FRINGE – Comedy – Sexytime – Adelaide Town Hall – 3K

It’s safe to assume that a physical theatre comedy show named ‘Sexytime’ – a name which just demands to be said in a silly voice – is going to be an interesting experience, and probably anything but sexy.

This show starts at the beginning, the day that man and woman met, and explores the idea of how that first encounter might have taken place. The audience is then taken on a journey through several different scenes relating to sex and how we go about engaging in it. This show is heavily dance based but this is entirely tongue in cheek and works well to accentuate the tone. A particular highlight is the abstract exploration of the sexual revolution.

In addition to filling the part of “woman”, Tessa Waters is the sultry, heavily accented MC of the evening, talking the audience through the experience and creating a neurotic yet calculating minx. Meanwhile, Kai Smythe is the caveman: continuously in pursuit of sex, and thus under the control of the woman.  Essentially devoid of speech, this role relies heavily on Smythe’s ability to express himself physically and the combination of his facial expressions and disgustingly sleazy characterisation accomplish this.

This is not high-brow humour – the tone is somewhat close to that of a Will Ferrell movie – though that’s not to say that some aspects of the show aren’t clever. It’s certainly an original idea and is carried off well by the performers.

Kryztoff Rating: 3K

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FRINGE: Mothlight – Ezipark – 4.5K

This is a performance that contains absolutely no words, so it is fitting that this show is utterly indescribable for the purposes of a review. Arriving at the top level of the Ezipark on Wakefield Street at 8.30 in the evening, I couldn’t help but feel like I was embarking on some sort of nefarious enterprise, which impression was only increased by the mirroring sheepish looks on the faces of the other audience members as we were led into a lair comprising thousands of strands of… well, Gladwrap.

I am also extremely claustrophobic. Therefore I will admit that the opening ten minutes of Mothlight, which involved what can best be described as a birthing, were among the most uncomfortable in my life.

Mothlight is certainly unnerving in any event, even for those of us who don’t hyperventilate at the concept of confined spaces. Taking place in substantial darkness, this is a mesmerising display of physical exertion and acrobatics, and the breathtakingly raw intimacy of two primal characters.

While Naomi Francis’ every movement was perfectly controlled, Skye Gellman, the creator of Mothlight appeared to struggle more with the physical demands of the performance. However it is impossible to say whether his audible grunts and sighs were accidental, or an intentional enhancement of the difficulties of human physicality.

Without destroying the magic of the performance, it is difficult to describe Mothlight any further.

It is sufficient to say that this was one of the most original events I have ever been witness to, and that Mothlight is one of those Fringe gambles which can pay off or drastically disappoint you. The most unusual stage set, the mastery of the human body and the sheer originality of ‘Mothlight’ means that for most people this is likely to be a gamble which pays off.

Kryztoff Rating  4.5K

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FRINGE – Music – The Twoks – Spiegeltent – 4.5K

Late on a dreary Tuesday night the Spiegeltent fell under the allure of The Twoks. As soon as Xani Kolac came on stage, the audience fell into a dream-like trance watching the girl in the bodysuit play the violin. She used loop-pedals to construct grooving and fascinating tunes, and played the violin in every manner possible, from holding it like a guitar and plucking the strings, to drumming the body of the instrument with her hand, to bowing it. The loop pedals also allowed her to sing in her powerful, yet at times soft and sensuous voice. No one, male or female, could resist her music nor take their eyes off her.

After the first solo tune Kolac was joined on stage by Sam Taylor on bass and Mark Leahy on drums. The trio was energetic and captivating, and under the influence of Sigur Ros and Björk, the music took on an edgy at times gothic sound (or perhaps that was the setting – Speigeltent, stained-glass windows, rain). The set consisted largely of tunes written by Kolac, such as Fix It and Flower, and ended with a tasteful and seductive cover of Justin Timberlake’s Sexy Back. And to be honest, the reviewer can’t remember much more than that; it was like being cast under a glorious spell.

