Mar 14

FRINGE 2017 – Trainspotting Live – 4K

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I’ve always had a mixed relationship with Trainspotting. Having seen the movie several times, I often waver between thinking that the film is either: a) a cult classic and searingly honest view into the life of addiction, and b) seeing it simply as a bunch of selfish people destroying their lives and the lives of those closest to them, whilst showing little remorse for the carnage left in their wake.

Heading into Trainspotting Live firmly on the fence, I can confirm that I finally fall into a new category: I finally connected with the characters and their journey through the highs (pardon the pun) and lows of heroin addiction.

Mark Renton is a heroin addict in Edinburgh’s 1980s party scene. Flanked by fellow addicts Simon “Sick Boy” Williamson and a dealer simply known as “Mother Superior”, as well as non-addicts Tommy and Begbie, Renton moves through life chasing one high after the next. Throughout the course of the show, the gang expereince terrible losses, are faced with their own mortality, and suffer under the weight of a terrible guilt that may be the kick up the arse to finally ditch the drugs for good.

The actors of the In Your Face Theatre Company are certainly that. They throw themselves body and soul into their characters. Their highs become your highs, and their lows will break your heart. I’ve never really connected with any of the characters in the Trainspotting movie, but the crew at IYFTC have managed to squeeze every emotion out of the cathartic climax. This kind of commitment is definitely something to be commended.

However, it does need to be advised that the rating of M15+ is, in this reviewer’s opinion, completely incorrect. Throughout the show, there is full frontal nudity right next to an audience member’s face; the actors will grab your beer and spit it over the crowd; and one patron had to leave the theatre during a scene featuring the abuse of a pregnant woman. Just bear in mind that even for someone who has seen the movie several times, I was shocked at some of the content of the show.

Also, wear clothes that you don’t mind getting wet – a certain famous scene involving a toilet definitely does appear. And, like the daring and talented theatre company that runs the show, it’s definitely in your face.

Kryztoff Rating: 4K

Mar 14

FRINGE 2017 – We Live By The Sea – 5K

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If you’re looking for a unique, moving, and uplifting Fringe experience, then We Live By The Sea is the show for you.

Katy, a fifteen-year-old girl who is on the autism spectrum, is cared for by her elder sister, Hannah. Her only friend is Paul Williams, her imaginary dog, the only thing that manages to calm her down after her father’s death a year earlier. However, all that changes with the arrival of Ryan, a friend of the girls’ neighbour, who finds Katy refreshing and inspiring. Each of the characters grow, change, and see life a little more clearly after they are inspired by Katy’s everyday bravery in their own ways.

This simple yet moving story captivates from its musical beginning. The nuances of life with Autism are captured in creative and thought-provoking ways: sound is cleverly used to explore Katy’s sensory overload; lighting captures  a range of emotions from fear, to bravery, to happiness; and clever projections tell a story within a story of the story of Katy, Hannah, Ryan, and Paul. Katy addresses the crowd directly, telling her stories within stories within stories. The structure of the show is particularly clever, with on-stage montages, YouTube videos, and vignettes such as “Katy’s Morning” capturing life with autism in an informative and emotional way.

The show has had sold-out runs in London, Edinburgh, and New York, and it’s easy to see why; with a clever, visceral, and uplifting script, incredible performances from the entire cast, and clever staging, We Live By The Sea received its standing ovation for a reason. Be sure to check it out before the Fringe ends.

Kryztoff rating: 5K

Mar 14

FRINGE 2017 – COMEDY – Sam Peterson: Sammy P Has Friends/Creationism with Fiona O’Loughlin – 3K

Creationism (Formerly Sammy P Has Friends) is a situational/sketch comedy stage show at Adelaide’s beloved Rhino Room. It features God’s chosen angels, Sam and Fiona, discussing the creation of the world as it unfolds over seven days. The angels create things like sleep, regret and kangaroos, and discuss the effects of these things on humans. How many commandments is too many? Are people inherently good? Should testicles be on the inside or the outside? These extremely important questions are addressed throughout the show.

 

While the show has potential, on this particular evening it didn’t quite hit the mark. The situations and conversations still feel scripted, and the transitions were not as smooth as they could have been. Surprisingly, Sam and Fiona shone brightest through their mistakes and resulting improvisation. These ‘bumps’ in the show allowed the artists to find a rhythm and get more comfortable with the audience. As such, the show picked up towards the end and is likely to improve with subsequent shows.

