CABARET FESTIVAL – Amber Martin – Janis: Undead – 4.5K

amber janisamber janis straightBy Julie Robins

Accurately described in the promotional material as  “a psychedelic celebration of the late, great Janis Joplin” this is no mere impersonation, or simple tribute show.
Always a fan of Joplin’s art but not generally fond of tribute shows, I chose to attend this one partly because I was intrigued by the contrast between the image conveyed by the photo of Amber and the content of her show. She looked far too demure, far too straight. She isn’t. Not by a long shot.
Her phenomenal stage presence and incredible vocals held her audience captivated from the moment she entered the room.
Born just one month after Janis’ death, in their shared birthplace of Port Arthur Texas, Amber obviously feels a deep connection to her story. Through song, storytelling and monologue she shares her enthusiasm for her subject.
With an excellent backing band which consisted of her New York based musical director on keyboards and three accomplished Adelaide musicians, the renditions of songs, mostly from the album Pearl, were faultless. A psychedelic light show and band members donning sixties personas soon had us forgetting that it was actually 3pm on an Adelaide Sunday afternoon. Amber’s costume was mildly confusing, and a bit distracting, but her skill and force of personality helped override this.
With passion and humour she led us through a gamut of emotions. She had us laughing, cheering and, occasionally, shedding a tear or two.
This was Amber Martin’s first time performing in Australia. Hopefully she will return. She included one of her own songs in this show and it would be interesting to experience more of her work.

Kryztoff Rating   4.5K

CABARET FESTIVAL – Em Rusciano – Festival Theatre – 2K

By Peter Maddern

Every product based organisation must look to renew and expand their audience in a quickly changing world. Ali McGregor’s punt on putting Em Rusciano alone on the Festival Theatre stage on the opening Saturday night kicked a goal when hordes of younger women piled into the revamped complex, many I would suspect for the first time. But it was all a very long way from the none-too-distant days (or so I thought) when the grace of Olivia Newton-John filled that slot.

If we need a crusader to smash down the male-dominated, phallocentric world of modern Australia then Ms Rusciano is your gal. In a world that seems attracted to ‘look at me’ performers the somewhat narcissistic, name dropping Rusciano did not disappoint evidently speaking what her target audience wanted to hear, saying the things they wanted to say, albeit fully laden with f- and c bombs.   Her opening number I am a F… Woman spoke volumes for how far or not the sisterhood has advanced since Helen Reddy broke this turf near on 50 years ago with her song with the similar but pared back title. Then, Reddy played to a femininity of independence, here Rusciano joyed in swigging sparkling and touching herself.

The second half deteriorated somewhat (or had audience members run out of battery to catch their meme on their Samsung or Apple devices) when, after repeatedly informing us that this was her night and she could do what she wanted, she slagged off her parents for being baby boomers who had the temerity of wishing to better themselves with advanced education rather than sit at home and dote on their little Emma, following which, and to their great discomfort, she got them up on stage dancing.

Frankly, if this is what people want to hear and say and this is what the Cabaret Festival is becoming, beam me up Scotty and get me out of here.

Kryztoff Rating   2K

CIRCUS – Stomp – Entertainment Centre – 4K

Stomp-Image-4By Peter Maddern

Stomp has been a global phenomenon for more than 25 years and its latest incantation is as fresh and fulsomely noisy as any before. For those who enjoyed The Lost and Found Orchestra here during the Festival of Arts you will find the Stomp ensemble less numerous but every bit as rousing in the smaller confines of the Entertainment Centre.

Set in a large car workshop or similar complete with blue liquid drums, burnt up oil cans and beaten up street signs, the seven member cast open with a smart and relatively silent set using brooms but by the end of the 90 minutes just about everything that could be banged, smacked or jumped on has been, everything including the kitchen sink in one of the more inventive and humorous acts.

It’s all quick paced, energetic (to the point of exhaustion) and thoroughly engaging, performed by a cast that range in physique from the muscular and athletic to the overweight complete with pink mohawk haircut.

Highly rated family entertainment performed with an ease that belies its skill.

Kryztoff Rating  4K

GREAT MOSCOW CIRCUS 2018 – 5K

by Riccardo Barone

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Four motorbikes, like imprisoned bumblebees trying really hard to escape from the humongous caged up sphere, have shocked the audience.

