CICADA 3301 – Underbelly – 2.5K

By Peter Maddern

In 2012, some intense cyber dude posted about looking for ‘highly intelligent individuals’, a post that sent geeks into a hide and seek frenzy. This play is about that message and four individuals, Ash, Billy, Olivia and Hannah, who take up the anonymous post’s challenge.

To the extent that the most arcane workings of the internet and the minds of those who love living in it can be made relatable, our team do a nice job, with some fine visual puns that are delivered well. No doubt younger, dark pool savvy misfits will get more fun of these than I could.

However, Cicada struggles for want of character development with ‘Ash’, who delivers a good opening monologue, the only one who gathers and creates substance. Perhaps, this production would work better for two players, wrestling intellectually and morally from their personal history viewpoints, but like this it begs the question – who cares?

Kryztoff Rating.  2.5K

CIRQUE DU SLAY – inSpace Niddry St – 4K

By Peter Maddern

This reviewer is not ordinarily a fan of drag shows – he just wonders why an audience would bother – but Cambridge Uni’s Dragtime presents something worth watching. From the moment the show’s MC, Persephone Porcelynn started her sharp-edged patter we are taken into a better world than the usual over sexualised gender bending. With cast names like Ding Frisbee, Velvet Caveat and Maria Von Snatch what wasn’t going to be enjoyed; some nice lip synced songs, some lovely self deprecations and the occasional serious message delivered great entertainment, sure to bring a smile and a laugh at the end of perhaps a long Fringe day.

Not sure where all this sits in the current world where attention is focused on CIS males and non binary whatevers but perhaps this is Cirque Du Slays’s true charm – everyone can just have fun with the whole performance without some very important overriding social statement, other than the one that needs to be acknowledged; that being, it takes no small amount of courage to do what these performers do. 

Leave your judgements and preconceptions about drag at the door and let Ms Porcelynn take control of your life for a terrific hour of entertainment.  I did and I was enriched for the experience.

Kryztoff Rating. 4K

EINSTEIN – Pleasance Courtyard – 3.5K

By Peter Maddern

Pip Utton is an institution at the Edinburgh Fringe and his portrayals have been hailed worldwide (think in his Adolf.) For 2019, Utton takes on one of the great figures of the 20th century, his life and his work. 

It is the mark of a performer that he can so effortlessly go for his audience from being seen as an older actor wearing make-up to seemingly being in the presence of the very man he is representing. In this regard Utton remains on top of his game.

His breaking of the fourth wall, even his deprecation of his stage props, further speaks to a confidence that few others could emulate let alone successfully deliver. 

However, as the average age of his audience at this show suggested, theatre in the Ed Fringe cauldron has moved on, with violence of so many origins now integral to the most highly regarded contemporary words (my next visit to Nights by Henry Naylor could not speak more to this point.)

This is not to criticise the writing or the performance, just a note that seeing Pip Utton remains a most rewarding experience but perhaps not one that will top ‘must see’ lists, other than perhaps for those who have previously revelled in his mastery.

Kryztoff Rating.  3.5K

EDINBURGH FRINGE – CHOIR OF MAN – Assembly Hall – 4K

By Peter Maddern

They claim it’s a dying scene; the corner pub hosting a bunch of men looking for a drink, some solace and the chance to bellow out a good song. When these nine talented singers and musicians constitute that bunch you have a rollicking good hour on your hands, an act that has grown from its first appearance here three years ago to what is now a global hit, including a sell out season at the most re Choir of Man – Assembly Hall – 4K

They claim it’s a dying scene; the corner pub hosting a bunch of men looking for a drink, some solace and the chance to bellow out a good song. When these nine talented singers and musicians constitute that bunch you have a rollicking good hour on your hands, an act that has grown from its first appearance here three years ago to what is now a global hit, including a sell out season at the most recent Adelaide Fringe.

That bunch – the Choir of Man – includes some cute ones and some grotesque ones, some hirsute and some not so hirsute, some fine tap dancers and all more than still capable of delivering on their a cappella roots. Their song list did’t risk challenging their audience; from Paul Simon to the Pina Colada Song to the Proclaimers, not really 1,000 miles and back again, but they hit their mark, the occasional audience participation bolstering the effect.

