fringe: a midsummer knight's dream... what?

adelaide fringe - a midsummer knight's dream... what?
Sometimes you see a Fringe show where there are only ten people in the audience. Sometimes you see a Fringe show where the title doesn't really match the content of the show. Sometimes you see a Fringe show where despite everyone's best intentions it just doesn't come together.

A Midsummer Knight's Dream... What? (and yes, that's the whole title) from Into the Mask Theatre is sadly all of these things at the same time.

Firstly, despite the title, it's not actually Shakespeare... having seen the show and re-reading the blurb, it's still not completely clear that that's not the case. Yes I can kind of see the parallels between the Bard's tale of fairies and lovers, but this was a story all of it's own.

Which isn't to say that it's a bad story, it's just not what I was expecting and it's also... well, the best phrase I can really think of to describe it is a little bit awkward. And it was made a little worse because there were only about ten people in the audience.

It's not due to a lack of energy from the performer, Shane... he was definitely putting his all into it. And there were points that were amusing, and the entire character of the cyclops, with the decidedly Muppet inspired voice, was a definite stand out. The masks that were used to transition between the different characters were also gorgeous, even (or perhaps especially) the one with the erect penis for a nose.

His musical accompanist was quite cute in a nerdy musical blonde way, and could definitely play the living daylights out of both the keyboard and guitar he used throughout the show.

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fringe: death comes at the end

adelaide fringe - death comes at the end
The last performance of Death Comes at the End by Scriptease just happened to be the welcome return of a few faces we've seen before and some fresh new faces I'll be on the lookout for again.

Firstly, the venue of the State Dining Room at the Ayers House Museum where we saw Dorothy Parker strut her stuff.

Then, because it was Fringe and it was an improv show, who else could possibly be the Master of Ceremonies but the wonderful, and more than a little naughty, Joshua Kapitza most recently seen (by me anyway) in the D&D and monopoly inspired improv shows of past Fringes.

And there was also a very welcome returning face from this year, Eden Trebilco, from last weekend's Great Detectives show. I'm probably going to infer this a bunch of times in this review, but let me say it right out loud, right here... I may have only seen Eden twice now, but holy crap I love that man! He knows how to turn the dial not only all the way up to eleven, but he takes it past eleven, around to one again and then back up to eleven.

But getting back to the show... while the previous improv shows have taken their titles as a place to start and then gone all the way over the horizon to places unknown, this show sticks much more closely to the murder mystery format of Cludeo... well, at least it takes all the character names, and the room and weapon choices from there... everything else is pure brilliant insanity and based on whatever answers they could hear to a seemingly random question that each cast member asked the audience.

Hence we had Joshua as a Matrix/Mr Smith inspired Mr Green... Eden as an interpretive dancing Mr Plum... Jarrad Paker as a highly Mrs Doubtfire-esk Mrs White... the lovely Chicagoan Noah Tavor as a very laid back Colonel Mustard, inventor of the atomo ray that turned everyone (ie the audience) into hideous, yet sporadically sexy, zombies... Jaklene Vukasinovic as the very haughty (and in this particular show, the very murderous) Mrs Peacock... and last but not least, the victim of the tale, Coby Yolland as the stuttering Miss Scarlet.

Oh, and the lovely Anne Mayer as "everyone else in the known universe" (although her best role was as the very thick and then very amorous rugby player who ends up shot).

With any improv show it's difficult to remember all the twists and turns, but we had a mostly unrequited love story between Mrs White and Colonel Mustard, a somewhat requited (with much spinning) love story between Sensei/Morpheus Green and his pupil Mr Plum... the invention of the atomo ray (with the handy reverse switch that turned everything from death back to life... all with the power of love)... and a metric ton of interpretive dance (mostly performed by the brilliant Eden, although Joshua did give it a damn good crack as well).

But as with any game of Cluedo, the real question is who and where and with what.

To involve the audience, each of the cast dropped clues (and occasionally just flat out said the name of the room or thing) as to their item and location, and the program came with a handy logic puzzle to allow you to check off where the victim, in this case Miss Scarlet, was found and what the murder weapon was.

Then in the last sequence the murderer had to casually slip the name of the weapon into their dialogue.

Hence, our murdered was Mrs Peacock, in the lounge with the rope.

