Hilarious! Fair. Groovy. Mesmerising. Sketchy. Bananas. These are just some of the 'final words' we've used to describe the various Fringe shows scattered around the city we've sat ourselves down with this week, including a wooden boast festival in Goolwa, a street party by the sea in Semaphore, a live gig at Howl The Moon with Dr Piffle & The Burlap Band and many more. Read on...
Nightfall With Edgar Allan Poe
Brighton Performing Arts Centre, Fri Feb 22
This Reverb Theatre production of Eric Coble’s play is an adaptation, omitting characters and even an entire story. The original play was built to allow for this, however there seems to be an element missing in this production; it lacks a coherent narrative thread that may have been present in the complete play. Having Poe played by two actors across the three stories doesn’t help, but it is the play that fails to deliver its metanarrative of Poe, as opposed to the individual narratives of the stories.
The sparse set, sound and lighting do well to highlight Poe’s words and Liam Andrews is good as Poe, however Mark Oakley as Roderick is captivating and the stage felt bereft when he left it.
Sadly, the production didn’t live up to its ‘leave your heartbeat at the door’ warning: only once was there a moment that truly provided the ghoulish shock promised.
Final Word: Fair.
Dave Thornton – Tall And Pointy
The Garden Of Unearthly Delights’ Le Cascadeur, Thu Feb 21
Dave Thornton presents simple concepts about the quirky differences between males and females and what is means to ‘be a man’. These themes have been done so many times before, but it’s not always entertaining for the masses. Dave Thornton presents these concepts better than almost anyone I have seen before, with huge laughs and wide appeal to both males and females, young and old.
Dave Thornton is absolutely hilarious! Tonight, he charmed his audience, getting them onside immediately, and utilised some of them in the ultimate manly test of complimenting each other. Some of the greatest stories Dave told were about outsourcing a bar fight, trying to stay calm at a house auction and the variances between males and females at strip clubs. The ending was also fabulous!
I anticipate Dave Thornton is a comedian we will hear much more from in the future.
Final Word: Hilarious!
Dave Thornton performs at The Garden Of Unearthly Delights’ Le Cascadeur until Sun Mar 3.
They Stand Out… Stand Up From Laugh Lounge
The Elephant – British Pub, Fri Feb 22
They Stand Out… Stand Up From Laugh Lounge is your typical package deal comedy show, with a line-up of comedians delivering witty humour in a variety of art forms that are sure to rattle your funny bones. Host Ilya Jai, Mark Trenwith, Xavier Toby, Em O’Loughlin and duo Sung Like A Horse kept their audience wholly entertained and amused with everything from acoustic duets to impersonations and traditional stand-up deliveries that drop a lot of F-bombs.
Notably, wacky mask wearer Mark Trenwith was able to rely on fewer expletives and crude humour than his fellow funny people, and still pull just as many laughs. The true Stand Out for the night was the slightly zany Em O’Loughlin, who captivated the stage with her passion and energy.
Overall, a little bit crazy but clever and “he did not just go there!” were the main vibes. Perfect ingredients for standing out in stand-up.
Final Word: Entertaining.
They Stand Out… continues at The Elephant – British Pub until Fri Mar 15.
Frank Woodley & Simon Yates – Inside
The Garden Of Unearthly Delights’ Romantiek, Fri Feb 22
This is theatre rather than comedy; art rather than entertainment. Comedy and tragedy are different sides of the same coin, and Inside clearly demonstrates this paradox. Brothers Vasili and Viktor are confined in a dark place, and have been for a very long time.
Their symbiotic relationship is endearing and sometimes uncomfortable for the audience. It goes way beyond the fraternal as they struggle to maintain their sanity. A five-minute window of sunlight each day allows them to dream and entertain hopes of escape. There are funny moments and they come as welcome comic relief. Often people laughed at what I found sad – I was searching for the symbolism – while others needed to laugh.
Plenty of physical comedy and clever musical moments; clearly Frank Woodley is trying something new, and it worked for me. Inside will give you much more than just a laugh.
Final Word: Confronting.
Frank Woodley & Simon Yates – Inside continues at The Garden Of Unearthly Delights’ Romantiek until Sun Mar 17.
Nexus Cabaret, Fri Feb 22
Lasting impressions: legs, smiles and a great crooner. If you can imagine what it’s likely be like at an audition for A Chorus Line, then you would be most of the way to understanding La Cabaret. This show featured a selection of big chorus songs, plenty of choreography and synchronised moves, some tap dance and some singing. All of the music and too much of the voice was canned, though what was sung was done quite well, particularly the crooner.
At times, at the beginning of a particular piece, there was a little tentativeness but the performers soon found their feet. In terms of the structure of the whole show, it highlighted for me the importance of a theme or a narrative, as La Cabaret was a collection of pieces rather than a journey.
Final Word: Talentshowesque.
