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

FRINGE 2019: Stephen K Amos – The Story So Far – 5K

By Anthony Nguyen

As one of the most well-known stand-up comedians over the past decade in the Adelaide Fringe circuit, Stephen K Amos brings his timeless comedic talent back to the 2019 Adelaide Fringe for (possibly) his swan song.

Amos has been a regular on the international comedy circuit with numerous appearances on television and radio. Aptly titled The Story So Far…, his Fringe show confirms his global status as seasoned performer onstage.

Though a British comedian, Amos unapologetically delivers uncensored and topical humour with not only local Adelaide content regarding Lime scooters, Clipsal/Superloop ‘bogans’, and extreme South Australian weather, but also political topics on more the global scale including Brexit, Trump’s presidency, and the #MeToo movement. With an uncensored comedic style, he is not afraid to push the boundaries of what comedy can be and will leave you questioning whether he really just say that.

He takes the time to acknowledge his extensive career and the reflect on the recent passing of loved ones yet seamlessly finds the comedic side in a sombre moment. As a tribute, Amos encourages the audience to raise money for the local Adelaide hospice service, the Mary Potter Foundation, with people collecting money after the show.

Seeing Stephen K Amos perform, it is evident why he still stands as one of the more popular comedic acts at the Adelaide Fringe every year. Amos performs at the Arts Theatre for the remainder of the Adelaide Fringe until 16th of March. A warning that you may potentially leave the theatre with a sore jaw from all the laughing, as it did happen to me.

Kryztoff Rating: 5K

FRINGE 2019 – ORBITAL + SEVERED HEADS – 5K

by Riccardo Barone

The Maths Lawns slowly started to increase its number of attendees while between a couple of Proseccos and lovely people around the show is about to start.
Severed Heads open the stage between amazement and surprise, experience and psychedelic atmosphere. People are still warming up, only a few of the courageous ones (who, me?) start to open the dance. Active since 1979, this historical electronic band hypnotises the audience with their ep from the ’80s Petrol plus their last works with the obvious support of the giant screen.
The enthusiasm increases after a short break, because here they are! The Orbital enter the 3D stage with their solar headphones in an explosion of lights. The adrenaline starts to pump up and the Maths Lawns turn on into a festive garden. Some of them are still enchanted by the pyrotechnic performance of their last album Monsters exist, showing their mature upgraded sound deriving from decades of experience without forgetting the past.

Kriztoff rating: 5k

FRINGE 2019 – “Rhapsody in Chicago Blues” with Pianist Tim Barton – 5K

by Riccardo Barone

I’m still impressed by the rich, long and virtuoso piano program performed at the Flinders St. Baptist Church by the astonishing pianist Tim Barton. His sound is well balanced, a high class touch married to a philological interpretation revealed by the performance of the Fantasy in D minor by W. A. Mozart, where the use of the pedal has been contained as tradition wants; same for the Toccata n 6 in E minor by J. S. Bach where the audience has resisted till the end of the fugue to show its enthusiasm.

The ragtime is to a great extent so dear to the Pianist, evidence clearly noticed in his compositions “2 Improvisations”, “Tim’s up tempo” and the brilliant “Griddle blues” and “Classic Chicago Boogie Woogie Piano”; obviously the program doesn’t lack for the most famous ragtime by S. Joplin, Fats Waller and Jelly Roll Morton.

Long, ecstatic, musically and technically intricate are the Davidsbundlertanze op. 6 by R. Schumann, here dominated under the  Sturm und drang influence, leaving room for a deep meditative state of mind.

The performance of G. Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue cannot be praised enough; all the arpeggios, scales and chromaticisms have fulfilled the church with a merciless precision and with an interpretation as big as US!

Kriztoff rating: 5k

FRINGE THEATRE CABARET – Hero Girl: Raising a Revolutionary! – Tandanya – The Third Space, Adelaide – 4K

By Alisha Dyer

Delia Olam brings an immediate warmth to the stage, and I’m not even referring to the torch she carries for revolutionary change – which is bright!

