We survived the first weekend of the Fringe - just. Having heartily welcomed the festive season over drinks at the secret Garden Of Unearthly Delights bar and various other venues, we've put pen to paper and furiously written up the first batch of Fringe reviews. Read them below, featuring Ponydance, Sammy J, Jenny Wynter, Nussy, Gordon Southern and heaps more.
Various Locations – Meet at Botanic Gardens, Wed Feb 13
Commencing with the distribution of headphones for your personal internal journey and roving aural intimacy, prepare to be guided to 7 locations around the north side perimeter of the city hub. Each setting explores subtly different themes but always the key concept of internal dialogue, and the perceptions these can engender. The gently interactive participation offers immediacy to the performance and attempts to question how our judgements impose both on our own clarity, and the effect on the recipients.
Fiona Gardner’s choreography, exploring body image, rejection and the human form, is both challenging and good humoured. Sequences incorporate the city parks and buildings as props, and the movements mesh many elements of traditional and modern dance expression with a hint of quasi-yoga, all enhanced beautifully by interspersed dialogue with a diverse range of blended music from Latino beats to Eastern Electronica. Ultimately the quest remains to free ourselves from the self imposed bondage and constraints of inner chatter.
Final Word: Liberating.
The Highway Presents: The Sunset Six
The Highway, Wed Feb 13
Comfy lounge chair, glass of wine, terrific film and great music! The Sunset Six is a rocking, fun, indie Australian film which trounced the awards at Indie Gems and scored at Le Bout Du Monde and St Tropez Film Festivals.
Director and co-writer Jeremy Stanford put together an exceptional cast of performers as The Sunset Six, a band waiting for ageing has-been Riff (excellently played by Greg Stone) to come up with the goods for their breakthrough. Set entirely in the rehearsal space/nightclub and surrounding alleys, we hang out with the band as they unravel. Kiki (Celarek) excels with her natural screen presence and clear driving vocals, especially in a yummy snippet of Even When I’m Sleeping and a rock-out version of Send Me An Angel with the band.
This film deserves to become a musical classic and suits the intimacy of the club lounge setting provided by The Highway.
Final Word: Rocks!
The Sunset Six screens at The Highway until Wed Feb 27.
One For The Ugly Girls
The Tuxedo Cat, Thu Feb 14
When bawdy and uncouth life model Jade steps out of her clothes onstage she unwittingly reveals more than her bohemian artist employer expected, yet less than he anticipated. In a tightly packed first scene of dialogue we learn he’s hired Jade in an urgent effort to recapture on paper his beautiful late wife’s form. This powerful tale cleverly paints the bitter craving for affection by those in society who would, traditionally, wield a power in beauty.
Where at times a little too much pouting became slightly wearing, this mere quibble did not overshadow this play’s cleverness. One For The Ugly Girls prompts an art-imitates-life inner reflection on the perceived direct links between beauty and worth, if any, in a male dominated society. An uplifting journey which highlights beauty’s ugly need for fawning reassurance.
Final word: Pointed.
One For The Ugly Girls performs at The Tuxedo Cat until Tue Feb 26.
Simply The Henbest
La Bohème, Thu Feb 14
Sidonie Henbest has one of those voices that can stop you in the street! While the stage is set up with a microphone – and it does make for a great prop – I’m not convinced that it’s necessary for this cosy performance venue. However, she does have her quiet moments within the show, and it’s those moments that are perhaps more intimate than you may have seen her perform before.
Rather than play a character or tell someone else’s story, Simply The Henbest is her story about growing up; from a youngster obsessed with art through to her teenage years, discovering boys and becoming a woman – as she puts it. Simply The Henbest is interspersed with some great cabaret songs and very ably accompanied by pianist Matthew Carey, and the technical aspects were a treat. La Bohème is a delightful venue for this kind of intimate cabaret – so get yourself along!
Final Word: Propitious.
Simply The Henbest continues at La Bohème until Sat Mar 2.
The Blue Room by David Hare
Urban Spaceman Vintage, Thu Feb 14
As you arrive, a young woman in a long purple wig cavorts Amsterdam-style in the front window of the venue, making you wonder what sort of performance you’re at. Inside, this retro clothing shop provides a reassuring setting, and the Tom Waits music featured throughout is suitably atmospheric.
In a series of 10 intertwining cameos two actors each play five quite different characters. An intense study of sexual politics shows how much people change in different partnering. Characters switch from being confident to vulnerable, depending on the circumstances. Actors Kaitlyn Clare and Zak Zavod carry these characters courageously and convincingly. Surprisingly, for such an intimate venue, the audience is occasionally asked to leave their seats and follow the action. Standing just a few feet away from the actors, every nuance is there to see.This is a serious and engaging play performed with considerable skill and is well worth seeing.
Final Word: Resonating.
The Blue Room by David Hare continues at Urban Spaceman Vintage until Sat Mar 2.
50 Years Of Doctor Who: Preachrs Podcast Live
Box Factory Community Centre, Fri Feb 15
Presented by theatre group Preachrs Podcast, visiting ‘time travellers’ to the Box Factory Community Centre were treated to an entertaining evening of scripted/ad-lib conversation with audience participation on all things Doctor Who. In a cerebral celebration of 50 years of time travel but with plenty of humour and spirit, we arrived to the startled sound of a Dalek insisting we turn off our phones or else be exterminated with one very young boy intermittently and rather hilariously heckling one of the actors.