Is today a good day to die walking inside/outside (even backwards) of a huge rotating spinning wheel (even blind folded) challenged by gravity and weight? If that’s not good enough for you this hero will take your breath away walking on a tightrope, without any safety measures beneath him, carrying on his shoulders another tightrope with another equilibrist.

When I was a kid I used to enjoy going on the swing really fast and then jumping from it. Well, think bigger now! Bigger swing, four artists on it, bigger jump, bigger landing on suspended sheets far in the air.

A little stage does not mean at all a little show. The amount of shocking and spectacular numbers is impressive.

Flying popcorns (not me), enchanted amused children (they won’t forget it as well), a clown with tennis skills (his numbers with children are really funny), excited adults becoming young again, sweet ponys running in a circle, a horse teasing his owner, acrobats on the trampoline.  Everything has been under the statement: I’m not afraid to die.

The ticket price is way too low for witnessing such an unforgettable show.

Photo by Sharon Bennenbroek

Kryztoff rating: 5k

THEATRE – Terrestrial – State Theatre – The Space – 3.5K

Annabel Matheson (Liddy) Pat Jhanur (Badar) by Kate PardeyBy Peter Maddern

Two mid teen teenagers meet up in an isolated mining town in rural South Australia. Liddy (Annabel Matheson) is a blow in, from a broken home and stuck in this place for ten days only awaiting a reunion with her father. Badar (Patrick Jhanur) is from a rusted on towns family – the son of miners about to face a bleak future. Both yearn to be somewhere else but for the time being together is the best the place can offer them. Both also harbour fantasies – hers relates to aliens coming in and taking her away; his is to get inside her pants. Both Jhanur and Matheson do well to convey an age that is well behind them and their increasing mutual needs in a landscape without variation and aspiration.

Fleur Kilpatrick’s simple construction is greatly enhanced by Meg Wilson’s stage design and Chris Petrridis’s lighting which together make for quick scene changes, from day to night and from inside to the wild expanses of a sky fully moon lit in the desert. Nescha Jelk’s direction ensures her players also convey the claustrophobia of the town to limitless possibilities of being somewhere else even if via the agency of aliens.

This is entertaining fare for a teenage / school audience by a talented team.

Kryztoff Rating   3.5K

ADELAIDE FESTIVAL CENTRE – CONCRETE IMPERMANENCE – 3K

by Riccardo Barone

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What happens if the scenography gets involved and starts to dance and to move in a piece of contemporary dance?

The sculptural objects were made of crimped paper which were able to be squeezed in and out and turn into different figures and shapes, constantly changing the scenario and the environment. Occasionally worn  by the dancers as an ornament or as a blanket, this moving sculptures needed to be manually moved on the stage by the actor Stephen Sheehan, which was sometimes joining the dance in as well, or by the dancers themselves.

The choreography is straightforward, there is no time for any graceful movement, as the sounds in the background appropriately suggest, which often resulted in a static, basic leitmotiv, root and central meaning of the entire performance’s philosophy.

The entire performance has been designed for people with non-hearing disability too, as far as a screen on the top of the stage displayed waveforms and other abstract figures synchronised with the tempo, rhythm and dynamics of the sound score.

Kryzstoff rating: 3K

Sense and Sensibility – The State Theatre Company – The Dunstan Playhouse – 4K

By Tom Eckert

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Sense and Sensibility takes the classic Austen text and ironically puts a retro spin on it. In a continued effort to bring classic texts to a modern audience in an entertaining and accessible way the State Theatre Company are successful.

The text itself is treated with a sensitivity, humanism and humour that makes the characters relatable and modern despite the archaic text. Credit where credit is due to director and actors for translating both language and social convention of the original setting.

Both Marianne and Eleanor are played with a sensitivity that inspires sympathy and pride in equal measure as they are confronted with the challenges of their lives. Their gravitas is provided a suitable foil by the whimsy of a host of uncharacteristically well-developed smaller characters. The supporting cast are chameleon, playing parts ranging from high strung matriarchs to pointer hounds, all with a high energy humour and frivolity that only deepens the contrast with the Dashwood’s plight.

