THEATRE – Brothers Wreck – Odeon – 4K

Nelson Baker and Dion Williams in Brothers WreckBy Peter Maddern

In her program note, writer and director Jada Alberts writes “..it may be second nature to think that tragedy won’t happen to you. But this is not something Indigenous Australians have the luxury to dream.” From there it doesn’t take long in her 2015 work Brothers Wreck for that very thing to happen.

This is a tale of unending torment for an underclass that seems to find taking a trick beyond them for often no fault of their own – self harm, sickness and accident all seem to conspire against life with stasis.

Twenty something Ruben (Dion Williams) is constantly under the pump and seemingly trapped in a defensive state of mind that defeats the purposes of those who seek to help him, his sister Adele (Leonie Whyman), his mate Jarrod (Nelson Baker) and Parole Officer David (Trevor Jamieson).  The set of grey replete with Chris Petridis’s diffused pale light along with its chain link screen doors seems often as much a prison as it does a home; the incessant whining of Kelly Ryall’s soundscape and the equally persistent rain adds to the sense of capture and pressure from which release is so hard.

Aunt Petra’s (Lisa Flanagan) arrival helps drive the narrative that in family lies the potential for what is required to survive all this.

This joint State Theatre and Malthouse production in the nicely revamped Odeon Theatre is unashamedly about and performed by indigenous members.   Though sometimes hard to decipher words, Williams is a force that sustains the plot. Lisa Flanagan lifts the whole production with her other-worldly wisdom.

While Albert’s note continues into polemic, her play keeps asking us – relatively wealthy, comfortable theatre goers – to consider how this world exists for people in a country as fortunate as ours. It’s a difficult tale well told.

Kryztoff Rating   4K

ADELAIDE CABARET FESTIVAL 2018 – MISSION SONGS PROJECT – 4.5K

by Riccardo Barone

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The Mission Song Project has been performing a collection of Australian folk songs wisely harmonised and arranged by the ensemble accompanied only by a guitar most of the time. Research and ethnomusicology have had a happy result with this performance, as far as the repertoire consists in indigenous music from the 20th century, outcome of travel and investigation all around the country.
The audience looks completely overwhelmed by its enlightenment definitely worth a ticket.
It’s a honour to have the opportunity to travel all around Australia getting familiar with the huge amount of heritage coming from our land, without  leaving my chair.
The songs have been performed and structured with an alternated lead singer giving dynamism and colour to the evening. They have been performing for Womadelaide and their music aired on sbs chill radio.
Fully informative, all chairs were filled for the night.

Kryztoff rating: 4.5k

ARCHIE ROACH + TIDDAS – Dancing With My Spirit

ACF 2018  – Dunstan Playhouse  –  Friday 22nd June

Review by GARY CLARKE

Touring together for Archie + Tiddasthe first time in around 17 years Archie Roach and Tiddas  came back together to perform “Dancing With My Spirit” their newly released album.   Back in the 1990s  Archie and the trio of Lou Bennet, Sally Dastey and Amy Saunders a.k.a Tiddas, recorded demos produced by Jen Andersen.  Reviving those demos is what led to Archie and Tiddas releasing the new album and touring Australia this year.   Everyone is a little older and much water has passed under the bridge since  those times.

Tiddas disbanded in 2000 and Archie’s career continued with many other collaborations, becoming the elder statesman of Indigenous performers, engendering both admiration and reverence from every corner.

Archie suffered some very serious health problems in recent years including a stroke followed by a lung cancer diagnosis affecting his ability to perform and sing.   This night, he at times showed some shortness of breath and was a bit tentative in his movement.  All the more impressive that he performed for almost 80 minutes and once he had warmed up he was belting out songs like a man twenty years his junior in that inimitable, warm, resonant voice that tells you Archie hasn’t left building.

TIDDASTiddas were in good spirits and good form, backing Archie, then weaving their lovely voices around his and eventually reviving Tiddas original configuration of  a talented, stylish, irreverent female trio.  Their rendition of “Anthem” totally rocked and the audience were enthralled,  eventually joining in with an extraordinary version of “Wild Mountain Thyme”   And yes, I  too was singing along  at the top of my voice, along with 80% of the audience.

