Arts, Reviews

Fringe 2019: Flora and Fawna Have Beaver Fever (and So Does Fleurette)

I have warm memories of Flora and Fawna’s debut at the Fringe five years ago. Flora (Darrin Hagen) and Fawna (Trevor Schmidt) were in character as 10-year-olds in Girl Guide-like uniforms even before the show began, greeting people in line, handing out little kits that we would later use to make friendship bracelets with the person sitting next to us. The person next to me was a friend of a friend, whom I now count as a friend of my own.

[ASIDE] We decided to go to this year’s show together, but I got there early and he got there just as the doors were closing. The front house manager declared, “It’s a Fringe miracle!”

The title of the sequel, Flora & Fawna Have Beaver Fever (and So Does Fleurette), seemed like set-up of for an hour of double-entendres–and it was! But the play was also about friendship. The first play was about the beginnings of a friendship. This one was about friendship reaching another stage. Fleurette, the scene-stealing supporting character from the original play, is revealed to be moving away (Brian Dooley, who plays Fleurette, moved from Edmonton to Montreal IRL).

The news is a blow to Flora and Fawna, the founders of the NaturElles, a group for misfits (and “no mean girls”!) until they realize that Fleurette can start a chapter of the NaturElle Girls in Quebec!

The original Flora & Fawna play has been produced several times in Alberta, including on main stages and once at a teen camp in Okotoks with three boys playing the girls. The secret to F&F’s success is the characters’ optimism and resilience in the face of social awkwardness, family issues, and world problems that are just entering the girls’ radar.

Each show also features an audience participation portion, in which audience members recruited from the line-up are invited on stage to play summer camp-inspired games. The audience participation games may not be essential to the plot, but they’re essential to the show’s narrative. Flora and Fawna make being at the Fringe seem like being at summer camp, where the people you befriend for a week due to shared weirdo interests can become your friends for life.

Thanks to the whole Guys in Disguise team. As long as they keep making Flora and Fawna shows, I’ll be coming back for s’mores.

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