Fringe Festival kicks off its 16th year – what I’m seeing

Tonight the Fringe Festival hosted their kick-off to the eleven day drama festival, with more than 50 companies performing in more than 400 performances. The theatre space at the Lincoln Alexander Performing Arts Centre was filled with eager attendees looking for a taste of what the next week and a half will bring. The night was packed with the companies pitching their shows to the crowd, but also a host of guests looking to steal the show.

With so many shows filling the many venues over the next eleven days it’s not possible to take them all in. There are certainly more shows that I want to see than there is time. Below you can a few of the shows that stood out to me tonight.

I’ll see you at the FRINGE!


Black Wool Jacket

bike circus (Toronto, ON)
Comedy | 60 minutes | Mills Hardware
Audience: Parental Guidance

Black Wool Jacket spins true tales from a wild nightclub coat check. Meet Nat, bookish PhD student in desperate need of a side job. When the only gig she finds is checking jackets deep in the heart of Toronto’s late-night entertainment district, she doesn’t expect to last long. But armed with an ear for eavesdropping, she retraces stories that people share, when they think no one is listening or likely to remember in the morning.

Cast: Natalie Frijia


Confessions of an Operatic Mute

No Fixed Address Productions (Toronto, ON)
Comedy | 60 minutes | Mills Hardware
Audience: Parental Guidance

Canadian Comedy Award recipient, Briane Nasimok remounts his critically acclaimed show. CBC Writes – “One of the Top Ten Fringe Shows Not to Miss!”

“He had the audience eating out of his hand. The script is well-written as benefits a seasoned Gemini-nominated writer.”
Rosie Fernandez, CBC Manitoba

CAST: Briane Nasimok


Bushtits, Shihtzus & Private Dicks: All’s Fur in Love & Noir

Theatrically Obsessed (Calgary, AB)
Theatre | 60 minutes | The Players Guild
Audience: Parental Guidance

When Les buys the iconic fedora worn by a famed 1940’s movie detective, the lines between reality and film noir begin to blur as Les discovers a series of suspicious pet deaths around his apartment building. Dial-P for Pet Detective and “Say goodbye to my furry friend!” as two actors and 14 crazy characters take you through a mad-cap caper of stylistic fantasy with bust-a-knee-cap laughs. Deemed a “must see” show loved by audiences from Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton in 2018!

Cast: Trevor Matheson & Melissa Dorsey


Promise and Promiscuity: A New Musical by Jane Austen and Penny Ashton

Penash Productions (Auckland, NZ)
Musical| 70 minutes | BYOV # 2: Staircase Cafe Theatre (Main Space)
Audience: Parental Guidance

Join Miss Elspeth as she battles literary snobbery, cousin Horatio’s digestions and her mother’s nerves, armed only with a blushing countenance, excellent ukulele skills & being quite bright, you know… for a girl. Kiwi Penny Ashton tackles all of Austen’s characters with song, dance & appalling cross-stitching.


Izzy and the Naz

Izzy and the Naz (Toronto, ON)
Theatre | 50 minutes | Theatre Aquarius Studio
Audience: Mature

Two storytellers, two chairs, more than two stories. Four-time CBC Literary Prize finalist, Izzy Ferguson and Canadian Comedy Award recipient and Gemini Award nominated writer, Briane Nasimok share the stage to regale their audiences with tales of romance, adventure, loss and triumph and imbecility – in their new Fringe show. Originally chosen 6th on the waiting list, they now need your help to break even. WARNING: Mature Content, Strong Language, Gun Shots, Strobe Lights, Nudity, Fog Machine

Cast: Izzy Ferguson, Briane Nasimok


Swipe Right For Love: A Musical Improv Show

The Understudies (Hamilton, ON)
Comedy | 75 minutes | BYOV # 2: Staircase Cafe Theatre (Elaine Mae Theatre)
Audience: Mature

The Understudies are back for their fourth consecutive Hamilton Fringe with Swipe Right For Love, the musical improv show for anyone who’s familiar with the wonders and blunders of modern dating. Spontaneous scenes and songs will be inspired by your suggestions… whether the result is “happily ever after” or great material for laughter, we can’t wait to hear them! WARNING: Mature Content

Cast: Adriana Alfano, Kristi Boulton, Michael Divinski, Andrew Hopps
Musician: Steve McRae
Stage Manager: Rose Usenica


Jimmy Hogg: Like A Virgin

Jimmy Hogg (Toronto, ON/Plymouth, UK)
Comedy | 60 minutes | BYOV # 2: Staircase Cafe Theatre (Bright Room)
Audience: Parental Guidance

Multiple award-winning English comedian, and fringe favourite Jimmy Hogg arrives in Hamilton with his “piss your pants funny” (Plank Magazine) comedy about the trials of youth, love, and loss (of virginity). Physical, fast-paced, hilarious storytelling from a veteran of the Fringe circuit. “Hogg is sharp as a whip and effortlessly charming…” – Uptown Magazine, Winnipeg. “Dickens would love this guy.” – Orlando Sentinel WARNINGS: Mature Content, Strong Language

Directed by: Chris Wilson
CAST: Jimmy Hogg


Leila Live!

Bad Girl Leila (Toronto, ON)
Comedy | 60 minutes | BYOV # 3: The Cotton Factory
Audience: Parental Guidance

Leila is back in Hamilton with a brand new cabaret! This real-life Persian Princess is seeking a real guy who is trusting, healthy and has his Canadian citizenship. Must enjoy authentic middle eastern cuisine, hypnotic dance moves, and little bit of fluff and scruff. Swipe right for acting, singing, dancing, rapping, comedy, impressions, sound effects and puppetry. WARNING: Mature Content, Strong Language

Cast: Leila
Playwright: Leila
Director: Leila’s Mother
Designer: Leila



Drawing Board Productions (Toronto, ON)
Comedy | 60 minutes | Mills Hardware
Audience: Parental Guidance

You’ve heard the jokes about bedwetters, but have you ever listened to the stories? Tamlynn Bryson recounts her sometimes heartbreaking, often hilarious, and completely true story of becoming a woman while still feeling like a child. Warning: Mature Content, Strong Language

Cast: Tamlynn Bryson
Playwright: Tamlynn Bryson and Kyle Kimmerly
Director: Kyle Kimmerly


Fairytale Femdom

Squeaky Wheel Production (Toronto, ON)
Comedy | 60 minutes | Theatre Aquarius Studio
Audience: Mature

Professional Dominatrix, Mistress Winter, has long been content to forego the husband, house, dog and white picket fence in order to keep doing the exciting and strange work that she loves. After all, there’s no prince charming carrying a glass, thigh-high, stiletto boot looking to live happily ever after with a wicked Switch… is there? WARNING: Mature Content, Strong Language, Nudity

PLAYWRIGHT: Caitlin Robson
CAST: Caitlin Robson


We All Got Lost

Pink Pantheon Projects (Hamilton/London, ON)
Theatre | 60 minutes | The Westdale
Audience: Parental Guidance

Five schoolgirls form a sacrilegious storyteller’s circle in the thick Northern Ontario woods. But what happens when stories go off their hinges? Winner of the 2019 Hamilton Fringe New Play Contest, We All Got Lost is a coming-of-age play about girlhood and its myths, and the stories we choose to tell or re-tell. WARNING: Mature Content

Cast: Jessica Pellicciotta, Kaitlin Race, Emily Meadows, Evelyn Barber, Miranda Cooper
Playwright, Director: Camille Intson

About Jason Nason 2025 Articles
I'm the editor of and I love the city of Hamilton. From sports to entertainment, local events and the politics of the city, I will try to bring it here to you!

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.