The Dunstan Playhouse was packed to the rafters for this rare re-union.   PeArchie Roach 2018rforming for just the two nights in Adelaide this was one of their best in the tour so far.   It is unlikely we will ever be graced with these artists performing live together again. I hope I am wrong.  But I wasn’t taking any chances and judging by the turnout for this gig neither was anyone else.   The whole show is produced beautifully by Jen Andersen who accompanies on a plethora of instruments along with a well appointed guitar and rhythm section.     This includes Keyboardist Bruce Haymes,   Archie Cuthbertson, the original percussionist from those demos and guitarist Craig Pilkington . Roach credits Anderson and Pilkington as being pivotal to the remastering of Dancing With My Spirit.  When Archie Roach and Tiddas perform  it is like visiting  old friends around the campfire telling yarns and singing songs we all know by heart.   And heart is just what Archie Roach and Tiddas are really all about.   It’s music for the heart that warms the soul and gets us up and Dancing with the Spirit.

Remarkable        .5K

CABARET FESTIVAL – JASON KRAVITS – OFF THE TOP! – 4K

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Witty, clever and a master of silliness Kravits displays a formidable talent for infectious comic improv cabaret.
As we arrived at our Banquet Room tables pen and paper were awaiting our suggestions : words to live by, a place, a thing, an adjective, a short phrase, our last text sent or received. Kravits, transformed into Adelaidean Curtis Turnworth, took a suggestion sheet from the pot after already introducing a song, but before announcing its title. This led to hilarious combos such as a fun, swinging song titled ‘Love Hurts’ (featuring a solo on toy xylophone) and a folkie love song called ‘Go the Crows’.
As a teenager Curtis leaves Adelaide to pursue his dream of a Broadway career (described in a song called ‘Bugger Off’) and ends up stuck on a roundabout in Canberra. His rescue story involving a truck driver is told in ‘Eat Cake’.
A highlight was Louisa Fitzharding joining Kravits in a duet in which they were time travellers and ill-fated lovers singing ‘There’s Trouble Ahead’. Admitting that he has been a failure at love and seeking enlightenment on the topic, audience member Maria was invited onto the stage. Maria and husband Sanjay were delightful, their story amusingly eccentric, and they seemed to relish being in the spotlight.
After an elaborate lead into a song about a wonderful place to which he feels a strong connection Kravits was faced with having to come up with a song about… Varanasi. Appearing to know very little about Varanasi he was helped along by pianist John Thorn who contributed such gems as “it’s in India, they have good food there, and they have… a cricket team”.
He was amazingly well supported by the band consisting of drums, double bass and piano. Their task cannot have been easy but they seemed to relish it.
The finale was a manic medley made up out of the remaining suggestions set to a Russian tune with ever increasing tempo, foot stomping and hand clapping from the audience. Purportedly a song written by Nikita Kruschev, it had the audience in stitches.
Kravits kept his audience engaged and entertained throughout. This was a fun night in true cabaret style.
4K

SONGS FOR THOSE WHO’VE COME ACROSS THE SEAS – Slingsby Theatre

ADELAIDE CABARET FESTIVAL   –  Thursday 21st June 2018  Dunstan Playhouse

Review by

GARY CLARKE

With a respectful acknowledgement of Country this talented cast of five cast off into unknown waters.   I  have seen several of the individual performers previously but never a Slingsby production featuring these  artists together.   The set was a mysterious  backdrop of  projected images on huge sails…  The Stage veritably dominated by a cluster of musical instruments, microphone stands, amps,  electronic gee-gaws and a full set of drums and percussive instruments.     Cameron Goodall introduced the vehicle;  a book about An Island In Time that his Grandma gave him when he was a child.   This is an imaginary musical journey sailing into the waters of allegory.   The premise is based on the generation and evolution of a volcanic “island” to a complex and thriving ecosystem  in balance  with itself over time.

