FRINGE 2019 – Dance – “Abyss” – Goodwood Institute – 3K

By Julia Cudsi

The concept of sin has given artists fodder for thousands of years, including in this world premiere collaboration between MAD / DAN Productions.

Featuring only four performers, this contemporary dance piece takes the audience on a journey through what appears to be the various circles of hell, along with their associated sins, temptations and desires, with a particular nod to the moral bankruptcy of the modern, vacuous and self-obsessed selfie world.

To a complete and utter non-expert, the dancing is flawless and wonderfully executed and the dramatic expression of those on stage is clearly transmitted to the audience.

The storyline and context do seem a little abstract and it is not completely clear to a non-aficionado of contemporary dance how everything hangs together. For that reason, this is a show intended mainly for fans of contemporary dance, as the message is a little contrived.

If you want to see something completely different and quite avant-garde, this show is highly recommended. Special mention goes to a Coles chocolate mudcake being used in one of the most original ways I have ever seen.

3K

FRINGE 2019 – Circus & Physical Theatre – Railed – Gluttony – 4K

By Julia Cudsi

Regular readers of this blog will appreciate my preference for physical theatre and circus, especially of the adult variety.

“Railed”, brought to the Adelaide Fringe by The Head First Acrobats, certainly delivers on that brief by providing not only a high energy show but a clear narrative theme of the old-fashioned Western, complete with bawdy behaviour, brawling and boozing, interspersed with impressive physical and acrobatic feats. The concept of an ongoing theme in adult circus is a new and refreshing one, which contributes to a sense of audience involvement when you cannot help but feel invested in what is going to happen to these hapless ruffians.

If you like high levels of audience interaction, racy performances and death defying feats of amazing acrobatics, along with a good dose of slapstick laughter, then this is the show for you and all your (18+!) year old friends.

4K

 

 

 

FRINGE – Circus & Physical Theatre – The Otherworld – Empyrean – Gluttony – 3.5K

 

By Alisha Dyer

With a late timeslot in Gluttony’s Empyrean, The Otherworld is an interesting little nightcap. Sit through the witching hour with a circus performance that fringes on the dark side of the arts.

Olio Circus came together just last year and have spent eight months preparing their debut show. The line-up includes aerial, floor, contortion and fire performances, with each artist getting their time to shine. All routines are complimented by some serious guitar shredding.

The Otherworld has been created and directed by multidisciplinary performance artists Chantelle Reed, Natalie Tran, Melissa Johns and Ellyse Bunney, who are are all local to Adelaide. Hooray for local talent! Together with their troop they bring creative costumes, talent and skill to a Fringe show that chooses dark eye-liner over glitter.

With the audience seated quite close, there’s really nowhere to hide and the performers are under the pump to hold perfect pose, composure and appropriate facial expressions throughout their risky routines.

I really enjoyed the live electric guitar, but do think a darker and dressier set would elevate the performance. I was expecting a creepier experience.

The Otherworld is 50 minutes of well organised professionals, showcasing their talent and skill in a performance that differs (a little) from the norm. For two weekends only you can support your local artists, transfixing your eyes and holding your breath as they play with fire and flirt with gravity.

Kryztoff Rating 3.5.

THEATRE – Judas – Bakehouse – 4.5K

By Peter Maddern

Tim Marriott’s new production is a telling follow up to his popular and critically acclaimed Mengele at last year’s Fringe. This one has been developed extensively in England, with inputs from representatives of both the military and theology and this season is its world premiere.

In the wake of a savage exchange of fire caught on that green infra-red vision that so seemed to define our arm chair sense of the first Gulf War, the academic idealist, Youssef (Marriott) finds himself at the hands of two interrogators, one, a man (Marc Clement) the other, a woman (Stefanie Rossi.)

They want information about the boss of the bad guys; Youssef wants his freedom, most immediately from the pain of their torture. Clement plays the stereotypical bad bloke replete with South African accent, while Rossi, deliciously dressed and of no other fixed abode, seems to be his superior.

As the exchanges roll out a cat and mouse game develops; is the information that may be provided accurate; will it be sufficient to gain release?

