FRINGE 2020: HarleQueen – The Mill – 3.5K

Comedian Abby Howells takes you on a journey through history, looking at some of the world’s funniest, most successful, and often forgotten women. From a film star of the 1900s that was Charlie Chaplin’s mentor, to famous comedian-turned-reality-star Joan Rivers, we learn about these women and their talents, before understanding that, unsurprisingly, they end up footnotes in someone else’s story.

Abby isn’t going to be someone’s footnote. A comedian turned musical theatre wannabe to comedian again, Abby walks us through her childhood ambitions to be Jerry Seinfeld, to being romanced by one of musical theatre’s greatest stalkers, the Phantom of the Opera.

HarleQueen’s premise is great, and for the 55 minutes of the show, Abby keeps you hooked. It’s some of the parts in the middle where the acts fall flat: a ventriloquist act that goes on far too long, a dance number from Cats (the 1998 straight to video version) which went on far too long…there’s a theme. However, Abby is incredibly charming, winning you over with her quick wit, mega-watt smile, and infectious sense of humour. She manages to mix tragedy and comedy in the final act with aplomb, delivering a gut-punch of a conclusion in a personal and touching way. The second half of the show is where Abby thrives and seemed to gain confidence.

HarleQueen is a great hour of storytelling from a talented young comic, who is destined to join the greats she tells us about – and she’s not going to be sidelined anytime soon.

Kryztoff Rating: 3.5K

History of The Early Blues Part II – Cal Williams Jr.+

Wheatsheaf Hotel March 1st – Adelaide Fringe 2020
Review by Gary CLarke – 5K ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Images courtesy of Aaron Root.

Following on from Cal William’s sell out performances of part one of ‘Early Blues’ over the last few years Cal and his band ‘Great Moose’ decided to extrapolate on the theme extending into later incarnations of Early Blues music.
This was the result.

Cal is a consistently fine performer and this band comprising the wonderful Kory Horwood on double bass, Cal Williams Jr on resonator steel guitar and the talented Dom Smith on drums are great exponents of the early American blues genre.

As we were all seated in The Tin Shed at The Wheaty late on this cloudy afternoon chatting amongst ourselves the band appeared single file through the venue playing Leadbelly’s Midnight Special to the delight of the full house.

After some introductions and a brief prologue from Cal they launched into Charly Patton’s ‘34blues’ and ‘Dockeys Plantation’. The Audience were entranced as we heard contributions from the great blues artists of the early 20th Century including the brilliant exponent of Piedmont blues, Rev Gary Davis and his iconic “Cocaine”.

All this interspersed with wit and good humour as Cal gave us a history lesson for every song. We heard William Brown get ‘Ragged and Dirty’ in this band’s tribute to Brown’s tribute to Blind Lemon Jefferson’s ‘Broke and Hungry’. Williams goes on to introduce his favoured blues instrument, a locally hand fashioned resonator steel guitar made from the side of a chook shed by Adelaide artisan/muso Don Morrison of ‘Bodgies’ fame.

We hear that Alan and John Lomax assiduously tracked down many of these artists in tiny out of the way remote locales throughout the country to record them for the US Library of Congress. And I am so glad they did.! Many of these artists may have never been heard outside those remote places had it not been for them.

We were then treated to some Mississippi blues from JB Lenoir. After a comprehensive intro the band launched into their version of ‘Down in Mississippi’. The detail and nuances explored in this rendition were hauntingly beautiful.

Cal introduced us to his delightful cigar box 3 string guitar. Or as he points out, this one is fashioned from a Mississippi car licence plate. The sound and Cal’s delivery are quite simply mesmerising. Once more Cal regales us with history and tales from the era. This included the wonderful story of how Robert Johnson rigged up steel wires across the side of his tin dwelling and proceeded to play his house !

The band known as Great Moose are a class act. The double bass playing by the talented Kory Harwood worked magically with William’s hand constructed guitars driven by the rhythmic uncluttered drums of Dom Smith gave the whole sound and delivery an authentic feel but with their own signature.

This was the last performance of ‘Great Moose’ and William’s other band ‘Happy Sad’ for Fringe 2020 but they will be performing elsewhere throughout the year and hopefully for more of the same next Fringe. Don’t miss them.

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)