The cast was all brilliant, and I'm just sad that this was the last night, because I cannot recommend this highly enough. Joshua is wonderfully dry as always, I've already confessed my deep and abiding love for Eden, but Jarrad's Euphegenia White was pitch perfect, not to mention Jarrad's ability to just break into song at a moment's notice.

And the point where the whole cast and audience is singing I Will Survive while Eden interpretive dances his heart out will be one of the things I'll remember most about this show.

This is a returning show from last year, so I can only hope they bring it back (or something very similar) again next year, because that's the very best thing about improv shows and the truly random nature of audience suggestions, it's never the same twice... anything can happen, and often will.

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fringe: trash test dummies

adelaide fringe - trash test dummies
This is my second time seeing Trash Test Dummies, and after the sparseness of the crowd last time, it was good to see them playing to a packed house, and in the Garden this time.

And a house that was half full of kids having the time of their lives (especially the really little Batman dude who was sitting across the aisle from us and was having THE best time ever).

It's an incredibly family friendly show, and the fact this was a more intimate (ie smaller) venue made the connection between the audience and performers even better.

Melbourne trio Jamie Bretman, Jack Coleman and Simon Wright are all back again, and I still can't help thinking of them as the veteran, the joker and the apprentice.

If I had to chose one word for Trash Test, it's energy... high energy specifically (but that's two words). From the moment they start they spend the whole show dashing to and fro, doing pratfalls, hiding in bins and speaking in their own language consisting mostly of noises and the occasional word. This is The Three Stooges minus the cruelty, mime with a lot of noise... it's pure circus clown with some great juggling thrown in, and it's wonderful.

One of the great things about the show is how well they work the tricks into the body of the show. A lot of the tricks, while not looking overly complicated, would be difficult to make look THAT effortless.

They are also one of the best shows for just that perfect use of music... it may only be a snippet, but they use it perfectly and it's always designed to make you laugh (also I think it's one of the things they work in for the parents to enjoy, since I'm guessing a lot of them would go right over kids heads)... from Chariots of Fire to The Matrix, from the Batman theme to Everything is Awesome from The Lego Movie (which both I and every kid in the audience thoroughly appreciated)... it's just spot on for what they're doing at that moment.

The other place they set themselves apart and really shine is the use of those wheelie bins... they're big, unwieldy props, and yet they never seem to to out of their control (even when the audience is mere inches away).

And Jamie, Jack and Simon are as adorable as ever and have great timing, both acrobatically and comically.

Do yourself a favour, whether you have kids or not, go and see them, you'll have a damn good time... and buy a little neon wheelie bin at the end of the show, I bought a bright pink one to hold my pens on my desk at work.

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success and failure errand boy saturday shopping

the errand boy or failure and success
The image alongside this post pretty much sums up the majority of the day... lots of errands with varying degrees of success and failure.

Following up from last night though, my neighbours didn't have any noisy surprises for me at 4am... so that was nice.

I was running a little late this morning due to changing my bedding, so Ma was waiting for me downstairs when I finally made my way down.

We did the usual supermarket safari, wandered somewhat aimlessly around Target, then headed back here.

I had a few errands I wanted to run... to get some more Facial Fuel from Kiehl's, get a replacement desk fan for work and some new sneakers to make up for the fact that I bought the wrong size last time.

These should have been three straightforward errands... it didn't work out quite like that though.

We headed into the city which may very well have been our first mistake. Firstly because this is the Clipsal weekend, so going anywhere around Rundle Mall involved swimming against the current of bogans headed to the race. Because seriously, I don't care how much money you may or may not have, if you go to the Clipsal 500 wearing a team jersey and you're not actually a paid employee of the team, you're a bogan.

Anyway, first stop was Kmart to look at fans... and while they had a cheap $8 one it was bigger than I really wanted... so I figured we'd look elsewhere. Should have bought that one.

The Kiehl's trip was easy, in fact that was the one of the successes, although I always end up with sample products that I never end up using.

We wandered about a bit, looked for fans in other places with no actual luck, then gave up and headed off to Paul's Warehouse to look at sneakers.