While virtue signalling is all the craze with much theatre nowadays targeted to please rusted on prejudices Marriott eschews such an approach. This play may be set in the desert somewhere but Marriott is and presents as an Englishman, Rossi is similarly local. Who do they represent? Which side are they on? For the answer one needs to peel back the layers and recognise this is not about Trump’s America or Bin Laden’s freedom fighters but the timeless struggle for peace, a world that recognises uncategorically that nobody wins out of violence.

Timeless? The early hint as to Youssef’s other names and allusions to the crucifixion of Christ at its conclusion make plain that 2000 years on (and from 2000 years before that) we seem little closer to fully understanding that lesson, yet it needs to remain a goal for us all – civilized or not so civilized.

For all that this is well crafted theatre delivered by three talented performers on top of their games; Marriott’s performance is particularly powerful.

Kryztoff Rating      4.5K

LUCY GRANSBURY – “Drama”

LUCY GRANSBURY – “DRAMA” – Friday 8th March 2019 7:15pm

Image may contain: 8 people, people smiling

At THE BALCONY – Griffins Hotel – Hindmarsh Square Adelaide

Review by Gary Clarke    5 stars

Lucy Gransbury is a consummate performer. She commands a room and serves up a veritable feast of cabaret, stand up, song, witty repartee and “Fantales” lollies!! Lucy informs us that she has been chasing fame (and happiness) all her life and hopes one day she will feature on a Fantales wrapper. But happiness is not dramatic and where is the fun in that.!

This night Lucy belted out a series of songs to emphasise her point. “Life is a cabaret”, “No more F*%#s to give” and some clever, witty, profane and utterly hilarious lyrics delivered brilliantly,Tom Lehrer style. Then there was the thigh- slappingly funny parody of M&Ms “One Shot” Our audience shrieked with laughter, singing along and clearly enraptured by our multi-talented host.

The venue was The Balcony Room overlooking Hindmarsh Square and the room was packed in this sold out performance. To use Lucy’s term, the venue “juxtaposed” with a finely tuned performance and an appreciative audience produced a damn fun night out. Lucy entreatsed us to not waste our lives chasing dreams and , to enjoy ourselves now. Maybe happiness could lie in the mantra “F*%# it this is good enough”

Well Lucy I think you proved your point. This show was a hell of a lot more than good enough. It was a knockout !…You really are a hero after all, no drama.

Review by

GARY CLARKE – Kryztoff RAW     —-       5 stars

 

 

 

FRINGE 2019 – Jack Tucker: Comedy Standup Hour – 4.5K – The Garden of Unearthly Delights

Think of every bad American comedian you can think of. Think of every trope, every sound effect, every joke. All of it.

Well, it all lies here in Jack Tucker: Comedy Standup Hour. And that’s a good thing.

Comedian Zach Zucker (of Zach and Viggo fame) presents his alter ego, terribly cringing comedian Jack Tucker. Jack dances onto the stage to American Woman, professes multiple times about how he’s married and doing comedy for his son, ‘Joey’, and is lit to the colours of the American flag. Eagles screech to remind the audience of just how American Jack is. There’s horn noises and sound effects galore, peppering the show. Jack constantly taps his mic to see if the audience can hear him up the back. There’s impressions. Jack’s show is where comedy goes to die. But my god, it’s a beautiful, ridiculous death.

The only downside is that sometimes the audience seemed a little confused as to if they were supposed to participate in Jack’s show – sometimes they were, and Jack rolled with it; sometimes they weren’t, and he would interrupt them, and so after a while the participation ended. Also, there were parts that could have been teased out or fulfilled even more, like his impressions. Zach is a great impressionist, and he could have leaned in to this a little more, because they’re so spot on.

This meta-standup is hilariously funny. Suspend all expectations and go in there ready to interact with Jack – it’s much more fun if you do. And think of every terrible comedian you’ve ever watched. You’re about to meet them all at once, but it will be great.

Kryztoff rating: 4.5K

FRINGE 2019: Lewis Garnham: You Can’t Always Get What You Want – 3.5K – Rhino Room

Lewis Garnham is certainly not a book you should judge by his cover.