The Garage International @ NACC, Fri Feb 22
From beginning to end, there is no doubt about the time, thought and preparation that has gone into this performance. The proposal put is that the real story of Shakespeare’s Macbeth is about ‘Hecate and The Three Witches’; they are the ones who pull the strings of the puppets and manipulate the power and the characters within the play.
The soundtrack for the show was a delight. The dancing had form, grace and was quite visually stunning. There was no doubt that Hecate (performed by Shakti) wields the power and that The Three Witches did her bidding; she is, after all, ruler of the witches.
Costumes were lush with great dynamic effect. Although I’m not all that conversant with the language of dance, I had no doubt of the main aspects of this story as portrayed – one doesn’t have to be an aficionado to appreciate good art.
Final Word: Grace.
‘Urbanism In Adelaide Guided Tour’ – Australian Civic Trust Award Winners
Barrio Uno, Fri Feb 22
This event showcased the present, past and future of good urban design in Adelaide. The tour started from UNO, a new apartment block on Waymouth St with garden balconies and funky units mixing social housing and private ownership to give a feeling of community.
A short walk took us to Christie Walk, an ‘urban village’ in the heart of the city, resident Helen and architect Dr Paul Downton guided us as they highlighted some of the unique features of the complex including low energy use, recycling and a roof garden bursting with produce.
We ended at Oxigen Design Studio, a leading urban design company. From their offices, it was clear they lived and breathed good design and were passionate about the spaces we inhabit. What’s clear from these three different places is that when urban design is done well, it can make the city a great place to live, work and play.
Final Word: Arcadian.
Steve Hughes – Big Issues
Arts Theatre, Fri Feb 21
Aussie musician-turned-comedian Steve Hughes takes us to belly laughs in seconds with his thoughts on air composition on long haul flights, and keeps us there to the end when he pitches some ideas to stop us falling into a police nation. Sometimes he may appear to border on paranoid, however he keeps the audience balancing on the edge of sanity with his insightful comedy, enabling us to laugh at his banter but ponder the meaning.
Hughes is deep but not elitist, and happily takes the mickey out of himself and us; from the good old days of intuition protecting you from injury versus the nanny state, to ‘Isralia’; no one is off limits. Although he chaffs us about Adelaide, we prefer his over-the-border jokes. He tell us it’s our choice if we’re offended or not, yet he teases in such an open way you’d be mad to walk out.
Final Word: Impact.
Aussie Hunks Australia - Fullmonty All Male Review Show
Nexus Cabaret, Fri Feb 22
Whatever you think this show is – it’s exactly that. The police officer, construction worker, fireman and an officer who is definitely not a gentleman all execute the pelvic thrust with enough force to turn fine, upstanding young (and old) citizens into screaming women on heat!
There are fake orgasm contests, the MC’s innuendo (“Ladies at the back, do you like it up the rear?”), the ‘suck the chocolate off the Picnic bar’ game and the ol’ penis behind the curtain trick. I even saw a young man dance seductively to Nick Lachey’s What’s Left Of Me.
Ideal for hen’s nights, birthdays or a girls night out, but not for anyone looking for an inspirational, feminist show that challenges their mind, body and spirit over a nice glass of red. Oh, and men of Adelaide: if you’re wondering where all the ladies are, they’re at Aussie Hunks Australia. Do what you will with that information.
Final Word: Dicktastic.
Aussie Hunks Australia performs at Nexus Cabaret until Fri Mar 15.
2013 Cellar Door Wine Festival – Adelaide
The Big Slapple, Fri Feb 22
As in previous years, the 2013 Cellar Door Wine Festival showcases SA wine and produce like few other events in Adelaide. Big name and boutique wineries rub shoulders alongside some of the most exquisite epicurean delights you are likely to find in this state.
The Regional Farmer’s Market corner is a perfect place to sit for a while and sample regional platters, gourmet desserts and the like. Master classes are also available for those who wish to learn more about their favourite wines, artisan foods and those who craft them.
The Big Slapple at the Adelaide Convention Centre is a brilliant venue for this type of event with big screen Twitter board and trendy lighting creating a contemporary, fun atmosphere to enjoy a tipple or three. Definitely a classy approach to getting your wine-groove on!
Final Word: Winederful.
Rosie van Heerde
The Blues Brothers Rhythm & Blues Revue
Saldechin, Fri Feb 22
Following the traditions of their iconic namesakes, Saldechin’s Blues Brothers (Danny Gillard as Jake Blues and Jimmy Meagan as Elwood Blues) are energetic and cheeky, clearly enjoying themselves from the moment they hit the stage. The Blues Band played it hard and loud, belting out numbers such as the Peter Gunn Theme that would have made Mancini proud. This revue covered many of the classics, including Shake Your Tail Feather, Hard Headed Woman, and Respect.
Somewhat distracted by the three-course menu (delicious!), it took a while for patrons to hit the dancefloor but with a little encouragement from the lads and supporting songstress Sarah, the place really began to groove. Audience participation hit a high with Minnie The Moocher and, by the final number, the entire room was on its collective feet – a testament to the entertainers’ infectious delight in the groove that is the blues.