In the packed Assembly Hall the predominately female audience lapped it up, maybe fantasising about which of the men of the Choir they wished was their own. If an hour wasn’t long enough to work it out then certainly this revelry could have gone another and no one would have noticed the additional passage of time.

In what is a rarity nowadays at Fringes – a boys night out – the Choir of Man delivers great entertainment in a forum that hopefully can survive the seemingly relentless construction of modern luxury apartments and the false hopes that social media and on-line messaging can replace this sort of sense of community. cent Adelaide Fringe.

That bunch – the Choir of Man – includes some cute ones and some grotesque ones, some hirsute and some not so hirsute, some fine tap dancers and all more than still capable of delivering on their a cappella roots. Their song list did’t risk challenging their audience; from Paul Simon to the Pina Colada Song to the Proclaimers, not really 1,000 miles and back again, but they hit their mark, the occasional audience participation bolstering the effect.

In the packed Assembly Hall the predominately female audience lapped it up, maybe fantasising about which of the men of the Choir they wished was their own. If an hour wasn’t long enough to work it out then certainly this revelry could have gone another and no one would have noticed the additional passage of time.

In what is a rarity nowadays at Fringes – a boys night out – the Choir of Man delivers great entertainment in a forum that hopefully can survive the seemingly relentless construction of modern luxury apartments and the false hopes that social media and on-line messaging can replace this sort of sense of community.

Kryztoff Rating. 4K

Edinburgh Fringe – BEAT – Pleasance Dome – 4K

By Peter Maddern

While this show has been around in Europe for eight years, this is its first UK season. Alfie (Daniel Bellus) is not like most kids his age and is little better understood by his parents and his schoolteachers. But when he first hears a rhythmic beat, his life changes.

To say a one-man show hinges on its actor is not exactly a trade secret and here capturing child like delight is not what makes this particular show work. Rather what counts in Beat is for its player to convey that insight, the delight that comes from the epiphany of knowing what makes you tick, what will forever determine why you move to beat of your own, different drum – pun not necessarily intended. In pursuit of that Daniel Bellus is simply superb. 

As far out in the darker hues of the autistic spectrum as his character may be, Bellus beautifully sustains that child like wonder of his discovery across the 70 minute show, through confrontations with George (his father) to confusions of his first kisses with a girl to the wonders of drum kits, old and new.

With memories of Whiplash returning and echoes of the fantasies of Rocket Man playing, this show is a delight as another up-lifting voyage of youthful discovery – maybe a tad too long, maybe with a problematic ending – but these are small gripes up against a classy performance and story.

Kryztoff Rating. 4K

THEATRE – A View from the Bridge – Playhouse – 4K

By Peter Maddern

Arthur Miller’s classic is an intense study of one man and his battles to both gain control of his world and then meet challenges against it. At the play’s outset, longshoreman Eddie Carbone (Mark Saturno) has his life in and around the docks on an even keel; he has fought the battles against the vicissitudes of employment and money to build his albeit modest home and provide for his wife, Beatrice (Elena Carapetis), and her niece, Catherine (Maiah Stewardson) who has longed lived with them.  Through those challenges he has sustained a strong strain of generosity for his niece and also for new boat arrivals, even when at the expense of personal hardship.

However, change is ever present and Eddie is ill-prepared for it when Catherine, soon 18 years old, starts to explore a career beyond school and life out of home. Even more is the case when relatives of his wife, two Italian illegal immigrants, Marco (Dale March) and Rodolpho (Antoine Jelk) come to stay, the latter quickly forming a relationship with Catherine.

Mark Saturno as the tortured Eddie produces his best performance yet for the State Theatre Company. His brooding mix of anger and dissonance against all he believed to be true is palpable and, as unbecoming as some of his views and antics may be, Saturno still evokes in his audience a wish that Eddie prevails. Elena Carapetis, as Beatrice, is in good form, sustaining in us a better view of a broader world than her husband yet convincingly presenting as often confused and tested by his increasingly parallel universe.  Maiah Stewardson’s Catherine is a joy; youthful exuberance striving to reach the better place Eddie says he wishes for her yet conflicting with a hitherto existence she does not necessarily have to be subservient to. Antoine Jelk’s Rodolpho also meets the challenges of his culture clashes in what too is his best performance for the Company. Bill Allert’s Alfieri the lawyer delivers a strong opening but his appearances seem to lose their steam in the production, especially as the second half progresses.

