Sunday, March 27, 2011

Adelaide Fringe 2011 - Fringesanity Part 2

In an effort to actually get this blasted thing finished, I've not been as thorough as I probably should have, and for that I apologise.

Goering's Defence

I'd seen Ross Gurney-Randall's one-man show Goering's Defence back in 2008 when it was on in the Balfour's Bakery and enjoyed it; therefore, I was quite happy to be assigned the review.

It was almost as good the second time around, with the major difference being that this version's being in the Royalty Theatre – a much bigger space – meant that the intimacy the smaller space the room in the bakery provided was lost. But Gurney-Randall is an excellent performer, and the script – based on transcripts from Goering's trial – is very good.

Review here.


One of my co-workers is in this group, which falls loosely under the banner of Ukrainian folk/world music. They've played a few shows over the years, but I'd never managed to get to one until now.

At the centre of traditional Ukrainian music is the bandura, which kind of looks like a lute crossed with a harp, and S.O.V (in this formation) has two bandura players (one also plays the didgeridoo), along with electric and acoustic guitar, bass, violin and percussion – so they're able to get some really interesting sounds.

Definitely worth checking out if you get the chance.

Aussie Bob's Rolling Downunder Revue: The Bob Dylan Tribute Show

Another show a friend was in – this time playing violin – I headed down to the Rob Roy Hotel to check out Aussie Bob and his band.

What was vaguely surprising was the choice of songs; most of them I hadn't heard (or even heard of); fortunately, I got hold of a partial set list:

One More Cup of coffee
I Want You
Blowin' in the Wind
Slow Train
Ballad of a Thin Man
Maggie's Farm
Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again
Hard Rain
Idiot Wind
Like a Rolling Stone

Despite my unfamiliarity with the songs, I was impressed by the band, who were excellent. They're likely to be playing more gigs throughout the year, so you're a Dylan fan, keep an eye out.

Scenes from a Separation

Not part of the Fringe per se, I mostly went to see this because my friend Megan Dansie directed it. It's a very interesting and unusual play in that it was co-written by two playwrights, who took (roughly) half – i.e. one act – each of (as the title suggests) the demise of a relationship.

A good Australian script (much respect to Megan and Stirling for that) and some great performances made it a worthwhile trip up to the hills for a non-Fringe show.


This was one I was very much looking forward; part of Guy Masterson's CIT lineup, and starring the great man himself, it was an investigation of not only Shakespeare's character, but a history of the Jewish people in Europe.

It's a fantastic script, and Masterson is an excellent performer; the scenes for The Merchant of Venice in particular were breathtaking. Unfortunately, it was the final show of the run and he was both hoarse and tired, and this undermined things a little.

Still, very much worth seeing.

Bred to Perfection

After a night off – well, a night off from Fringe; I went to an audition – I was back into it with Bred to Perfection, one of the several shows on offer from Accidental Productions.

Sadly, it wasn't that great. Review here.

Sound & Fury's Spaceship Man

One of the my favourites shows from last year's Fringe was Sound & Fury's Private Dick, so these guys were pretty high up on the list of things I wanted to see.

Only one of the previous members – Richard, who (apparently) does most of the writing – remained from last year's troupe; previous member Shelby now has his own outfit, The Max & Dagger Show, which I wrote about here.

This show wasn't as good as Private Dick, but it was still entertaining; they managed to pack in a joke about nearly every science fiction work there is, as well as a significant homage to Apocalypse Now.

Deanne Smith: About Freakin' Time

Easily one of the best standup comedians I've seen. Review here.


This was an odd show. As the review indicates, the performer has a cruise ship background, and it shows. What was also unusual – for a Fringe show at least – was the audience, which was a much older and more conservative-looking crowd. It turned out that quite a few were family.

Seeing a show at the Santos Conservation Centre meant yet another new venue to add to the very long list of places I've seen shows in over the years I've been going to the Fringe.

CIT Voice Workshop

Something I'd been very excited by when I saw it in the Fringe guide: the chance for a learning experience with actors from the Guy Masterson's CIT, whose wide range of shows were almost all on my to-see list.

It turned out to be run by Paul Slack, star of Phoenix Rising – which I reviewed on the first weekend of the Fringe proper – who's an excellent actor and, according to his bio, an experienced drama teacher.

We spent the first half doing vocal exercises and the other in groups working on the opening speech from Romeo and Juliet – the idea being that the iambic pentameter Shakespeare used is a great measure of the vocal technique, since each line is meant to be said in one breath.

Some of it I knew before, but other aspects of it I'll be taking on board for performances in the future. And talking to Paul about his show was great.

Nice Work If You Can Get It

Physical theatre isn't usually my thing, but I'd been allocated this show to review so I headed off to Arcade Lane to see it.