The three performers, dressed as Tom Baker, David Tennant and Matt Smith, added to the fun of the occasion. Whilst my nephew’s concentration did waver during some of the heavier/nerdier analysis regarding the politics and plot holes of some scripts, he was more than thrilled to be able to have his picture taken with a Dalek afterwards; something for everyone! preachrspodcast.net.
Final Word: Charming.
Fright Or Flight
The Birdcage, Fri Feb 15
Seagulls squawk and do the ‘wine bottle’ walk. Techno chickens dance on ballet pointe. Blackbirds juggle and provide feathered coverage for a beak-in-cheek German striptease. Fright Or Flight mixes acrobatic feats with absurd comedy and an investigation of the fright or flight response. Although I’m not exactly sure what that message was, it was enjoyable to observe the exploration of the idea.The performance is supported by a beautifully complementary soundtrack and the three performers are graceful, athletic and talented. The audience held its collective breath during the spellbinding blindfolded hoop work and laughed as the birds clucked, pecked and cannibalised themselves. Fright Or Flight is inventive, entertaining, skilful and surprisingly comedic. It’s true: bird girls can fly.
Final Word: Fly.
Fright Or Flight performs at The Birdcage until Sun Feb 24.
Secret Garden Cinema
The White House, Adelaide Hills, Fri Feb 15
Love was in the air, good music was playing and not even the threat of thunderstorms and the pitter-patter of rain could dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd as they settled down under umbrellas in the rustic tree-filled garden to enjoy Amelie, the 2001 quirky French-subtitled film.
A great subplot was provided by fairy lights, fairy floss and the fairytale story of how Sid and Sophie, the proprietors, owned the adjoining properties, fell in love and joined forces to create The White House; the provincial restaurant on the main street of Hahndorf. Excellent food, a great local wine list and genuine warm service were appreciated by everyone at the launch of this Hahndorf Fringe Venue.
Still to screen are Cinema Paradiso (1988) and Ratatouille (2007), although a night out at The White House is much more about the experience than it is about the film.
Final Word: Beautiful.
Secret Garden Cinema continues at The White House Adelaide Hills until Fri Mar 1.
Jenny Wynter’s Wonderland! Featuring Betty & The Betties
Holden Street Theatres – The Arch, Fri Feb 15
Surprise, surprise! There is culture from Caboolture and we’re launched into the most amusing aspects of it in Jenny Wynter’s first number, unpacking a visit to Centrelink. Throughout the show Betty & The Betties are great accompaniment, both for harmonies and their stage antics, and the duo/band really hits the mark.
Highlights were many; some great parody songs from the likes of Billy Joel and, yes, seriously Down Under in German! Taking the cake is Jenny’s improv skills, getting audience members on stage, finding out some of their personal details and improvising a song featuring them with some surprisingly good rhymes and lines; very impressive and highly entertaining.
When a performer takes great enjoyment in delighting their audience, you know the show is going to be good. The “variety” may need to be carefully considered though - it wasn’t always of her consistently high standard.
Final Word: Siren.
Jenny Wynter’s Wonderland! performs at Holden Street Theatres – The Arch until Sun Mar 3.
Live And Let Die – A Night With James Bond
The Promethean, Sat Feb 16
‘The Secret Agents’, headed by singers Jacqui Yeo and Grant Pearson, took to the Promethean stage before an appreciative audience and offered rather more than the advertised hour’s worth of Bond-related musical fun. Opening with a list of the official filmic series projected onto the screen behind them (which later offered the famed credit sequences of each film and/or cool clips), plus an extended version of John Barry’s 007 theme, highlights thereafter included: a scorching take on Goldfinger; Pearson’s passionate rendition of Tom Jones’ Thunderball; a shot at Nobody Does It Better (from The Spy Who Loved Me, of course); a near-medley of the themes to You Only Live Twice and Moonraker; a combined performance of Jack White and Alicia Keys’ opener to Quantum Of Solace; fine efforts at covering A View To A Kill and Wings’ titular tune; and a long excerpt from Skyfall along with Yeo’s version of the Adele theme. And even Daniel Craig would have smiled.
Final Word: BondJamesBond!
Live And Let Die continues at The Promethean until Sun Mar 3.
Church Of The Trinity, Fri Feb 15
In a steamy but acoustically brilliant venue, McClellan played to a near-capacity crowd at Trinity. Some were first timers but the majority were obviously seasoned fans who were as enthusiastic as the performer himself. Needing to only play a few familiar notes at the start of many old favourites, One Man Band and Saturday Dance, resulted in rapturous applause. His musicianship both vocally and instrumentally had not mellowed as one might expect but had climbed to even greater heights.
The stories that accompanied many of the songs such as Since You’ve Been Gone, from his new album If Only For A Moment were sometimes heart-wrenching but always wonderfully crafted. Old standards interspersed with the new, as well as songs not yet recorded, providing hope of future albums down the track. A standing ovation allowed him to bring his old pal Doug Ashdown to the stage for three numbers.
Final Word: Legendary.
Mike McClellan performs The Return Of The Song And Danceman at Courthouse Cultural Centre, Auburn on Sat Feb 16.
Nussy: Lost For Words
The Big Slapple – 48 Lounge, Fri Feb 15
Upon first appearance of this pint-sized, pixie-haired girl one would assume she would vocally bear a sugary sweetness likened to Kate Miller-Heidke; but how wrong an assumption. Despite Nussy’s petite frame and elegant shyness, all unease was diminished the moment she opened her mouth, leaving the audience entranced in a whirlpool of emotion.
