As first-timers on the Fringe Festival circuit, Kate Braidwood and Andrew Phoenix of Wonderheads couldn’t have wished for a better reception.
After winning best of the Fringe accolades in Calgary, Edmonton and Victoria, the praise for their production Grim & Fischer hasn’t stopped.
“We had no idea it would do so well,” says Braidwood, thrilled that Grim & Fischer was one of six shows chosen as Pick of the Fringe in Vancouver on Sunday.
Grim & Fischer is a deathly comedy with heart and absurd humour, and shows what it is to know that death’s hand is close.
The show is performed in full-face mask, a unique form that mixes European larval mask traditions with full-face character styles resulting in a form unlike any other seen on North American stages.
Audiences have described the experience as watching a living cartoon – the whimsy and imagination of Pixar or Jim Henson in theatrical form.
Braidwood used her experience with watching grandparents age for the story behind Grim & Fischer.
“The nice thing about this full-face mask, cartoonesque form is it lets you do more whimsical imaginative things,” says Braidwood, who grew up in Maple Ridge but now lives in Portland, Oregon.
“That is harder to do with more straight theatre. We can take Death and make him a real character. We can kind of personify him and show something more removed from our normal reality. It let’s us in – in a different way.”
Wonderheads will now tour Grim & Fischer in the U.S., but will be back in Vancouver to play at the Clutch in East Vancouver.
This Is Cancer, The Progressive Polygamists, Big Shot, Little Orange Man and Peter ‘n’ Chris were the other Pick Of the Fringe winners.
Monster Theatre’s Tara Travis (née Goerzen), another Maple Ridge secondary grad and Fringe fest regular, will be in The Shakespeare Show, which plays at Waterfront Theatre on Friday, Sept. 23 at 7 p.m.
You can catch Grim & Fischer on Thursday, Sept. 22 at 9 p.m. and Friday, Sept. 23 at 8:50 p.m. at the Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island. For tickets, www.vancouverfringe.com