fringe: shakespeare's waiting room

adelaide fringe: shakespeare's waiting room
Mr William Shakespeare is auditioning some his most famous characters in order to determine who is the most dramatic.

Yes, technically if you think about it too hard the premise doesn't make a lick of sense, but as a framework for the show, it works quite well.

Lady Macbeth, Titania, Bottom, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet all turn up for an audition, perform the most tragic and dramatic sequence for the respective stories and then stick around to snipe at the other characters before, during and after their turns.

The location of this show was both a positive and negative I have to say... it's at Live on 5 at Adelaide Oval, and the stage has been set up looking out over the oval itself. As settings go, not too damn shabby.

However on nights like tonight when it's quite hot, it's not the most pleasant venue, and although there was some amazing reverberation and echo happening partly from the amplification but mostly from the general acoustics of the place, there were points when the actors strayed a little too far from the microphones and were slightly hard to hear (Juliet especially). The planes coming in at various points didn't especially help that either.

The other complaint I have to mention is that this was advertised in the guide as a 90 minute show, but I think it went for just under an hour... so when the play was "over" (I think we may have been waiting for the usual return of the actors to tell us to tell our friends about the show and leave them a review, etc... which didn't happen) nobody left until one of the stage hands came out to tell us it was definitely over.

Costuming is simple but effective, everybody just wears black, modern clothing that still manages to suit their character (especially Lady Macbeth... but then she was always going to be my favourite).

Likewise, the set itself is just the titular waiting room, with a little space on one side for the characters to perform for Mr William.

I can't find anything about the cast of the play, so I'm just going to have to refer to them by their characters...

Unsurprisingly Lady Macbeth was my favourite... she was such a bitch, but in the best possible way. However both Titania and Bottom were excellent also... especially Bottom playing the rather dense fool.

The gold star has to go to the waiting room receptionist though... not just for her amazing facial expressions throughout each and every audition, but also when she gets a chance to really cut loose, she's amazing.

In fact everyone did a great job with the Shakespeare parts of the show, even Romeo and Juliet manage to go from ditzy teens to starcrossed lovers without a hitch.

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fringe: fauna

adelaide fringe: fauna
People pretending to be animals... animals pretending to be people... Fauna lies somewhere in the space between.

This is circus that is inspired by nature, the fauna of the title, and isn't necessarily always pretty... but it is wonderfully controlled and powerful.

A couple of years ago we were lucky enough to see Cadence, and three of the performers from that, Rhiannon Cave-Walker, Daniel Cave-Walker (formerly Daniel Liddiard) and musician Geordie Little, have returned with Fauna. Along side them are Enni-maria Lymi, Matt Pasquet and Imogen Huzel.

Little provides the live music to go along with the performance, and starts the show off with his guitar, which is quite beautiful.

It's kind of hard to describe the show to be honest... there's no specific story, but there are character traits and specific animal behaviours. Lymi seems to be the awkward predator, somewhat feared but easily surprised. The Cave-Walkers are clearly a mated pair. Huzel is some kind of a bird and poor Pasquet is clearly below everyone in the pecking order.

My favourite sequences were easily anything involving Lymi... she's mainly a trapeze artist, but it's not pretty posing trapeze (which I dislike), it's strong, powerful trapeze, that she makes funny while at the same time showing an incredibly level of both strength and control.

It was also impressive to see her act as the base for a trick involving all three women.

And following up close behind as a favourite was the sequence with Messrs Cave-Walker and Pasquet squaring off as rival males. I'm not going to lie, I know they were supposed to be fighting, but it was a little bit sexy.

But it's really not like there was a bad sequence throughout.

I also had a soft spot for the collective walk they do at the beginning and end of the show... it's not big, it's not flashy, but it is wonderfully coordinated and beautiful to watch.

That's kind of the point of Fauna I think... it's not big, over the top, dramatic tricks for the most part, but everything that they do, they do with an immense amount of power, strength and control which is even better as far as I'm concerned.

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fringe: night creature

adelaide fringe: night creature
I can honestly say that it's been a while since a Fringe show has moved me to tears like Night Creature did. And I don't even really know why.

