A PROMENADE OF SHORTS – Red Phoenix Theatre – Holden Street – 4.5K

By Peter Maddern

After such a hiatus, and with such lingering uncertainty brought on by this pandemic thing, one could excuse any theatre company getting back to work to do so by way of tiny steps. Not so for Michael Eustace’s Red Phoenix with their A Promenade of Shorts; nine short plays across Holden Street’s three venues between which three audiences rotated.

With subject matter and tone as varied and unpredictable as the weather outside proved to be, the evening felt like a short film festival with the added benefit of that good old fashioned buzz that only live performance can provide. Added to this was an engaging atmosphere in the Holden Street Courtyard built up  by various ‘tour guides’.

Lots of highlights including Brand Eustice’s intimidating red neck (in Electric Roses), Kate van der Horst’s engaging theatre patron in a sea of foyer- dwelling nasties (in Intermission) and Tim Williams’ doing his modern day malapropisms as Nate (in Auto Incorrect). Murphy Guyer’s Loyalties provided perhaps the twist ending of the evening and Words that Matter the misfire of the event.

Not sure of the total count but it seems it was over 30 players who got to strut their stuff, from dominating their 15 minute proceedings to being tied up in a corner of the stage. Well done again to Eustace to provide such an outlet to so many to release their, no doubt, pent up performing impulses.

Bold and imaginative in conception and delivery, A Promenade of Shorts is a wonderful return to local theatre in this town.

Kryztoff Rating  4.5K

GASLIGHT – State Theatre Company South Australia – Her Majesty’s Theatre- 4K

By Fiona Talbot – Leigh

How wonderful to be back in a theatre again and to be privy to State Theatre’s opening night of Gaslight at the newly  built’ Her Majesty’s’ made it a night to remember.

Catherine Fitzgerald has brought to the stage a strong ensemble who worked well together to bring Patrick Hamilton’s fabulous script to life.  Sadly the story of Gaslight never grows old as even today’s society are all but too familiar with the term.

Set in the later part of the 19th century, the drama unfolds in the space of one afternoon and the subsequent evening. Before the curtain rises however, to set the scene, Eileen Darley delivers a tongue in cheek song in the old vaudeville style complete with top hat and tails reminiscent of music hall star Vesta Tilley. Fitzgerald’s nod and wink to the male impersonator from yesteryear was a delightful introduction to this eerie and dramatic tale.

Bella Manningham played to perfection by Ksenja Logos, is living a life of isolation and fear. Her marriage of seven years to Jack is in question as is the state of her own mind. She is hearing noises, treasured possessions are being moved or lost altogether, the gas light in the drawing room dims on a regular basis and the constant threat of being taken to an asylum by her husband causes Bella to all but lose faith in herself.

Jack toys with his young wife, demeaning her at every opportunity and treating her like a child. Nathan O’Keefe’s performance as Jack Manningham is chilling to watch. His voice, mannerisms and demeanor, portrayed all that and more of a man of the Victorian era who sees himself as the opulent gentleman.

A real cat and mouse game ensues and it was quite terrifying to see exactly how much power a husband could wield over his wife. Add to this her isolation in the house and we truly begin to see Bella unravel.

Fortunately, Bella does have an ally, in the form of Inspector Rough brilliantly portrayed by Eileen Darley. I applaud Fitzgerald’s decision to place a woman in this male role. Darley’s characterization brought real depth to the Inspector and she was in good company with Katherine Sortini who played Nancy and Ellen Freeman who played Elizabeth, reveling in their roles of servants and later comically as the constables.

The overall performance is peppered with humour and set against Alisa Paterson’s warm set with Nic Mollison’s creative lighting, makes this a show to see. The season has sold out but an extra matinee show has been added on Saturday the 19th of September at 2pm to cater for the ever increasing audience of this timeless piece.

4K

A TRUCKLOAD Of SKY: The Lost Songs of David McComb

RCC level 5. – 9:00pm March 12th

Review by Gary Clarke
4.5K ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 💫
This extraordinary show is both a chronicle of some of the songs of David McComb that either weren’t released or didn’t get their due recognition and also a loving tribute from his friends and collaborators in the Australian Indie music scene.

