FRINGE 2019 – LASER KIWI – Studio 7 @ GOUD – 3K

Laser Kiwi has returned for the 2019 Adelaide Fringe, bringing their unique brand of circus sketch comedy with them.

What should you expect? Spontaneous dance sketches like Aunty Donna? Check. Impressive circus acts? Check. Flight of the Conchords-eqsue awkwardness? Check. Jokes that were probably written by your dad? Oooh yes. Big check.

The show started with the trio handing out photocopied agendas of the night’s show. The cute kiwis were charming in their introductions and pretty much instantly likeable.

The quality of the jokes came in waves – peaks and troughs of genuine laughter and bits that may have gone on a little too long. The trio acknowledged the show was all about giving things a go – no joke was off the table – but of course this meant that some ‘dad jokes’ didn’t quite land.

The circus acts were fantastic and much better than I expected from such cute, goofy hosts. They started with their strongest trick that left you wanting more, and so by the end, I felt I hadn’t seen as much of the circus side as I would have liked. They were strongest in riffing off each other as they performed what they did best – be that juggling, balancing acts or aerial acrobatics. I would have loved to see more.

With some novel ideas (for example, we each got a “confetto” to throw and form a “confetti”) and a unique style, this group shows immense promise. They brought the goods, even with a fairly low energy Tuesday Night audience. Keep an eye on these guys – with some development this show could be a huge hit.

3K

Fringe 2019 – Eurydice – The Sunken Garden Holden Street Theatres – 4K

This is a delightful retelling of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. This time from a female perspective. The setting, the Sunken Garden at Holden Street Theatres, gives the performance a lovely ambience and is so appropriate as most of the story takes place outdoors.

Casey Jay Andrews and Serena Manteghi, accompanied by a guitarist, deliver a fast paced performance incorporating dialogue, monologue, song and dance.

After a brief informative intro the story begins with 5 year old Leni (Eurydice) on her first day of school determined to control her own fate . She insists on wearing a super hero costume and we see her struggle with her mother Cyrene who is torn between wanting her daughter to conform whilst at the same time being delighted by her force of will and rebellious nature.

We travel through adolescence and young love, through romance and ultimate betrayal. This retelling follows the trajectory of the ancient tale however in the final scenes Eurydice’s experience and sense of self dictate a different outcome.

There are skilful performances all round. Serena’s character ages from 5 to 35 whilst Casey transforms into multiple characters over the course of the play.
The language is poetic, the play is expertly crafted, clever and funny. This telling of the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice honours the complexity and nuances of the classic but in a modern twist Eurydice is empowered.

Holden Street Theatres until 16th March.
4K

CIRCUS – Let’s Get Wild – Wine Centre – 3.5K

By Peter Maddern

Two likely lads from Melbourne town have come to Adelaide with their kids circus show. Leigh Rhodes and Bede Nash are intrepid explorers of the jungle and after their plane goes down they set out to find the five pins that will see them safely home or something like that; Enid Blyton need not worry her crown with kids storytelling is under any threat here.

Back on terra firma Nash and Rhodes perform various stunts, from ball juggling, acrobatics, hoop twirling and pin tossing. It’s all great fun and the young ones present the evening this reviewer attended were kept enthralled and delighted by all the khaki clad antics of our brave boys. Bottom jokes and head whacks are included free of charge.

The stand out from it all was Nash’s hoop work but most audience members probably did not care who was making them feel good.

Great fun for children up to aged 12 with a show parents can readily enjoy along the way.

