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Posts by MiriamK
The Bedroom Philosopher is no stranger to Adelaide, having made appearances during several Fringe Festivals as well as doing gigs in between. Recently, he has performed a couple of times a year in various bars around town, always attracting a good crowd of dedicated followers.
On a cold Thursday night, the Jive Bar on Hindley Street was close to full as he took to the stage with his quirky blend of comedy and music. The audience was brimming with enthusiasm, the mood having been well set by local support acts Guilliame Soloacoustic and Cookie Baker. Joined for the first time in Adelaide by his backing group The Awkwardstra, the performance had a more robust sound to go with his amusing lyrics.
The Bedroom Philosopher’s latest album, Songs From the 86 Tram – derived from his award winning Melbourne Comedy Festival show of the same name – is a collection of tunes based on the people you meet on public transport. The current single Northcote (So Hungover) is enjoying strong popularity and the live rendition did not disappoint. In amongst other tracks from this album, a couple of older songs also made an appearance, with a great version of Folkstar and the ever amusing Generation ABC both big crowd pleasers.
A highly entertaining and aurally pleasing night out. The Bedroom Philosopher capably mixes music and comedy in such a way that going to see him perform is worth it every time.
Kryztoff Rating: 4K
When people talk about The Man in Black, everyone knows to whom they refer. In this case however, it’s not just to Johnny Cash but also to Tex Perkins, who provides a wonderful tribute to him in this pleasurable and condensed serving of his life and music. In addition to renditions of many of Cash’s best known hits, such as A Boy Named Sue and Fulsome Prison Blues, it included several duets and some lesser known pieces, interspersed with snippets of personal history.
Perkins is an experienced and charismatic front man and he held the audience’s attention throughout. His vocals were beyond impressive, capturing the essence and emotion of the originals. Filling the role of June Carter in the duets and helping Perkins to tell the story in between songs, Rachael Tidd was likeable and did a pleasing job of her vocals. Supporting the singers were the cheekily named Tennessee Four, who provided skilled musical backing, adding to the fullness of the sound.
There was never a lapse in the popularity of Cash, but the success of the 2005 biopic Walk the Line can perhaps be credited with bringing the music, and the man, back to the forefront of the public consciousness. The audience crossed many demographic boundaries, showing the wide appeal of this show, and reacted with great enthusiasm. As good as the above film was, there’s something about hearing the music played live that really gets the heart soaring and this production certainly did that.
Kryztoff Rating 4K
Mumford & Son’s have managed to create the perfect balance of folk and rock; pairing banjos and mandolins with heavy drum beats and intense guitar. They opened their Adelaide gig with the first, and title, track of their hugely popular album Sigh No More, which borrows various quotes from the work of Shakespeare to create a beautiful ode to the affect of love.
The majority of their songs interweave such traditional references with original, highly poetic lyrics, accompanied by soaring vocals and impressive instrumental lines. It would be easy for pieces with such subject matter to become clichéd, but in the hands of these lads the final product is rather an uplifting, engaging and genuine celebration, while still touching on the less positive aspects, of the experience.
When a song is as popular as their Triple J Hottest 100 chart topping Little Lion Man, there’s a danger that the crowd will be made up of people who don’t know the majority of the band’s songs. This was quite clearly not an issue, with hundreds of voices singing along to even the album tracks that don’t get much radio air-play.
The crowd was enthusiastic from the get-go, but built to frenzy during the rendition of Winter Winds; the brass section brought on tour ensuring that the live experience matched that produced on the recording. With the final song of the night, The Cave, the whole room was bouncing and the joy in the air was palpable. Happily, the new songs included in the set list left no-one in any doubt that there is much more fantastic music to come from Mumford & Sons.
Kryztoff Rating 5K
A group of people sit. Each is unique but all share in a sense of exhaustion. The glare of fluorescent lights overhead creates the appropriate institutionalised atmosphere. This is a “rest home” and an air of boredom abounds. For the next hour, the beliefs, experiences and ideals of the motley bunch of characters are explored, with themes of war, faith, and destiny rising to the surface.
Stone/Castro has produced a piece which uses theatre, dance and visual imagery to create a world of desolation and confusion, with a flicker of hope thrown in for good measure. Though, at times, the tangled nature of the piece can be a little trying, there are several affecting montages and some engaging dialogue.