Final Word: Groovy.
Rosie van Heerde
The Blues Brothers Rhythm & Blues Revue continues at Saldechin until Fri Mar 15.
The Idea Of North – Live In Concert
St Michael’s Lutheran Church, Hahndorf Fri Feb 22
A full house in a wonderful venue greeted a world class act. The four members, each a virtuoso in their own right, gave a performance that I’m sure Hahndorf will never forget. Technically speaking, they are masters of the art of four-part harmony; multi dimensional, precise, pitch-perfect and often able to make four voices sound like a massed choir.
Then there was the humour. Blue Bayou became It Flew By You about someone’s toupee that is dislodged in front of his loved one. Their adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Music Of The Night to the storyline of Hitchcock’s Psycho, The Musical, resulted in rapturous applause. Paul Kelly’s soulful Meet Me In The Middle Of The Air further demonstrated the group’s penchant for all types of musical genres.
Timeless classics to modern standards, they interpreted them all in their own incomparable way.|
Final Word: Mesmerising.
Voices Through The Ages: A Tribute To Joni Mitchell, Diana Krall And Esperanza Spalding
The Big Slapple – 48 Lounge, Fri Feb 22
Katia Lobozzetta assembled a talented and virtuosic band with notable mention to flugelhorn and trumpet player Greg Carger, who adds an extra depth of sound with his warm tone and emotional playing. The 90-minute set included interesting instrumentation and jazz amended arrangements of a number of classic folk/pop songs, some of which worked well when within Katia’s vocal comfort range. Her own composition Too Much Champagne particularly was a highlight.
Others however revealed pitching insecurities, phrasing that steered greatly from the original melody, and weak projection that caused unfortunate balance issues with the band. Sadly poor enunciation also made song and musician introduction very difficult to comprehend.
All that said, Katia is a delightful personality onstage and her absolute strength is her explosive and highly exciting piano playing, and all tunes featuring her improvised solos were simply outstanding.
Final Word: Electrifying.
Brazil Film Festival
Mercury Cinema, Fri Feb 22
In case the Fringe is not jam-packed enough with psychedelic sights and sounds to colour your world, Mercury Cinema is hosting a four days celebration of Brazilian film.
This particular night the cinema deserved a larger audience, leaving me with an intangible sense that there was a party happening elsewhere. Not the case; after seeing film We’re Together. I didn’t wish to have been anywhere else; it didn’t fail to please with its intense, gritty, ultimately uplifting insight into Brazilian homelessness and the struggle for dignity despite poverty.
Told through the eyes of three of Brazil’s beautiful, hardworking diverse youth who find themselves caught up in a love triangle, this film kept me hooked from the word go to its tidy ending, leaving me thought-provoked and relieved to have seen something less than predictable.
Final word: Intense.
Alex Williamson And Friends
Arts Theatre, Fri Feb 22
Performing to a packed house, the Adelaide boy and YouTube sensation known for being the ‘Loosest Aussie Bloke Ever’ certainly lived up to that name. Featuring some clips from his trademark videos between stand-up comedy, Alex’s looseness was matched only by his diversity.
Williamson performed jokes in time to a hilarious slideshow, gave a sneak peek for several upcoming videos and even showed some exquisite piano skills performing both love songs and hardcore rap. He’s found a way to take the vocal styling of Eminem and Josh Groban, fuse them together with a thick Australian accent and create some side-splitting musical masterpieces.
This isn’t a show to bring your parents to, however (nor a show for parents to bring the kids), as Alex may use every swear word in existence at least once! Overall an absolutely brilliant performance - go see him next time he’s in town... or don’t; he does not care either way!
Final Word: Reckless!
Koto Music Concert – Yoru
The Garage International @ NACC, Fri Feb 22
Performed by Kawaguchi Etsuko, the Koto Music Concert features the 17-stringed bass koto, a slightly more modern variety of the traditional 13-stringed koto. The theme was the Sound Of Night and comprised of seven pieces.
Night scenes of Japan were projected behind the performer and sadly suffered a little from poor lighting, diminishing their impact. But to be fair to the performer, sharing a venue with an hourly turnover of performances probably doesn’t allow for lighting adjustments. Closing my eyes I felt transported to Japan as Kawaguchi Estuko progressed through her repertoire. The opening piece Rokkyu and penultimate piece Chochingyouretsu were personal favourites.
Kawaguchi Etsuko performed admirably throughout and displayed amazing dexterity on the koto, in particular when opening the piece London No Yoku No Ame. After dining out in a nearby Japanese restaurant and following with the Koto Music Concert, it was a grand night out. Highly recommended!
Final Word: Peace.
The Crown & Anchor Hotel, Fri Feb 22
Who are those people? The nerdy accountant who claims a mosquito bite has given him super powers? The trustworthy Indian real estate agent? The Hindley Street drunk? Why, they’re the 3 Acquaintances – members of the Secret Superhero Association! The fourth member of the cast is the pantomime-style villain.