Kryztoff Rating   3.5K

Fringe 2019 – Rebel – Wonderland Spiegeltent at Gluttony – 4K

Bursting onto the stage in a profusion of sound and colour Rebel the show is a high energy performance from beginning to end and carries the smiling rocking audience along with it. The fabulous vocals of Stewart Reeve combined with the very talented musicians and a sideshow of circus deliver far more than a mere tribute to David Bowie.
Promising us that this show will not be boring Reeve brings the essence of Bowie to the stage whilst his own personality and distinct voice are preserved. With fabulous costumes (and amazingly fast costume changes) we are taken through the different eras and styles of the late musician’s career.
On Tuesday night the cast seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely despite the very warm Adelaide evening. They claim that until they came to Adelaide they did not realise that knees could sweat. Starting with the title song Rebel we heard such classics as Space Oddity, Ziggy Stardust and Under Pressure amongst others. Sparks flew and we saw wonderful aerial displays, skilful hoop work, fire eating and roller skating accompanying the songs. Although the circus acts, performed primarily by the band members, could at times be a bit distracting, they also contributed an element of surprise to the evening.
The audience, comprised of a wide spectrum of ages, clapped and sang along throughout and rose to their feet in appreciation as the performance came to a close.

This family friendly show can be seen at 6:30pm in the Wonderland Spiegeltent at Gluttony until 17th March.
4K

Fringe 2019 – Umbrella Man – National Wine Centre – 4K

Marooned and shoeless and working as a tour guide at Angkor Wat, Umbrella Man shares his story of misfortune and naivety. Managing to be humorous and engaging throughout, he takes us with him on his journey through hope, grief and homesickness into a gentle spiral of madness and conspiracy theories via spoken word poetry, ‘local jokes’, and storytelling. Trying to convince us that the earth is flat (and that the moon landing was fake, and JFK’s assassination…etc), he takes us to the very edges of his ice- rimmed world and attempts to get us to look over the edge with him, to see what he sees.

With his gentle piano improvisations lulling us into a false sense of security as we enter the room and take our seats, he leaves his keyboard to make our acquaintance, desperately seeking connections to his past. He is one of those lonely people that one encounters in bars around the world hungry for an understanding ear, to meet someone, anyone who will listen.

Umbrella Man comes to the Adelaide Fringe after successful seasons at both the Edinburgh and Prague Fringe. Presented by writer/performer Colin Bramwell this is a goofily funny, tender show.
Bramwell is a delightful raconteur with a beautiful voice for delivering the spoken word.

Umbrella Man will be appearing nightly in the Ferguson Room at the National Wine Centre until March 1st.
4K

FRINGE THEATRE – Oysters – Bakehouse Theatre – Kryztoff

Alexander Ewers

Oysters (Mon-Sat at the Bakehouse Theatre until March 17) is an entertaining theatre production perhaps best described as comedy flavoured biopic. A sensitive and educational introspective into the legendary composer Johannes Brahms, the show sprawls widely across the artist’s life, sweeping before it a conglomeration of persons and periods that shaped the work and the soul of this musical genius.

Incarnated by the brilliant Neil Salvage, Brahms is introduced at a post-premiere party celebrating his famous Violin concerto in D Major. It is a portentous moment professionally and personally, the event representing a rich intersection of the people and pasts entwined throughout the story of the artist. In this heady milieu of influences and alcohol, the man is slowly unfolded to the listener. The audience learns of pain and privilege, the vagaries of fortune that elevate and cast down at whim, the perfectionism of genius and the curse of the self-same. It is a journey over the course of an hour from position of bedazzled bystander, cognisant only of greatness, to that of an intimate, privy to the griefs and glories that inspire and beset such artistic pre-eminence. And in intimacy is discovered  nuance and complexity, the reality of a man perhaps best misknown then as now, solely for his music.

Oysters’ strengths lie in meticulous respect of historicity and an array of external perspectives to build and support protagonist development. There is a convincing quality to, and an internal consistency throughout the dialogues and scenes presented. This achievement rests on the solid bedrock of factual accuracy, a foundation that plays no small part in the believability of the performance. Similarly, the procession of characters through whom Brahms’ inner self is revealed, form a series of lenses by which the audience achieves a more adequately complex understanding of the man.