Now, every time we've been there has been a wide variety of New Balance sneakers, even if it wasn't always easy to find ones in my size. But this time the range of sneakers was less than a dozen pairs on display, and only one table full of boxes. And of those none of them were even remotely in my size. So screw you Paul's... I hope that doesn't mean that they're no longer stocking them, but just that they were between shipments. Because that would suck.

From there we took a detour to Haighs, to stock up on some factory seconds. At least that part of the day went okay.

Next stop was Arndale to see what else I could find in the desk fan genre.

the lego movie double decker couch set
That didn't work out so well, but what I did find in Big W was the Lego set I've been looking for for a while now... The Lego Movie Double Decker Couch set...

I'd also decided that I was going to grab one of the general Lego sets, just so that I had a nicer range of new bricks to make things with if I needed something for photos, etc. Ma ended up snaffling both sets off me to use as birthday presents, since my birthday is only a couple of weeks away.

After we'd wandered around a little more and exhausted all the possible fan options, we headed down the road to the Mile End to take a look at both fans and DVD players since Ma's has given up the ghost.

Fortunately the story does have a happy ending, since we both walked out of there with our respective items... an appropriately sized fan for me, the cutest little Sony DVD player for Ma to go with her big-ass Sony TV.

So, as I often quoth from Morpheus, "what happened, happened and couldn't have happened any other way"... not completely true, I know, but it works for the purposes of the story.

Then we came back here and killed some time until it was time to go and grab some dinner and head out to our two Fringe shows tonight.

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photo friday: wall faces

walls - girlwalls - nurse

walls - smilewalls - blue
Discounting Fringe shows, this week has been fairly dull... and packed with minor annoyances of various sorts which I'll try to avoid boring everyone with.

Although while one of those annoyances was my infrequently noisy neighbours, I have to give them their due since they went from pretty damn noisy about half an hour ago to actually shutting it all down when I just checked. Maybe the note I left in their letter box made a difference. I certainly hope so. Although my paranoia about what will happen at 4am is fairly damn high.

So honestly there's not a lot else to really talk about or record for posterity.

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fringe: illuminate

adelaide fringe - madhouse circus's illuminate
There are circus shows that tell a story and there are circus shows that just pure circus tricks... Illuminate by Madhouse Circus is decidedly the latter.

And there's nothing wrong with that, but I did find myself comparing it to other circus shows I've seen at various points along the way.

This is also the second time I've seen Madhouse Circus... the first time being their Alice in the Madhouse show a couple of years ago. But this was so very different... firstly, Alice was more story driven and secondly I think possibly the entire cast is different to the first time (one or both of the girls may be the same, I'm not sure).

This time around the cast is Jon Bonaventura, Phoebe Carlson, Flick Lannan, juggler Byron Hutton, Reece Cooper and Jake Silvestro. And for the record, just like last time I did indeed have a brief crush on two of the performers, this time around it was Jon and Jake... but they're both gorgeous and buff and oh so flexible, can you really blame me?

Okay, let's get the stuff I didn't like so much out of the way first...

Firstly, while the "illuminate" idea is an interesting one, it gets in the way of the performance on more than one occasion (both Phoebe's bottle walking trick, which I'm sure was amazing, I just couldn't see enough of it to tell... or Reece's handstand routine with the torches when I much rather would have seen him properly), or else it's dropped entirely for major sections.

The bits where it worked, it worked well, such as the juggling, but other than that, not so much.

Secondly the rope work trick with Phoebe and Jon is AMAZING... but feels a little tonally weird with the rest of the show, especially with the very dark ending. In fact, the whole show feels a little oddly balanced, after the great opening (more on that in a second) the front half is a little bit reserved, whereas the second half is much more upbeat and high energy. Particularly Phoebe and Flick's hula hoop routine which was absolutely tonally perfect and really got me laughing and engaged.

Their number and the opening were probably the parts I liked the most... I do enjoy a show where they turn the usual "no flash photography" announcement on it's head by following it up with "these bodies are too nice to hide away" (or something similar) and then having everyone take out their phones and the performers pose.

It's also where sitting in the front row comes in handy...

madhouse circus - reece, phoebe, byron, jake, flick and jon in triplicatemadhouse circus - jake... seriously, can you blame me?
Beyond being the cutest (and I'm annoyed I never managed to snap a photo of Jon beyond the group shots), Jon and Jake were also my favourite kinds of circus performers... Jon with the handstand canes and the corde lisse (aerial rope), Jake with the cyr wheel. But they're all incredibly skilled performers, especially the juggler Byron who did things with those clubs I haven't seen jugglers do before.

