FRINGE THEATRE – ADELAIDE SHORT PLAY FESTIVAL – Fulham Community Centre – 3K

By Peter Maddern

Put on by and at the Fulham Community Centre, this show is a program of 10 short scenes basically designed to showcase the talents of nine young Adelaide actors. While pitched as mainly comedy, the scenes covered a range of often challenging topics including dining with a gender transitioned woman, staring down a church’s beliefs about homosexuality and revealing the secrets at funeral of a family member.

All actors did well with Allisa Stapleton showing particular versatility, Tim Stoeckel displaying useful depth of emotion and Kurt Benton relishing perhaps the most difficult roles. Oggy Trisic did seem under-utilised but credit is due for his performance as dead Uncle Jimmy.

In a fringe landscape that is making it harder and harder to get heard and seen as both new players and companies, well done to all for putting this together and one hopes it can have a life going forward, providing opportunities to young hopefuls in all aspects of theatre.

Kryztoff Rating 3K

HAPPY SAD – The Songs of Tim Buckley

Wheatsheaf Hotel 29th February – Adelaide Fringe 2020

Review by
Gary CLarke
4.5K ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 💫

Long time friends Mike Kirkham, Cal Williams Jr and Andy Pil supported by Dom Smith on percussion came together for this debut performance of an homage to Tim Buckley for the 2020 Adelaide Fringe. It was vocalist/guitarist Mike Kirkham’s idea and what a good idea it was!

The venue was the Wheaty, in the iconic Tin Shed, a location which lent a warm intimacy to the event. The atmosphere was relaxed and informal and Cal as MC introduced the songs, adding some history and banter about Buckley and some tales of the genesis of this band and its members.

I have been a fan of Tim Buckley since quite early in his career and by the time his most celebrated album Greetings From LA was released in the early 1970s I had all his albums on high rotation, thanks to Melbourne’s wonderful Import Record Shops.

Buckley was an improviser and an eclectic performer that defied categorisation. This band did credit to that legacy slipping in and out of the music, riffing here and there and adding nuances that enhanced the experience. This was indeed an homage rather than a tribute and the performance was all the better for it.

I had no great expectations beforehand about a singers ability to deliver on Tim Buckley’s unique vocal style or matching his range, subtlety and emotional power. However I was not disappointed. When Mike leaned into the mike he gave his all. Sure, he doesn’t have quite the power and vocal range to match Buckley but he does have beautiful intonation and projected his own soulful imprint on the lyrics. At times Kirkham seemed to almost channel Buckley.

Cal William’s lyrical guitar accompanied Kirkham superbly, Pils bass providing a creative rhythmic flow for both to launch from and weave around. Dom Smith held it all together with subtle strokes of the skins and metal.

Rather than me list here all the songs they performed I recommend checking out Tim Buckley’s music online.

For a delightful taster of this performance and Great Moose’s take on Buckley look up 3D Radio’s Michael Hunter interview. It features the band doing live versions of five of these songs via Hunter’s ‘Roots and Branches’ program.

This was touted as a one off event and there were no plans for any repeat of the performance at the time. However while chatting with Jerome of Cheese Factory fame he was arranging a ‘Happy Sad’ reprise for September, as we spoke.
Catch it if you can. I certainly will.

Tim Buckley’s music crosses all the emotions from Happy to Sad but it was the former that embraced me as I strolled out into the night singing ‘Happy Time Inside My Mind’

4.5K ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 💫

Fringe 2020 : The Nights by Henry Naylor : 5K

The Nights is a brilliantly executed piece of theatre by three times Fringe First Award winning playwright Henry Naylor. Set in Britain in the wake of 9/11 and the invasions of Iraq and Syria it deals with how our lives have been transformed by those events. It exposes the moral ambiguities that arise when we claim to be promoting western values and at the same time we seem to be eroding those very values in the name of the war on terror.

Jane Carter, played by Aiofe Lennon, is an Islamophobic tabloid journalist who usually writes celebrity gossip columns. She is given the assignment of writing a damning piece about a teenage jihadi bride who is trying to return home to Britain. In her search for contacts who can give her an angle for her story she meets an antique dealing military veteran who has been tried, and cleared, of war crimes. Captain Kane, played by Nicholas Boulton, initially rejects her request but contact between them continues, with huge consequences for both of them.