David McComb of course was the singer and principle songwriter for the seminal Oz Indie rock band The Triffids. Tonight’s eclectic band of musos included artists from The Triffids and Black-eyed Susans. For this show, Rob McComb, Dave’s brother and fellow Triffid is the crux of proceedings on guitar and violin. “Evil” Graham Lee added some great pedal steel and Rob Snarski (Black-eyed Susans) and the full on JP Shilo provide the vocals. They all knew David personally as friends and musical collaborators at some time in his career. This personal element added real gravitas to the whole performance. I spotted quite a few familiar faces in the audience who were at those gigs in the 1980s and 90s.

The Uni Bar venue hasn’t changed much since then, unfortunately. The sound is difficult to modulate and there were some artifacts of the architecture that didn’t help. Having said that, there were some stand out moments including Clare Moore leaving the drum kit behind to deliver her delightful version of ‘Raining Pleasure’. Quite a few of the songs I had never heard previously but fortunately for us the band has recorded many of them on CD and digitally on an album of the same name.

This was far more than simply a nostalgia trip it was a celebration of the extraordinary talent of one of Australia’s most enigmatic and underrated songwriters and artists.
Highly Recommended
4.5K ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 💫

FRINGE THEATRE – Our Solar System – Holden Street Theatres – 4.5K

Alexander Ewers

Our Solar System is an intimate and wholehearted one-man performance that muses on the choices – things done and not done – that define a life trajectory. Painted in broad brush-sweeps of lyrical descriptive prose with bursts of detailed colour, the show is a sensitive melange of past and present. The present: a disillusioned office worker returning to a nondescript beach of boyhood memories to farewell a fisherman he once knew. The past: a boy haunted and hounded by fears and dreams of the ocean, a fear sharpened and dreams given form by a summer spent with the ocean and its ‘guardian’. The two, past and present, tumble against and over each other in rolling surging tides of words and images, merging until it is difficult to discern which is more real and alive and valuable.

Our Solar System is about time. It is about the ocean, that great unchanged but always changing entity. It is about memory, about those sentinel moments in life aroufnd which our existence seems to forever revolve, moments that so shape our being that we are never able to escape their gravitational pull. The ocean plays both metaphor and literal substrate carrying this performance. Fickle, personal, powerful, inescapable, it is the fabric of memory rippling (or rather vibrating) with stories and identities and pasts that are inextricable, inextirpable, ineluctable. Actor Spencer Scholz succeeds in conveying a sense of transfixed horror and fascination, fear and desire, such that by the conclusion of the show the ocean seems verily invested with identity and personality – Old Man Stingray.

Staged outdoors in the Garden at Holden Street Theatre, Our Solar System is refreshingly honest and unpretentious. There is something enormously appropriate with respect to an Australian ocean themed performance, in being surrounded by Australian natives, a gentle breeze and the gathering dusk. Somehow it captures a note of vitality, an oceanic sense of abandonment that lingers just beyond the conscious in the fabric of our Australian identity. Scholz draws on deeper Australian influences, taking inspiration from the writing styles of Thiele and Winton. And just like Thiele or Winton, his prose is effective, utterly transporting. For 60 minutes, the concrete world melts away before the rawness of descriptive imagery that calls to each of our own pasts and stories rooted in ocean and memory. For 60 minutes, the past is the present and the present ripples and vibrates to the tides of the past. It is nostalgia. It is regret. It is the gravitational tug of our individual solar systems.

Kryztoff Rating 4.5K

Fringe 2020 – Daniel Connell – Cheers Big Ears – 3.5k

By Riccardo Barone

“When you go shopping, what’s in others baskets? In one of them there was chicken breast, mars bars and a lub.” I am not going to write here the rest… (wink).
Daniel Connell works hard on his comedy show with inspirational improvisations and solid ideas at the base.
Hilarious is the reading of his will, with unexpected surprises.
Facts, observations and dissertations from everyday life reach the summit in this sarcastic, pungent show.
The interaction with the audience works really well, but in a very politely way. We’ve seen lots of comedians really going out of their way when they interact with it, and often becoming “too invasive with their jokes” (not my opinion).
The Piglet is a nice place to be spending an hour between good company and good humor.

