Monday, February 28, 2011

Adelaide Fringe 2011 - Fringesanity Part 1

Well, we're just over two weeks into the greater Fringe festival and, as planned, I've been to see a bunch of shows. Here's what I've seen up to the night of Friday February 25. I'm sorry I can't go into more details about the shows; there just isn't enough time to give everything the full treatment.

Viva La Franglaise

I saw this was on and was hoping to go, but then budgetary issues kicked in and it didn't make the cut. However, composer/performer Matthew Carey asked me if I'd like to go and write a review of it for Cabaret Confessional, and I did. It's a great show and I really hope he and singer Nikki Aitken make good on their plans to bring it back later in the year, since I'd like a) to see it again, and b) other people to see it as well.

What's also great about it is that it demonstrates just how good locally produced shows can be. A lot of great Fringe shows are from interstate and overseas, or are local companies doing existing shows – but this is a local duo coming up with something completely original and putting it on. And I don't think there's enough of that, so it needs to be encouraged.

Cabaret Confessional review here.

The Life and Death of Almost Everybody

The Company of Muses won a bunch of awards for their show The Cagebirds two Fringes ago, so – as I noted in my Fringe preview – I was looking forward to seeing this.

However, it didn't turn out to be as good as I'd expected, as the review indicates. Some further research led me to some synopses that indicated they'd made significant changes to the original script, and I suspect some of what got taken out might have made it work.

ATG review here.


I've seen a lot of theatre over the past dozen or so years; literally hundreds of shows. But I can't think of very many – if any – that I've seen which I'd rate higher than Bound. It's an absolutely stunning piece of theatre on every level – the concept, the writing, and the performance – and I was completely blown away by it, as has just about anyone else who's seen it; the reviews have been universally glowing.

Should I manage to find the time, I'll see it again.

ATG review here

Steve Sheehan's A Little Horseplay

One of the oddest shows I've ever seen - at one point two people were sitting in egg-shaped chairs, swiveling, singing Lou Reed's 'Perfect Day' while a real, live miniature horse trotted around behind them. It's a work in progress, and a bit messy given that what I saw was the first attempt, but it was certainly memorable.


The first of the Guy Masterson CIT shows for me this Fringe, Adolf was a very clever production – to the point where to explain it in detail would be giving away too much. Needless to say, it was one of the most confronting and thought-provoking shows I've seen.

My ATG review here.

It's a Dad Thing: The Musical

This show had received a great rap from the ATG reviewer, so I managed to get my name on the door to go see it – being old friends with the musical director, Sam Leske, helped.

Based on a play and put together by Adam Goodburn and the aforementioned Matthew Carey, and directed by David Lampard, it's a musical about five guys building a playground in their neighbourhood. They discuss all sorts of issues relating to fatherhood – sleepless nights, pre-natal classes, vasectomies, and the karmic nature of having daughters.

Clever, funny and very entertaining. Didn't change my mind about not wanting children, though...

Phoenix Rising

CIT show number two; a another one-man show, this one about the early life of English writer DH Lawrence – about whom I knew the sum total of one thing: that he'd written some books, Sons and Lovers and the controversial Lady Chatterley's Lover, neither of which I've read. The play, though, is about his childhood and early adulthood.

As my ATG review indicates, it was very good; the actor, Paul Slack is very talented at portraying multiple characters, and his accent work was especially good.

Ghost Sharks!

Every Fringe sees me visiting a new space; this time it was the upstairs lounge of the Gelatissimo on Rundle Street.

That was pretty much the most novel aspect of the experience, though; the show itself wasn't all that great. I felt the amount of material they'd come up with was only good enough for half an hour, and they stretched it out to an hour with improv and filler.

Review here.

For Whom the Bell Tolls

And now for something completely different: comic poetry. The review pretty much covers it; this was a lot of fun.

I, Elizabeth

CIT show number three. I'd seen Rebecca Vaughan in Austen's Women last year, and quite liked it; this though, was a much more impressive performance.

ATG review here; there's not much I can add.