I will freely admit that based off what I'd originally read about the show (and going off the feel of the poster), I was expecting a completely different kind of show from Lion House Theatre.

What I got was a show that was warm, funny, sweet, beautiful and completely surprising.

It's essentially a one woman show, with Casey Jay Andrews capturing my attention right from the start, but she's helped out by the lovely Tom Coliandris on guitar.

The set decoration is simple but effective, particularly the use of a single type of props to represent both characters and the landscape.

The story is the reinterpretation of a Greek myth about the Scylla set in a Yorkshire fishing village and the combination of the beautiful writing and Andrews' amazing performance turn it into a modern fairy tale.

I feel like to say any more would spoil the experience, but I cannot recommend seeing this show highly enough, it is a perfect little gem that was washed up at my feet.

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fringe: razi - mesmerise

adelaide fringe: razi - mesmerise
If the word adorkable was ever going to apply to a Fringe performer, then Razi (Adelaide magician Ryan Osbourn) would be it.

And that does work for his stage presence... even if he does seem nervous or flub a line or two, it's easy to forgive.

I will say that some of his magic tricks I've seen other performers do better... I'm not sure if it was our closeness to the stage or Osbourne's nerves, but there were a few moments where the audience could see the inner workings.

That's not to deny that he knows his stuff, and he can definitely handle a deck of cards, even when I knew roughly what he was doing, I still didn't actually see him doing it.

The mentalism section was interesting, especially because there were a large number of kids in the audience which I haven't run into at previous magic shows (they've mostly been a little more adult orientated). And of course whenever Razi asked for volunteers, they all wanted to be involved. It added some unexpected comedy a couple of times, especially Max and his choice of number.

Actually the number trick was the most interesting... and it's another one of those "I know there's a trick to this part, but I have no idea how he got from step 1 to step 102 without anybody seeing it.

The first two thirds of the show is magic and mentalism, then the last third is contact juggling. I will say that the latter is definitely where Razi shines displaying amazing dexterity and control as he manipulated a number of objects, finished with the crystal spheres as seen in his poster.

As a long time fan of Labyrinth, that part definitely had my attention. I'm not exactly sure what I think about the mask he wore during it. I'm guessing it was to stop people focusing on his face rather than the trick, but it's a bit weird looking...

I'm not sure if it wouldn't have been better to spread the juggling out between the other parts of the show, because it's a lot to take in all at once.

Otherwise it was a good show... not the best magic act I've ever seen, but quite an entertaining one.

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photo saturday: things

beach eggsbeaded critter
There's thoroughly too much shit going on right at the moment, and all of it is a little more difficult than it really needs to be.

And none of it's helped by the fact that my brain is a little too frozen up due to the fact that there are far too many things I should be doing or thinking about and my brain just seizes up.

Work was fairly quiet at the beginning of the week, but the rest of it was fairly busy. One of the additional things I had to do along the way was make all the arrangements to move to a different temp agency, most of which involved doing the stupid ass tests that I've done about a million times now. What annoys me most about those tests is they usually have a very specific way of making you do things, and any other version or divergence from that makes you fail it. Very irrirating.

But I'm all signed up to the new agency and I "start" on Monday. Tomorrow I have to write my job application for the job, which will be all kinds of fun. But I have given myself a reward to have only after I finish writing it. That gives me the rest of the week to refine it before I have to submit it on Friday.

Oh fuck, I've just realised that the inspection that I thought was the following week is actually next Thursday. So now I need to both write the job application AND do all the cleaning I need to do before Thursday while being out at the Fringe on Tuesday and going to see Tink for my haircut on Wednesday.

Fuck my life right now... fuck it right in it's face.

If worse comes to worse I'm just going to take Wednesday off... but I should be able to do everything, it's just a matter of making sure that I actually get off my ass and do all of the things. Or alternatively that I manage to clean the apartment tomorrow and then don't mess it up at all between then and Thursday.