So, I was pleasantly surprised at how entertaining it was. Review here. Oh, and I met the guys at the Fringe Club the following night and chatted to them for a while about the show.

Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under

While I was still mildly annoyed that we weren't getting a proper full-length gig – it appears that if I want that I'm going to have to go interstate – I wasn't going to miss the chance to see her.

Even though it only lasted an hour, it was a great gig. Last year she played a whole bunch of new songs; this time she played more stuff from Who Killed Amanda Palmer, which I'd never actually heard done live before.

At the end she announced she was doing a ninja gig (a previously unannounced show) at the Tuxedo Cat with The Jane Austen Argument, but I was way too tired to go to that (it wouldn't start until something like 12.30am) so I headed home.

Over My Dead Body

A review at yet another new venue, I was more than a little surprised when flipping through the program that two of my friends were in the show, given I hadn't seen any references to it on Facebook or in conversation.

That aside, it was an interesting concept – three elderly murder-mystery writers planning an elaborate murder of a suspected criminal. The roles were all played by people in their twenties and, while they all did well, it just wasn't quite the same as if it'd had appropriately aged actors.

Review here.

The Spaces Between

One of the shows I was most looking forward to, since I'd not gotten to see them last year other than in their appearance at the Amanda Palmer gig.

They were once again in Arcade Lane, specifically the old Regency cinema building, and using the space an interesting way, specifically putting the audience down on the floor and performing on the stepped area where the audience would usually be. This had caused them problems with their sound (my friend Miriam had seen them a couple of nights earlier; read her review here) so I was hoping they'd have worked on that.

And they had, though it still wasn't perfect. However, the show was still amazing; they – Jen and Tom – are a stunningly good outfit who make some of the best music I've heard. I ended up chatting to them afterwards, and buying a copy of their EP, The Birthing Pyre – which includes Bad Wine & Lemon Cake, a brilliant song which Amanda Palmer covered on her Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under album.

Dead Men Don't

It was kind of lucky I made it to this show; for some unknown reason (well, other than my own dimwititude) I thought it was at Najjar's on O'Connell Street when it was actually at the community centre on Tynte Street. Having lived in that part of North Adelaide for a year or so I knew where to go and bolted, getting there just in time.

A live-action radio play (hilariously, fellow reviewer Rod Lewis from Glamadelaide was there as well; he and I had worked together on a live-action radio play a few Fringes go) put on by a touring group from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, it was a clever, funny show which I really enjoyed.

Review here.

Mussolini: A One-Man Political Farce

This was the second show by Ross Gurney-Randall – the first being Goering's Defence, which I'd seen a few days prior – and even more bitingly satirical. Brilliant stuff.


Another show I was looking forward to, both because I enjoyed Richard Fry's show Bully, which I saw in the 2010 Fringe and also because I'd been hearing good things about it from everyone who'd seen it.

I was not disappointed; it was a well-written, well-performed and genuinely touching show.

What was also good was chatting to Richard, both before and afterwards; we'd become friends on Twitter after the 2010 Fringe and had a few conversations since then. And he's a really nice, friendly guy who's happy to 'talk shop', which is one of the things I love to do – and something which I really enjoy about the Fringe.

One Man Lord of the Rings

Interestingly enough, this was one of the most expensive shows I was seeing this season, and the most expensive through the actual Fringe (Tim Minchin, who I'll talk about later, was more, but wasn't part of the Fringe proper; The Misanthrope, while part of the Fringe, I got my ticket for via my State Theatre Company subscription).

The same guy had been here in Fringes past, doing a one man version of the original Star Wars trilogy. But for different reasons – one year it clashed with a show I was doing; another I think the tickets sold out before I got mine – I never caught that one.

But when browsing the Fringe guide I spotted the advertisement and realised it'd be something I could go see with my LOTR-loving friend Tracey, if she was keen to see it. She was, so we bought our tickets.

And, while I still don't think it was worth $50 (that's a lot of money by Fringe standards; most of the other shows I saw were $20-$25), it was an excellent show. He went through all three films – well, the important and/or funny parts – using mime and doing all the voices.

Some of the characters were better than others – his Gandalf was okay and his hobbits good; his Saruman and Gollum were great, though, and his Denethor was hilarious, particularly when he did the scene where he eats while Pippin sings.

About my only real complaint is that he didn't make as many jokes in the first 'half' as he did in the second – well, apart from some digs at Legolas's hair. Overall, though, it was a great show.


A not particularly inspiring standup comedy show; the redundant exclamation mark should have been a giveaway. Review here.

I am not Emily Dickinson

I wish I could say more about this but I can't; what little I could say is in the review.