In a one-off performance, Nussy belted out a concoction of commercial pop covers that, despite gracing airwaves religiously, were turned into unique tunes that left you wishing she had just come up with Teenage Dream or Lego House herself. Her original tracks Stop This Train, Move Me and Thinking ‘Bout You show a simplistic honesty and stand as testimony to her exceptional songwriting talents.
The aura Nussy emits is no Beyoncé, Gaga or Katy Perry, but be sure to watch the small space in which she illuminates. I have a feeling it’s about to get very big.
Final Word: Incomparable.
Mickey D – Chewing The Phat
Rhino Room – Beer Garden, Fri Feb 15
Mickey D chats with other comedians for an hour of fun and light-hearted banter where he isn’t just Chewing The Phat, he’s devouring it... as no topic is off limits! The open air of the Beer Garden provided a relaxed atmosphere where Mickey was quick to establish a rapport with each audience member, keeping them on their toes throughout the show.
The crowd was in stitches as Marcel Lucont, Titty Bar Ha Ha and Craig Egan joined Mick for some Q&A discussing the amusing side of Adelaide’s fashion, food, weather and ‘Rundle Mall’s balls’. Mickey D even flexed his verbal improvisational muscles for a few minutes by chewing the impromptu ‘phat’ on stage with an excessively vocal audience member!
Speaking to a variety of performers throughout the Fringe, his quick-witted humour and crowd interaction make for a laid back but thoroughly entertaining show.
Final Word: Unpredictable!
Chewing The Phat continues at Rhino Room – Beer Garden until Sat Mar 2.
Aaron Nobes: Theories
Gluttony – The Runt, Fri Feb 15
Aaron Nobes has some weighty issues in that idiosyncratic brain of his and that’s not including the weight of his ‘Timothy Alfoil’ helmet to protect his theories from the likes of the FBI! His one-man show exposes his wild conspiracy theories and his ongoing need to get laid! Sounding like the David Attenborough of the conspiracy theory world, Aaron discusses his quirky theories on Vikings, Nick Xenophon, the link between vegemite and masturbation and how his sexual endeavours could precipitate the end the world.
The length of this performance coupled with the claustrophobic surroundings of The Runt made this performance problematical. With some stealth mind-control techniques Aaron could overcome his audience and nerves with the sporadic comedic gold that was obviously under that helmet, delivering the performance anticipated. Unfortunately, on this occasion, the conspiracy may have been both the tiny venue and hilarity in this performance.
Final Word: Incongruous.
Aaron Nobes performs at Gluttony – The Runt until Fri Mar 1.
Georgie Carroll: Nurse Case Scenario
The Maid, Fri Feb 15
“Adelaide’s comedian of the year” Georgie Carroll is a hilariously quick-witted nurse from Rockdale, England. In her sold-out stand-up show she shares her experiences growing up in Rockdale, coming to Australia and the funny yet compassionate side of her career in nursing. Georgie has tapped into an unlimited source of material from both her past experiences in Rockdale and current experiences as a nurse in an unnamed hospital referred to as rhyming with Bowel McSpewin in Adelaide’s northern suburbs.
Georgies’s ability to identify her own faults, appreciate them and above all else not take herself too seriously helps her deliver a performance of side-splitting proportions. Georgie’s commentary about her new country together with her easy conversational wit makes Nurse Case Scenario a must-see for anybody that appreciates that a good dose of laughter is the best medicine. Georgie can be my nurse any day. A massive hit!
Final Word: Arresting.
Georgie Carroll performs at The Maid until Thu Feb 28.
At The Movies
The Soul Box, Fri Feb 15
Peaches ‘N’ Gin Burlesque takes you for a walk down memory lane with their sizzling and sexy take on some of your all time favourite movies. Precocious hosts Rowan and Lady Cara set the scenes as the team sing, dance and tease their way through some favourite movie memories from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Predator and Aladdin to the ever popular Titanic.
Lady Cara Louise’s vocal abilities put Celine Dion to shame with her ‘twins’ and burlesque-like raunch a knockout, while Rowan Watts engaged the audience with a melodic tone to match. Sapphire Snow and Luna Eclipse winked, wiggled, teased and danced their way through a burlesque movie showcase.
At The Movies is a burlesque show of Titanic proportions which included corsets, feathers and tassels and vassels! It is sleazy and raunchy, which is exactly what you expect from a burlesque show. I give it three tassels!
Final Word: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
At The Movies continues at The Soul Box until Fri Mar 15.
Higher Ground East, Fri Feb 15
A small black curtained space, two performers in silhouette against a screen backdrop. William Lovell (keys) and Adam Bain (drums) play facing each other across the stage while VJ Tripfabrix’s images flash across the screen. Tonight’s performance represents an accumulation of 10 years of travel throughout the world, exploring cultures. They obviously heard great music.
Deep tones from the keys and steady drumming tempo herald a subtle start that increases in intensity as more synth-driven sounds and samples are added and the beat goes polyrhythmic, in some songs looped. The sounds are visceral, funky, hard, searing and sometimes intricate, with rock-tinged jazz lurking within. The accompanying images hypnotise, changing from sunset to dawn to cityscape to forest to ancient cities.
Sometimes menacing yet melodically whimsical like a Scott Walker electro cabaret, the music drives you to dance, as the pulsing beats get harder and the sub-harmonics hit your body.
Final Word: Steaming.
