Here we are folks, officially at the first day of 'Mad March'. What better way to celebrate than to tuck into a meal of fresh Fix reviews, derived from various comedy, dance, theatre and cabaret shows handpicked from the programs of the Adelaide Fringe and the Adelaide Festival. Read on.
Gluttony – Pig Tales, Wed Feb 27
It’s been 20 years since I saw Steady Eddy perform live... and he’s still got the goods; that mischievous glint in his eyes and his wicked tongue. This time Eddy (AKA Christopher Widdows) is joined by big sister Lee Widdows for a trip down memory lane, sharing their life stories of growing up and living with cerebral palsy in the ‘70s.
The openness, honesty and laughter of this show could be likened to reminiscing with lifelong friends. Widdows is a pleasure to listen to. She is able to see humour in almost any situation and is full of animated good timing. Having only just scraped the top of the story-iceberg in one hour, I suspect you could attend Family Matters each night and hear entirely different chapters of their lives.
Unscripted and raw, the Widdows siblings share more than just a photo slideshow with their audience. To quote the performers: “It’s cheaper than therapy!”
Final Word: Real.
Family Matters continues at The Gluttony’s Pig Tales until Sun Mar 3.
Kids Fringe – Come And Try
The Depot, Thu Feb 28
The kids were hustling to get in to see what the colourful decorated shipping containers were hiding as we entered the abandoned bus depot. Colourful banners and cleverly placed low wooden multipurpose tables were scattered around for the various activities kids are welcome to jump in and enjoy; ensure you are early to get in for the Kinder Chef classes!
Face painting had a long line but was surprisingly efficient. Other activities including continuous interactive musical entertainment by Cool-4-Kids (Tony Genovese and friends) allow the small people the chance to jump onstage and sing, dance and play percussion.
With ample coffee, food and even an open bar for the tired older people, and fun classes of instrument making, African mask painting and a lovely balloon artist, it was easy to swap activities if one area seemed busy. Friendly, entertaining folk everywhere and a great day out for little and big kids!
Final Word: Interactive.
Kids Fringe – Come And Try continues at The Depot until Fri Mar 8.
A Peaceable Kingdom Presented By Philip Wollen
Capri Theatre – Thu Feb 28
Animals are not just another species, they are other nations. Compassion isn’t just for homo sapiens, it is for all animals. Social justice means justice for all, including our planet and all that lives on it. These powerful ideas underpinned this incredible film that explored the nature of human’s exploitative relationship with farm animals and some of those farmers who have come to see their role in it; the personal stories.
The epiphanies experienced and the resulting new ways of seeing, of being, of living are moving and inspiring. Some of the images of the ‘legal’ treatment of animals in the human food chain are shocking and appalling. Many of the audience cried and the rest probably wanted to.
The film is a call to action, funded by Adelaide philanthropist and animal activist Phillip Wollen. Whatever your views are about eating meat, the institutionalised cruelty shown in this film is undeniable.
Final Word: Eye-Opening.
Adelaide College Of The Arts – Xspace, Thu Feb 28
“Isn’t it weird?” the blue-haired candy-striped girl asked. And yes, it was a tad weird. The scene: bare stage, narrator, projection screen (projection not centred! Tsk!), electronic music and dancers of course. We are introduced to Tony, who likes to walk about town dressed as a banana. There are teapots, cups, saucers, Andy Warhol banana shirts and angry trees that are pissed off and pissed on. The tree vignette was quite good with effective lighting and lovely fluid hand movements.
Overall the dancers moved well but I found the theme of the work a little incoherent and random. It’s whimsical and a little silly at times, but is full of enthusiasm. Maybe this is the Velvet Underground? A video interlude showing dolls searching the streets of Adelaide for Tony was amusing but in danger of upstaging the rest.
Full marks for creativity and daring to be different.
Final Word: Helterskelter.
KnickKnack continues at Adelaide College Of The Arts – Xspace until Sat Mar 2.
What Seems Like A Lifetime Ago
Bakehouse Theatre – Studio, Thu Feb 28
This drama starts and ends with a packed bag; a lover ready to leave the love of her life behind in a story of dreams unrealised and aspirations spurned. The set is a bedroom and the live action is complemented by additional video elements, sort of dream sequences, which do add a lot to our understanding of the situation.
Each of the actors played strong roles and the audience was engaged with the stress, the emotion and the pain; something that was helped by the noticeable spark and chemistry between the pair. In the end it is about the compromises needed to make a relationship work, or not, and the way that life takes a toll on our time and energy.
The script might have shed more light on the illness of the female character, which we didn’t know much about even at the end.
Final Word: Torn.
What Seems Like A Lifetime Ago continues at Bakehouse Theatre – Studio until Sat Mar 9.
The Mother Woman
Porter’s Lane, Thu Feb 28
Presenting a one-woman play with only 16 days warning and preparation is a big ask – so hats off to the actress in this for a sterling performance. A few slips and line prompts can be forgiven. It’s a difficult, emotional and quite wordy performance, exploring the situation of a single, 30-something woman whose friends are all coupled and having children.
From a drunken and slurred beginning as an escapee from a blind date, we learn about her dating experiences and then the back-story of a troubled upbringing; thus context to the difficulty in love and relationships. The venue, as a dark, dead end lane, in some ways suited the situation perfectly, but it also added seedy discomfort. The script could be a littletighter, but it delivered us to the point of empathy and respect for the person whom we’d originally seen as a tragic drunk.
Final Word: Troubled.
The Mother Woman continues at Porter’s Lane until Sat Mar 9.