Kryztoff  rating : 3.5K

FRINGE 2020: Passengers – RCC – 4K

What happens when a mind tries to protect itself from the horrors it’s seen and endured? The answer – sometimes – is the subject of Passengers, an experimental physical theatre piece from UK-based company Vacuum Theatre.

Max wants to tell you his story. And so we hear it – through three of his personalities, each with their own nuances, dreams, and goals. Max has multiple personality disorder, stemmed from a childhood trauma, and each of his personalities seeks to tell his story as they see it – or, in some cases, wish it to be. We have his angry, destructive side that aims to distract and numb Max; his critical, pragmatic side that seeks to keep him safe; and his imaginative dreamer side, that’s optimistic for a life of something more.

Vacuum Theatre have put together a unique, engaging theatre experience. Our three protagonists duck and weave their way through their prison-like structure, aiming to tell Max’s story in as cohesive a way as possible. The way the personalities ultimately work together, despite friction, to protect Max is a clever way of demonstrating the core of the development of multiple selves. Excerpts of interviews provide extra weight to the story, providing real-life confirmation of what we’ve just witnessed on stage. Each actor provides realism to their respective personality, and each actor is faultless, drawing the audience in with every line.

There are moments where the story could have been snappier, but overall this was an excellent piece of theatre on a topic that deserves attention and consideration far greater than it’s often given.

Kryztoff Rating: 4K

FRINGE 2020 – Renfield : In the Shadow of the Vampire – 4K

Is it madness to want to live forever? What lengths would you go to in order to postpone death? To maintain your youth, strength, vitality? This darkly funny production poses these questions and more. Nominally set in a lunatic asylum of the late 1800s the ideas it contains are pertinent to today’s world where we are constantly facing new moral dilemmas as the range of opportunities presented to us widen.
Playwright and performer Ross Ericson keeps his character close to the one described by Bram Stoker in his novel ‘Dracula’. This Renfield has an imposing physical presence and displays manic behaviours which oscillate between high excitement and depths of gloom and self doubt. Ericson delivers through poetic language a monologue told from the perspective of Renfield which informs us of his backstory, of the traumas and disappointments that have led him to this place. From the outset the audience learn that they are there to judge Renfield’s actions, motives and sanity. Taking place in the intimate setting of the Bakehouse Theatre’s Studio, the stark set with its black painted walls makes us feel that we could be viewing him in his cell. We become like members of the public of 19th century England who toured asylums to gawk at the inmates as if they were animals in a zoo.
Renfield wants his food fresh. He comes to believe that by eating live creatures he will obtain their life force for himself. He starts with flies that he believes have been sent to him by his master, Dracula, whom he eagerly but nervously awaits. The tension is added to by the skilful use of sound and lighting effects.
Renfield has a conscience and this fact causes him distress. As his appetites increase he ponders the moral questions posed by his behaviour. How far will he go?
Renfield : In the Shadow of the Vampire is presented by Grist To The Mill (UK). There is only one more show during this year’s Adelaide Fringe – this Saturday 14th March at 6pm.
4K

FRINGE THEATRE – SPITFIRE SOLO – BAKEHOUSE – 4.5K

By Peter Maddern

Written and performed by Nicholas Collett, this is a superb show about 80 year old former WWII spitfire pilot, Peter Walker. Walker is getting old but his memories are razor sharp and his desire to control his world undiminished. When his grand-daughter unexpectedly arrives, he is given the opportunity to bring together some last unknitted threads in his life.

This is the sort of Fringe theatre that, in days of yore, packed them in and its merit is not diminished this year by the fact that it has been here before. Under Gavin Robertson’s direction, Collett does a great job leaping from the then to now, from male to female, from pilot to PI. It’s a wonderful exhibition of acting craftsmanship and of fine writing for a solo performer.

