Sea Change Backstage Theatre
A staple of the Edmonton Fringe for many years, this variety show is a guaranteed good time! Improvisers host an evening of live music, interviews, and previews of Fringe shows. You won’t know what to expect when you tuck in to your seat, but you can be assured a night filled with crazy antics and laughter!
9) Off Book: The Musical (genre: Improv/Sketch)
Venue: #12, Rapid Fire Exchange
A frequent hit at the Fringe, a talented team from Rapid Fire Theatre improvise a live musical with an accompanying pianist after asking the audience for a location they’ve never seen a musical set in before. Though several plots get started and seem to go off in different directions, the actors always manage to tie them together and conclude the show in a surprising and uplifting way—with many memorable and funny tunes!
Looking for reviews from this year? We’ve been binge watching shows and updating our favourites in another post!