Kryztoff rating: 4.5K

FRINGE: Miller and Moore Presents – Directors’ Hotel – 4.5K

Superheroes can come in all sorts of shape and sizes, some exist only in our minds, others are created for us, particularly by the media, while then there are those special to us that also fall into a very private category of super.

Four recent AC Arts graduates present their take on superheroes in Miller and Moore Presents, the name itself an allusion to corporate sponsorship and power, for it is their breakfast cereal that sustains Alpha Man (Hjalmar Svenna) and before him his father, Admiral Courage (Ben Crawford) both financially and by way of sustenance. Their world is turned upside down when Alpha Man decides to take on a partner, Venus Flytrap (Sara Lange) who in time falls for Alpha’s best mate and hero partner, James (Tom Cornwall.)

Traditionally the fringe was about up and comers trying out new material and new performers to an audience willing in the season’s context to give anything a go. Miller and Moore Presents will go close to being the best new local production in this category for Fringe 2011. The script is well worked, the use of the stage imaginative bordering on the inspired, the supporting videos great fun and credible and all four actors do an excellent job.

Having drawn the short straw for the straight (powerless) guy in the cast, Tom Cornwall shines for his measured approach to trying to make the worlds around him work and sustain some sanity when everyone else is in lycra. Svenna’s  Alpha is sufficiently over the top without going camp and Lange is a delight as the shapely and principled V.

Much credit all round, a delight and something that beyond the clichés can really make you think about so much of the world around us and our own belief systems.

Kryztoff Rating 4.5K

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RAW: City Council Delivers Serious Adel Oval Rebuff To Govt

Notwithstanding Minister Patrick Conlon’s brave face and optimistic comments earlier this week about all parties being on board with the Adelaide Oval redevelopment, the reality after his meetings with the Adelaide City Council now appears to be very different.

Three weeks back, SMA partners, the SANFL and SACA, stated that control of the precinct through ownership of the Adelaide Oval area was mandatory in order for the redevelopment proposal to go forward. Prior to that the SANFL had long held the position that unless it could control the revenue from car parking around the ground, the numbers for it did not stack up.

Kryztoff has now seen documents from the Adelaide City Council that confirm that despite Minister Conlon’s presentation to its Corporate Planning, Governance and Finance committee, the idea of ownership being transferred is not on the ACC’s agenda, with the council offering only a 42 year lease to the SMA (though it would support a 60 year lease should relevant legislation be proposed to that effect.)

That much was made public by Lord Mayor Yarwood in the past few days.

What was not disclosed is the ACC’s position on car parking and required public transport. Here, the ACC continues to insist on it controlling the car parking and revenue from the oval and its environs. Further, it does not support parking on either Pinky Flat or the northern car park and is looking to explore alternatives on the south side of the river and west of Morphett Street.

The document goes on to state that the ACC will form and Chair an intergovernmental relations group to (inter alia) develop a ‘City Management Plan’ to support the operation of a redeveloped Oval and that will include a new transport and parking strategy to ensure ‘there is well planned access to and from the Oval with a primary focus of maximising the use of public transport and ensuring a sustainable level of parking in and around the precinct.’

The ACC also has given approval to pursue a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Council and the State Government which would contain details of ‘in principle agreement as well as details of issues where further resolution is required and an agreed timeframe for resolution of these issues.’

So, what’s the bottom line of all this.

Well, first, the ACC is not going to give up either ownership of the land involved or car parking revenue from use of the oval. Further, it supports Lord Mayor Yarwood’s position that new car parking on the parklands is a non starter and efforts need to start now to plan how crowds would make their way to the oval by beefing up public transport that runs into the city.

Thus the notion popular amongst the football hierarchy that car parking and public transport is something that would take care of itself later has been dispelled along with their desires to get their hands on the land and all car parking revenue involved.

But, such a review will require a substantial beefing up of train and tram services and probably buses as well by the State Government, something that will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, none of which has been presently included in the magical $535m the Government says is the maximum it will put into the project.