The Wheatsheaf Hotel, Fri Feb 15
As lightning shot through Adelaide’s looming dusk, thunder rumbled through Thom Lion’s fingertips as he meandered through his charming set of folk; with his pride of band members he managed to emulsify his sound even further. Lion navigates through contours of talent with peaks and troughs in terms of pace as the set formed like a mullet; calm and collected in the front, party out the back.
What really resonates are his lyrics, proving himself a songwriting guru, exposing deep intelligence as his genuine words lock themselves in your mind’s echo chamber. If folk is not your thing, come solely for the quirky banter that humbly slots itself between tunes. You just couldn’t wipe the smiles of pure passion off his cheeky little face, which spread like wildfire through the mixed bag of a crowd.
Small in size but big in stage presence, his heart of gold is understated and quietly brilliant.
Final Word: Golden.
Thom Lion performs at The Wheatsheaf Hotel until Sat Mar 10.
Alan Anderson: Whisky For Dafties
Austral Hotel – Red Room, Fri Feb 15
A warm whisky on my sweaty taste buds is not what I’d normally look forward to on a hot summer Adelaide evening in a full venue. Yet by the time Alan Anderson has romped through his bawdy, fun, yet somehow educational intro to the beloved fire water I’m very excited to try my free sample at show’s end. And such is his skill. Alan knows how to capitalise on basic ingredients and turn them into a special product. To succeed there has to be energy, fun and a cooperative audience. And succeed he does.
He swiftly bowls his fast-paced tour through the drink’s history, ingredients, varieties, colours, aromas and national characteristics and offers tastings to prove his points to selected audience members along the way. A perfectly fun and funny blend of kilted insults and effervescent education.
Final word: Rollicking.
Alan Anderson performs at Austral Hotel – Red Room until Tue Mar 12.
Victoria Healy’s Anatomy
Gluttony – Pig Pen, Fri Feb 15
The very likeable Victoria Healy, a self-professed ‘bogan’ from Melbourne, presents her incredibly well-researched stand-up show about the human anatomy, things that make us squeamish and how to use a baby for shoplifting. The highly energetic and infectiously friendly Victoria works the audience well (and kindly), inviting us to share our squeamish ratings and knowledge about the anatomy.
Supplying useful tips on how to avoid having your ovum harvested while sleeping, or increase your chances of pregnancy through sneezing, alongside the revelation that “all good acting comes from the knees”, Victoria’s show is non-stop, surprisingly informative and a lot of fun. With plenty of chuckles rather than big laughs, and some genuine squirmers (think frontal lobotomy through the eyeball), this show worked best when Victoria used her comic cleverness about the anatomy rather than bogan impersonations or occasional graphic sex descriptions. She’s well worth seeing.
Victoria Healy’s Anatomy continues at Gluttony – Pig Pen until Sat Feb 24.
Dave Bloustien: Social Conduct Redux
Gluttony – The Piglet, Fri Feb 15
Performing a remixed show originally devised in 2008, Dave Bloustien tells a hilarious story about getting booked for an awkward comedy gig that was doomed from the beginning. Making jokes about racist people from Cronulla following the riots really didn’t go down well for Dave when he was performing at a Cronulla High School formal. It gets worse when he’s trapped on a boat with the angry audience for the rest of the night, doesn’t get paid and gets sued!
Dave is an alluring, intelligent comedian who charms his audience and has broad appeal. Overall the show sailed along on some rough seas tonight as it seemed Dave forgot a lot of his content. Once polished, it would be great to watch later in the season when it’s performed on the Popeye cruising down the River Torrens.
Final Word: Seaworthy.
Social Conduct Redux continues at Gluttony – The Piglet until Wed Feb 20 and The Popeye until Sun Mar 3.
Mr Badger Tells The Story Of The Wind In The Willows
Adelaide Botanic Garden, Sat Feb 16
Set peacefully among the enchanting Botanic Gardens, it’s hard not to be inspired by Adelaide’s Splash Theatre Company’s charming rendition of a much-loved classic. This is a version narrated by Mr Badger himself. Devotees will easily recognise the lilting story of four woodland creatures’ captivating friendships formed via trial and tribulation.
The rendition straddles an awkward line between easily satisfying devotees already familiar with Kenneth Grahame’s story and winning over its younger audience members who are being introduced to the fable. Mr Badger’s persona was brilliantly suited for the older audience, helping them relive their childhood memories, but the younger audience members didn’t look entirely engaged by the exploits. Already very endearing, this will be at its most effective when told to a gaggle of children, so bring your whole clan along.
For my money, Mr Badger had me at the first glimpse of his snoozing under a red handkerchief.
Final Word: Charming.
Mr Badger Tells The Story Of The Wind In The Willows continues at Adelaide Botanic Garden until Thu Feb 28.
Kids Comedy Gala
The Garden Of Unearthly Delights’ Vagabond, Sat Feb 16
The Kids Comedy Gala is a lucky dip of sorts – you don’t know quite what you’re going to get when you dip yourself into the Vagabond. On opening day Mr Snot Bottom began the laughs with some truly gross bum jokes and the promise of a ‘very disgusting show’ for those who braved his full act. Magic Brian brought laughs and age-old magic tricks to the stage and Abandoman adapted his night-time adults only show for the younger audience doing a typically entertaining version of What’s In Your Pocket? However, it was the Pants Down Circus who truly brought the house down with thrilling acrobatics, while managing to leave their pants on. The awesome bendy human skipping rope trick defies logic and human physiology.