One Man, Two Guvnors
Her Majesty’s Theatre, Thu Feb 28
It’s not hard to see why One Man, Two Guvnors has had British audiences in stitches. Personally, I hadn’t laughed so hard in ages as we did at the Australian premiere of Richard Bean’s England-based play, which combines the most physical of comedy, silly gags, political commentary and high-energy boisterousness.
Based on Carlo Goldini’s The Servant Of Two Masters, it’s not the easiest plot to follow – but this takes second place to hilarity. Owain Arthur as Francis Henshall, the man with two bosses, held it together when a guide dog in the audience ‘enhanced’ his grand entrance – instead showing off his dazzling improv, as he did later (didn’t he?) with a sandwich…
Arthur commands the stage, with good support from a precision-perfect cast and Beatles-esque band, The Craze. An outrageously funny first half proved a hard act to follow with the show petering out after the (possibly unnecessary) break: then again we needed to catch our breath.
Final Word: Raucous!
One Man, Two Guvnors continues at Her Majesty’s Theatre until Sat Mar 9.
Sway – The Best Of Bublé
The Promethean, Thu Feb 28
Michael, I’m sorry to burst your Bublé, but you’ve got some competition. Several women had their hearts broken and put back together by the charming sounds of Grant Pearson in a magnificent performance. He was joined on stage by some of Adelaide’s most talented jazz musicians that complemented each other perfectly, but all shone individually as well.
A packed house enjoyed a glass of wine as Pearson set the mood with some intimate ballads and then set the stage alight with some of Bublé’s up-tempo hits that had the audience swaying, dancing and singing along! More than just a musical act, the show takes the crowd through a timeline of Michael’s career, detailing his rise to prominence. Pearson even manages to find the time to throw in a friendly neighbourhood surprise mid-show!
A big band, an even bigger voice; this truly is the very best of Michael Bublé.
Final Word: Exquisite.
Sway – The Best Of Bublé continues at The Promethean until Sun Mar 17.
Queen’s Theatre, Thu Feb 28
The Black Lung Theatre and Whaling Firm’s ambitious undertaking is an unsettling, confusing and raw production which is lifted out of disturbing territories by strong ties of brotherhood and camaraderie. The cast of Australians and Timorese are all strong performers with full personalities and the set design is slick in its own dishevelled, imperfect way. Given the enigmatic and highly-moralistic premise, it’s difficult to know which errors were intentional.
Filling the stage with smoke for much of the first half meant that the bar containing surtitles for the non-English speaking parts was hidden, although to begin with it seemed not knowing what was going on was all a part of the journey.
After several seemingly unconnected scenes the David Lynch-esque narrative kicked off, punched with violence, swearing and grit. In many respects, the confusing opening came full circle at the end for some closure, but not enough to answer every question.
Final word: Brutal.
Doku Rai continues at Queen’s Theatre until Mon Mar 4.
Norwood Concert Hall, Thu Feb 28
Tonight’s brilliant world premiere production has filled me with excitement about this year’s Adelaide Festival. This collaborative effort between Brink Productions and English Touring Theatre explores the story of London bombings survivor Gill Hicks and seven of the people in the tube carriage with her on Thursday July 7, 2005.
The writing by Bryony Lavery is excellent, with an in-depth foundation given to each character before leaving for the morning hustle and then bleak, and sometimes humorous, significant moments captured following. Director Chris Drummond has ensured every cast member shine in their diverse roles with Paul Blackwell, Tom Mothersdale and Kate Mulvany standing out in the talented cast.
The only downfall of the production were the scene changes, which were distracting at times and unfortunately took some of the magic out of the performance. Overall, it was a touching, genuine and fascinating experience. Thursday is an absolute must see!
Final Word: Powerful.
Thursday continues at the Norwood Concert Hall until Sat Mar 16.
Josh Thomas: Douchebag
Arts Theatre, Thu Feb 28
Josh Thomas is a douchebag. At least, that is what he would have us believe. Thomas spends about an hour sharing a number of fairly personal anecdotes to convince us of the fact. Yes, using Google to pick on your boyfriend’s alternative beliefs is a little mean, and reminding your audience that you are on TV multiple times throughout your show does seem a fraction douchey. At the same time, Thomas himself is so instantly likeable that it’s hard to hold his obnoxious tendencies against him.
His ‘Bangkok experience’ did come close to crossing the douchebag line, yet was retold with such matter-of-fact honesty that his audience seemed okay to squirm and laugh at the same time. This show is all about Thomas’ struggle to be the nice guy he knows is in there, and not so much the jerk that lurks nearby too. I think he has the balance pretty well bang on.
Final Word: Tweetworthy.
Rosie van Heerde
Josh Thomas: Douchebag continues at Arts Theatre until Sun Mar 3.
Dave O’Neil In 33 Things I Should Have Said No To
Rhino Room – Upstairs, Thu Feb 28
The clever thing about a good, solid comedian is he makes it look like it’s all just a bit of easy fun. Dave O’Neil is that good, solid comedian. He’d be the first to play on those words. From the moment he bounds onto the Rhino Room stage it becomes clear that the warm and cheeky guy suits his venue to a T; amicable and enjoyably bohemian with just a little hangdog status (think Bill Murray) used to advantage.
O’Neil shows himself to be one of those comics who can weave between fresh ad-libbing (particularly with tonight’s cheeky and up-for-it audience), and the more established material, all with the self-deprecating charm of someone who is really just enjoying the opportunity for more than 33 good laughs. We counted.
He left me with the wistful sense that his ‘don’t take life too seriously’ material is a reflection of his entire way of life.
Final Word: Cheek.
Dave O’Neil In 33 Things I Should Have Said No To continues at Rhino Room – Upstairs until Sat Mar 2.