Through the delivery of alternating monologues and also conversations between the two protagonists we are taken into the dark places of their personal histories, witness their nightmares and meet the ghosts who haunt them. We watch them struggle with the contradictions and challenges they face, how each of them deals with their desire for vengeance.

The Nights is the fifth stand-alone play in Naylor’s Arabian Nightmares Series and is showing at the Arch, Holden Street Theatres until March 15th.

Rated M for ages 15 and over. It contains confronting and distressing themes and coarse language.
5K

Adelaide Fringe 2020 – Bharata Natyam & Beethoven – 5K

by Riccardo Barone

“East is east and west is west and never the twain shall meet,
Till earth and sky stand presently at God’s great judgement seat.” (R. Kipling).
In their show Shakti and VasantaMala demonstrated exactly the opposite.
Who ever thought two different traditions/cultures could meet in such a perfect and joyful marriage?
From one side L. van Beethoven and his Fifth Symphony, colossus and symbol of the European tradition. From the other side a Bharatanatyam piece, from the Classical Indian Dance.
The glory of this show consists not just in choreographing and dancing the entire Symphony of the German Composer but establishing a deep bond between two different traditions through music and dance. Music, the universal language that does not accept barriers of any kind.
The choreography is proud, powerful in its movements; on the dancer’s feet were attached some chimes, and they perfectly married the symphony’s rhythm.
Each movement has been associated to different stage of life: Karma, Samsara, Lila and Shakti.
L. van Beethoven was already in touch with the Indian culture. The proof is in his notebooks, where he wrote a Brahmani poem supposed to be put in music later on.
With her show Shakti closes the mystical Indian circle around the German Composer.

Kryztoff rating: 5k

Adelaide Fringe 2020 – Blanc de Blanc Encore – 4k

by Riccardo Barone

Everything is possible in this show! Is there any possible way to please yourself with two hours of stimulating, kinky and flirtatious performance of acrobats and theatre? Yes, the production Strut & Fret guarantees for that. Champagne is the keyword. Make sure you’ve got dozen of bottles at home after you saw that. And, of course, don’t forget Paris and the ’20s.
The cast offered Impressive aerial numbers entwined with feathered explosions and bouncing balls, well blended with dance, comedy and music. It is pleasant to watch athletic bodies in their art physical expression, provoking, stimulating and walking on the desire ‘s strings. Humorous and entertaining in its play, most of the audience was completely captured in the Fortuna Spiegeltent at the Garden.
The show started quite late, and considering the intermisson, allow more than two and a half hours to your schedules.

Kryztoff rating: 4k

Adelaide Fringe 2020 – Adults Only Magic Show – 3.5K

by Riccardo Barone

“We love our audience to be drunk! “

The Phoenix Room at the Masonic Lodge was almost full. The audience, involved in the show pretty much for all the time, loved the humor, the tricks and the jokes of the duo.

Sam & Justin remind a little bit of what traditionally happens in a clown-duo performance: one, the white clown, is more serious; the other, the Auguste, is the joker.
The show mixes magic with comedy, sensuality with humor, dispensing a confident language and a very friendly energy.
The entertainment is guaranteed, as they say “bring along your date or your mates”.
The show went over 60 minutes between amusements and brilliant clowneries, such as numbers behind a curtain holden on the stage by two people from the audience. It is always lovely the idea of creating a stage on the stage, a siparietto, whereby often reveals the keyword of the show.

Kryztoff rating: 3.5 k

Fringe 2020 – Adam Page SOLO – The Wheatsheaf Hotel – 5K

I had never heard of Adam Page until a superfan showed me his YouTube videos, conveniently just before Fringe time so that I could capitalise on my newfound fandom by attending not one, but two of his shows.

Sadly, at the beginning of his SOLO show Adam made the fairly devastating announcement that he had decided to stop doing his fully improvised show for a while because, in his own words, he wanted to make normal music that played for three minutes rather than each song taking 20 minutes. And, true to form, his entire 60 minute plus set had only about four or five pieces in it – each of them a masterpiece of creativity.