And the whole blacklight clubs thing was fantastic too, especially with his matching costume.

Oh, and Flick's routine in the German wheel was the first time I think I've seen one of those used up close, and it's a hell of a thing, especially since she managed to throw it front one side of the tent to the other seemingly effortlessly. It's a little bit of a shame there wasn't really room in the tent for her to do anything beyond a straight line... but even so it was great to watch.

All in all, it was a solid and entertaining circus show with an appealing cast.

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fringe: great detectives of old time radio live

adelaide fringe - great detectives of old time radio live
Preachrs Podcast OnStage chose the perfect venue for Great Detectives of Old Time Radio LIVE... like the three radio plays (Dragnet, Candy Matson and Yours Truly Johnny Dollar) that made up the show, the Capri Theatre was built in the 1940's, so it just felt right.

And the cast were all dressed appropriately for the era... well more or less anyway. I'm always intrigued with theatre when the performers are already on stage when the audience comes in, and with this show they behaved like they were on the set of one of the original radio productions... drinking tea (or possibly something a little stronger from a flask), sitting around a table until it was their turn at the microphone and having little conversations or smiles between themselves.

First up was Dragnet...  "based on actual cases and transcribed from police reports". Tonally, this was the odd duck of the three plays, given that it was based on real events it wasn't anywhere near as over the top and campy as the others. But it was brilliantly done, if a tiny bit grim given the theme of child abandonment.

The only real complaint that I had is that Benjamin Maio Mackay playing the role of Joe Friday was a little difficult to understand at times, mostly due to Mackay making his voice fairly gruff and also possibly speaking too closely to the microphone... although weirdly there wasn't an issue with characters he played later in the show (maybe because he was using the other microphone though). But having said that, Mackay had the hardboiled detective thing pretty much locked in with all three characters he played.

Next up was Candy Matson, "one of the only female investigators of the time". This was where Julia Sciacca really shone as the titular investigator. The Matson stories feel like they'd all be somewhat campy and stylistically in a slightly similar vein to The Thin Man movies (it's what this one reminded me of anyway). It's all plucky girl detective, a clearly gay (in a 1940's way) offsider (played brilliantly by Eden Trebilco, who really did act up a storm through all of the pieces), Russian bad guys and people being hit on the head.

I'd say that this was my favourite of the three to be honest, mostly due to Sciacca's performance, but also due to the whole plucky girl detective thing.

Last, and by no means least was Yours Truly Johnny Dollar... "based around the action packed expense account of Johnny Dollar private insurance investigator". With Trebilco in the lead, but playing it much more butch than he did in the Candy Matson piece, this was the most over the top of the three plays. But Trebilco really made it work, plus he's a natural showman.

For me, the stand-out member of the supporting cast was clearly Jennifer Barry... she played a number of kids, a couple of male roles and an old lady, all the while doing different voices and often with what sounded like a perfect Brooklyn style accent.

It was a lovely way to spend 85 minutes (and it certainly didn't hurt that it was out of the heat) and now I definitely want to delve further into the world of Candy Matson, Yukon 2-8209!

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another basic saturday shopping

rocking the fifties trolley
Today was pretty much about staying out of the heat and killing time until the Fringe show this afternoon.

Somehow it led to unexpected but not overly dramatic technological spending.

As soon as I rolled out of bed this morning I switched on the air-conditioner. I've been able to avoid having to either sleep on the living room floor or else run the air-con all night for the last couple of nights (although I think tonight I might be out of luck) but using the fan to pump cool air into the bedroom after the sun goes down, so although it was a little warm this morning, it actually wasn't too bad considering that it was already close to 30°C when I woke up around 5:30am.

Anyway, after lazing around in bed for a bit, I got up, got ready and headed downstairs to wait for Ma. Then we headed off to the supermarket for the usual trawl through the aisles. Probably because it was going to be a hot day, the place was a little more packed than usual, which only really became an issue when we hit the checkouts since they generally only have couple of registers open.