That summary is kind of clunky, but to be honest, so is this play. But while there’s no mistaking that this is an amateur production, it’s certainly at the funnier end of the spectrum. A heavily contrived plot – incorporating audience suggestions – serves mainly to hang jokes off rather than deliver any character arc. But I liked the gags about Devo and the Village People, as well as references from this century.
Jarrad Parker’s believable dipsomaniac got most of the best lines – and given that the venue is the Cranker, he didn’t seem at all out of place either.
Final Word: Congenial.
3 Acquaintances continues at the Crown & Anchor Hotel until Sun Mar 3.
Cartoobs And Other Typos With Your Host First Dog On The Moon
Gluttony – Pig Tales, Fri Feb 22
Will Cartoobs comprise First Dog’s most engaging cartoons? Political commentary reflecting on cartooning? Off-the-wall cat GIFs? An appearance by the ABC Interpretive Dance Bandicoot? Typos? Actually, all the above. Hurray! Live cartooning – of the audience – immediately puts fans at ease (not so much the “Tiny children!” whom Dog, in suit jacket and shorts, cartoons in disbelief upon clocking some non-adults.
Dog – AKA the Walkley-winning Andrew Marlton – confesses he’s “terrified” to appear publicly: later, he tells me he loved every minute. As in his cartoons he’s personal, political, sometimes both; railing against “stupid people too stupid to know they’re stupid”; and imploring Australia to choose “boring” democracy over reality TV.
Childhood insights help show the man behind the Dog; while “orations” on climate change; feminism and Aussies’ fear of death; plus ukulele-ing and singing, further endear him to his fans and we agree with his Dame Edna-esque claims he’s a national treasure.
Final Word: Mar-super-ial.
Jack Gow In Tragicomic
Gluttony – The Runt, Fri Feb 22
Jack Gow’s stand-up routine in Tragicomic is based around the concept of trying to find the silver lining – that no matter how bad things get, there has to be an upside. In pursuit of this theory, he almost exclusively mines his own personal experiences: trying to find the positive (and the funny) in having his girlfriend leave him for one of his friends, being diagnosed with acute depression, boarding at university with private school homophobes and going on a massive drug bender in China and waking up without any of his possessions.
It’s a dark show, and the ending is even darker – not helped by minimal response from a very small turn-out (in one of the Fringe’s smallest venues). Gow didn’t let it faze him and put on a professional performance.
Let’s hope he can find the silver lining in coming all the way from Sydney for such audience numbers.
Final Word: Likeable.
Urban Spaceman Vintage, Fri Feb 22
Bushpig has it all. A fast-paced comedy which draws on magic realism and cassette tapes (go and look it up), great whistling and deft use of a loop pedal takes us on a surreal voyage from a hidden remote town to the ‘Big Smoke’ and back again. This fable about the search for fame and identity, acceptance and the biggest dream of all, to work ‘in’ the telly, has the audience wide eyed and cheering for the naive, fearless adventurer Bushpig.
Produced by Hannah Malarski and Jack Richardson, and written and performed by Malarski, this well-conceived theatre has fantastic endearing characterisations, with Malarski shifting flawlessly and convincingly between more than 10 characters. The script is tight and highly original, with amazing imaginative juxtaposition of people and place. Not to give the game away, Malarski does an awesome, slightly scary Peter Cundall as the god of television land.
Final Word: Enchanting.
Bushpig continues at Urban Spaceman Vintage until Sat Mar 9.
Trixie And Monkey – Flipping And Stripping
The Bus Stop, Fri Feb 22
Don’t ever look a monkey in the eye unless, of course, you’re prepared for the outcome. This very adult show of circus burlesque is wild, raucous and full of naughty fun. Despite years of patient training from the beautiful Trixie Little, Evil Hate Monkey is bad - very bad - and should be kept well away from your face and bottom. Trixie is delightfully saucy with a little bit of strip and a hell of a lot of tease as she wickedly explains the nature behind the chemistry of her relationship with Monkey.
Trixie also morphs into the ridiculously funny Gypsy Little: Sexual Psychic, requiring willing audience participation. Following a spiritual sandwich, contorting gyrations and a bit of spanking, Monkey shares a lot of DNA with the audience.
Good humoured and inventive, the performers are relaxed and animated, no more so than when performing the Kama Sutra brought to life on a trapeze.
Final Word: Explosive.
Bulmers Best Of The Edinburgh Fest
The Gov, Fri Feb 22
Bulmers Best Of The Edinburgh Fest features three quick-witted and beguilingly wicked English comedians. Hosted by the jovial Jimmy McGhie, whose ability to capture and interpret the best Aussie accent and colloquialisms hands down, really engaged the audience. The ultra charismatic and charming Stuart Goldsmith graced the stage, partaking in his metrosexual ideologies about how to pick up women – and/or men for that matter – stating that he’d sleep with anyone he had met, his fears and the ever amusing upper-class. Last but not least, the fabulously sharp and naturally funny Carl Donnelly fired up the crowd with his controversial thoughts on women being selfish, looking like Rolf Harris and Australia’s uber-confident animals!