As a young woman attending his show on International Women’s Day, I found myself in a room that was about 80% filled with men. No, not men – lads; bros, if you will. I was very, very unsure of the type of comedian Garnham was going to be.

However, what is evident in his set is a profound intelligence that is intriguing and immediately made this reviewer sit up and listen. In between jokes about shitting on a hill whilst high on acid, Garnham riffs on capitalism as a control mechanism, global warming and humanity’s complacency in preventing it, and the critical questioning of the facts we hear from questionable sources. Whilst these topics were somewhat dark, and not typically what you expect to hear when you attend a comedy show, Garnham’s best comedic moments were here and his comedy was excellent – or, if it’s possible, better than excellent – when he leans into them.

But, just when these moments were at their peak, and the show was on the brink of becoming something much deeper, the moments of gross-out humour kicked in.

Garnham is definitely a comedian to watch, support, and enjoy. But just when You Can’t Always Get What You Want finds itself on the precipice of being a truly phenomenal show, it fails to climb the hill.

Kryztoff rating: 3.5K

 

FRINGE 2019 – Briefs: Close Encounters – 5K – RCC Fringe

Be warned: Briefs: Close Encounters is about to take you on a journey. And it will make anyone who hasn’t seen it…jealousss.

The Briefs boys are back with their latest show, and boy do they know how to entertain! Close Encounters is a fun romp in Adelaide Uni’s Bonython Hall – but beware, it’s not for the faint hearted.

You’ll see the gorgeous men of Briefs in feats of impressive physical strength, physical theatre, circus, burlesque, dance, contemporary dance, and comedy. You’ll marvel at the skill of this troupe, as they are masters of their craft and command the immensely enormous stage in Bonython. There’s also some politics involved in this intergalactic affair, but don’t let that put you off – it’s all fun, and all true to our times.

Be sure to take part in the raffle – the prize is worth it and tonight’s winner, a lovely middle-aged woman named Margaret, was such a good sport and seemed to love every minute of her time on stage with the boys.

Close Encounters is a Fringe must, if you’re happy with semi-nudity, that is.

Kryztoff rating: 5K

FRINGE MUSIC — PUSSY RIOT LIVE — Maths Lawns @ RCC Fringe — 3K

By Belle Dunning

The Pussy Riot Live concert was one of the strangest live music experiences I’ve had.

For a show that was billed as an Australian première by Russian punk rock icons Pussy Riot (with four key members of the group appearing together on-stage for the first time — Masha, Sasha, Nastya and Kot), it ended up being more about the supporting artists, who played for a good four hours before the headliners appeared.

The line-up, featuring Ecca Vandal, Cash Savage and the Last Drinks, and Yothu Yindi, and MC’d by Reverend Billy and The Stop Shopping Choir, was a pretty eclectic selection and frankly, didn’t really make sense. Yes, they are all ‘political’ artists, but I’m not sure who this programming was meant to appeal to. And Reverend Billy’s overzealous pro-earth yelling wore thin pretty quickly, especially when he appeared between every act and delayed Pussy Riot’s appearance even further. Ecca Vandal was the strongest performer by far and would have been more than enough as a supporting act.

By the time Pussy Riot came on stage (after 11pm), everyone around me was feeling pretty exhausted and over it and just wanted to see the music they’d come for.

The Pussy Riot performance itself was pretty out there in the beginning, with Nastya Voynovskaya starting alone on stage with a looped electronic piece with spoken-word Aboriginal-inspired lyrics. This was followed by an aggressive performance of saxophone and yelling by her male Russian accompanist. It didn’t make much sense, but that was ok, it was challenging and interesting and something totally unique.

This was followed by a high-energy punk rock performance by lead singer Masha (Maria Alyokhina) and other members of the group, which revved the audience back up again. It was a pity that they came on so late, because I think I would’ve enjoyed their performance so much more without the hours of waiting and frustration at the other acts.

Nevertheless, there was definitely something surreal about seeing the Pussy Riot girls on stage, here in Adelaide, when you know the scale of what they’ve done and what they’ve been through. Here they are, just ordinary people, musicians, sharing an experience with us — it was hard to comprehend. 