Fuck, fuck, fuckitty fuck. But at least I checked, otherwise I would have been screwed. Although really what the fuck is the baseline of what I need to do to pass the inspection, clean the kitchen, clean the bathroom, sweep and mop the floor and I should be done. Everything else is mostly done.

Sorry... got distracted by my own brain for a minute there.

Otherwise the week was spent going to Fringe things, with the exception of Monday and Friday.

I did intend to do some tidying last night, but a late conversation turned into a late gentleman caller who arrived at about 10:30 and didn't leave until around 2:30am.

Which made getting up this morning something of a chore.

But today was much like last week, in which the plan was for me to go shopping and then do my own thing for a while, then go and pick Ma up early in the afternoon. Which basically meant that I spent a couple of hours tidying the apartment up (thank fuck). Then I headed off to pick Ma up.

I went down around 1.30 just in case we wanted to do anything or go anywhere once we got back here to my place. We didn't end up doing a damn thing tho... because neither of us could either make a decision or really be bothered.

Then it was time to head off to dinner, and then two essentially back-to-back Fringe shows.

We were going to have dinner at the Seven Stars Hotel which we tried out last Fringe, but it turned out they were fully booked, so after a brief bout of indecision we ended up at Bocelli on Hutt Street. And I'll say that they don't skimp on their portion sizes.

What we should have done was move the car between shows, but we didn't, which meant first quite a long walk from Flinders Street to the Botanical Gardens, but after the show was over an even longer walk back to where we parked. Note to self, don't do that next time.

That was followed by driving Ma all the way home, then driving myself all the way back to my place, getting back just before midnight.

And now here we are.

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fringe: blanc de blanc

adelaide fringe - blanc de blanc
Blanc de Blanc is, in equal parts, a chic 1920's Parisian hotel staffed by the insane and a debauched cabaret of flesh and champagne.

Suffice to say, I loved it.

It's not for the faint-hearted though. It's definitely a "grown-up cabaret", more so than any of the somewhat similar shows I've seen before. And I think for some it may be a little more than they bargained for, even with the R18+ rating.

There's a lot of nudity, mostly female, but occasionally male... and the cast can and will molest the audience and every opportunity.

The show itself is a two hour mixture of circus, dance, comedy and some spectacular aerial work.

Monsieur Romeo is the maitre d' and ringmaster of this crazy little crew, and he's a commanding presence on stage... even more so when he changes costume in the second half.

All of the cast are amazing at what they do, but I have to give special mention to Spencer Novich who was just exceptional. It's hard to be the clown, but Novich makes it looks effortless, and his slender frame belies the amazing control he seems to have over every single muscle in his body. And without spoiling anything, his sound effect sequence is so completely flawless.

Likewise Masha Terentieva does spectacular things with a hotel luggage cart that need to be seen to be believed, but for me it was the personality she oozed from every pore throughout the whole show that I loved. To me she was channelling a somewhat insane and obscene version of Jean Harlow... if Harlow ever worked with hula hoops and flashed her breasts to the audience.

I've seen people do aerial work from water before... I've seen Soap, I've seen The Boy in The Bath (twice), but I've never seen it done so beautifully and sensually as real-life partners Hampus Jansson and Milena Straczynski. I mean it doesn't hurt that Jansson is so incredibly beautiful it's just ridiculous, but their routine was just spectacular to watch, especially when she was lifting him out of the water and supporting his whole body weight.

The asskicking ladies of Blanc de Blanc continue in two very different ways with Emma Maye Gibson and J'aimime.

Gibson, to quote the program, is an obscene beauty queen, surreal showgirl and sex clown. Yep, that's two words I bet you never thought you'd see right next to each other like that. But she manages to make the sexy stuff just the right level of funny and the funny stuff the right kind of sexy without it all falling down around her... ears. Oh, and if you see her doing her "I will survive" number, I have two pieces of advice, firstly, SING IT LOUD, secondly, take the maraca if it's offered.

On the flip side, J'aimime did a couple of amazing sequences first with a jacket and a hat, then with a really, really big balloon. I've seen the jacket routine before, but there was something about the way she did it that was so incredibly believable... but the balloon... well I've never seen anything like that in my life.