If you’re a fan of ubiquitous quick-witted men with smiles like Cheshire Cats, Bulmers Best Of The Edinburgh Fest provides you with surreal storylines, mischievous bordering on sordid ideals and of course ridiculously thunderous bursts of laughter.
Final Word: Ohmygiddyaunt!
Bulmers Best Of The Edinburgh Fest continues at The Gov until Sun Mar 17.
Best Of The Fest Late Show
The Gov, Fri Feb 22
From the moment he walked on the stage, the hilariously talented and ingenuously hysterical Tommy Little owned the Best Of The Fest Late Show. Tommy’s ability to captivate and brusquely engage punters including Adelaide’s try-hard Fringe hecklers into fits of laughter was awe-inspiring! Tommy introduced four mind-blowing comedians including Stuart Goldsmith; who’s intellectual comical wit and charm provided the resilience, surpassing the arduous pessimism from the punters who had seen his earlier show, launching them into insuperable fits of laughter.
Melbourne Comedy Festival Barry Award winner Sammy J engaged the audience with melodious parodies about holding hands, keeping it clean and the malaise of married life. Crass Perth funnyman Joel Creasey elevated the has-been hecklers into uncontrollable belly laughs with his outstandingly quick-witted hilarity.
Unsurprisingly, legendary Heath Franklin’s Chopper’s unmistakable atypical brand of hilarity completed what was a jaw aching, laugh a minute, exceptional night of comedy.
Final Word: Uproarious!
Best Of The Fest Late Show continues at The Gov until Sat Mar 16.
Hannah Gadsby – Happiness Is A Bedside Table
The Garden Of Unearthly Delights’ Deluxe, Fri Feb 22
Hannah Gadsby is a strange force in comedy; she blurs the fine line of laughing with someone and at someone at almost every punch-line. Since making it onto television guest spots and hosting gigs she can become an anti-hero for the misrepresented minorities. As a result, her weight and sexuality are also the main focus of her comedy, and Happiness Is A Bedside Table further dissects this rule.
The revelations, at times, are deeply personal to the point of over-sharing, but Gadsby’s genuine disposition and excellent comic timing prevail. Heart-wrenching confessions are backhanded with genuine ROFL moments, which are handled in an artistic manner so that you don’t feel like a complete sicko for giggling at some of her biggest down-and-out moments.
You realise there is more to Gadsby besides being a fat lesbian, and you leave the room unsure whether to give her a high-five or a hug.
Final word: Anti-depressing.
Hannah Gadsby performs at The Garden Of Unearthly Delights’ Deluxe until Sun Mar 3.
Groucho By Neil Cole
Capri Theatre, Fri Feb 22
The Capri Theatre, in its first foray into live theatre, provided a fine venue for this slice of nostalgia, with its art deco design, photos of old film stars, and traditional organ recital. The first half of this play by Neil Cole contains snippets from Marx Brothers routines and Groucho’s time as a quiz show host. The script is kept lively by a generous collection of Groucho’s witty one-liners.
Groucho is played by Melbourne actor Dennis Manahan, who gives the role a suitable dose of zaniness. Hard-working Anna Burgess plays everyone else: Chico, Harpo, Groucho’s mum, his daughter, quiz show contestants and Charlie Chaplin. A quick onstage change of hats is all it takes for her to flit between these characters.
Manahan excels as an ageing Groucho in the second half, lamenting the state of American affairs with Charlie Chaplin, a fellow victim of McCarthyism. Pathos giving power to the punch-line.
Final Word: Bananas.
The Wheatsheaf Hotel, Fri Feb 22
You’d be hard pressed to find a better live music venue on a balmy summer evening than the Wheatsheaf Hotel. Tonight, local band The Hushes were set for the release of their second studio album Sunlight And Fire. Through the smokin’ blues guitar of Cal Williams Jr, sultry powerful vocals of Emily Davis, Ben Timbers’ deep south banjo picking and the soulful yet rollicking double bass of Kory Horwood, we were treated to a foot-stomping journey of blues, bluegrass, country and folk.
A cleverly crafted set with beautifully sweet love songs such as Pale Blue Dress to the dark frenetic Howl The Moon; a love of story candlelit necrophilia. Black Betty masterfully reworked was a crowd favourite and the night ended on Bob Dylan’s I Shall Be Released. Soft and tender, showcasing their musicality and onstage chemistry, it was the perfect resolution to a perfect gig in front of an enthusiastic audience.
Final Word: Sensational!
The Hushes perform at The Wheatsheaf Hotel until Fri Mar 1.
Golden Phung Sell Out
Harry’s Bar, Fri Feb 22
The concept of live sketch comedy is exciting and with only small amounts of sketch comedy on television, it is great to have it available to live audiences. Each of the seven actors in Golden Phung Sell Out appeared confident on stage and comfortable in their comedy genre.