But even so we still managed to get our regular check out girly, I gave her some quick Fringe recommendations and then we headed on our way.

Once we'd stashed the groceries, I let Ma have a wander around The Red Circle Boutique while I ducked into EB Games to take a look at what they had on sale.

And I came out with Assassin's Creed: Rogue as well as an iTunes card since they were on sale also. I perhaps could have done with a smaller denomination of iTunes, since I don't tend to buy a hell of a lot of stuff, but it'll last me a good long while with any luck.

Given that the Collector's Edition of Rogue was the same price as the regular edition, and only about $10 more than the preowned edition, I went with that... to be honest the best thing about the special editions is the extra content, but this one also came with the soundtrack CD which I'm listening to now... and it's not half bad. Makes a decent background noise kind of thing... and I'm probably paying more attention to the music now that I do when I'm playing the game. I know it's there but other than the odd piece here and there I never end up noticing it all that much.

I'm going to try and hold off from starting the game until the end of Fringe... I don't know how successful I'll be, but I'll give it a red hot go.

Anyway, we then retreated back to my place, unpacked and decided to head down to Arndale to kill some time.

I also wanted to take a look in Big W for the thongs I really like, since they're the only place that has them... clearly they don't make them any more, which is disappointing since I haven't really found any that are anywhere near as comfortable. I did pick up a new set of rabbit ears for my TV since I bent one of the arms on my old aerial a week or so ago. It's also got one of those metal hoop things in the back, so hopefully it'll pick up the signal better than the old one (which is mostly great but occasionally grumbles on certain stations).

Ma wanted some over ear headphones for watching videos on her laptop, so we headed into Dick Smith to take a look at what they had. She found some decent ones and while she was waiting at the counter I took a wander around to look at random stuff and ended up, purely by accident, in the aisle with all the computer mice.

I've been using a little mini mouse for a while now, it's more precise when you're doing photo editing and easier to click things. But since I got the new laptop it's less fun because of the incredibly weird placement of all the USB ports, so half the time I run out of cord or shut the cord in the lid or knock the USB plug causing the mouse to disconnect. And there just happened to be a number of really cute mini Logitech mice that were wireless... so I finally gave in and bought one.

And because I don't trust the batteries in those things all that much, I also bought a pack of spares. I'll try and remember to switch the mouse off when I switch the laptop off, but I know I'll forget at some point.

From there we headed down to Goodwood to grab some lunch before the Fringe show at the Capri Theatre. We ended up at a place called Brown Dog Cafe... I had an affagto again, although it was nice, it wasn't quite as nice as the first one I had at Cibo, but it wasn't bad. I also had the chicken burger, which was tasty but somewhat problematic to eat.

Then we headed next door to the Capri. I haven't actually been there before, at least not that I remember... and I would have thought that I would remember given that it's a gorgeous old art deco building. A little in need of a little sprucing up here and there but it's a great venue.

And that was about it really...

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photo friday: boys in the sun

come on inrunning kannibal

sun smartlook behind you

taking a dipgrommit
I need to be careful what I wish for...

Last week I mentioned that I much prefer weeks that start off slow and get busier as the week progresses. This week, I got exactly that (although to be fair it did taper off by Friday afternoon). It still wasn't really an issue, and I was right, I much prefer it that way, but it was still a little nuts... and very nuts on a couple of occasions.

As the plethora of blog posts this week indicate, Adelaide Fringe has started in earnest... and I somehow tend to forget that Fringe performers actually have a bunch of time on their hands and tend to look for reviews and mentions of their name or show online. I've thus far had a ton of retweets and favourites but then today one of the Naked Magicians from last night tweeted me to ask which of their tricks was the obvious one. Oops... and I will say (and I also went back and added it to the review) that maybe it was more about me and the fact that I'm a giant special effects/movie behind the scenes nerd.

So far this year has been the worst one yet for cancelled Fringe performances. We already had one of the shows flat out cancelled, but then this week I got a call about one particular show to say that while the rest of the run is happening, the show that we were going to has been cancelled due to the Clipsal race, so I'll need to rebook that after Ma and I work out which other session we want to go to.