Then the interlopers arrive and gradually dominate the ecosystem and the island.  They begin to break up into factions and fight over territory, destabilising everything and destroying the balance of this Eden.  They turn their attention to another Island nearby and set off for a new life.   Eventually the Island returns to its previous balance and the new Island is destroyed leaving a barren lifeless rock,  adrift in a cruel sea.    The scene zooms out further and further until we see the Earth, alive and its antithesis  Mars .     The musical performances are excellent and the set and animation is poignant in its simplicity.

Leah Flanagan and Cameron Goodall at times harmonise their voices so beautifully and one could easily imagine them performing together as a duo in other guises.  The multi instrumental, multi talented troupe played up a storm.    Satomi Onishi on drums and percussion with Quincy Grant, Cameron Goodall, Leah Flanagan, and Gareth Chin, each taking turns on vocals  and variously on keyboards, piano accordion, saxophone, banjo, ukelele, guitars,  clarinet etc steered us through the treacherous seas of our emotions.   Directed flawlessly by Andy Packer.

While this show would stand on its own via it’s music, performances and artistic and creative displays it really is far more.   The story alludes to the plight of refugees perhaps fleeing to an Island like ours.  No less poignant and appropriate that this show had its World Premiere on World Refugee Day.  It speaks to the proclivity for humans to drift out of balance with their environment with the macro view of Earth and Mars as island planets adrift in the cosmos .  Perhaps a lesson of what may happen to an “Island” in time.   It is a   delightful show, clever, original,  a little quirky, exotic, creative, meaningful and oh so very entertaining.   That’s a winning formula for me.            4.5K

ADELAIDE CABARET FESTIVAL 2018 – NOSFERATUTU – 5K

by Riccardo Barone

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Una furtiva lagrima of blood, pizza, spaghetti and buongiorno.

The audience found hard to leave the Banquet room still absorbed by the endless, emotional, energetic, hectic flow.

Tears are mixing up with laughts; the existential Shakespearean (in)human condition of Nosferatu is touching everyone’s heart, feeling heaps of pity for his traumatic childhood, or for his classic ballet dancer dreams crushed on his dad’s abusive wall, in favour of  his sister’s ones.

Being Nosferatu could be really dramatic. Dealing with his centenary age sum up with tiredness, loneliness and tedious life.

Perhaps, between a bite and another, a partner will make this no-life a little bit more yahooy, especially if she egregiously sings.

The show’s rhythm is fast, there is no time to think about the train of thoughts that just passed; probably the climax will be sarcastically interrupted, tragically cut off, emotionally censored, with one teary eye looking at the past and the other eye focused on the pleasure which the present can offer.

An exemplary trio (violin, cello and piano) was commenting the tragicomic scenes with re-arranged excepts from Tchaikovsky’ s Swan Lake and pop hits.

“Love. Betrayal. Death.”

Kryztoff rating: 5k

CABARET FESTIVAL – Joanna Allen – Space Theatre – 4K

By Peter Maddern

Recurring performer at the Cabaret Festival and local girl made good Johanna Allen premiered her new show last night, this time about Cake. It may have been a topic a little less indulged in than last year’s expose about gin, but Allen was in fine form with her melodious voice carrying sweetly whether comfort eating on Cole Porter or making marshmallows  with Material Girl.

Enough to make you hungry for more, much more, Johanna Allen makes you musically yearn for all those delightful indulgences that we usually get shamed about by the rowdies but this is one overdose of sugar you don’t have to be embarrassed about. Enjoy it with tea or coffee.

Kryztoff Rating   4K

CABARET FESTIVAL – TOM WAITS For No Man – 5K

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Sunday 17th June 2018.

Review by GARY CLARKE

While the show  titled Tom Waits For No Man has been around in various incarnations for more than a decade  I am confident none has surpassed this night’s offering.  This was way beyond mere cabaret.  More like sublime musical theatre.  With an ensemble cast made up from the pick of this years Cabaret Festival and hosted by the ubiquitous Mikelangelo,  this was the standout performance of the whole festival for me so far.  The set was stunning.   The lighting and sound were spot on.  The stage design, direction and musical arrangements created a wonderful atmosphere  that complemented the delightful range of voices and interpretations of Waits’ classics.