The Kids Comedy Gala has a little bit of everything – perfect for short attention spans and those who just like to have it all.
Final Word: Terrific!
Kids Comedy Gala performs at The Garden Of Unearthly Delights’ Vagabond until Sun Mar 17.
Fractured Faerie Tales
Gluttony – Pig Tales, Sat Feb 16
Greeted at the tent flap with an industrial-sized fan and an evil wizard, this production started with a battle: the weather against the show. Sweltering like piglets in the Gluttony venue, the young audience was restless, but the cast did their best to enthral them with displays of magic and a silly script.
The story, at times slow and muddled, followed an evil wizard who was working to turn fairyland evil. Thwarted at every turn, he visited Snow White, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty and Aladdin, before being bested by the Fairy Godmother and her magic dust.
The plot definitely played second fiddle to the fantastic magic tricks – taking a ‘poisoned’ cloth and later finding it inside Snow White’s apple, or the Genie’s silly game to get his powers back – and the children watching fell in love with the real-life fairy magic happening in front of their eyes.
Final Word: Genie-us.
Fractured Faerie Tales continues at Gluttony – Pig Tales until Sat Mar 16.
Gluttony – The Piglet, Sat Feb 16
Ben Mellor is a performance poet-cum-white rapper with too much intelligence and social conscience to lean on the obviously available penis and vagina jokes in his human body-themed exploration of the world. There are endless opportunities to devolve to ‘knob jokes’ and he does throw a few in, but the majority of Mellor’s material is far too sophisticated for that.
Mellor starts with a seemingly endless list of body part clichés just to get them out of the way so that he can focus on much more interesting ideas – like an analysis of the glandular system that is really about page-three girls, or the brilliant Deep Spleen Vent, or his poignant meditation on the loss of love in a technological near future.
Anthropoetry is a poet’s quest to understand the world through the human body and has the hallmarks of a Fringe classic.
Final Word: Intelligent.
Anthropoetry performs at Gluttony – The Piglet until Sun Mar 10.
Janis Joplin Tribute Show
Arkaba – Top Of The Ark, Sat Feb 16
There could only ever be one Janis Joplin, but that doesn’t stop Full-Tilt’s “Janis” from getting it out there and giving everything they have! When the encore is over and the crowd is on their feet demanding more and the band comes back and plays them more, but repeats of some of the favourites - ‘cause they’ve already given everything they have – it’s been a good night.
The band simply did the job, with not a foot wrong and plenty of wow factor as they and supported the strutting Janis, who used all of the stage and most of the dancefloor. She was dressed as per Janis would dress, with the look, the attitude and freedom that extended to requesting crowd members also take off their bras. A thoroughly enjoyable show that has me home reaching for my Joplin CDs to have a listen to the real Janis.
Final Word: Sassy.
The Birdcage, Sat Feb 16
While this family-friendly circus show is aimed at the kids, adults who engage their imaginations and inner child will find plenty to enjoy. The premise is a hotel inspector comes to the Minimum Stay Hotel to potentially close the place down. With elements of slapstick, circus tricks, acrobatics and with a range standard and not so standard implements (hula hoops, plates, juggling batons, table cloths etc) – the staff of the hotel exhibit their talents as well as show us how the hotel operates.
Crowd engagement started early with some little “in jokes” shared with certain cute young audience members and was kept up through the show – plenty of feel good factors. From the daggy to the flash and shiny, there is movement and grace, strength and coordination and slick teamwork throughout this show and the hoops in particular had some amazing visual effects.
Final Word: Nimble.
Minimum Stay performs at The Birdcage until Sat Feb 24.
3 Tales Of Woe
Ayers House Museum – Loft, Sat Feb 16
When I think of shadow puppetry I think of an art in storytelling that goes back 2000 years to the Han Dynasty in China. Indeed, the Chinese are masters at it. Theatre, music, literature, charismatic oration and skilful puppetry combine to entertain the audience. Professor Forbes presents three short stories by Poe, Dickens and Lovecraft in a basic style of shadow play that may have been improved with a little colour and vitality.
The choice of literature was fine but the delivery seemed rushed, with the entire performance over in about 30 minutes. Charismatic wasn’t the word for the spoken parts which, combined with the slightly muffled audio from the amplifier, were sometimes hard to follow. Storytelling is ineffective without good enunciation. The puppet designs and their movements were competent. With aspirations to travel to other festivals with this work, Professor Forbes may need to try a little bit harder.
Final Word: Overpriced.
3 Tales Of Woe continues at Ayers House Museum – Loft until Sat Mar 16.
Freak Central – CAOS Cafe, Sat Feb 16
CAOS Cafe plays host to a fine gathering of (mostly) young burlesque artists including the suitably cheeky Miss Burlesque 2010 winner Flavella L’Amour. The dancing cockatoo was a riot, whilst the two large pythons wrapped sinuously around L’Amour’s body definitely kept our attention. ‘Tricky Nicky’ was unintentionally hilarious; his strip routine hampered by a couple of left feet on the night, and it was a pity that all the acts kept themselves to the stage and seemed unwilling to engage audience members beyond their friends in the front rows.
The highlight was of course 68-year-old contortionist, The Amazing Christina, whose ability to tie herself into ridiculous knots absolutely defies belief. In the end though, it’s all about the acts and while I’m still wondering what was actually bizarre about the night. I left satisfied both with the show and the delicious meal beautifully prepared by CAOS chefs.
Final Word: Amusing.