A highlight from the night was a performance of Yothu Yindi’s 1991 ‘Treaty’ by all of the artists. Seeing them all on-stage together — Russian, American, Australian, Aboriginal — was pretty powerful and linked what might otherwise seem like disparate messages of social justice into one collective voice calling for change. It’s certainly something I won’t forget.

It’s hard to summarise the Pussy Riot Live concert in one sentence. Frustrating programming marred what was otherwise a truly unique, high-energy performance by the Pussy Riot girls. It was certainly memorable and not something we’ll get to see again anytime soon. 

Kryztoff Rating 3K

FRINGE 2019 – Kokoda – Star Theatres/Stirling Theatre – 4K

Alexander Ewers

Kokoda is a story, a legend, a myth engraved into the national psyche. It is a story with which every Australian is familiar, and yet which arguably few now truly know. Such is the manner of legends, history reduced to an exercise in the egotistical, and all too rarely made a reason to truly remember. Legends thrive off retelling: the art of exegetic embellishment and propagandist palatability. But truth? Truth survives in the telling, not the retelling.

Kokoda, the drama, is one such telling. Directed/produced by Peter Maddern, the scaffolding is nothing revolutionary: a sweeping chronology of the Kokoda campaign as perceived through the eyes of a participant. The mantle flung over this scaffold though, feels original. Maddern masterfully manipulates his ingredients to achieve an all-too elusive cohesion of the historical and the personal. It is a marriage done well in that it endures in the audience’s memory long after curtain-fall. There is an intensity and a realness that tempers even the most oft-told moments of this history. Wherein lies this element of the believable? Kokoda’s greatest strength is its respect for the ordinary, or more specifically, the ordinary in confrontation with the extraordinary. Protagonist, Private Powell, is utterly and reassuringly ordinary. His background is uninspiring, his reactions feel viscerally relatable, and his trajectory is satisfyingly “unheroic”. Powell provides the anchoring point of subjective experience through which the narrative of the historical can then be more evenly viewed. This is what makes for a true telling. Ordinary men enduring and overcoming amongst a nightmare of the extraordinary – this is the real spirit of Kokoda.

Every story worth the telling requires a teller befitting the task. Hence it is no small weight that actor, Jayden Marshall, shoulders in this solo performance. In addition to carrying the entirety of the theatrical burden, he is the audience’s medium to another world, an element of the personal that allows for comprehending the impersonal. His success on this front is all the more admirable considering he represents new talent to this show specifically, and also more generally in the broader thespian arena. His character’s journey is one of firsts, but firsts that are no cause for celebration: first bout of dysentery, firsthand experience of death, first gun fired, first kill. Marshall indwells his role convincingly, capturing the zeitgeist of war as it really was but rarely seems today: hand-to-hand instead of remote, passionate rather than apathetic, soul-contaminating versus clinically sterile. On a constructively critical note, delivery did tend to be a little stilted at times and rushed at others. The latter was more problematic, articulation suffering in these instances to the point of defying even the most concerted efforts at attentive listening. These moments usually occurred during the heat of passionate delivery but rarely detracted from overall enjoyment. However it is worth noting that not all audiences will be so familiar with the broader and more laconic Australian accent, and so a greater attention to pace and enunciation may be warranted in the event of expanding performances to broader audience environments.

It was impressive to see additional developments from a production perspective in comparison to this show’s premiere last season. Kokoda 2019 features a more streamlined audiovisual and stage design, the thespian performance bolstered by richer soundtrack and lighting effects. The net result is indeed more convincing, lending a new clarity and shaping a more distinct atmosphere for various environments in which the plot unfolds. But despite said advancements, Kokoda remains a refreshingly simple and direct theatre piece, needing no elaborate set or cumbersome adjuncts. It is about storytelling and true to this goal, it relies on the dual power of a script well written and well performed. These are the key factors that translate Kokoda from a mere tribute act to a presently relevant and resonant work. And it is these that allow Kokoda to successfully achieve its deeper success: a challenging of the self-protective and time-softened tropes we so readily believe about this great moment in our national history.

Kryztoff 4K