Oh, and after Ma and I went to see the both Sound and Fury as well as Paul Dabek on Tuesday, I have legitimately had sore ribs for the remainder of the week due to laughing too hard and for too long... it took until about halfway through Wednesday for it to kick in, but every time I've laughed or gotten out of my chair at work I can feel it. I don't think there's actually a better or more direct compliment than to say that I saw two Fringe performances that made me laugh until my ribs ached.

I'm also still waiting for a call back from Adam Internet from a call I made on Monday. I called Adam, who are now owned by iiNet (and who assist them with help desk queries), the call was answered by the iiNet call centre... well, actually I called, they told me there was going to be between a 60 and 90 minute wait and the recorded message offered me a call back service, which I used. An hour later, give or take, they called me back. It then took the dude 20 minutes to work out a) what I was describing as my problem and b) that he couldn't actually help me and that I'd need to speak to the Adam Internet call centre. Since the guy told me that the Adam portion of the centre shuts at 6:30pm and it was 6:25 by that point, I told him they'd need to call me after 5pm the following day.

That was Monday. I'm still waiting.

Granted, I was out on Tuesday night, which I forgot until I hung up the phone, but we also waited around until nearly 6pm before we left my place. They sent me a feedback email and I told them I was expecting a call, still nothing. So I'm either going to have to give them a call on the weekend and hope that someone from Adam actually answers the phone, or just drop into their office one day after work next week and see what happens.

After Sugarmonkey suggested the graphic novel series Saga to me and I devoured it, I asked if he had any other suggestions for things I might like. One of those was Fables. Luck was clearly on my side, because another member of The Nuthouse, Frankie, has a large number of the graphic novels and has been bringing them in for me to borrow. And so I've been tearing through them (figuratively speaking) at a rate of knots... I absolutely love the art style and the writing and the characters, and just the whole premise of fairy tale characters who have been driven out of their original homes by war and are taking refuge in New York. I especially love the way that the writer, Bill Willingham, twists and spins the fairytale characters everyone grows up with and turns them into much more interesting and darker characters than they were originally.

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fringe: the naked magicians

adelaide fringe - the naked magicians
Let's get this out of the way right off that bat... for a show called The Naked Magicians, I was incredibly disappointed by the amount of actual full frontal nudity.

If you put the word "naked" in the title of your show, I'm pretty much going to expect to be seeing at the very least your butt and preferably your cock for the majority of the show. But the fact that it took them a good length of time before they even got their shirts off, and then one of them disappeared and got dressed again was not the type of "naked" I was hoping for.

What I got instead was nudity designed to appeal to the straight suburban female audience. Predominantly tame, non-threatening nudity. And that's fine... women made up of at least 90% of the audience, that's their target demographic, there's nothing wrong with pandering directly to that group.

And it's not like they're not very nice to look at, even before they take their clothes off. Christopher is the cheekier of the pair, very pretty and can wear the hell out of a waistcoat as well as those very well packed Aussiebum superhero trunks... Mike has the rocking hard-body and is much more willing to put his cock out on display (briefly, during the finale anyway). They also both know how to flirt up a storm.

I'll be honest, it took a fair while for me to warm up to both them and the show in general once I realised that we weren't in for a night of full frontal male nudity. But they're sweet and they're funny and, the nudity thing aside, they're good at what they do. And I did get into the swing of the show by about the half way mark.

Having now seen a range of magicians over the last few years of the Fringe I'm starting to get an eye and an appreciation not so much for how a range of tricks are done while they're happening, but more once they're over thinking "well, that must have been the point where they palmed X" or "while he was doing A, the other one must have somehow been doing B". And it was the same here... which isn't to say they aren't excellent magicians... they really are very, very good with the sleight of hand stuff. There was literally only one trick that was incredibly obvious how part of it was done and that's because it's an oooooooooooold style trick that everyone has to have seen some version of before, albeit done this time with a mostly naked man (and a fully clothed one)... also possibly because I'm a special effects and movie behind the scenes nerd, so I've seen what I assume the mechanism of the trick is on multiple occasions.

It also helps when you need a good distraction for the audience to have some flesh on display, which I would have thought that they would use to greater advantage. They did make pretty good use of music though.

At the end of the day it just wasn't exactly what I was expecting and perhaps not as much in my ballpark (so to speak), but that's okay... judging by the very vocal and enthusiastic female audience, they were clearly doing something right.

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