Last but not least, Shun Sugimoto is one hell of a dancer... he somehow manages to combine breakdance with contortion and make it equal parts breathtaking and horrifying. Plus he and Jansson make quiet sexy cats all dressed up in black lycra.

This is one of those shows where everybody does a little bit of everything (up to and including full frontal male nudity, thank you Spencer), and it's definitely more than the sum of it's parts, which is saying something, because those are some very talented, naughty and crazy parts.

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fringe: coral browne - this f***ing lady

Coral Browne is possibly the most famous Australian actor you've never heard of.

She also sounds like an English duchess and swears like a drunken sailor. She spent her life playing vamps, vixens, femme fatales, strumpets, harlots and scarlet women. She was also married to Vincent Price when she was in her 60's.

Probably the most well known movie she was in was the 1958 version of Auntie Mame starring Rosalind Russell where she played Vera.

Our story picks up about a year before she died, while she's sorting out her possessions to donate to a museum back in Melbourne (the Performing Arts Collection at the Arts Centre Melbourne)... and then she tells us the story of her life.

Inhabiting the skin of Coral Browne is Genevieve Mooy and having a grand old time of it too. As this was the preview show it was clear that Mooy was suffering from a little bit of first night nerves, both from her shaking hands and the fact that she had to call for her next line on several occasions.

Hopefully that will settle down and she'll really start to relax into the role. Because the stretches where she'd conquered the nerves were excellent. Browne sounds like she was a witty old broad who had one hell of a life and Mooy portrays all of that with a twinkle in her eye and many a wry smile to the audience.

The set it quite simple, a chaise longue, a desk, a chair, a coat rack and a painting that was actually a TV used to show various photos from Coral's life. And Mooy uses all of the space, as well as almost everything on the coat rack to show various times in Coral's life, as well as to portray Coral's mother.

Even with the few minor hiccups, it's a genuinely funny show and it was fascinating to learn about this crazy, ballsy and amazing woman.

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fringe: stories in the dark

adelaide fringe: stories in the dark
In a dark, dark wood there was a dark, dark house. And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room.

And in that dark, dark room tonight there were three performers, a cellist and less than 20 audience members.

Stories in the Dark is exactly that. Voices in the dark, telling stories, filling up the blackness with words and music.

It starts simply enough, we're lead into a very small room, the walls lined with chairs and the three performers, reading and waiting for us, each in their own corner. In the fourth corner there's a cellist.

I can't be perfectly sure, because I haven't the notes by me, but I think it goes something like this: te-rolly-loll-loll, loll lolly-loll-loll, O tolly-loll-loll-lee-ly-li-i-do! And then repeat, you know.

And then the words start, first spoken, then sung, then spoken again... and with the performers that close there's an intimacy there. It is a little like being read a story before bed.

Then the lights go down. Slowly at first, then a little more and a little more, until at last we all slip together into complete and total blackness. Not a sliver of light, nothing to see, not even odd looming shapes in the void.

There's also a moment of silence... before the words begin again. Some of them feel fresh and fun and new, others I recognise as being old, old words. But that's all there is, the words and the voices and whatever you bring into the room with you.

In the dark green woods, when the sun was high, I saw a lady riding by, she had flashing eyes and golden hair, she rode upon a dappled mare.

The three voices (Elizabeth Hay, Nathan O'Keefe and Rebecca Mayo) bounce the stories from one corner to another, each picking up the thread as they need to, with Rachel Bruerville using the cello as both music and sound effects.

And there's one frightening moment where one story starts, then another and another and the cello slides into the remaining spaces and it's pure cacophony.

But mostly it's amazing and sweet and just filled with such rich and wondrous words by authors throughout time.

Still fog, which the sunrise cannot pierce, I know there is sunrise because I am a sailor, why else I know not. I dared not go below, I dared not leave the helm, so here all night I stayed.

I've been to more than a few shows in past Fringes that were all about the words... the sound, the shape, the texture of the words, but I've never been to a show quite like this... where it was only about what you could hear, not (at least not after the first ten minutes) about what you could see.