Rosie van Heerde
Marcellina’s – Bebe’s Room, Sat Feb 16
A short and sweet all-singing, half-dancing show, Shirazzamattaz! is a bite-sized introduction to burlesque and cabaret. Rebecca Starling’s strong and sweet vocals kicked off a relaxed evening, before the deep and soulful Kate Lara took the mike. Together they created a beautiful vibe: their duets were pure harmony with plenty of feeling, and they clearly enjoy singing together.
The high-kicking, flexible quintet from the Bellarouge dance troupe, with their blend of sweet and sexy teasing innocence, made the most of a small stage; a few strategic props, and some seamless choreography. A special appearance by tenor Antonio Villano, who headlines two other Fringe shows, completed the showcase of songs from the films Moulin Rouge!, Cabaret and Burlesque.
This is innocent fun for all adults, so for some easily digested after-dinner entertainment, grab a spicy shiraz and enjoy the razzamatazz.
Final Word: Teaser.
Shirazzamattaz! continues at Marcellina’s – Bebe’s Room until Sat Feb 23.
Marcel Lucont’s Cabaret Fantastique
The Garden Of Unearthly Delights’ Le Cascadeur, Sat Feb 16
Marcel Lucont is an extremely funny faux-French Rowan Atkinson-type raconteur who sings, recites poetry and MCs a cabaret show featuring cameos from other acts performing at Le Cascadeur – along with a brief talent quest involving audience members. On this night we were treated to some saucy songs from East End Cabaret, a sumptuous slice of Le Gateau Chocolat and a slightly lame piece of burlesque.
Our audience participants included a girl whose main contribution was accidentally falling over on her way to and from the stage and a man who could play a song on his teeth. Hopefully this aspect of the show gets better! Worth the price of the ticket just to laugh along with Monsieur Lucont himself; this is also a good way to catch up on some other Fringe acts on offer. Bring your party piece – you may end up being the star of the show!
Final Word: Fabuleux!
Marcel Lucont’s Cabaret Fantastique continues at The Garden Of Unearthly Delights’ Le Cascadeur until Sun Mar 17.
NED - Ideas You'll Never Have
Gluttony – Pig Tales, Sat Feb 16
Attempting to parody something as successful as TED Talks is a risky business. TED Talks is an internet phenomenon that features short talks by (mostly) inspiring speakers. In NED, Wizard Sandwiches (Dylan Cole) delivers three talks; one as a dishevelled academic who doesn’t want to be there, another from a monk/guru who has sold out and a second academic who lives and breathes the TED format.
While attempts to link themes across the three talks are mildly amusing, NED seems unsure of itself. It seems to be both parodying and paying homage to TED, and struggles to do either effectively. More people and greater audience participation would no doubt help, but NED needs to loosen up a little and go for the more absurd and provocative if it wants people to laugh rather than just smile politely every now and then.
Final Word: Admirable.
NED continues at Gluttony – Pig Tales until Tue Feb 21.
Angry Young Man
Holden Street Theatres – The Studio, Sat Feb 16
Angry Young Man is a cracking, rapid-fire 60-minute exposition on immigration, bleeding hearts, good intentions and bad blood. It has plenty of laughs, but also has important points to make about assimilation, racism and, perhaps, the question of exactly what one should be prepared to surrender for a “better” life.
Four young men, identically suited and booted, play the central role of Yuri, a surgeon recently arrived in England. They also play the roles of the minor characters – a gushing woman, elderly men, racist thugs and a dog. The performances are superb without exception.
The dialogue is skilfully delivered, as the central role bounces from actor to actor. Bodies are flung around, making full use of the space. The accomplished physicality is vital to the storytelling. Ben Woolf’s multi-award winning play is light but meaningful, adeptly delivered and will prove once again to be a hit with Fringe-goers.
Final Word: Energetic.
Angry Young Man continues at Holden Street Theatres – The Studio until Sun Mar 17.
A Little Less Conversation
Rhino Room – Upstairs, Sat Feb 16
Dave Callan may be regretting bringing such a physically demanding show to Adelaide during a heatwave, but the full house was enjoying plenty of laughs at his discomfort. A brief but comprehensive history of dance routines over seven or so decades reminds us of what we already knew – that most pop music dance routines are totally daft! Add to this the sight of a man of considerable physical stature attempting some of the more delicate dance moves and you have a recipe for side-splitting laughter.
Learn where pelvic thrusts are totally inappropriate and where they are compulsory. The vision of Gandalf pole-dancing is not one that will be easy to shake. Personally, I would have preferred a little more conversation from the acerbic wit of Mr Callan, but there was no doubting the admirable effort he had put into learning all of these dance routines.
Final Word: Xanadu!
A Little Less Conversation continues at Rhino Room – Upstairs until Sat Mar 2.
Holden Street Theatres – The Studio, Sat Feb 16
It’s 2am and the pub is about to shut. Hang on; is that someone at the door? And, with that, the audience bears witness as one man rages against his reality.
Samuel Edward Cook is excellent as Ray, just about managing to keep a lid on the ever-present threat of his fury manifesting into something tragic. Chloe Massey, Adam Foster and Kristin Atherton are also marvellous as the three individuals forced to participate in Ray’s vague attempt at explanation and, perhaps, redemption. Amongst the violence, the accusations and the vodka there are also deft observations about the ultimate worth of war and of the farce of patriotism.