However, the same creative approach that is the show’s strength also becomes its weakness. As the pace builds, the growing character parade assumes the confusion of a character carousel, detracting from the messages underlying the plot. The performance begins to feel too busy, and the scenarios onstage a little contrived. Similarly, the metaphor of the oyster, arguably the crux of this performance given the titular emphasis, feels jarringly underdeveloped. The (assumed) intended weight of impact is diminished by an incohesively laid groundwork, it being an idea warranting a more comprehensive embedment within or elicitation from the story. As it is, the reference seems surprising in context, and unfortunately recedes rapidly from the forefront of memorable relevance.

One ought not to allow these criticisms to dissuade from attending this show though. Salvage and co-star Nicholas Collett are stalwarts of the London Theatre scene, and their performances here are masterful. Oysters remains exceptionally informative, a thought-provoking panegyric to one of the classical music world’s icons, and one that is truly enjoyable to those both native and naïve to this genre. Yes, Oysters is about Brahms. But its collateral beauty lies in the themes unearthed along the way: the isolating curse of fame; the disjunction between artistic ideal and audience/consumer perception; the ingredients from which artists are forged. Perhaps the most lasting lesson is captured best by a question. What is the cost of art? And to whom is the burden of that cost allotted: the artist or the consumers of that art?

Kryztoff Rating 3.5K

FRINGE THEATRE – The Professor – The Bakehouse – 3K

By Peter Maddern

Bob Paisley is a University professor who arrives at class and reveals that he intends changing the usual single topic lecture to one spanning all of western culture and his great new discovery. Dressed in fawn jacket and matching corduroy pants he is the archetypal Don, combining effusive enthusiasm for minutiae with absent mindedness that can drive you crazy.

The lecture starts off seemingly all together but as time it goes on it descends into farce, with its semi-finale delivered with fulsome amounts of phlegm and wind.

As good as Paisley is, his material from Brian Parks lacks edge. We may sweep through western culture, from the discovery of pi to the beauty of Bach, but the anecdotes around them are more  contributions than the  dollops of the humour required in a Fringe like this. Indeed Messrs Bach and Mozart are reduced to about eight seconds each and little else. There were times this reviewer was reminded of Robin Williams triumphs of teaching in Dead Poets Society but nothing here felt comparable.

As much as western culture may be under attack these days by friends of this type of professor, it is hardly defended by The Professor; all its breadth and depth, beauty and beat offer more moments of impact that this hour delivered.

Kryztoff Rat  ing            3K

Fringe 2019- SUFI MUSIC PARTY-Farhan Shah and Brothers

SUFI MUSIC PARTY    

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Farhan Shah and Brothers- Church Of The Trinity -Sunday 24th Feb 6pm

Sufi Music Party featuring brilliant Qawwali singer Farhan Shah and his very talented brothers  deliver a joyous celebration of Sufi Music and traditional dance incorporating a fusion of traditional and modern music and food to feed the heart and soul.  Held at the architecturally interesting venue of The Church of The Trinity on Goodwood Road this was indeed a party.   The Adelaide folk and music legend Keith Preston introduced the event not only acting as MC but also contributing as a member of The Farhan Shah and Brothers Ensemble.

As we entered the venue a warm welcoming aroma of freshly prepared Pakistani/North Indian food greeted us.  We checked in then availed ourselves of some of the delicious fare presented by Farhan Sha’s delightful wife and her dedicated and friendly crew.  Samosas, Chat, Biryani, Dhal  were all on offer and once sated we wandered off to the main space for the performance.  There was an excellent crowd and almost no seats to spare.

To kick off the party we were treated to Syrian musician Zuhir Naji Arabic Ensemble. … including his 12 yo son. The Oud, percussion, tambourine and vocals blended beautifully despite some minor sound mixing problems.   This was the entree and the room was suitably warmed up for the main course.