There was a large diversity of sketches and characters. Some of the more commendable were the expensive skin treatments, armed hold-up role-reversals and the American gangster murder mystery. The live entertainment was broken up with some well-filmed video sketches. Added to the variety of the night was a J-Pop dance, which was a great ending to the show.
The costumes and set were simple but effective and the segues between the sketches was done well. Golden Phung Sell Out got mixed responses from the audience, with some in the audience laughing at everything and others hardly cracking a smile.
Final Word: Sketchy.
Golden Phung Sell Out continues at Harry’s Bar until Sat Mar 16.
Adelaide College Of The Arts – Main Theatre, Fri Feb 22
Illure is entertainment plus! Created and directed by Jo Casson, Illure’s outstanding cast delivers an impressively diverse performance of sensuality, mystery and fun. World-class illusionist, Charli, seemingly manipulates the laws of physics and logic with routines that encompass theatrical delivery and professional poise. Classic tricks such as the skewering of a cardboard box before the assistant emerges unharmed were both thrilling and baffling.
Libby O’Donovan, impressive as always, is engaging, cheeky and unquestionably one of the hardest working singers in Australia. Her richness of vocal range and emotion-filled song interpretations are captivating and instantly engaging.
Illure brings together a unique mix of cabaret, a band of virtuosic musicians (directed by Mark Simeon Ferguson), burlesque dancing, eye-defying conjuring and stunning costuming. This is an ensemble of artists that clearly delights in working together and their joy is positively infectious.
Final Word: Dazzling!
Shakespeare For Kids
Holden Street Theatres – The Studio, Sat Feb 23
The Recycled Theatre Co’s production of Romeo And Juliet will go down as one of my favourite Fringe experiences for 2013. Using Charles and Mary Lamb’s reworked plays allows children (and adults) into the beautiful language and exceptional storytelling of some of Shakespeare’s greatest plays (The Tempest, Romeo And Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Hamlet).
Leave any apprehension you might have about the ‘difficulty’ of Shakespeare at the door and be prepared to be entertained, engaged, amused and delighted by this tremendous group of actors. The entire production is utterly charming from the moment the audience walks into the theatre to the end where the actors come out to chat with the kids.
If you only take your kids to one show this Fringe, make sure it’s Shakespeare For Kids. You will love it as much as they do. Check holdenstreettheatres.com to see which play runs on which day.
Final Word: Perfect!
Shakespeare For Kids continues at Holden Street Theatres until Sun Mar 10.
The Scandalous Lillian Lushlife
The Promethean, Sat Feb 23
Jennifer DeGrassi delighted a large audience at The Promethean with her portrayal of Lillian Lushlife; a 1920s Weimar cabaret chanteuse. Breaking up the singing was a fascinating performance provided by Flavella L'amour, dancing with a python and then later wearing a massive peacock costume.
The music was a mix of traditional Weimar tunes, Cole Porter classics and contemporary tunes by the Dresden Dolls. Backed up on stage by double bass, drums, sax and Matthew Carey on keys, DeGrassi’s voice is powerful, but sometimes uncontrolled. If she did not have talented, astute musicians following her, some songs may have been problematic.
This time in Berlin cabaret clubs between WWI and WWII has been portrayed by many singers and although DeGrassi provided an enjoyable performance, I have certainly seen better portrayals. Adding accents, more comfortable costumes and better movement through the crowd would help.
Final Word: Entertaining.
The Scandalous Lillian Lushlife continues at The Promethean until Fri Mar 1.
Mr Shaggles Circus World
Gluttony – The Bally, Sat Feb 23
Mr Shaggles declares “I’m not a PlayStation” and he’s right – he’s better than a PlayStation! His is an old-fashioned silly circus with crazy antics and mishaps, juggling, balloon animal taming, acrobatics and a cheeky koala called Bruce who likes to misbehave. Mr Shaggles Circus World is indeed a fun and loopy place to be.
The show really reaches its highpoint when the audience become the performers: poor Mr Shaggles is let down by his unreliable acrobats who appear to have fled the circus, and it’s up to the audience to save the show. It is very cool to see the acrobatic tricks that unsuspecting audience members are capable of at a moment’s notice, and it’s true what Mr Shaggles says: his circus world is your circus world. Enter into it and prepare for a whole lot of crazy entertainment and laughs!
Final Word: Fun!
Mr Shaggles Circus World continues at Gluttony – The Bally until Sun Mar 17.
The Dead Ones
Migration Museum, Sat Feb 23
The Dead Ones is an intense journey into family, history, the search for safety and a sense of place in this new world. While this is presented as a monologue by writer Margie Fischer, supplemented by many, mainly family photos, this is far removed from a family slide night. Heroic stories of survival out of Nazi Germany; establishing a new life and successful business in Shanghai then escaping just as the cultural revolution was breaking; and life and new family in Australia.