Kryztoff Rating 4.5K

An Evening of Tom Waits Songs -Stewart D’Arrietta and Band 4.5K

‘THE GOV’ Governor Hindmarsh Hotel – 8pm March 8th 2020

Review by Gary Clarke
4.5K⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 💫

This show was for one night only. It featured Stewart D’Arrietta (vocals, keyboards) supported by the band consisting of Rob Pippin (guitars) Mark Meyer (percussion) and Shaun Duncan (double bass and electric bass).

D’Arrietta is a master of the tribute/homage having performed Tom Wait’s material for more than a decade. He is also the man behind (and in front of) the ‘My Leonard Cohen’ show and he co-developed/performs with John Waters in ‘Lennon Through the Looking Glass’. Add to that the high calibre SA Music Hall of Fame’s Pippin and Meyer, augmented by the sublime bass of Shaun Duncan, and tonight’s performance had some serious pedigree! The stage was set for a great night out at The GOV.

The husky ‘Tom’ entered the stage followed by the band and they launched into Wait’s enigmatic spoken word “What’s He Building In There”. They then continued to rattle off a host of Wait’s best tunes including ‘Red Shoes’, ‘Step Right Up’ ‘Franks Wild Years’ and a heartfelt and moving rendition of ‘Kentucky Ave’ that had this audience utterly enthralled.

The band were sublime and despite not having worked together previously they didn’t miss a beat, providing expert musicianship to an extraordinary performance. We also heard Stewart’s soulful tribute to one of Tom Wait’s significant influences, poet/writer Charles Bukowski. A song written by D’Arrietta entitled “Bluebird”.

Things started to really hit the straps when they launched into a rocking ‘Heart Attack and Vine’. Then it cranked up another notch with ‘Get Behind The Mule’ featuring solid bass, driving percussion and wrenching guitar work, pushing Stewart’s gravelly vocals to their limit. The Audience were enraptured and with a little encouragement from Stewart, we sang along to ‘Table Top Joe’. We continued the singalong with a gorgeous version of ‘Martha’. Fifteen songs, and that was only the first half of the show!

Returning from the break D’Arrietta soloed ‘The Piano Has Been Drinking’ and I suspect it wasn’t alone.😉. We were treated to brilliant performances of some of my all time faves including ‘Hold On’ and a ripping version of ‘Going Out West’. Pippin’s lacerating guitar solos took it to another level. They toned it down for a truly beautiful ‘All The World is Green’ and the melancholic ‘Heart of Saturday Night’ demonstrating their warmth and versatility.

It was a great night and a lot of fun. D’Arrietta continued to regale us throughout the evening with good natured and informative banter. Finally, to raise the tempo yet again we were treated to what must be one of the best performances ever of Wait’s hard driving hit ‘Big In Japan’!

Two and a half hours of solid Tom Waits for under fifty bucks. What a bargain! And they still came back for an encore of ‘Tom Traubert’s Blues’. A fitting end to a wonderful night of music.
4.5K ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 💫

Fringe 2020 – Sorcharess – The Piano Mistress – 3.5k

By Riccardo Barone

Just entering The Warehouse Theatre’s premises has been a transitional moment where you could feel to be somewhere else, not Adelaide, not Australia, maybe in a lost in time Italian or French place.
Sorcharess will take you on a journey, her journey, through her places, her scents, aromas, drinks and feelings, impressed in a glass of apricot wine.
Her show is well balanced with original songs composed by herself and a rich repertoire of numbers from Amanda Palmer, Kate Bush, Nina Simone and Diamanda Gala.
Sorcharess perfectly fits the genre, wearing different voice styles with an evident talent for soul music.
Really noticeable are her original songs, overall where the electric piano and the voice are supported by some delay effect, as well as her intense poems.
We love to remember one of her old original songs “The Kiss of the spider woman”.
The show was over after two brilliant encores, highly and warmly requested by the audience.

Kryzstoff rating: 3.5k