Everyone was brilliant.  Mikelangelo came closest to channeling the voice and timbre of Waits .  His take on Goin’ Out West and Hold On were breathtaking. The superb musical backing  included a veritable orchestra of therumin, musical saw,  melodica, a cracking guitar,  violin, bass, drums, keyboards, piano accordion, spoons, collective percussion and more!  Brilliant musical direction and arrangements from Charly Zastrau underpinned the whole performance.

Butt Kapinski  (Deanna Fleysher) provided wonderful interludes of hilariously earnest, deadpan monologues of  What’s He Building In There.   Delivered expertly whilst negotiating the audience space.   The curvaceous Carla Lippis adorned in a black cat suit punched out raunchy renditions of songs like  Make it Rain and the fabulous  Xmas Card To  A Hooker In New York.   Joey Arias reached down into the soul to deliver a moving  This Ones From The Heart.   Queenie Van De Zandt pushed the emotional envelope with her version of Martha.  Ali McGregor gave us Ice Cream Man.   Lachlan Ricks performed an Aerial tribute to Blue Valentine launched from his wheelchair and Charly Zastrau nailed it with a fast bluesy Melodica solo.

It was utterly heartwarming as the whole ensemble came together for moving renditions of Hoist The Rag and the extraordinary anthem of Waltzing Matilda as Tom Traubert’s Blues.  The whole performance and the warmth and camaraderie of the cast mirrored the earthy inclusiveness of Waits lyrical poetry and embraced an enraptured audience.  While I could taste the whiskey and smell the cigarette smoke  I detected just a hint of Brecht in the air.    This is making it real.    Bravo!!      … 5K

CABARET FESTIVAL – The Girl Who Jumped Off the Hollywood Sign – 4K

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Joanne Hartstone is building quite the career on interesting, engaging monologues of strong women. Following her premiere of That Daring Australian Girl at this year’s Adelaide Fringe, Hartstone brings her production The Girl Who Jumped Off the Hollywood Sign back to Adelaide after a year touring it to Edinburgh and the US.

Evie Edwards is preparing to leap to her death off of the iconic Hollywood sign, just like Peg Entwhistle. She details her attempts at stardom, her cinematic idols, her dream start at MGM, and her heartbreaking fall into the depths of despair. A singer and actress, Evie is stuck between having talent, but not being ‘pretty enough’ for the movies. Set in the 1940s, some of the assertions that Evie makes about the hypocrisy of celebrity ring true today.

Combining monologues with 1940s inspired songs, Hartstone gives her all to the production, taking the audience on the rollercoaster ride of Evie’s life. With tidbits of Hollywood information scattered throughout, Evie lives her life by the celebrities she idolises, and Hartstone captures that well.

If you get the chance to see this engaging performance by this talented local actress, producer, and arts everywoman, be sure to buy the ticket.

Kryztoff Rating: 4K

CABARET FESTIVAL – WINE BLUFFS – Damien Callinan & Paul Calleja – 4.K

The Wine Bluffs

ADELAIDE CABARET FESTIVAL 

BANQUET ROOM   – Saturday 15th June 2018

Review by GARY CLARKE 

Do you like wine?   Have you got a wicked sense of humour?  Yes?  Then you will feel right at home with these two very witty performers.  What does your cellar look like?   Does it have see- through glass walls into your swimming pool perhaps?  Then you qualify as  a “Wine Wanker” and will be issued with a T shirt emblazoned with that sobriquet.

Wine Bluffs is one enormous piss-take where the audience are invited to participate… and they did!  Damien and Paul’s witty repartee and attention to local provenance in regard to their material worked a treat on this receptive audience .  All things viniferous were fair game.  Political wines like The Pauline Hanson :  a  red that goes off if placed near foreign objects …   A South Australian ‘whine':  The Christopher Pyne is only available in piccolos.    A night of intoxicating humour blurring the distinction between oenologist and onanism .      Highly Recommended   4.K