Further, all this also confirms previously widely held suspicions that planning for these issues and basic agreement with the various stakeholders remains at a rudimentary stage. As noted above, it is only now in the first week of March 2011 that the Adelaide City Council has given its support for the drafting of a Memorandum of Understanding which it notes will leave for subsequent negotiations matters like governance, leasing, car parking and precinct management arrangements and a public consultation process.

One will recall the State Government attempted to bully the parties to agree everything by last August and the SACA had proposed its members’ meeting in November, now four months ago.

Also, there were then and again last week designs released with bridges across the Torrens to the Casino area and, yet, we now learn, that in all of this the ACC were as good as not consulted at all about how public transport and the movement of people would be handled within its boundaries.

One would have to expect that negotiation of all issues between the Government and the SMA partners with the Council alone would be likely to take another six to 12 months. Planning of the strategy probably a whole lot longer.

So, this leaves two very important issues standing out like the proverbial.

1   Where does the SANFL now sit given its go own mandatory requirements have now been so comprehensively rebuffed by the Adelaide City Council? In brief, isn’t it up to them to concede these matters in order for anyone else to do any more work on it? Or, is this the end of it all?

2   Why are SACA members being asked to vote on this with so much yet still to be resolved, costed, negotiated and made public and why has SACA President Ian McLachlan allowed himself to be rushed into his proposed meeting of members in ‘early May’ when this is the state of the whole project?

RAW: WOMAD Preview

By Daisy Sugars

WOMADelaide 2011 is set to take place over 4 days in March, from the 11th to the 14th. This popular weekend affair once more promises to bring the best art, food and music from all over the world to humble South Australia. Following the success of the extended festival layout in 2010, WOMAD organizers have established the four-day format as a permanent change to the annual event.

Each year, without fail, the WOMAD organisers assemble an enviable lineup of artists, and the musical talent set to appear at the festival in 2011 is no exception to this tradition of quality entertainment. Following a rise to popularity and success in 2010, Australia’s favourite sibling folk-pop duo Angus and Julia Stone are tipped to draw big crowds to a single show on the first night.

Accompanying the stellar program of musicians to perform throughout the weekend, the festival will feature a number of engaging site performers that will offer a more intimate theatrical experience. Papua New Guinea’s Huri Duna Dancers and the Compagnie Ekart, from France, are just two exciting examples of what WOMAD festival-goers can expect to see. The visual arts culture will also feature strongly at WOMADelaide 2011, with both contemporary and traditional indigenous art, and work from international artists, set to appear at the festival.

With 55 world-renowned artists from 30 different countries performing for four days in the picturesque scenery of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, I see no reason to be anywhere else but WOMADelaide 2011.

FRINGE: Other People’s Problems – Bakehouse – 4K

In a one person show, Sarah Quinn, plays a number of roles that examine the self help industry, exposing it for various potential sins such as bringing one’s own problems into the seminar room, exploiting celebrity to promote dangerous products and the cult of sexual prowess. It may also deliver pangs of guilt and embarrassment to audience members who may also indulge in such therapies from time to time.

Written by Quinn in conjunction in parts with Canadian comic Deanne Smith and Sam Booth, this slick production combines an outstanding solo performance by Quinn who moves effortlessly between characters of different ages and personalities with various audio visual set pieces and tricks as scene changers.

If criticism can be made it is in the opening piece where Ms Fuerstenberg in delivering her ‘Your Life Starts Tomorrow’ seminar plays out her strife with former business partner Rebecca Strauss over a range of intellectual property disputes. The scene almost tries too hard and accordingly makes it unclear whether this is a comedy (a not very good one) or something more substantive (which it successfully is). It is only when teenager, on-line do-gooder Kasey takes to the stage that all becomes more clear.

The Bakehouse Studio challenges any performer on many dimensions, especially space and stage wings but Quinn’s dynamic display and professionalism carries the day in a worthwhile examination of a dubious but ubiquitous profession.

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FRINGE: Spirit of Africa – Nexus – 3K

By Julia Loiperspberger

The city has obviously started to get into the WomAdelaide spirit, with a pleasingly large crowd showing up for the opening night of Spirit of Africa at the Nexus Cabaret. And the audience was clearly ready to party, notwithstanding a lengthy delay before the performance started.