From the ‘name song’ (where he randomly picked out a member of the audience and used her name to craft a catchy song) to a Beverly Hills-copesque song cleverly incorporating the sound of the planes flying overheard, Adam dazzled the audience by creating beautiful pieces using only a loop machine, some brass instruments, a keyboard and some percussive instruments. Apart from simply marvelling at Adam’s sheer talent, and his ability to just make things up as he goes, the best thing about his shows is the obvious delight he takes in performing and sharing his music.

Although Adam’s season at the Adelaide Fringe has ended for 2020, his show is an absolute must-see. Make sure you get in early for your 2021 tickets.

5K

Fringe 2020 : The Wild Side : RCC The Attic : 4K

The Attic at RCC becomes part of the 1970s New York City underground scene thanks to a cool (and only slightly mellowed) Lou Reed and his hard rocking punk band who take us on a wild and sexy ride through the songs of Reed’s iconic solo album Transformer.

Multi-talented British comedian, actor and drag queen Jonny Woo tells the stories of the people, the time, and the place to put the words and music of Reed’s iconic solo album Transformer into context. This is not a mere tribute show (an idea which I think Reed would probably have been appalled by) but more a celebration of the man and his music, and of the dynamism of the times.

We meet Andy Warhol and the very beautiful Candy Darling who surprises us with a very casually performed striptease. Valerie Solanas delivers a tirade from her SCUM (Society for Cutting Up Men) Manifesto. Even David Bowie makes a brief appearance and we are treated to a short and sweet rendition of Space Oddity. With wit and humanity Reed has the chance to give a final performance and to honour those he knew and loved.

Vicious, Satellite of love, Hanging Round and, of course, Perfect Day were all performed and enjoyed. The energy remained high throughout with great contributions from all cast members who seemed to enjoy the show as much as the diverse and appreciative audience did. This is a show made for dancing but we were content to bop along in our seats until encouraged to our feet for the last song of the night. Almost the entire audience jumped up and worked off some of their pent-up enthusiasm.

This is an uplifting and entertaining show sure to be enjoyed by fans and newcomers alike.

The Attic RCC until March 15th. 4K (Language & nudity advice)

FRINGE 2020 – Taboo – The Adina Treasury Tunnels – 4K

Alexander Ewers

 

It reads like an episode out of A Handmaid’s Tale. A post-apocalyptic world threatens the fabric of family and society. A woman of extraordinary charisma and single-minded determination is the cause of unspeakable hurts to other women. This woman is feted and rewarded in her lifetime for actions that hide the true harm of her work. The woman remains serenely self-assured of virtue, and that the ends justify the means.

But Taboo is far from fiction, and is only as dystopian as the world we live in today. Styled as a talk-show interview, Taboo shines a spotlight on Kathe Petersen, the Austrian social worker-cum-lawyer celebrated by both the regimes of the Third Reich and post-war Germany for her contributions to helping the vulnerable in society. Her laudative epitaph, however, hides an active, driving role in the incarceration, torture and forced “incapacitation” (aka sterilisation) of hundreds of women in the name of morality enforcement. It is an almost incomprehensible dichotomy: a woman of inestimable ambition and groundbreaking achievements pursuing and perpetrating the moral, sexual and emotional subjugation of other women. Appropriately then perhaps, Taboo makes for perplexing theatre, tearing the audience between two discomfiting states: transfixed, almost cowed by the daunting presence and intelligence of Kathe Petersen (powerfully personated by playwright Karin Schmid); horrified and outraged, on the other hand, on behalf of the countless abused, shattered and tormented women at Petersen’s mercy.