Filled with touching individual details of stories from across the generations, this is one of those shows that provides something of a balance to the enjoyable frivolity of the Fringe; a deeply intimate show that is well worth a look. It probes family and Australian history, the search for meaning in life and death, the question of the memory of one once they have passed away.
Final Word: Riveting.
The Dead Ones performs at The Migration Museum until Sun Mar 3.
Agnes Of God
Holden Street Theatres – The Arch, Sat Feb 23
A baby has been killed; Agnes, a young nun, is the mother and under suspicion. The courts want answers, so they appoint a psychiatrist. Thus we are immediately plunged into a gripping murder mystery, not to mention a paternity quest. Everyone’s motives are questioned, and we’re wondering whodunit throughout this dialogue-dense play, where female relationships predominate and where the lingering presence of the Mother Superior adds an uncomfortable edge.
Agnes is played by singer songwriter Michaela Burger, whose beautiful, pure voice adds a hauntingly spiritual dimension, and her diminutive stature (she is 4’ 11”) is perfect for the child-like tortured soul she embodies.
The old church setting is also a spot-on location for this harrowing meditation on faith, love, religion and psychology. All are forensically examined, but – like so often in life – no clear-cut answers emerge, even when you’re hoping for a miracle.
Final Word: Compelling.
Agnes Of God continues at Holden Street Theatres – The Arch until Sat Mar 9.
Miss Conlin Confesses
The Promethean, Sat Feb 23
Miss Conlin has prepared a gourmet cabaret for us in which - among all of the laughter and frivolity, all of the songs and amusing anecdotes, all of the costume changes – everything works in harmony to the overall plan and theme for the show. The audience has a delightful journey, sharing her day life as a rather reluctant English teacher, having actually trained in drama, and her nightlife, as a burlesque dancer.
While there were signs at the front trying to warn anyone under 16 away and suggesting adult themes, overall it was relatively tasteful, if at times a tad titillating. As you’d expect, it is when those two lives are confused that most amusement is had. The show ended, but the audience was going nowhere and an encore was demanded.
Here is a local cabaret act that is well crafted, professionally delivered and worthy of five stars.
Final Word: Saucy.
Miss Conlin Confesses performs at The Promethean until Sun Mar 3.
Blues Guitar Workshops by Cal Williams Jr
The Wheatsheaf Hotel, Thebarton, Sat Feb 23
The affable Cal Williams Jr, multi award winning blues guitarist, has developed a revolutionary method of teaching the guitar, The Guitar Tool Box. This series of workshops covers the foundations of the blues, through slide guitar, open tunings and improvisation, with each workshop focusing on a legend of the genre; today’s was Robert Johnson.
A crowd of more than 20 budding guitarists of various abilities huddled in a tight circle, adding a little humidity to the already stinking hot day – although perfect for Delta blues. Through his relaxed yet polished narrative, Cal walked the group through the basics of the blues such as chord rhythms, riffs and licks. With a spattering of history and a humorous anecdote always at hand, the session was informative and great fun, with a generous 15-page booklet to take home. By the end of the session we were playing our first song together: Devil’s Blues. It may have been the jar of moonshine, but I thought we sounded hot!
Final Word: Enlightening.
Blues Guitar Workshops by Cal Williams Jr continues at The Wheatsheaf Hotel until Sun Mar 17.
The Birdcage, Sat Feb 23
Circalicious is a collection and selection of various circus and physical theatre acts from the Fringe, with each of them out spruiking some of their best pieces to get your bum onto the seat at their show – it makes for a fun night. It is also apparent that the circus acts understand the need for drama, themes and audience connection on an emotional level – as well as the definite ‘wow’ factor that they aim for.
In this case, each act was introduced by a quite absurd pair of performers who simply sucked the audience in with their charms in little skits that were like Alice In Wonderland-meets-The Big Bad Wolf. As for the circus acts themselves: slapstick, silly characters, great visual theatre and plenty of comedy and circus talent!
There’s a wealth out there to enjoy and Circalicious is a great way to sample it.
Final Word: Quirky.
Circalicious performs at The Birdcage until Sun Mar 17.
The Lijretta Show (A Lijasophy Event)
Gluttony – The Runt, Sat Feb 23
Enter a world of thought-provoking observations, evocative stories and the question, ‘what is the meaning of life?’ and you have entered into A Lijasophy Event. TR Retta, who grew up in Ambassell, Ethiopia takes his audience on a trail of deep and meaningful thoughts that delve into topics such as the concept of time, climate change and racism. Retta’s honest accounts of his childhood in Ethiopia are touching as he describes the harsh realities of surviving in an underdeveloped country.
But Retta manages to lessen the furrow in his audience’s brow with the use of non-stop toilet humour and the occasional naughty comment. His placid presence on stage and slight cheekiness makes him a warm and likeable storyteller.
Although it’s not a wet-your-pants-with-laughter comedy routine, The LijRetta Show is gentle humour with a point and an IQ that will leave you pondering the great mysteries of this universe.
Final Word: Philosophical.
