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Dancing cancer, masked Grim Reaper visit Fringe Fest

Eclectic festival continues until Sept. 18

The Vancouver International Fringe Festival runs until Sept. 18. For more information, go to

This Is Cancer

At Performance Works

Sept. 15, 16 and 17

Dont be afraid of this show: its amazingly funny and cathartic for all of us who are scared witless by the C word. Creator/performer Bruce Horakas a character called Canceris rigged out in an outrageous, shiny, skin-coloured, body-hugging spandex body suit with huge tumors bulging out here and there. A cancer survivor himself, Horak is utterly irreverent and engaging in a sly, sinister way. He singsaccompanied by a trio called the Inoperablesand dances, or something approaching dance, but best of all he eventually invites someone from the audience to come up and settle some scores on behalf of us all. The afternoon I attended, a very fit, very determined young woman beat the tar out of him with a spongy noodle. And the crowd went wild. Horak, on a serious note, makes an interesting observation: death by canceras opposed to simply dropping deadgives us time to say our farewells to those who enriched and enlivened our lives. Not a good reason to start smoking or to continue working in an asbestos plant but possibly the only good thing one can say about the Big Bad C.


Grim and Fischer

At Performance Works

Sept. 16 and 18

In oversize, full-face masks, Kate Braidwood and Andrew Phoenix weave a wondrous tale about old-but-feisty Mrs. Fischer facing off against Grim (a.k.a. The Grim Reaper). Its wordless, but with a slight tilt of the head or flicker of the hand, we all know what the old gal or Grim would be saying. Were all rooting for Granny Fischer as she outwits death (by hiding in the bathroom) or hitting him with a frying pan. Like Rocky, she works out and prepares for a high noon showdown, which comes with a sweet twist and one last, motor-revving fling. But death and taxes do catch up with all of us; Braidwood and Phoenix make this moment poignant, not tragic, and we just know that Mrs. Fischer is looking forward to meeting up again with dear departed Mr. Fischer in whose jacket she wraps herself. Poetry without words; simple and simply beautiful.


Sally Lives Here

At The Cultch

Sept. 17 and 18

Written and performed by Lynna Goldhar Smith and directed by Sarah Rodgers, Sally Lives Here is a made in B.C. show. Smith, as mid-30s Sally, refers to Kamloops, 100 Mile House, Prince George, Rivers Inlet and, closer to home, Kitsilano. But Smith cuts right to the bone when the houses around Aunt Phoebes (where Sally has been living) are being bulldozed to make way for condos. Somehow, though, its hard to relate to wide-eyed, child-like Sally. Were not sure if shes mentally challenged or just guileless. But how can she have just suddenly noticed scratchy old Phoebe hasnt been paying her property taxes for enough years to allow foreclosure? Sally doesnt appear to have any sort of job so has she been freeloading off the old gal all this time? The elderly aunt is scheduled to go into a care facility but where will Sally go? Smith plays all the roles from Phoebe to Sals old flame Louie and she does it well. Its telling, however, that Aunt Phoebe, whom we never see, piques our interest more than Sally.