After a 15 minute intermission where we scuttled off to the dining room to scoff more delectable treats we were invited to return for the headline act.   Farhan Shah and his Brothers including Keith Preston kicked off a rivetting, lively set of Sufi Fusion music incorporating traditional Qawwali singing and chanting and modern western rhythms and instruments.  The combo of musicians including organ, keyboards, percussion and guitar created a perfect platform for Farhan Shah to launch his soaring vocal  acrobatics to astounding effect.  His voice control was rapturous demonstrating an operatic range combined with blistering passion.  Shah doesnt merely sing the notes, he ignites them !.  Taking all of us with him.

The audience were willing captives and many took up the offer to dance .   Shah is a master of both his vocal artistry but also his stage craft as he engaged his audience in the traditional call and response back and forth build up  that encapsulates this musical art form.   By the end not one person who was able to stand and dance was left seated.  A remarkable performance and a wonderful experience.  Sure there are slicker, high end professional music shows on offer but few with more heart and soul.

Review by Gary Clarke  –              4. K stars

 

Fringe 2019 – ESPANA EL VITO – The Spirit of Spain – The GC Underground

MATHEW FAGAN

GRAND CENTRAL UNDERGROUND – 2:30pm Sunday 24th Feb 2019

 

Review by Gary Clarke.   4.5 stars

Mathew Fagan once more graced us with his presence and his virtuoso guitar playing at the intimate GC Underground to promote his new vinyl album “El Vito” taking us on a journey through Spain and Spanish influenced music.

Once dubbed “Lord of The Strings” Mathew Fagan demonstrated that the title is no affectation. He is a guitar playing phenomenon. His extraordinary range and dexterity … and sheer brilliance had me gasping at times. We were immersed in arrangements of some of the great Spanish composers: Juan Rodrigo, Enrique Albeniz, Jorge Strunz and a healthy dose of George Bizet’s Carmen, all delivered with panache, skill and passion via Mathew’s signature 10 string Richard Howell acoustic guitar.

We explore Andalucia the home of El Vito and we are tutored in the roots of music from this region of Spain as Mathew demonstrates the musical links between Northern India and Andalucia with a flawless transition from an Indian Raga to a flamenco piece.. Superb!  When you closed your eyes at times it was hard to believe there was only one instrument involved !

After being utterly seduced by 45 minutes of brilliant guitar playing, interspersed with Mathew’s slightly offbeat but amusing repartee we are introduced to Latin America via some delightful Bossa Nova featuring Kellie Grace on vocals.  We explore the music of Villa Lobos, and a highlight are renditions of Luiz Bonfa tunes adeptly arranged by Mathew and sung by Kellie.  None other than the legendary Paco Pena described Mathew as a “true artist” !  High praise indeed and well deserved. If you love the guitar you will love this.

El Vito is the term used to describe the music and culture of Andalucia.   It’s a reference to  St Vitus who danced with joy!  But you don’t need to be St Vitus  to let your spirit dance to this music you just need a pulse!  Bravo !

 

Gary Clarke for Kryztoff RAW            4.5K  stars

FRINGE 2019 – Koto Music Concert – “Shiki” – 3.5K

by Riccardo Barone

The mesmerizing Koto repertoire is well known for its intensity, vibrational ancient energy coming from thirteen strings tuned following different traditional ways; indeed during the brief concert (only forty delicious minutes) the Koto performer Kawaguchi Etsuko had to switch from one to another, according to tradition.

The Maestro Kawaguchi Etsuko has been an ambassador of Japanese Traditional Music here at the Fringe for eleven years.

Unfortunately the premises of the Garage International were not really full (let’s hope for a Womad performance) but the audience, in religious silence, couldn’t wait to show appreciation and enthusiasm at the end of each piece, asking for a bis at the end of the concerto but without any success.

The four pieces program included three pieces of Miyagi Michio, an important Japanese composer and So player of the last century, and a brilliant finale by Yoshizawa Kengyo, a blind Japanese musician and composer born in the 1800.

Kryztoff rating: 3.5k