Director Tim Overton has put together something both magical and intimate and gentle and wonderfully odd in equal measure, and it's something I absolutely recommend you go and see if you love stories.

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fringe: panti bliss - life in high heels

adelaide fringe: panti bliss
Panti Bliss is a National Fucking Treasure™ of Ireland but also exactly the kind of drag queen that you want to invite to pop off her clogs, make a nice cup of tea for and setting in for a good old chinwag.

Not that she's not glamour personified, because she damn well is (hello red sparkling dress, nude fishnets, nude stilettos and hair with more than a hint of Farrah Fawcett about it), but there's something about her manner and her presence that just puts you at ease. From the beginning of the show where she comes down off stage and says hello to various people and shakes their hand (I was one of the lucky few), to the point in the show where she just comes and sits on the edge of the stage to chat with the crowd, Panti just makes you feel at home.

It may just be that honeyed Irish voice of hers, it may be the wicked storytelling, or it may just be that she is in all respects a National Fucking Treasure™.

I'll admit, I didn't know anything about Dr Bliss before the show, but, like most of the comedians that I love, she's a natural story teller and shares the story of how she became the aforementioned National Fucking Treasure™. But she also just makes a lot of fucking sense, and some of the things she says about drag and why she does it are things that I've heard other queens say, but never quite that succinctly and eloquently.

Panti is without doubt a queen well worth your time, although given that tonight was her last show, you'll need to either catch her in Perth or Sydney or wait until the next time she wings her way back to Adelaide.

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fringe: hamlet

adelaide fringe: hamlet
In much the same way that the original performances of Shakespeare's plays included young men in the women's roles, the Raw Shakespeare Project takes that idea and flips it on it's head somewhat, casting young women as both Hamlet (Leah Anderson) and Horatio (Jess Carroll).

And by leaving the rest of the cast in their traditional gender roles makes the whole play feel somehow more modern given Hamlet's relationships with her uncle-king (there's definitely a level of sleaze there on his part), her friend Guildenstern and the object of her affection, Ophelia.

The cast made great use of the layout of the location (Brick+Motar in Norwood), with the raised entrance as the stage, two sets of stairs and a ramp. Because the venue is a cafe in it's regular life the additional set dressing was minimal, just a painted sheet and a wooden box, both of which served as various items at different points.

On the whole the performances were excellent, but I have to give special mention to Aarod Vawser who plays Laertes, Guildenstern and the Player Villain in the play within the play. Of all the cast he seemed to be the most invested in his characters, and he wasn't just reciting the words, he was performing every phrase with a level of character and emotion that was just spot on. So much so that when he returned as Laertes and discovers the death of his sister I was genuinely moved by his grief. And he was just the right amount of crazy as Guildenstern. Keep an eye on his name, because I have no doubt he will go on to great things.

In the title role, Leah Anderson was definitely impressive, although because Hamlet spends much of the play in a state of melancholy and anger, I found that she did deliver a lot of her dialogue in the first half of the play through very closed teeth while speaking very fast. It was a stylistic choice, certainly, but it did occasionally render some of her words as a stream of sound rather than speech.

Ellie McPhee really shines once Ophelia goes mad (although really, is there all that much to Ophelia before that point, she's a little bland)... especially the choice to get her to sing parts of her madness, genuinely disturbed.

I wasn't completely convinced by Russell Slater's vocal choice for King Claudius... somewhere between Christopher Walken and an Eastern European Bond villain... but he is the director as well.

The costuming was interesting... especially Hamlet's black on black on black, complete with corset and an amazing long jacket. Vawser has the most changes of costume with his three very different characters (of which I think I liked the Player Villain one the most), but he does some good costume acting with his Guildenstern cloak.

As I mentioned before, the dynamic between McPhee and Anderson was interesting as beyond changing pronouns there were no other changes due to the casting of a woman in the title role. But to be honest it was more when other characters were talking about the two of them that I noticed it more (including the problem of changing references from he and her to her and her means it's occasionally harder to know which of the two characters they're talking about).

It was an interesting take on the Danish play though.

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