 

Sam and Fiona have a great comedic chemistry with a lot of potential, if nurtured correctly. They need not rely on a script so closely, because they’re witty enough without it. Creationism runs from Tuesday March 14 until Saturday March 18. Check it out, as this show is sure to evolve over the next few nights as they experiment with each audience!

Mar 14

FRINGE THEATRE – The Girl Who Jumped off the Hollywood Sign – Botanic Gardens – 5K

scaled_800287tight_cropBy Peter Maddern

It’s a frightened and exhausted Evie Edwards (Joanne Hartstone) who greets us as this young woman emerges high up at the cross of the H on the infamous Hollywood sign. As she sees it, her life has no future and dressed in black she starts to tell us how this came to be; a fable laced with all the elements of the Hollywood dream, especially those of the 1930s when certain stars enjoyed phenomenal fame and who, albeit unwittingly, put out siren calls for all manner and number of those who also sought their status who then drove themselves into the rocks of life in pursuit of the dreams they appeared to represent, just like Evie.

Of course, the 1930s story has the added baggage of wealth wiped out in the 1929 stock market crash and lifestyles rent asunder by those outcomes and the economic conditions that endured for a decade before, somewhat ironically, war saved America’s bacon. These forces made pursuit of wealth and status by the LA factory just that more irresistible.

Joanne Hartstone gives a masterful performance combining the many faces of her heroine – the frightened, the determined, the pathetic, the heroic – with outbreaks of song that not only spoke to the age but of the age. That she also wrote this play speaks further volumes for her talents; its research, concocting a tale of promise and poison Hollywood style, is interwoven without confusing complexity.

In short, nothing detracts from the magic of this production.

“The Fringe” when it was a Fringe used to be home for many a show like this; edgy, combative performances that showcased what the latent talents of this state could produce. Now, one has to dig hard to find it, not unlike the planning and passage required to find the Noel Lothian Hall in the Botanic Gardens in the midst of nearly WOMAD and the idiocy of the O-Bahn extensions.

Still, dear readers, do not be put off by those challenges; the rewards for seeing the best piece of theatre this Fringe (yes, even up against the much and rightly hyped Holden Street fare, Eleanor’s Story and their ilk) are worth it all.

Kryztoff Rating   5K

Mar 13

FRINGE 2017 – Wicked Wizards from the East – 3.5K

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All of the Wicked Wizards from the East are bucking against stereotypes: all of the magicians claim that despite being expected to become doctors, accountant, and lawyers, they decided to become performers, much to their parents’ chagrin.

The magicians stick to this theme throughout their performance, which includes a lot of genuinely mind-boggling slight-of-hand magic and illusions. For their first year at the Fringe, the Wizards pull off  a decent first show, and demonstrate real talent as illusionists.

The show does need a little polishing (although it’s worth pointing out that I attended the preview performance). Some of the transitions and acting parts between the illusions need some work so that the flow of the performance is improved. However, the Wizards work the audience well, and utlise audience participation to full effect.

Wicked Wizards from the East are a great night out if you’re looking for some magic that will blow your mind. I’ll be eager to see what the come back with at next year’s Fringe.

Kryztoff Rating: 3.5K

Mar 12

FRINGE VISUAL ART – Patterns of Migration – Nexus Gallery – 3.5K

"Assorted earrings & brooches," photo by Kai Niezgoda, March 2017

“Assorted earrings & brooches,” photo by Kai Niezgoda, March 2017

Exhibition “Patterns of Migration” gives us access to pivotal moments in the life of Haneen Martin. Martin’s work explores her identity and experience as a Malay-Arab Muslim woman living in Australia since the age of eight. From polymer clay work, to hand-stitched and dyed cloth, to old family photos and letters, the artist’s work is a mixture of questions and answers. How do the corresponding parts of her life and identity fit together? Where does she fit in an Australia where she’s asked if she’s “like a terrorist”? This is an examination of the political climate around cultural diversity as much as it is a personal reflection. This exhibition is small, but worth visiting and reflecting on, particularly if you can relate to being the cultural or societal “other.”

Kryztoff rating: 3.5K

by Kai Niezgoda

Mar 11

FRINGE 2017 – ECHOES OF THE MASK – MARRAYATTVILLE HIGH SCHOOL – 4K

A non-narrative experimental theatre event using film, performance, dance, live and recorded music, and creative set design.  Scenes were written by various groups of students using the theme of voyeurism as a cohesive link between the pieces.

