It is upsetting that my favourite show of the 2013 Adelaide Fringe, in my favourite venue of this year’s festival, was discovered so close to the end of the season.
First to the venue – The Birdcage is one of the seemingly dozens of pop-up theatres around the state at the moment. Located in the fairly charmless Arcade Lane, this eclectic venue truly does appear to have literally sprung up from the ground, and given how it is tucked away inside the lane and up an endless flight of stairs makes you feel as though you are entering a secret, exclusive and whimsical club.
A perfect venue, then, for Alice in the Madhouse, the bizarre and nightmarish imagining of the ubiquitous children’s story. Presented almost impeccably by Madhouse Circus, a Victorian ensemble of young performers, this show approaches the quality of Cirque de Soleil, on the budget of the Adelaide Fringe.
Terrifying and emotive, hilarious and sexy (yes, ladies, there are some very attractive young men wearing very little in this show – I would almost recommend it on this basis alone), inventive and highly impressive, this show flawlessly combines physical comedy, dance, aerobatics and acrobatics with pathos and storytelling. Although there were a few – minor – opening night jitters apparent in the performance, these were swept up into the rhythm of things without a hitch, and the seamless storytelling was never interrupted.
Frankly, for me this show was near perfection, a true cirque macabre. And I’ve already bought my tickets to see it again. And again.