While Edmonton’s Fringe Festival welcomes performers and audiences from around the world, it is the hometown crowd who will most appreciate the distinctly local flavour of Letters to Noce.
That’s Robert Noce, a prominent local lawyer, former Edmonton city councillor and veteran of two mayoral runs. Noce may have lost his bids for the mayor’s chair, but don’t try telling playwright and star Vanessa Lever that her knight in shining armour is a loser.
After catching a glimpse of Noce while she worked at a law firm in Scotia Place, Lever hatched the idea of a play about a Value Village employee who makes Noce the object of her obsession. Her compulsive letter-writing to the dashing litigator is met with a restraining order, which is a lot funnier in the play than it might be in real life.
Letters to Noce is Lever’s first full-length solo writing debut and she showcases a quick wit and geek heart, both about pop culture and Edmonton in general (she even manages to implicate herself in the conspiracy surrounding former Oiler Chris Pronger’s untimely departure from the team).
It is definitely a highlight from this year’s fest (Stage 4).
Moving from obsession to potential repression, Who’s Afraid of Tippi Seagram is just as fun but much lewder and bawdier. Don’t say you weren’t warned. Seagram is a fading Hollywood star, evoking Catherine O’Hara’s wonderful turn as Lola Heatherton on SCTV, and is the creation of Hamilton housewife and mother of three Colette Kendall. It’s the stereotype of Kendall’s quaint Steeltown domesticity that makes her stream of jaw-dropping innuendo all the more hilarious.
From comparing a part of her anatomy to the face of former prime minister John Diefenbaker to recounting her sexual exploits in the underbelly of Tinseltown, Kendall’s balance of comedic timing and capacity to riff on the crowd make her worthy of her Canadian Comedy Award nomination.
Ms. Seagram can be found at the Laugh Shop (Stage 2). Whyte Avenue has a comedy club. Who knew?