NANNA-STASIA – Eleanor Stankiewicz – Rhino Room – 4K

By Peter Maddern

The venue may suggest this is a comedy act but in truth Eleanor Stankiewicz’s Nanna- Stasia is so much more and accordingly deserves a bigger stage – and audience.

The Nanna Stasis in question is Eleanor’s grandmother and this is a tale of trying to get to know a life story from someone who is not very willing to part with it. Through fantasy, arising from a Disney film about someone of a similar background and through research of what exactly life was like in Lithuania, her nanna’s homeland, Eleanor beautifully and poignantly draws out the pieces of that story and brings them together as best she can.

Aided by a pianist and her well drilled musical theatre training, Stankiewicz moves seamlessly from song to sadness, and comedy to cabaret. This is an admirable take about losing the stories of elders who are passing on and having the courage and often the compassion to seek them out before it’s too late. In the current Eastern European turmoil it is also a timely reminder of a nasty world that is no longer that far away – both geographically and in time.

In truth, this work deserves better production values on a stage with more gravitas. What it can certainly do without is the use of a microphone; Eleanor Stankiewicz has more than enough talent and projection to get her excellent show across and most probably deliver a bigger punch without the any of the amplification.

Kryztoff Rating  4K

THE 60 FOUR – Norwood Concert Hall – 3.5K

By Peter Maddern

Drama actor, Ben Francis’ creation – The 60 Four – is certainly a massive thing, with nine band members joining Adelaide’s own fab four on stage. The Norwood Concert Hall is an ideal venue to belt out the tunes that their audience of aging boomers clearly relished. The harmonies uplift, the choruses get you moving, the arrangements are tight and add depth to what were very likely first recorded on just four tracks.

While the title may suggest this is just a Beatles tribute night, the gang start off with The Four Seasons but in sets of two or three make their way through the likes of the Bee Gees, Van Morrison and Simon Garfunkel and that is just before interval.

Ben certainly deserves credit for bringing such a big undertaking to the stage and more for taking the show around various city and state-wide venues.

Kryztoff Rating   3.5K

AFGHANISTAN IS NOT FUNNY By Henry Naylor – HST – 5K

By Peter Maddern

Henry Naylor’s works are somewhat of an annual treat at our Fringe and he and the Holden Street team must be congratulated on being willing to take on Fortress Australia when the decision to come was made. Still, given the subject matter of this work, Australian border control is somewhat of a trifling obstacle.

In more recent times, Henry has taken on a performing role as well and this year it is his own one man show. Twenty years ago, Henry goes to Afghanistan to find out what is going on in the new American inspired conflict there in the wake of 9/11 and to report ‘the truth’. In this delightful mix of humour, honesty and horror, we learn a lot about what journalists in war zones see, what they let us see and what remains seen only by the combatants themselves.

Sanitising imagery for western sensibilities has no doubt contributed to the obsession of many with some of today’s esoteric interests; with the real world biffo in Ukraine playing itself out now in the internet age perhaps we have an opportunity to better balance our priorities and Afghanistan in not Funny is one, albeit coincidental way, to start reshaping those perspectives.

Lecture and laments aside, Afghanistan is masterful story telling delivered by one who knows is subject matter intensely as both writer and witness. It is as consistently engrossing a piece as I have seen from Henry Naylor’s pen over the past 15 years.

A true highlight in troublesome times and a truncated Fringe.

Kryztoff Rating:  5K

LITTLE MAN a love letter from a 90’s kid-Nexus Arts -3.5K

By Fiona Talbot – Leigh

Nexus Arts was filled to capacity for the premiere of Little Man –a love letter from a 90’s kid. Written and created by BJ Shaw, this cabaret show is that of love, loss and all things Spice Girls. Cleverly put together and under the direction of Catherine Campbell, Shaw takes us on a no holds barred tour through some of the most intimate moments in their young life.

Shaw’s training and experience is vast and together with musical director Mat Morison, Little Man makes for a very enjoyable and personal show.

Shaw was warmly welcomed onto stage and from the get go, they had the audience eating out of their hand. Shaw is a very open, honest and gracious performer whose connection with the audience was so vast that the evening felt more like an intimate cabaret club rather than that of a large theatre space. Shaw is a very inclusive performer who draws people in with their story telling and voice.