Strangely enough some of the most compelling and evocative effects are achieved outside of characterization. The lighting is used not only in the standard environmental sense but also in a host of novel ways to create seemingly concrete structure that complements the pared down set. Every opportunity is taken to inspire laughter, with not a scene change or seemingly innocuous line of dialogue not being taken advantage of. Staging and set work provide endless delights with props used as sight gags that take full advantage of the text. Whilst for the most part it is a suitable accoutrement to the main drama, these comic asides at times seem to overshadow the unfolding narrative as the show progresses.

The sugar candy colour palette, 70s musical interludes and deadpan delivery of absurdity all act to express the original intended aesthetic of the text with an irony that makes it translatable to a modern audience not subject to the typical stuffiness associated with productions of Austen’s work. Soft, sweet and easy to eat with just a hint of pathos – this is Wes Anderson meets classic British literature.

Kryztoff Rating: 4K

THEATRE – After Dinner – State Theatre – Dunstan Playhouse – 3.5K

By Peter Maddern

Andrew Bovell’s first play takes us back thirty years to what seems like a snapshot from another world – friends going out together to pubs on a Friday night to catch-up, wind down and see what’s possible, all unarmed by the modern menaces of mobile phones and their internet dating services.

Set in some Melbourne dive in a plain and otherwise vacated dining room, a distance so it seems from the stage where the band will play after dinner, we meet our three thirtyish girlfriends and at a different table two similarly aged mates.

On the left table, a tightly wound bundle of fear of the unknown Dympie (Jude Henshall), is joined first by the gregarious Paula (Ellen Steele) and then Monika (Elena Carapetis) still mourning from the shock loss of her husband to a stroke.  On the right, the repressed Gordon (Rory Walker), in his own shock for his wife walking out on him, meets up with the perennial playboy Stephen (Nathan Page.)

As the play develops the tragedies of all their lives get revealed in a rich pathos of love gone wrong and sharp wit and farce.

It’s hard to separate the five players but Jude Henshall’s Dympie and Rory Hancock’s Gordon are perhaps the best with brilliant moments interspersed from Elena Carapetis.

There is nothing easy about directing this type of comedy but Corey McMahon does an excellent job, allowing the stories of all his characters to develop before mashing the inter-relationships up brilliantly in the second half. Of course, Boivell’s lyrical writing style helps set the audience up for a farce squarely but not too personally directed at ourselves.

Not exactly thinking person’s theatre but a sure winner as night out.

Kryztoff Rating        3.5K

FRINGE 2018 – THE PLEASURE PROJECT – 4K

by Riccardo Barone

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Can the clitoris save humanity?

Ava Bogle, writer, actor, filmmaker, comedian and sex blogger based in LA, writes and perform this hilarious show interpreting six different characters who alternate on the stage. Six women from outher space on a mission: clitoris, this unknown, is the key (from the Greek κλείς – key) to unlock the pleasure, this unknown as well. Each alien shows a well defined and caricaturistic personality: the naive one, the party animal one, the yoga freak one, the femme fatale one, all of them will interact with each other on a short movie projected on the background and then appear singly on the stage.
Attempts to save the humanity from the destruction, because you-know-who will push the red button starting the nuclear world war; they will teach you how to push the right red button, trying to capture the desire of that human sitting in the first row of the Room at the Crown and the Anchor, which is quite full, with a teasing response.

Directed by Rachel Avery, the brochure is inviting you to discover not only the pleasure project presented tonight but the one between your legs too!

Kryzstoff rating: 4K

FRINGE 2018 – EMMA PASK – 3.5K

by Riccardo Barone

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The elegant Fortuna Spiegeltent is quite full of enthusiastic fans and friends that don’t dislike a little bit of Emma Pask’s talk between a song and another one, overall about her husband from Uruguay.

Songs are standards evergreen, from Quizás quizás quizás to Beatles passing through Mas que nada, interpreted by the duo.

The pianist Kevin Hunt brilliantly conquers the high state of mind of improvisation, being very present and energetically outspoken (on an electric piano). His solo is dominant, in despite of Emma’s ones who had the chance to show her brilliant improvisation knowledge unfortunately not in every song.

The evening is a little bit too laid back, and sounds like “I do have majestic fireworks for you, but I am not going to use them all tonight”.

The concert ends with a Ray Charles’s classic; probably the ticket’s price has been a little bit too demanding, whereas it expects to enjoy more songs, more solos, probably less talk and a baby grand on the stage.

Kryzstoff rating: 3.5K