Second Shot Productions worked with jailed ex-servicemen in creating Glory Dazed. The gripping reality that has resulted from this series of conversations is there for all to see. Written by Cat Jones and directed by Elle White, Glory Dazed pulls no punches.
Final Word: Fuelled.
Glory Dazed continues at Holden Street Theatres – The Studio until Sun Mar 17.
Op Shop Tour
On a Bus: Meet at Magdalene Bargain Centre, Sat Feb 16
Despite the soaring temperature, a good time was had by all on this bus shopping adventure. If you like to give back something to the local community and enjoy recycling past treasures, then you are in for a great day. In between stops at local charity stores, you will be entertained by a showcase of recent purchases being paraded by your lively host, Sasha. Reducing our carbon footprint, making new friends and returning with a bargain were the aims of the day. Oh, and don’t forget the great afternoon tea!
Final Word: Fulfilling.
Op Shop Tour continues on a bus until Sat Mar 16.
Honky Tonk Angels – The Story Of Loretta Lynn & Friends
The Regal Theatre, Sat Feb 16
The beautifully elegant Regal Theatre was home to a hot hootin’ hoedown presented by the crystal-voiced Amber Joy Poulton and her band The Holy Men. Headed by across-the-board brilliant bass player, singer and witty host Denis Sermon, The Holy Men warmed us up with some excellent country rock before Amber joined them on stage. The witty repartee between Amber and Denis created a friendly and fun atmosphere between an inspiring mix of country classics and Amber’s originals.
Then, as the coal miner’s daughter Loretta Lynn, Amber took us on an intriguing journey of Lynn’s extraordinary personal life and prolific, often radical, songwriting career, later including her contemporaries of well-known country greats.
It was a jam-packed and highly entertaining show with top quality performances from everyone on stage, despite some technical and electrical hitches. A1 country music!
Final Word: Yeeehah!
The Garden Of Unearthly Delight’s Paradiso Spiegeltent, Sat Feb 16
Beneath the stomp box rumble lies a talent that never ceases to amaze; a master of the instrument, a master of his sound, a master that is Kim Churchill. Sporting some gorgeous curls bouncing with every stomp, the focus was on his calluses of steel as his fingertips move like little cheetahs, darting across the guitar fret-board. Not to mention that unmistakable voice, howling through dusty floorboards of the Paradiso Spiegeltent.
Churchill is a captivating soul to gaze upon, so lyrically compelling with his refreshing insights into the world, a soul that appears wise and level-headed but still capable of great dreams. The set welcomed some additions of strings and brass, complementing beautifully as a refreshing change to his usual solo endeavours. The audience saw the softer side of Churchill’s sound continuing to build into a bubbling brew of overwhelming energy, keeping the crowd with him every step of the way.
Final Word: Sublime.
Gluttony – Pig Tales, Sat Feb 16
African drumming group Seneoz brings a mix of traditional beats and modern circus flair to the Adelaide Fringe Festival. Based in Adelaide, you may have spotted this exciting group around town since they formed in 2012. The group is led by drummer and singer Karamba Cissoko, who originates from Senegal in West Africa, with three of his Adelaide students on doun doun and djembe drums. The drumming is tight and a delight to listen to.
Drum Fiasco is further enhanced by dancer and acrobat Iddi Waziri from Tanzania, who brings a playful spark to the overall show. He often invites audience members to join him dancing on stage and always gets the crowd clapping along with the drumming. The show did get somewhat monotonous towards the end, but it was a pleasurable experience that all the children and adults at the afternoon show appeared to enjoy.
Final Word: Soulful.
Drum Fiasco continues at ACA – Xspace and The Singing Gallery until Sun Mar 10.
Life In Miniature
Holden Street Theatres – The Caravan, Sat Feb 16
If you are claustrophobic forget it, but everyone else should make sure they pop into the caravan for a playful journey while they’re down at Holden Street Theatres. With a maximum of five audience members for each show, Western Australia’s Anything Is Valid Dance Theatre breaks down the barriers between audience and performer.
The two dancers, Quindell Orton and Serena Chalker, take the audience on a trip of playful teasing, boredom and bad driving in a tiny retro caravan. Through movement they encapsulate the simplicity of travelling, reminding me of family holidays in the Australian country and becoming content with doing essentially nothing as the odometer clicks over.
The sound designed by Tristen Parr is precisely matched by the creative movement and it is evident that the concept is thoughtfully explored and has been extensively workshopped. Life In Miniature is a lovely little gem.
Final Word: Cute.
Life In Miniature continues at Holden Street Theatres – The Caravan until Sat Feb 23.
The Garden Of Unearthly Delights’ Romantiek, Sat Feb 16
Winner of the Bank SA Best Dance Award at the 2012 Adelaide Fringe Festival, Ponydance returns in 2013 with an even funnier and eccentric performance. The show starts off as a girl’s night out to find a suitable man for Paula, which quickly turns pear-shaped as each of the three other friends join the night with their own agenda. Each of the four dancers has great comic timing and exudes confidence matching their characters perfectly.
This is an audience participation show, so don’t be surprised if you are suddenly being sized up as a potential partner for Paula or helping out with an awkward costume change. All of this just adds to the overall fun. The dancing is tight, the costumes hilarious and the soundtrack suitably tragic. The only downfall was the sound, but this should improve as the venue gets used to this energetic Irish troupe. Don’t miss out on Ponydance!
Final Word: Tasty.
Ponydance continue at The Garden of Unearthly Delights’ Romantiek until Sun Mar 17.