The show’s overall success leans on twin strengths of historical accuracy and strong thespian talent. But Taboo falters somewhat in stage dynamics. The intended talk-show style proves to flounder from a sense of uncertainty, the ‘host’ not quite striking the right tone for such a setting. Elements of sardonicism, cynicism, or overfamiliarity detract from the professionalism one would associate with a talk-show host and contribute to a sense of lopsided imbalance in the face of  Petersen’s commanding presence. At times, this discomfort is palpable to the extent where the ‘host’ presence on stage feels sometimes superfluous and distracting. As a reflection, the energy on stage languishes at times, drifting between part Nuremberg trial, part lounge-room conversation, and part Q&A, but failing to be quite any of them. One could imagine a more disciplined and consistent approach, more Leigh Sales than Whoopie Goldberg, could work particularly well for this setting, particularly as a foil to balance the sheer dominance of the convincingly acted Petersen role.

Borne up though, by the sheer force of captivating, improbable truth, Taboo is compelling theatre. It leaves many questions about the nature of vulnerability and the vulnerable. Who are the vulnerable? What is the relationship between taboo and vulnerability? Do the ‘vulnerable’ (as decreed by the Petersen’s of the world) actually consider themselves vulnerable? Is vulnerability best answered with paternalism or with empowerment? By diktat or by democracy?

Taboo closes with a stimulating post-show discussion and question time, a particularly powerful choice that effectively burnishes the audience’ understanding and impression of character, playwright and intended message. If the question-time grapplings with the incomprehensibles of the Kathe Petersen dichotomy are a metric for meaningfulness, it would seem that a deeper question about the relationship between true power and vulnerability is one of the enduring impacts of this show. Is true power the mastery of one’s own vulnerability, or the mastery over the vulnerable? Is it victory over taboo, or victory of the taboo?

This show is called Taboo and it is a challenge, a call-to-arms, a solemn charge. What is taboo? Let us go there. There is extraordinary power in the taboo. Power either to release and to bind. How will you face Taboo?

Kryztoff Rating 4K

Lydia Lunch – RETROVIRUS

Lydia Lunch – RETROVIRUS- RCC Fringe -Level 5 – Feb 27th 2020

Review by
Gary CLarke

4.5K ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Lydia Lunch’s band Retrovirus have been touring since 2012 performing Lydia’s back catalogue of music and songs from mostly works that hadn’t been toured previously.

The venue of this gig was the infamous Uni Bar overlooking the cloisters of Adelaide University where I first heard Lunch’s “Spooky” from the Queen of Siam album back in 1984.

The intervening 36 years has seen her pump out a plethora of albums, spoken word, theatre, art and photography. And smoked a boatload of cigarettes if her now gravelly husky snarl is any indication! Lydia is showing her age but at almost 61yo she has lost none of her New York chutzpah! The impression of a hard-arse working class New York Grandma comes to mind. There is no messin with this mama!

Retrovirus band comprises good friends Bob Bert (Pussy Galore, Sonic Youth) on drums, Tim Dahl (Child Abuse) on bass and the scathing guitar of Weasel Walter (Flying Luttenbachers) providing the sonic dungeon Lydia emerges from.

She and her accomplices then proceeded to drag us willingly into that dark place with driving rhythms, scorching guitar and her haunting violent vocals They were tight and firmly in control.

Retrovirus hit the ground running with ‘Urge To Kill’ and they didn’t let up for 90 minutes save an interlude where Walter sparred with a front row troll until our modern day Medusa turned her fury on the offender, ditching a glass of water then the cup at him while railing abuse until he was unceremoniously exited. “F#*k you f#*king old c#*%t” she shouted after our protagonist. Then, turning back to us she asked menacingly “Any other c#*ts wanna punch in the throat”. No one took her up on the offer.

They belted out a swathe of goth punk dirges and dark energy reeling off iconic tracks like ‘Gospel Boogie’ with Walters ripping guitar solo that so impressed Lydia she got the whole band to repeat it! We were treated to a tribute to Lydia’s “favourite ghost” Rowland S Howard, then searing renditions of ‘Final Solution’, ‘Afraid of Your Company’, ‘Witchin In The Air’, ‘Dead Me Beside You’, ‘Mechanical Flattery’ and much more.

I haven’t listened to Lydia Lunch or Retrovirus for years now but it seems in this case absence makes the art grow fonder. Rumour is this was Retrovirus last time out in this guise so if you haven’t experienced them live you are going to have to settle for recorded versions. But heed this warning: Retrovirus are highly contagious.
Highly Recommended 4.5K