With Hero Girl, she has opened up a conversation about gender equality and the roles of females throughout history and in today’s society. With the help of her charming and talented daughters Hero, Harper and Olive, this complicated and troubling topic is discussed through word, dance and song, and a number of questions raised.

Why aren’t more females celebrated in historical texts taught in schools? Why are so many famous women celebrated for their roles in war? Do women need to get aggressive and push aside their femininity for more masculine traits, in order to be perceived as impressive? Why can’t women also be celebrated for their tender and peaceful nature? And do all women who take charge need to be referred to as a “Joan of Arc”?

Yes, we have come a long way in achieving equality for women its true, but when young girls are asking their parents these sorts of questions it really goes to show just how much further we need to go.
It would be very easy for this conversation to get heated. After all, it is very serious. But Delia and her daughters ask these questions and discuss their answers, hopes and dreams in such an endearing manner that the audience has no choice but to feel joyful throughout the performance, and hopeful for the future. The show is a work in progress, but so is the topic in question.

Hero Girl is recommended for practising or aspiring parents, children and families. These conversations are crucial for young girls and boys to have with their parents and each other, because ultimately it is up to the emerging generations to be the change they want to see in the world.

Meet the family on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th March in The Third Space, Tandanya.

Kryztoff Rating 4K

FRINGE 2019 – Adelaide International Youth Film Festival Preview Program – 5K

by Riccardo Barone

Children are sponges. They absorb everything they see, everything they experience. We’ve all been there, fragile sprouts, innocent angels, truth-tellers, staring at our preferred cartoons, creating thousands of adventures and imaginary scenarios to escape the grown-up’s reality, a too realistic reality for this age; this is when the fantasy comes in to play with our imagination and let’s us be children. This is when often we, adults,  go around the bush, striving for the appropriate solution instead of listening to our inner voice, the voice of a child, to solve the problem in the most harmless way (win-win?).

The preview program of the Adelaide International Youth Film Festival allows us to get back in touch with our childhood, listening with a child’s heart but watching with adult eyes. The short movies, screened for a primary school aged audience, touch important topics such as compassion for elderly persons, empathy for children with disability, bullyism in school premises, fighting parents with related consequences on the kids, entering in a little girl’s mind to understand her food preferences or just hilarious and colored cartoons.

We are enthusiastically waiting for September when the Festival will be on to enjoy other amazing productions.

Kryztoff rating: 5k

Why John Howard REALLY Sucked – Jordan Shanks

WHY JOHN HOWARD REALLY SUCKED

Jordan Shanks – Rhino Room March 1st 2019

 

Image: Jordan Shanks in a previous life as an Advertising Model.

Review  by Gary Clarke                                                                                                                4 STARS

Jordan Shanks relies on parody as the lubricant for his acerbic wit and is impressive dishing it out to high flyers, politicians and public figures but less so aiming cheap shots at easy targets like Bogons and  “Dole Bludgers” .  Shank’s audience of Millennials and  a smattering of of Zs and some older cohorts like yours truly were geared up and well prepared.  Most of them having followed “Happy Jordies” his online persona on You Tube.

At times it seemed more like a partisan Uni lecture on politics but with the professor being a well groomed good looking Millennial with an acerbic wit and a sharp tongue and the lecture theatre having beer wine and spirits on tap.  If only that were the case while I was at Uni, I never would have completed my degree but I would have enjoyed myself all the way…!

” I’ve always had a strong performing background. I’ve been doing it since I was five and I have very little understanding of what public shame is, I’m just an exhibitionist” .  he informed The Daily Mail.  And it shows. He is at home on stage and very comfortable in front of a full house of 150 people in The Rhino room.   His delivery is well honed and the subject matter very well researched.

Jordan Shanks argument is that all the important, effective developments both economic and social achieved since the 1960s have been at the hands of Labor Governments and that the mainstream press and even the ABC and SBS have promulgated a well worn myth that the LNP and Conservatives are better economic managers.