The audience were put in the position of being the watched as well as being the watchers, sometimes simultaneously, and the cast were sometimes part of the audience.  This was a commentary on modern life where the boundaries between the watchers and the watched seem to have become more blurred than ever before.  Where everything is recorded and so much is experienced through a screen, where people are attempting to find new ways of experiencing the world and to connect with one another.  To reach out to people that they have never, and may never meet.  And where, perhaps, we expect much more than 15 minutes of fame.

With excellent lighting, music from the band, and confident acting, it is a shame that more schools do not offer arts courses of this calibre.

Kryztoff Rating 4K

 

Mar 11

FRINGE 2017 – Quarter Life Crisis – German Club – 3K

Steph dazzled the stage with her stage presence but there was no microphone to amplify her monologue, despite this, she projects very well where most bits were audible. A sense of enthusiasm came through but was suddenly dampened with the sentiments of someone nearly there, but not quite there yet. The show tackled on the character’s everyday life and how she spent the eve of her 25th birthday down to how she celebrated it.

Quarter Life Crisis seemed very realistic and may even be the actor’s actual life story. However, it lacked some sense of moral as we merely witness a life of an average person in their mid-20s. It may able to capture some empathy at various points but it can seem to miss the sneak peeks of someone who is having an entire dreadful existence masked by a beautiful persona of something that is seemingly successful, which I was hoping to see.

A style that can be described as a ‘cut’ technique used in film or TV was attempted which gave it a unique style of telling a story in a stage performance. Steph delivered the story very well and had an enthusiastic energy that reverberated in the room.  But apart from that, there wasn’t much tackled apart from surface level of a life of a girl turning 25 and more emotions could have been put in.

Overall, the show was something worth watching and there’s a lot of good humour that can remind you of familiar stories, may it be first hand or told to you.

 

Kryztoff Rating: 3K

 

Mar 11

FRINGE 2017: Scientology: The Musical – Warehouse at The Producers – 5K

By Tom Eckert

Scientology

From the creators of Abbott! The Musical, George Glass bring a new absurdist rock musical destined to inspire the same level of following as the name sake of their show show at its peak.

Intelligent and satirical, Scientology: The Musical is characterised by songs that subvert Broadway to T.S. Eliot and manage to tick off most major religions along the way. Catchy riffs and rapid-fire word play would make this a production that could easily be enjoyed again and again with a style deserving of the tagline L. Ron Hubbard Superstar.

The production is filled to the brim with iconic characters (often conveniently supplied from the Scientology canon) played often many each in rapid succession by a chameleon cast.

Notable highlights were Braden Hamilton as an L. Ron Hubbard Proxy via Monty Python “Brad” and Nicholas Conway as an Auckland derived Scientology staffer and Xemu the galactic dictator played halfway between Freddie Mercury and Adolf Hitler.

A unique brand of humor and with a style all of their own, I have no doubts that George Glass will take Edinburgh by storm.

 

Kryztoff Rating: 5K

Mar 11

Attack of the Emotional Pygmies – Star Theatres – 4K

The Star Theatre was the perfect venue for this intimate play that portrayed a snapshot of a family dinner, myrred in disfunction.

Attack of the Emotional Pygmies follows the struggle of Georgia as she struggles to inspire compassion in her husband, Alastair. We get a glimpse into the lives of Georgia and Alastair through the portrayal of a family dinner where Alastair’s sister Margie and her partner Greg are coming over.

As the meal begins we learn of the various grudges and grumbles that exist within the family quartet. Alastair bemoans the difficulties of being a 21st century doctor and “only being able to charge $200 for a 10 minute consultation”. As the evening continues Georgia brings up a matter which further strains the family and we watch as Alastair delves deeper into selfish indignance.

This is a well written play that tackles morality, guilt and the financial strain that faces a number of Australian families. Though it is currently only half of the full production, the audience is left awaiting the final conclusions. Will Alastair return from the pit of his selfish rage?

A well acted performance, particular accolades go to Todd Gray’s Alastair. The pomposity oozed from his very being and from his first words the audience is left with a feeling of unease seeing him on stage. Matthew Hein’s Greg was almost the polar, warm and welcoming, calm and helpful to the end.

A well produced and well organised piece, definitely worth a viewing this Fringe for both its humour and tension. A great play, can’t wait to see the second half!

4K

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