Sammy J & Randy in 'Bin Night'

Another act I'd never managed to catch before, I decided I would fit them in this year.

Unfortunately, it was in Le Cascadeur, which is one of the crappiest of the tents in the Garden in terms of cramped and uncumfortable seating. And I got one of the worst seat in the place; the farthest seat on the left of the second row.

But despite the wretched seating, it was a brilliant show. They completely lost track of where they were a few times, but the improvisations they came up with to cover it were hilarious.

Full English

Truly awful standup show made even worse by the fact it was running half an hour behind and we had to stand outside in the cold until they were ready.

On the plus side, I had a ticket to see The Spaces Between for a second time, which meant I had an excuse to leave early – the first time I've left a show I was reviewing before it was finished. But I did get to see both performers (there were two), meaning I was justified in the comments I made. Of course it's possible the second guy saved the best material for the end of his bit, but I really don't think that was the case.

Review – my last for this Fringe, which was a bit sad – here.

The Spaces Between

Despite them also starting really late – there must've been something in the air – it was even better second time around, and I also think it was a slightly different set, though it's hard to remember specifics. Either way, I just served to make me love the Tom and Jen show even more.

Le Gateau Chocolat

Another show I'd been looking forward to seeing as soon as I'd seen the listing in the Fringe guide, as I'd seen him as part of the brilliant Company of Strangers back in 2009. That, combined will all the positive reports I was hearing about the show, meant that by the time I got to see it I was very excited indeed.

It was even better than I expected. Apart from the expected Old Man River – it's one of his standards and, as he said, pretty much a given for a black baritone – he sang a haunting version of Radiohead's Creep, got the audience singing with him on Nothing Compares 2U, and nearly brought me to tears with I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables.

I got more involved after being pulled out of the audience up on stage with a bunch of others and given lycra costumes to put on and have our photo taken with him:

Le Gateau Chocolat is, probably unsurprisingly, the one in the dress with the afro. I'm in the dark blue, third from the right and grinning like an idiot. Standing behind me is the oft-mentioned (and much loved) Matthew Carey, who was accompanying1.

Up there with Bound and The Spaces Between as my picks of the Fringe. Really, the only disappointing thing about it was that I'd left seeing him so late in the season that I wouldn't be able to get to it a second time.

Follow Le Gateau Chocolat on Facebook here.

1Matthew evidently has a thing for dress-ups; in Viva La Franglaise he donned a beret, and back when he was with Company of Strangers he put on a bear's head for a number.

Axis of Awesome

I'd seen AofA back in the Cabaret festival in 2009 and was keen to see them again this year.

The current show was much along similar lines; lots of clever, funny songs about any number of things, and a whole lot of shit dumped on Benny, the short one who plays keyboards. Oh, and the latest incarnation of their YouTube hit, The Four Chord Song.

Tim Minchin vs. the ASO

Apart from anything else this set a record for me for the greatest time between the purchase of the tickets (July 2010) and the seeing of the show (March 2010).

That aside, it was an odd show; having the ASO there was kind of cool, but it didn't really add that much to the whole experience. However, Tim himself was in fine form, and he played for something like two hours, so we got all the songs I was hoping he'd play like Prejudice and The Pope Song, as well as quite a few I hadn't heard before. He didn't do Storm, but I wasn't too unhappy.

The whole experience got just a little more surreal when I was at the Fringe Club after the show, 'cause Tim himself turned up and I ended up having quite a long conversation with him.

Good times.

Olympia Steampunk Spectacular

One of the stranger events of the festival, Olympia was an interactive, role-playing steampunk event, i.e. where we got dressed up in steampunk gear and were each allocated a character to play, with goals to achieve in the scenario they'd created.

I'd hit a combination of op-shops and costume stores to get my outfit together, and despite my not having had much time to do it, I was pretty happy with what I ended up with – though I was disappointed I hadn't been able to build an interesting steampunk weapon or device like I had for the party last year – as described in this post.

The event itself was fun, though more in the 'let's see people's costumes and devices' kind of way than a 'this is a great role-playing event' way; basically, I had a character without particularly well-defined objectives, so I didn't really know what I needed to do.


See the previous Fringesanity entry, and the review for what I thought of this the first time around.

I noticed a few little things the second time around, which was interesting; I rarely see a show more than once, so I can't honestly say if it's something that would happen with every show. But it was still as profoundly moving and utterly brilliant as it was when I saw it three and a half weeks pior.

A damn good way to finish a great near-month of theatre, music and comedy.

The final word

Actually, I'll save the final word for another post. I've got a few more things to say about the experience, but I want to get this one up on the blog – it's been weeks since I posted, and I consider that a bit slack.

So, keep an eye out for the next one.

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