The Lijretta Show (A Lijasophy Event) continues at Gluttony – The Runt until Fri Mar 1.
Bald Eagles At Deviation Road
Deviation Road Winery, Sat Feb 23
A moonlit backdrop in the wonderful surrounds of the Adelaide Hills and a sold out crowd, well primed with fine wines, needed just one more ingredient and ‘The Baldies’ were ready to oblige. It was obvious that the boys have done a lot of work in fine-tuning their Eagles covers; these skills were more apparent in the slower, more melodic songs such as Heart Of The Matter and Best Of My Love.
The six performers took turns at doing a solo number, competently demonstrating their versatility. Lead singer Alan Rosewarne’s wonderful range is more than capable of reaching the vocal heights of Glenn Frey and Don Henley. The high harmonies of keyboard player Russ McCormick, often paralleled by bass player Bob Armitage, provided the ‘edge’ that other Eagles cover bands struggle to emulate.
A steady beat and some great guitar made for a fabulous night of foot-tapping music and dancing.
Final Word: Soaring!
South Australian Wooden Boat Festival
Goolwa Wharf, Sun Feb 24
The showers stayed away but the crowds didn’t. Veronica, Antoinette, Janice B, Josephine… they were all there with their proud owners and restorers, lovingly posing for photos for a huge, admiring crowd. The spectacle of parading wooden watercraft, a wonderful yacht race and the ever-popular steam train from Victor made this an event you “wooden’ want to miss!
The dependable Goolwa breezes helped temper the warm atmosphere as did the wonderful strawberries and cream and numerous drink outlets. Everything served at a very modest price for a change. Other entertainment included flypasts by two-winged aircraft and helicopters. The mandatory bouncing castles and sideshows were there, as were numerous “boatie paraphernalia” exhibits and a huge range of excellent food stalls to tempt the most discerning sailor.
Excellent music was provided by Tamarisque and Old South Bluegrass Band. The organisers of this event have got it right!
Final Word: Smoothsailing.
Semaphore ‘Tarts To Truffles’ Street Feast
Semaphore Road, Sat Feb 23
Advertised as a ‘Street Feast’ in the ‘Event’ section of the Festival guide, you would expect food and entertainment similar to the iconic Semaphore Street Fair. However, disappointingly, the only way to find this event was to ask a known Fringe venue. This was no more than the businesses on Semaphore Road and the surrounding suburbs jumping on the Fringe bandwagon for something they do every weekend! Each participating venue picked dishes from their already amazing menus, palming it off as their Fringe@Semaphore dish.
Queenies Store at Largs Bay has friendly staff and delicious food in a quaint setting, all while being entertained by local musicians Angie Starr and the exquisite Autumn’s Passage. The community spirit on the Le Fevre Peninsula is commendable and the locals are always friendly, all of which making it highly recommended for a nice day out tasting and experiencing the creative delights of this wonderful region.
Final Word: Lacklustre.
Heath Franklin’s Chopper in the (S)Hitlist
The Garden Of Unearthly Delights’ Vagabond, Fri Feb 22
When Heath Franklin appears on stage with his trademark mo, sunnies, polo shirt, Adidas tracky-pants and a beer in hand, he is revered as the legend himself: Chopper Read. On this occasion the notorious yet lovable Australian icon Chopper wanted to share his (S)Hitlist! Not a fan of bucket lists, Chopper decided to make his own list of things that, put simply, “gives him the shits”. Things that provoked outbursts of comedic rage ranged from KFC, invading personal space, coffee tables, whingeing and ‘fucking emos!’.
This hour long, side-splitting show ascertained Heath Franklin has one of the quickest and sharpest wits in Australia. He jovially ridiculed audience members, driving them into uncontrollable and sometimes hysterical fits of laughter.
If you’re a fan of getting your money’s worth and you aren’t offended by F-bombs and C-bombs, this show is definitely one to see at this year’s Fringe.
Final Word: Fuckyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeah!
Heath Franklin’s Chopper in the (S)Hitlist continues at The Garden Of Unearthly Delights’ Vagabond until Sun Mar 3.
Dr Piffle And The Burlap Band
Howl The Moon, Sat Feb 23
What absolute piffle it was, with these hound dogs creating their own genre of Gypsy punk circus balderdash, appearing like 12 Grugs on stage playing instruments. The afternoon eased its way to sunset and it was good vibes a-plenty with a smorgasbord of idyllic sounds, perfect for some twilight grooves.
Irie Knights were as fabulous as ever with their soulful reggae boogies, chucking the vibe in the oven and keeping it warm, just in time for Dr Piffle to grace the stage. Despite a definite lack of hygiene, there’s no lack of energy in sight, creating this absolutely outrageous sound that somehow works.
Dr Piffle’s logic proves if you don’t have an instrument, make one, with these creatures banging cans, stomping old boots, banging and bashing anything that could get their grimy little hands on. It’s definitely safe to say these boys are the unwashed Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes of Adelaide - on steroids.
Final Word: Ludicrous.