They express themselves through song wearing their heart on their sleeve; sharing those intimate moments beautifully. A highlight being the numbers where Shaw accompanied themselves on the grand piano, singing those songs originally penned by them. Of these it was ‘The Painter’ written for Shaw’s late father that I found to be particularly poignant.

Shaw is someone who is very comfortable in their own skin. They were a delight to witness and interspersed within their warm and rich vocals was a wonderful sense of humour.

Little Man makes you think, feel and laugh out loud. What more could you ask for on a good night out.

Kryztoff Rating: 3.5K

 

LIFE ACCORDING TO KATE-The Jade- 4K

By Fiona Talbot-Leigh

After their successful premiere at the Adelaide Fringe earlier this year, Emma Knights and Megan Doherty knew that they were onto something good with their show ‘Life according to Kate’ and thankfully made the decision to perform it as part of this year’s Cabaret Fringe Festival.

Under a canopy of chandeliers and fairly lit vines at The Jade, an introduction to Kate Miller-Heidke was made. For those who don’t know her, Miller-Heidke is an Australian singer songwriter and actress who although classically trained has made a career in alternative pop music. The latter suiting Knights to a tee as she only just recently completed a ‘Pop’ course after being classically trained herself.

Doherty and Knights have been friends as well as musical comrades for years and it shows. There is effortless banter between their very well thought out program of Miller-Heidke’s vast repertoire of songs. I applaud their decision to branch out further since the premiere by adding two very talented musicians to the mix; Brody Green on drums and vocals and Cameron Oosterbaan on bass.

The choice of songs were as diverse as Miller-Heidke herself with Doherty hitting the high notes with ease and absolutely slaying the audience with her vocals in others. She flitted from ‘ocker’ to opera, classical to pop with a mix of contemporary in-between. It was also nice to hear Knights adding her vocals to the mix to show she is not just a keyboard player and Green’s vocals in the comic Christmas number were a force to be reckoned with.

Unfortunately Doherty remained in the shadows of an otherwise well mixed show by Peter Fitzsimmonds; her face like her voice deserves to be in the spotlight. This oversight however didn’t detract from an otherwise fabulous show.

If you are unaware as to who Kate Miller-Heidke is then may I suggest an evening with Doherty and Knights as their introduction to her will have you wanting to know more.

This is a truly unique and beautiful cabaret piece, showcasing one of Australia’s most accomplished performers by two of Adelaide’s best.

4K

THE APPLETON LADIES’ POTATO RACE – State Theatre – Royalty Theatre – 3.5K

By Peter Maddern

When lesbian, Penny (Anna Steen), returns, after years away, to her home town as the new local GP, her presence stirs up all sorts of memories and resentments, most notably when she wishes to make equal the prizemoney for men and women on offer for the annual potato race – the race that stops this ‘nation’, at least.

The only support she gets is from another relative outsider to Appleton, Rania (Susie Youssef), a refugee. Amongst those lined up against them is the energetic mother of four boys, Nikki (Sarah Brokensha), her mother, town matriarch, Bev (Carmel Johnson) and Bev’s sister, Barb (Genevieve Mooy).

Melanie Tait’s play rollicks along under the direction of Elena Carapetis with Kathryn Sproul’s set taking us convincingly to a self-supporting but struggling rural outpost. While all the characters’ various foibles and challenges get resolved by play’s end, for many the pace may be sufficient to cover the often obvious humour and cardboard cut-out caricatures. Needless to say in a play written, directed and performed by women, the men of the town only get mentioned and then as druggies, dead-beats or the better off dead.

All the cast do a good job with special credit to Anna Steen as the outsider who takes on the burden of attempting change, with its bombast and barbs.

Unchallenging, jovial fare to warm a cold winter’s heart.

Kryztoff Rating  3.5K

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO PAUL – Playhouse – 4K

By Peter Maddern

Paul Keating has been a constant in the Australian political landscape for 40 years and his many current and often unsolicited intrusions into public discourse seem likely to keep him there. As such his persona, complete with its extraordinary contradictions, is ripe for satire and review.

Jonathan Biggins has made a study of the man over many years and this is the culmination of that work – 90 minutes with the stage to himself – no doubt as Keating would have preferred too in his heyday.

