Montreal Fringe Festival 2023

Montreal Fringe: 15 shows (out of 90+) to see at the festival this year

Over 65,000 attendees are expected at this year’s festival, with over 90 theatre, dance and music shows at more than 20 venues through June 18.

With its traditional launch event, the Fringe-for-All, at Club Soda on May 29, Montreal’s Fringe Festival began its annual takeover of our lovely city — particularly the west-central Plateau.

With over 65,000 attendees expected at this year’s festival, there are plenty of events to choose from, with over 90 shows at over 20 venues through June 18. Local as well as international artists — who participate in the open-access style of the international fringe festival network (meaning no curation process, auditioning, judgement or application fees) — will be representing a variety of genres, from solo plays to dance to storytelling to interactive performances to live music.

In addition to the wide selection of ticketed festival events in small venues like MainLine Theatre (which is Fringe HQ), la Chapelle and Petit Campus, there will be OFF Fringe events, many nights of live music at the Fringe Park at St-Laurent and Rachel, site of the beer tent (open throughout the Fringe run) and the festival’s famous drag race, which takes place on June 17.

This year’s ticket prices are capped at $15, and 100% of all proceeds from ticket sales go directly to the performing artists.

If this is your first time attending the festival, it is recommended that you purchase a three-show pack to get a taste of the variety that the Fringe has to offer.

While a comprehensive guide of all performances can be found on the festival’s website (where you can also purchase tickets), here are 15 performances that you won’t want to miss.

9 Lives, 8 Near-Misses: Life Lessons From Near-Death Events

Written and performed by Paul de Tourreil, this debut solo play follows the main character as he spends the remainder of his “nine lives” through bizarre adventures gone wrong. 

When: June 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17, 18.

Where: Espace Freestanding Room (4324 St-Laurent, #300)


Nicholas Eddie’s dark comedy navigates mental illness and the paradox of one’s coping mechanisms. Viewers can expect lively music and dancing despite the sombre content of the script. 

When: June 9, 10, 12, 15, 16, 17

Where: Petit Campus (57 Prince-Arthur E.)


Montreal Fringe Heart Beast

This coming-of-age story follows a teen as they navigate themes of trans identity, inclusion and living an authentic life. This is the show’s world premiere. 

When: June 8, 10, 11, 14, 17, 18.

Where: MainLine Theatre (3997 St-Laurent)

Tango in the Dark

This award-winning show, adapted from a film project, features a blend of ballet and Argentine tango. Montreal Fringe director Amy Blackmore predicts that the PointeTango production, featuring Erin Scott-Kafadar and Alexander Richardson, will be the buzz show of this year’s festival, as Josephine was last year.

When: June 9, 10, 12, 16, 17, 18

Where: La Chapelle (3700 St-Dominique)

Alright: Solving the Problem of Living

Montreal actress, writer, storyteller and Fringe alumnus Nisha Coleman guides the audience through a compelling and dramatic adventure that includes befriending elderly residents in the “forever ward,” being rescued by Westley from The Princess Bride and getting locked in a Madrid train station overnight. 

When: June 8, 10, 11, 13, 16, 17

Where: Theatre La Comedie de Montreal (1113 de Maisonneuve E.)

Leila Roils the Seas

Lily Chang’s performance draws from the worlds of Chinese opera, karaoke and family drama (among other influences) to weave together the tale of Leila. The Taiwanese-Canadian woman is on a mission to guide her comatose grandmother’s consciousness to the celestial realm of Mahayana Buddhism, while grappling with the complex relationship she once shared with her grandmother.

When: June 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18

Where: 3700 Ste-Dominique


Duncan MacMillan’s Lungs confronts the dilemma of having children in a world reigned by civil turmoil and rising temperatures. This play won awards for its previous incarnation at the 2018 Ottawa Fringe Festival.

When: June 8, 10, 11, 14, 17, 18

Where: 3997 St-Laurent

Once Upon a Time and Never Again…An Improvised Fairytale

Fans of fairy tales will appreciate the way this show gets creative with typical (and at times overused) archetypes by offering a different ending with each show. As this is an improvised performance, no two performances (or narrative arcs) will be the same.

When: June 8, 9, 12, 15, 17, 18

Where: Le Ministère (4521 St-Laurent)

Still Alive

This emotional and existential solo show from Leya Graie follows Eva, a woman who suffers from a serious heart condition. This show will be semi-interactive, and is highly recommended for audiences seeking performances that take them outside being a mere spectator.

When: June 8, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17

Where: Mission Santa Cruz (60 Rachel W.).

Tomatoes Tried to Kill Me but Banjos Saved My Life

This award-winning performance is based on a true story that blends comedy with lively music to get you tapping your feet (and maybe even singing along). 

When: June 8. 11, 14, 15. 17 and 18

Where: 4521 St-Laurent

Who, Me?

Self-identity and fan fiction lie at the heart of this one-woman show. Valerie Boisvert explores the ways in which we turn to our passions in order to take a break from the real world.

When: June 9, 10, 12, 15, 16, 18

Where: 3997 St-Laurent

Hey B*tch, Love You

This comedy performance from Gabrielle Banville and Tiernan Cornford follows best friends Erickah and Penny as they navigate wedding-day jitters while simultaneously seeking to strengthen their bond during the misadventure. 

When: June 9, 10, 12, 16, 17, 18

Where: 4750 Henri-Julien

Field Zoology 101

If you’ve ever wanted to delve into the world of biology and animal sciences, this show features Brad Gooseberry — a “questionably-qualified field zoologist” — educating audiences on the world of animal biology.

When: June 9, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18

Where: 60 Rachel W.


Starring multiple-award-winning Métis actor John D. Huston, Keir Cutler’s latest play Civilized explores the creation of Canada’s residential schools. The play received rave reviews during its runs in parts of the R.O.C. last year. 

When: June 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

Where: McCord Stewart Museum (690 Sherbrooke W.).


This French-language play by Janne Paquin delves into the history of a woman living with bipolar disorder, approaching mental illness with humour and hope.

When: June 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17

Where: 1113 de Maisonneuve E.

For more on the Montreal Fringe, please visit the festival’s website.

This article was originally published in the June issue of Cult MTL.

For our latest in Montreal theatre, please visit the Arts & Life section.