No critique of A View would be complete without commendation for Victoria Lamb’s set design that with its multiple hanging ropes, pulleys and cuboid frames clearly places the production in some docklands area. Yet it also simultaneously both allows players, especially Alfieri, to be seen to be witnesses to Eddie’s internal turmoil and propagates the sense of order and control that once was and so desperately needs to be restored.

Kate Champion’s direction is assured, perhaps more so than her comments in the program about the work being about ‘the plight of illegal immigrants and issues around domestic patriarchal abuse and the innate survival instincts of its female characters’. Rather, at least in this reviewer’s consideration,   A View speaks, even today, more strongly against the world that Miller endured; an America looking to identify and weed out the ‘reds under the bed’ that elites saw as a threat to the ordered world they believed was theirs to have and sustain after the losses of World War II.

This is a richly rewarding theatrical experience.

Kryztoff Rating    4K

Adelaide Cabaret Festival – Two Worlds – Modern Maori Quartet – 4.5*

As we eagerly await the show, the lights go up to reveal an invisible quartet, which when made visible, is comprised of merely three performers. Finding themselves in a ‘trilemma’ they invite a latecomer from the audience to join them on stage to complete the foursome. Fortunately he happens to be both talented and appropriately dressed (tuxedo-clad) for the occasion. They break the news to him that that they are no longer in the world of the living. They are in a waiting area which they cannot yet leave until, as an ethereal female voice directs them from ‘above’, they put on a spectacular performance together as a quartet.

What ensues is a delightful, funny and heart-warming atmospheric theatrical performance comprised of storytelling, music, and song and dance. MMQ croon and growl their way through ballads, rock and roll, blues, Hakas and traditional Maori songs. These four suave but cheeky lads : Uncle, Bub, Big Bro and Koro gently introduce us to Maori culture, language and history. Subtly political and full of genuineness and integrity, they reveal their distinct personalities and life stories. They come to realise that they cannot leave until they ‘let the truth set them free’ and release their ‘demons’ : their feelings of failure around love, ambition, disconnection from their roots and culture. Basically the things that are holding them back are the things they have not managed to resolve during their lifetimes.

With a twist in the tale and a charming act of inclusion at the end, this is a wonderful performance full of heart, humanity and generosity of spirit. Highly recommended.

The Modern Maori Quartet :James Tito, Matariki Whatarau, Maaka Pohatu and Francis Kora present a modern take on Maori showbands.
They appeared at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival in both 2018 and 2019. Hopefully they will return again in 2020.

4.5K

Adelaide Cabaret Festival : iOTA – Slap And Tickle : 4*

Utilising the Variety Show genre but with a back storyline which ties the different acts together, Slap And Tickle is a clever, witty, and very funny show.

We meet Slap the clown (iOTA), Tickle the Gimp (Russell Leonard), and the third element of the show : a multi-piece jazz orchestra who provide sound effects as well as the beautiful music throughout.

Slap is a limelight-hugging, jealous, and somewhat bad-tempered clown who bullies, humiliates, and fails to acknowledge the contributions and talents of Tickle. All the ‘backstage’ activity happens in front of the audience to whom the hard work and dedication of Tickle become obvious. But when Slap’s attention is elsewhere Tickle has his chance to shine.

iOTA brings to life a cast of diverse characters and through these exhibits his great song-writing talents and his theatrical skills. They range across a gamut of styles from Eva Diva the ageing would-be star of the musicals, the Wolfman, and a very tender sequence in a lily pond. The standout for me was his portrayal of Wayno Braino : an angry bogan mind-reader who had the front rows very, very nervous.

Despite being virtually bound and gagged, forced into subservience and near anonymity, Russell Leonard lets us see and feel for the real Tickle who is waiting in the wings. He tempers his impressive size and obvious strength with tenderness and vulnerability. The choreographer of the show, he has the stage to himself as he presents the surprising finale.

As one would expect from a variety-style cabaret show there are moments of silliness, smuttiness and slapstick. It brings to mind the comedy double-acts of the stage , with the ‘star’ and his sidekick. There is also plenty of pathos and depth. The plot could maybe benefit from a bit more work but this is a small consideration. iOTA’s song writing and performances are excellent, the band are outstanding.