While staying away from the former Prime Minister’s private life, what we get is a potted history of the Australian Labor Party since the war and indeed the national politic generally. Biggins, as writer and performer, has a great time; delivering great line after line, mannerism after mannerism, even song after song, all with pinpoint timing. As such this is a faultless performance even if his staging, of a plush study replete with the occasional clock and 18th century portrait, seemed under-developed as material he exploits.

The query in the mind of this reviewer is this play’s relevance in the context of a State Theatre’s program. For sure it would make great viewing during the Festival or the Fringe but, at the end of The Gospel, it is not as if one feels weighed down by Keating’s great human insights. For the woke, of course, this is a night out for constant retelling – what wouldn’t they enjoy by their hero wishing Peter Dutton or Pauline Hanson dead? – but for others much of the material may have seemed a touch clichéd.

Still, it will get the turnstiles ticking and as we emerge from the pandemic, albeit still in silly masks, that may be its chosen purpose and a good one at that.

Kryztoff Rating   4K

ADLFRINGE 2021 – The Greatest Magic Show – The Flamingo @ Gluttony – 3.5K

Nothing seems to delight kids as much as a proper magic show – featuring real magic! Against this promise of a solid winner, there were pretty great odds of “The Greatest Magic Show”, presented by Showmen Productions, delivering which would enchant young audiences – and deliver they did.

Some minor disappointment was had by those kids who were lucky enough to have also seen CIRCUS, as many of the tricks featured in both shows – but notwithstanding this, the audience was clearly delighted at the magical disappearance, transmogrification and then reappearance of a basketball sneaker, the (safe) disappearance and subsequent reappearance of an adorable bunny rabbit (recently transported, we are told, from Las Vegas), and other impressive magic tricks such as a completely flattened magician.

The show is definitely entertaining, if perhaps aimed at the sub-10 year old spectrum.

Overall, this was a great way to end the 2021 Fringe experience.

3.5K

FRINGE 2021 – Jackson Vs Jackson – The Moa at Gluttony – 4K

By Belle Dunning

Gospo Collective has become a staple of the Adelaide Fringe scene over the past few years, and their 2021 performance of ‘Jackson Vs Jackson’ doesn’t disappoint.

Under the lead of Charmaine Jones, the gospel vocal ensemble and band deliver an hour of high-energy pop hits from the back catalogue of Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and the Jackson 5. 

There is little to fault with the performance, which is highly polished and professional and continues to captivate audiences every year. One song blends effortlessly into the next under Jones’ masterful composition and a minimal backing band allows the vocalists to shine. The enjoyment and passion of each of the performers is infectious and will have you socially-distanced dancing in your seat in no time!

Although the weather was perfect for this open-air venue on the night I visited, the only downside was that the vocalists had to compete occasionally with surrounding sounds from other shows (and a helicopter!).

Catch ‘Jackson Vs Jackson’ in Gluttony for a thoroughly enjoyable night out at the final weekend of the Fringe.

Kryztoff Rating 4K

Fringe 2021 – Wine Bluffs – Decanted – The Chamber at THE QUEENS – 3K

Are you a giant wine snob? Do you keep your vino “off-site”? Do you decant every drop of liquid that comes into your possession? Do you know someone who fits that description? If so, maybe Wine Bluffs – Decanted is for you.

Join ‘Wine Bluffs’ Damian Callinan and Paul Calleja on a journey across Europe, throwing around high-class dad jokes and mini skits about South Australia’s signature grog.

This show is definitely for the Cab Savvy. As an Adelaide gal in her late 20s, I love a good drop but couldn’t talk about grape varieties, and would give you a polite but confused smile if you bragged about your bottle of 2006 Grange. Because of this, many wine snob jokes went over my head while others around me roared with laughter.

These boys know their audience and play to them well. For this reason, I would certainly recommend this show if you’re a self-confessed wine wanker. On the other hand, if you’re like me and pretend to be interested in the wine list but end up ordering the second cheapest bottle (third-cheapest if you’re celebrating!) this show might not be perfect for you. But hey, if your winethusiast friend wants to go, there will be some cute jokes here and there to enjoy.

3K.