Don’t Panic. Yes, the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival has started; yes, the theme this year is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; and yes, there are hundreds of artists doing everything from improv and magic to original musicals and gut-wrenching plays. BUT! We’ve been trampling the grounds binge-watching shows so you can get the best informed recommendations—just consider us your necessary towel as you travel the Old Strathcona galaxy till August 27. Now get Fringing!
Bent Compass | Genre: Storytelling
Venue: 06 (The Gateway Theatre)
An impactful tour de force, this 60-minute story packs a serious punch. A former US Army Medic recounts his time in Iraq with blinding speed and a signature wit. Nestled between stories of the battlefield, Bent Compass offers reflections on humanity that will resonate with civilians and veterans alike. Go see this show, you won’t be sorry.
Charlie’s Riot | Genre: Drama
Venue: 20 (The Sewing Machine Factory)
A love letter to the Riot Grrrl, this one-woman show dazzles. Interrogating sexism in the punk movement, women’s rights to bodily autonomy, and growing up in small town New Brunswick, Charlie’s Riot is a memorable and poignant story that will have you thinking long after you leave the theatre.
Eleanor’s Story: An American Girl in Hitler’s Germany | Genre: Drama
Venue: 08 (Old Strathcona Performing Arts Centre)
A true story adapted from an award-winning memoir, this show is masterfully brought to life by Eleanor’s granddaughter, who takes viewers on an emotional journey that is both haunting and deeply resonant. The juxtaposition of young Eleanor’s innocence against a backdrop of historical turmoil creates a deeply moving narrative, strengthened with audio and visual effects. Come for this blend of history, personal struggle, and universal themes and receive a lasting impression.
Il Tabarro | Genre: Music/Musical Theatre
Venue 21 (Holy Trinity Anglican Church, The Sanctuary Stage)
Get ready for all the drama, romance, and intrigue of Puccini’s classic operas with this amazing one act, produced by Pop Goes the Opera. Set in 1900s Paris, Il Tabbaro follows the crew of a barge docked in the Seine. Stunning vocals, charismatic performances, and tragic betrayal make this the perfect show for opera lovers and newcomers alike.
In Waking Life | Genre: Comedy
Venue: 07 (Chianti Yardbird Suite)
Delightfully odd and downright hilarious, the Synsk Sisters are two psychics operating “illegally” at the 42 annual Edmonton Fringe Festival. Join them and their eclectic family (complete with Uncle 8-ball and Crystal Ball) as they answer your burning questions, analyze your dreams, and maybe even help you find true love. Voted the best of the Toronto Fringe, this is the first time the Synsk Sisters have visited Edmonton, so make sure to go show them some love!
Krampus: A New Musical | Genre: Music/Musical Theatre
Venue: 13 (SERVUS Credit Union Theatre, La Cité Francophone)
You may know Krampus, Santa’s evil counterpart who punishes naughty children, but you won’t know what happens next in this new original musical. Delve into the darker aspects of the holiday season with a mix of music, storytelling, and intrigue as two children—and their whole family—learn about the power of lies. Known for their musicals, Straight Edge Theatre continues its streak of sourcing strong actors and singers.
Millennial Sex Witch | Genre: Cabaret/Variety
Venue: 28 (Nancy Power Theatre, The Roxy)
Are you ready for a provocative and rebellious cabaret variety experience that doesn’t hold back? Lilith Fair has returned for another Fringe to fearlessly explore contemporary issues, sexuality, and subversion, all wrapped up in a wild and electrifying package. The drag cabaret features original songs, cheeky (lol) dancing, political commentary, and a rave-like atmosphere. Come get wild.
Morningside Road | Genre: Music/Musical Theatre
Venue: 18 (the FOH PRO Stage)
This show presents a poignant Celtic musical that delves into the search for truth, the ties that bind generations, and the complexities of memory and reality. It centers on a girl seeking guidance and wisdom from her grandmother, drawing on her memories of growing up in Scotland, which weave between present and past on the stage. As the grandmother’s memories are affected by dementia, the stories she shares begin to shift and change, and the intricacies of memory and reality are challenged. The music adds depth and authenticity to the Scottish connection, aided by the three talented actors, one of whom switches seamlessly between North American and Scottish accents.
Puck Bunnies | Genre: Comedy
Another hit from Guys in Disguise, this production takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to exploring the phenomenon of female hockey fans known as puck bunnies. It offers a lens through which to examine the intersection of sports, fandom, and relationships, all while providing plenty of comedic moments and a touch of social commentary.
SHE/THEY | Genre: Comedy/Drama
This is a layered and socially relevant play that delves into cancel culture, feminism, gender identity, and family dynamics. Through the characters of Agnes and Pearl, the play explores generational clashes and ideological debates, inviting audiences to reflect on their own beliefs and perspectives.
Sweet Jesus – The Gospel According to Felt | Genre: Satire
Jesus is back and he’s unimpressed with humanity. Through its satirical lens and felt puppetry, the play sheds light on the complex interactions between religion, society, and personal beliefs, providing an entertaining and engaging platform for discussion and reflection.
Talk Treaty to Me | Genre: Comedy/Drama
Venue: 06 (The Gateway Theatre)
Two friends, two puppets, and 75 minutes of great theatre: Talk Treaty to Me has got it all! Equal parts heartwarming, hilarious, and honest, this show exposes the profound impacts of colonialism with an incisive wit.
The Cabin on Bald Dune | Genre: Comedy/Drama
Venue: 11 (Varscone Theatre)
An isolated cabin and conflicting personalities—what could go wrong? This story explores themes of desires, identity, and the complexities of human relationships, specifically that of former classmates, soon-to-be business partners Jeanie and Clara. The show navigates the thin line between comedy and drama with slow-burn tension and two strong actors, both Edmonton Fringe veterans.
The Catalogue of Sexual Anxieties | Genre: Music/Musical Theatre
Venue: 08 (Old Strathcona Performing Arts Centre)
This daring show delves into the intimate lives of three women from different countries, revealing a common thread of shared experiences and challenges. The Hysterical Ladies highlight their true stories, hidden secrets, and historical sex facts that showcase the enduring struggles and absurdities faced by women across time and cultures, using wit and sensitivity to emphasize the universality of these experiences. While the show is a touch long, they make strong use of their vocals throughout the show with original songs and don’t shy away from taboo subjects, blending entertainment with meaningful reflection. You’re sure to learn a thing or two.
The Sherlock Holmes Experience | Genre: Storytelling
Venue: 37 (221B Baker Street)
This famous detective needs help preventing a murder! Are you up for the job? Head down to 221B Baker Street (otherwise known as the black structure outside the Fringe Theatre Arts Barns) and you will be handed a letter and a map. Unlock your inner sleuth as you search for clues around the Fringe grounds and return to the 221B once you’ve solved the riddle for a special surprise.
UNDERBELLY | Genre: Physical Theatre
Venue: 04 (Walterdale Theatre)
Back for another year, this iconic clown show is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before. Often called a master of physical comedy, Nayana Fielkov gets weird on the Walterdale Stage—complete with “monsters, dismemberment, shower-opera, inconceivable truths, and a hot date.” Sounds intriguing right? Don’t miss out on the fun, get your ticket now.
We also rounded up some tried-and-true fan favourites that have returned for another successful year (so try to get your tickets early!). Edmonton Fringe Theatre Festival runs until August 27!