This is the premiere of Slap And Tickle. The final performance at this year’s Adelaide Cabaret Festival is tonight, 7pm Saturday 22 June in the Dunstan Playhouse.

4K

Vika and Linda Bull – Between Two Shores

Dunstan Playhouse 6:30pm 20th June 2019

VIKA and LINDA BULL – ‘Between Two Shores’ 4.5 Stars
Review by Gary Clarke

Vika and Linda Bull have been at it now for over 30 years since those heady days when they hooked up with Joe Camilliri in the 1980s. While many things have changed in the interceding decades some things have endured. The delightful Bull sisters have endured and indeed flourished. Their talents and musical credibility have developed and continue to mature to this day.

After just completing a tour across Australia they have arrived in Adelaide to bring us ‘Between Two Shores’, a reference to their Tongan and Australian roots and true to form we are treated to a rendition of a traditional Tongan folk song to kick off the show. But only one, because we are informed that it’s the only song the sisters can sing completely in the Tongan language ! Next up an Irish Lullaby dedicated to their dad who sang it to them every night as kids. All the songs in tonight’s show have personal meaning to the sisters and this is the tenor of the whole show.

The Bull sisters were brought up with Tongan church music in Melbourne and so they hit us with some gospel numbers because ” gospel is a workout for our voices” and they kicked it off with a searing versions of “Walk with me” and “Up above my head”. The harmonies were glorious.

As young girls growing up in 1970s Doncaster, TV was the thing and so they cut their musical teeth on theme tunes and advertising jingles. The main demographic of the audience found themselves singing along to Greenacres, Petticoat Junction, The Flintstones, Happy Days and Ads like Louis The Fly and one for “Linda” electric blankets that Linda Bull informs us is the source of her name. It was a lot of fun and very infectious.

Vika and Linda Bull are such icons of the Australian music scene and they project such a genuine joi de vivre that the almost full house were enraptured. Some other highlights were nods to friends and collaborators Paul Kelly and Jo Camilleri and a stunning solo version of “I’d Rather Go Blind” followed by Linda’s beautiful solo “Always on my mind”. Then there was a moving tribute to their Tongan grandfather and a rousing anthem, “Raise your Hands” written for the sisters by Casey Chambers and soon to be recorded for their upcoming album. Backed by an accomplished four piece band Vika and Linda gave us 90 minutes of their best and when they broke into a rousing and beautiful version of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” they totally owned it ! The audience roared their approval with a standing ovation that continued well after the house lights cam on.

Review by Gary Clarke
for Kryztoff RAW. 4.5 Stars

Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2019 – Dickie Beau – Unplugged -4.5*


Dickie Beau : Unplugged : photos by Claudio Raschella

‘Unplugged’ begins with an upbeat vaudevillian cabaret performance in which Dickie Beau channels the actor Kenneth Williams via brilliant lip-sync and physical performance. But the tone of the show soon shifts into something much more meditative and philosophical.

Through his masterful use of the ancient art form of mime he takes us back to our early human roots: to the beginning of human vocal interaction and its consequences. Dickie animates audio recordings of the philosopher Terence McKenna and of past festival director Peter Sellers to take us on this journey through history and time, illustrating how word and image are inextricably linked, how they can bring us closer together but also how they can drive us apart.

At times poignant and sad, at other times laugh out loud hilarious, this is an astonishing piece of theatre exhibiting great skill, inventiveness, and daring. He presents much, much more than a simple cabaret act. His timing and vocal dexterity are often mind-blowing.

The audience are kindly dealt with throughout and made to feel part of the stories he tells. We are treated to interludes of song and dance with the opportunity to sing-along/sync-along. He leads us by the hand into the lives of others, invoking Greek myth to introduce the modern day narcissist Dimitri and also ‘Echo’ : an unknown middle aged woman who, via a lost-and-found-again recording made for her lover, is brought to life before us. We listen to her voice and are amused, surprised, and maybe a bit embarrassed to be listening to something that was not intended for our ears.

Self-described Shape-Shifter/Shirt-Lifter Actor/Artist, Dickie Beau is best known for his work in alternative drag and lip-sync which he has turned into a ground-breaking artform of his own. He is also an accomplished actor of stage, tv, and film.
This is the Australian premiere of ‘Unplugged’. The final performance is tonight, 9:15pm 20th June in the Dunstan Playhouse.
4.5K