Spirit of Africa opened with the melodic tones of the Blessed Brothers, who hail from Liberia and performed beautifully in an a capella gospel style. Their disappointingly short set was succeeded by the main event – Ziggi and the Heart of Africa, who opened to raucous applause.

This is a difficult show to review. The somewhat motley assortment of instruments  in the band – a trumpet, a bass guitar, an electric guitar, a drum kit, bongo drums and a kora , later augmented by an acoustic guitar and a flute – added to the general thrown together vibe of the show. Ultimately, Spirit of Africa did not seem to be a polished performance but a group of friends who have decided to jam together. This wasn’t helped by the fact that the audio levels constantly needed adjusting, and frequent onstage discussion between the band members, giving at best an impression of a rushed dress rehearsal . These are all reasons why Spirit of Africa should not have been as much fun as it was.

And yet – as will be unsurprising to anybody who is a fan of traditional African music – the upbeat rhythms and the inescapable enthusiasm of all the performers was absolutely infectious and totally thrilling. By the end of the show most of the room was on their feet, dancing frenziedly to the high energy act and clearly having the time of their lives.

Unfortunately, the show was much too short (notwithstanding the delay in entering the venue, the show finished right on 8pm) and despite many appeals no encore was given.

But it was still great fun, and impossible not to enjoy. Just be warned – if you do go to this show, be prepared to check your inhibitions at the door and go wild.

Kryztoff Rating  3K

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FRINGE – Theatre – I Am Not Emily Dickinson – AC Arts – 2K

This is one of those shows that you go into expecting something a bit weird and a bit different and leave realising that there’s no way you could have anticipated what you just sat through; it was just that bizarre.

I honestly cannot tell you what this show was about. The title obviously suggests that there is some connection to Emily Dickinson, but I couldn’t personally grasp what that was for the majority of the hour. Certainly, there were occasional excerpts from her writings, images of her house on a fuzzy TV screen and a section where the performer recounted searching for her grave (with accompanying footage), but none of this seemed to be in any way informative or particularly connected to what else was included.

It’s a mixed media piece, with live action interacting with pre-recorded segments which are presented on a TV, computer screen and a large wall at the back. This structure is interesting and well executed but again, lacks any clear point. There is very little dialogue included and that which there is does not help to elucidate the meaning of the piece. For the majority of the time you are simply watching a strange woman move about the stage doing strange things.

It is possible that there is a whole other level to this piece that will appeal to Emily Dickinson aficionados (the promotional material suggests that there were other references to her life throughout it) but if this exists it certainly requires more than a brief exposure to her poems in high school English class and a cursory reading of her Wikipedia page. For the majority of audience members this is more likely to end up being too surreal to mean anything to them and the best they can hope for is general bewilderment. For others it will be the type of Fringe show they fear encountering.

Kryztoff Rating: 2K

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FRINGE: Justin Clausen – Off The Record – Citysoul – 4K

When the somewhat diminutive Justin Clausen arrived on stage he was confronted by an audience of even more diminutive proportions. Indeed, it was equalled, numerically if not with talent, by his backing ensemble and in fact net of this critic numbered precisely one …. couple.

Still, this young performer from Melbourne batted on with confidence and style, sledged those that were there (hey Justin, we are not to blame for the small crowd,, they’re somewhere else) and after a few quaint notes early settled into his stride and delivered a fine hour of laid back jazz.

Using arrangements of Ben Kiley, Clausen covered music from across the past 100 years from Mack The Knife to Lady Gaga and the full spectrum of performers, from Edith Piaf to ACDC. His New York style reflects his own time studying there and his voice more than successfully traverses the scales and beats to make his show a thorough pleasure.

Highlights included his Windmills of Your Mind, Mamma Mia (as you have never heard it before) and ONJ’s I Honestly Love You. While some of the patter was a bit rich, at ‘weight for age’ this is four star jazz and a great way to round off a night at the Fringe.

Kryztoff Rating  4K

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