Who would have thunk a 29yo male model with a degree in International Politics could be so funny, keeping one hundred and fifty  25-35 year old’s  engaged and entertained for 70 minutes. Not one of them took out their phone to check their social media accounts or to tweet, Snapchat or Instagram.!

Jordan Shanks has had international exposure as a male model and since 2015 has built a You Tube channel following of 200,000 for his show “Friendly Jordies” while also performing live stand up comedy in front of audiences here in Australia and around the world.  Performing live is what he lives for and he works hard to keep that dream alive.   Unless of course he gets offered a safe Labor seat at the next election. Stay tuned!

Review by Gary Clarke                                                                                                                          4 STARS

 

 

FRINGE COMEDY — ERIC’S TALES OF THE SEA — Ferguson Room @ The National Wine Centre — 4K

By Belle Dunning

‘Eric’s Tales of the Sea’ is exactly what it sounds like — good old-fashioned storytelling by a former submariner of the Royal Navy Submarines. And it’s excellent.

Honest and heartfelt stories of mateship, terrifying close calls and the ridiculous things we do to keep ourselves entertained when living in close quarters.

I won’t reveal anything else because the magic of this show is in hearing these stories first-hand.

This is live performance at its best. Up-close and personal, you really feel connected with the person standing in front of you. All sense of time disappears, as you wait for each story to unfold.  It reminds you that ‘comedy’ doesn’t have to anything sophisticated, it can be as simple as someone sharing good stories. 

Don’t worry if you don’t know the first thing about submarines, if your curiosity is piqued, make sure you head along to one of the four remaining performances of ‘Eric’s Tales of the Sea’ on the 9th, 10th, 16th or 17th March.

Kryztoff Rating 4K

FRINGE 2019 – “VIVIR” Flamenco Guitar and Dance – 5K

by Riccardo Barone

La vida y la muerte. Rooted in the South of Spain, the Art of Flamenco is an ancient tradition started by the Gypsies in the South of Spain contrasting the classical tradition already present in the North. Let’s not forget when Manuel de Falla asked for help from Joaquin Turina, in order to have his music published, but the positive answer came only after he demonstrated to compose music deeply connected to the Flamenco.

Raul Mannola establishes a deep connection between the past and the present becoming spokesman for all the instrumental Flamenco treasure, result of years of sacrifice, dedication, belief, keeping in mind to serve the Arts using the power of an impressive virtuoso technique to enrich the world. Memorable and remarkable is his performance of John McLaughlin’s Lotus Feet as well as all the pieces in Soleá and Seguiriya Flamenco styles.

Aylin Eleonora with her majestic dance guides the hypnotized audience through unbelievable precision, speed, incarnation and materialization of ancient secrets whispered in the ears of time by her body rhythm.

The duo Eleonora-Mannola enriches our world from fifteen years with rapture and brilliant synergy becoming manifestation of pure knowledge and heritage.

Kryztoff rating: 5k

FRINGE 2019: Dolly Diamond’s Blankety Blanks – 3K – Gluttony

Dolly Diamond is your host as you enter the May Wirth in Gluttony and prepare to play – or, to watch others play – Blankety Blanks.

That is the basic premise of the show, but throw in a panel of Fringe celebrity judges (artists, staff, venue managers, etc.) and a couple of unsuspecting audience members and you’ve got a game on your hands. Dolly reads out a saying – famous or otherwise – and it’s up to the panel to fill in the blank. If they have a match with the audience participant, they win the point.

Dolly Diamond is a great host, bringing energy and life to the stage. She knows how to work a crowd and does it expertly.

However, the premise itself wears a little thin after the first two or so rounds. Moving through the rounds quicker would have helped here – the pace does wear the audience down a little and after a  while your mind starts to wander. Another thing that grated was that many of the participants repeated answers for all questions, and this also wore thin and just wasn’t entertaining – perhaps they should have been briefed beforehand to write a different answer each time.

This is a good premise, with a great host, but needs a little development in order to keep the audience engaged throughout the whole show.

Kryztoff Rating: 3K