Gordon Southern’s A Brief History Of History
Rhino Room – Upstairs, Sat Feb 16
Trying to pull off a history of the world in one hour is fraught with danger. If the show’s going well and you wander from the script because you’re having fun with the audience you’re not going to fit it all in. On this occasion the show was going so well that Gordon became increasingly panicked at having to make decisions on the fly about what to leave out or gloss over. By the end of the show it was feeling a bit rushed. This is a Catch-22 because one of Gordon’s great strengths as a comedian is that he is very personable and relates well with the audience.
Less successful are his use of PowerPoint and sound grabs. I don’t understand why comedians persist with these. Despite this it was a really fun show. If you’ve never cared much for history before this is a very enjoyable way to catch up.
Final Word: Histerical [sic].
Gordon Southern’s A Brief History Of History continues at Rhino Room – Upstairs until Sat Feb 23.
Sammy J - Potentially
The Garden Of Unearthly Delights’ Umbrella Revolution, Sat Feb 16
The linguistically and musically brilliant Sammy J is back with a new show about rejection, cruise ships, red G-strings, dirigibles and death. Potentially follows the story of Alfie the possum, who is violently abducted as he struggles to overcome vertigo.
Entertainingly eloquent monologue, interspersed with Sammy J’s unconventional and completely hilarious musical interludes; he challenges the definition of what is socially acceptable, in the elegantly profane ditty Keep It Clean and the uproarious high altitude rock drama You Held My Hand. His lyrics and innocent questioning of the highhandedness of social behaviour will have you in tears.
Sammy J’s delivery is supremely polished yet still somehow vulnerable and honest, resulting in an intimate set. After discovering at what price you will sell out your own principles, the Umbrella Revolution is transformed into a blimp and soars into the comedic stratosphere; be warned - there are no parachutes on this flight.
Final Word: Hilarious!
Sammy J performs at The Garden Of Unearthly Delights’ Umbrella Revolution until Fri Mar 1.
Boon-esque – Getting To The Good Bits
Gluttony – The Bally, Sat Feb 16
Taking the term ‘bodice-ripping’ literally, Boon-esque really does get straight to the good bits through a mix of the choicest Mills & Boon excerpts spliced with retro songs and striptease. As a life sized Fabio smoulders in the background the vintage costumes soon give way to garters and pasties, set to a soundtrack of big strong men taking charge.
Demonstrating the influence Mills & Boon has had in shaping the romantic imaginings of young girls for the past century, the various skits and songs are played out with a healthy dollop of tongue-in-cheek humour. Yet throughout all the meaningful stares and heaving bosoms, it’s the female vocal quartet that’s the real hero of the show, breaking up the action with harmonies so lovely I’d happily spend an entire show just listening to these girls sing. Boon-esque proves that even romantic heroines can be bad girls too.
Final Word: Titillating!
Huggers – The Family Friendly Comedy And Cabaret Show
Austral Hotel – The Bunka, Sat Feb 16
Laughing Horse Comedy and Nik Coppin are onto a winner here with a show for the entire family. Huggers is a taste of the Fringe comedy circuit, toned down to a G rating. Laughing and smiling until our cheeks hurt, children and adults of all ages were treated to comedy, magic, quizzes and giveaways. This fun, somewhat educational show is an easy afternoon out with the kids.
While the performers may change with each show, on our visit, we were treated with the stand-up comedy of Xavier (Toby) the Penguin, the awkwardly hilarious Lycra-clad Benny B and old school magician Patrick McCullagh, who had the children enthralled by his balloon swallowing and string, cup and ball magic.
Presented by UK comedian Nik Coppin, Huggers had just the right level of over-the-children’s-heads adult humour for the show to be enjoyed by all. Highly recommended.
Final Word: Fun.
Huggers continues at Austral Hotel – The Bunka until Sun Mar 17.
Austral Hotel – The Bunka, Sat Feb 16
Disco Kids is 75 minutes jam-packed full of funky, grooving music for the family. Set in a great venue at the rear of the Austral Hotel, parents can sit back, relax and enjoy the private bar while watching the kids go crazy.
With balloons, bubbles and beach ball, this is a preschooler’s party without the cake and games, but with pumping classic tunes to please the generations. Even the adults were up dancing by the end of the show. Not a big hit for my nine and seven-year-olds, but add in some games by the DJ and they would be sold! As is, Disco Kids is a massive hit for the pre-schoolers and a nice afternoon out for the parents.
Final Word: Groovin’
Disco Kids continues at Austral Hotel – The Bunka until Sun Mar 17.
The Motown Story
The Promethean, Sat Feb 16
Motown’s sound was based on one thing – groove! The Funk Brothers, Motown’s rhythm section, played with a sense of urgency, like their life depended on it. Motown Connection [MC], without question, comprise some of Adelaide’s finest musicians and singers; however the solidarity of sound took far too long to settle, and for Motown to truly work and have the ‘wow’ factor it respectfully deserves, the attitude must be felt immediately.
Granted, doing Motown well is a supremely tough call and MC’s saviour is their rapport and fun antics; the audience clearly enjoyed every moment of this feel-good show. The chronological approach to song choice, starting with hits of the early 60s such as Heatwave to Stevie Wonder’s ‘70s classic Superstition allowed for alternating lead vocals by the four very capable singers. Standout performances were by vocalist Ria Loof, and the tight and phat sound of the hot horn section.
Final Word: GoodLordyMrGordy!
The Motown Story continues at The Promethean until Sun Mar 17.