Katie Noonan & The Captains

I was a big fan of George in the early days; starting from the first time in the 2000 Fringe, I saw nearly every gig they played in Adelaide in the four or five years after that. Now that Katie was back with her new band, I was keen to check them out.

Being compared to your old band can't be easy, but I'd be lying if I said I thought this new act were as good as George were. I still had a good time, though.

Shakespeare's Mothers

A good show; once again, the review says nearly everything there is to say.

A truly awful show. Just wretched on nearly every level. Review pretty much covers it, but I'll that they used most of the lyrics from The Whitlams' No Aphrodisiac, which is old enough to a) be completely out of place in a show supposedly about contemporary values, and b) add to the argument that the show was written by someone who isn't a teenager (and perhaps hasn't been for some time) but who labours under the delusion they are 'in touch with the young people'.

Review here.

Lists of Invisible Things

I heard about this show via tweets from Jane Howard and Ben Finn, two people whose opinions on such things I trust. So, I made a last minute change to my schedule to fit this show in.

And I'm very glad I did; it was brilliant – and almost impossible to describe. But the lead performer (there were three women; the singer/actor, a keyboardist and a tambourine/xylophonist) was amazingly talented as both a singer and an actor, and the songs (all originals) were brilliant.

The only downside is that the run is already over so, if you're in Adelaide, you can't go see it; however, I bumped into Caity Fowler (creator/performer), who said she was hoping to put it on again in Melbourne. So I'll be keeping my eye out for news on that and letting people know.

Oh, and it turns out that one of the other two is Jen Kingwell, one half of the awesome cabaret act The Jane Austen Argument, whose show The Spaces Between I'll be seeing this Friday.

Go here for Jane's far superior write-up of the show.

The Max & Dagger Show

I did a special blog post on this show, which you can find here.

The Six-Sided Man

Another CIT show, this one was a bit different – for starters, it had two actors when all the other shows I've seen this year have been solo performances.

This one was also a lot more surreal. It's about a psychiatrist who decides to base all his decisions on the roll of a die. What then takes place – well, as far as I can tell – is an exploration of some of the possibilities of what occurs after he makes this decision.

An interesting concept, and some very good acting, with a particular emphasis on the physical.

The Misanthrope

Having seen and enjoyed Brink's production of The Hypochondriac in late 2009, this Рanother Moli̬re play Рwas a show I was very much looking forward to, and one of the reasons I decided to subscribe to the State Theatre Company 2011 season (as described here).

Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy the play very much at all. I think the biggest problem I had was that the contemporisation – moving the setting from the salon set of the 17th century to the entertainment (actors, writers and agents) of today, in London – didn't work. Yes, the salon set where the celebrities of their era, but despite certain parallels in their lifestyles, being a celebrity doesn't (as far as I'm concerned) drive people the same way as being a popular member of the nobility did back then.

After the show was the party for Red Carpet members – and, given I am one, I went. It was at Dragonfly, one of my favourite bars; apart from having a good atmosphere and being pleasantly small, it has Fat Yak (an excellent beer) on tap.

So, we hung out there for a few hours; I chatted to theatre bloggers/tweeters Sophie (Red Carpet ambassador) and Will, and – given that I'd had a few drinks and entered what's usually referred to as 'drunken fanboy mode' – spoke to some of the cast, namely Brendan Rock (who directed a great show I reviewed a few years back, Cold Comfort) and Renato Mussolino, who I've been seeing in shows for over ten years (I first saw him in a production of King Lear up at Carrick Hill, and he's been in plenty of others over the last few years) and at my gym for the last two.

But wait, there's more

Okay, to be completely accurate, there will be; you'll have to wait for the next instalment. I'd like to think it will be before the end of the Fringe, but I'm not making any promises.

For other reviews and news and so forth, check out these sites/blogs:

Adelaide Theatre Guide
Adelaide ArtBeat
The Barefoot Review
Cabaret Confessional

1 comment:

  1. Re: The Six-sided man - Have you not read Rhinehart's The Dice Man? That surprises me somehow. Not that I'd recommend it, just that I thought it would have been the sort of thing you'd have knocked off as an undergrad.