The quality of the performances varied; both across the cast and within individual characterisations. As the returned soldier haunted by his past and desperate for a different future, Nick Bennett gave a strong central performance, though could have given more fire to the part, particularly in the flashes of anger and desperation.
Lewis Rankin’s portrayal of the young man who finds himself caught up in this surreal world and risks allowing the residents’ nightmares to become his own, is also commendable; with particularly impressive control shown during his featured dance piece.
Though probably not appealing to those who prefer their theatre more straight forward and plot driven, this show incorporates both powerful and humorous imagery and presents many ideas worthy of consideration and rumination.
Kryztoff Rating 3K
People will probably know Bill Bailey from his appearances in TV shows such as Black Books, Spaced or Skins, but you can’t understand the depth of this guy’s talents until you have experienced him live. Bailey has one of those delightful minds which makes random associations between the oddest things, and has a charisma and presentation style that can make the mundane eye-wateringly funny.
The Thebarton Theatre was packed with appreciative fans from a wide demographic range; many who have undoubtedly been devotees for years and some who were experiencing him for the first time. Bailey is a quick witted, affable guy, who’s not afraid to engage his audience in banter. Over the course of the evening, we were treated to an enchanting mix of comedy, music and visual presentations.
Bailey is also a talented musician and incorporates music into much of his comedy. He always brings with him an eclectic mix of instruments. This time we got to experience the dulcet tones of the oud, as well as the delightful electronic machinations of a tenori-on, amongst others. His reinterpretation of the Leonard Cohen classic Hallelujah in the style of Kraftwerk, and his variations on the works of the likes of Phil Collins and James Blunt, were highlights.
In between songs, his account of what we can expect from the opening of the 2012 London Olympics was riotously funny and left one slightly concerned that he’d been privy to some IOC planning meetings. Barnacles also provided much merriment, including an auction relating to their penis to body ratio (we weren’t even close – Wikipedia says it’s up to 40).
Bill Bailey has a great reputation as an entertainer and did not disappoint his Adelaide crowd. They will undoubtedly be recounting stories of the evening to friends for years to come.
Kryztoff Rating 4.5K
Sloane (Renato Fabretti), is a good-looking young lad who has taken lodgings in the house that Kath (Jacki Weaver) shares with her father, Kemp (Dennis Olsen). Despite their age difference, Kath has designs on Sloane. Her controlling brother Ed (Sean Taylor) is not happy about the arrangement; until he meets Sloan and also finds the boy alluring.
As Kath, Weaver initially presents a vague and simple character that is mildly amusing and decidedly pathetic in her overtures towards the young Sloane. However, as the character develops in the second act it becomes clear that Kath is not just a ditz and that her psychological issues have a truly pathological and disturbing leaning. In these later scenes we see more of the talent for which Weaver is known.
Disappointingly, Fabretti (while undeniably attractive) has neither the appropriate look for Sloane nor manages to inhabit the role in any way that could endear him to the audience. The character was inconsistent and underdeveloped, with many opportunities to give it depth, and illuminate the motivations for his actions, sadly neglected. Taylor is suitably loathsome as Ed and, as the wretched and doddering Kemp, Olsen gives his usual, crowd pleasing, performance.
Overall, the show lacked spark. There were pace issues, particularly in the first act, and much of the dialogue felt like it was being said for no reason other than because it was written on the page. When double meanings were accentuated, they were met with appreciative laughter from the audience but, sadly, the majority of these opportunities were missed due to the lacklustre delivery.
Promoted as a black comedy, the script does have comedic potential but it also touches on some very serious, and unsettling, issues and so a delicate balance needs to be met. Regrettably, this production fails to achieve that happy medium and the result, while not completely devoid of merit, is a rather bland interpretation.
Kryztoff Rating 2.5K
The Mother of Madame is Dead, is a short, sweet, enjoyable French comedy. It should be noted that, despite its inclusion in the Cabaret Fringe Festival, this is a straight play and will not fit the usual Adelaide theatre-goers definition of cabaret.
After a night out revelling, Lucien (Jean François Gavanon) returns home to his wife, Yvonne (Jessica Viven). Yvonne is irate, having been dragged from her bed to admit Lucien, who has forgotten his key. It is the perfect time for them to have a small spat and they do so with vigour – until the doorbell rings again. This time, it is Yvonne’s mother’s manservant, announcing that his mistress is very ill or, more accurately, dead.
Gavanon is amusing as the self-indulgent husband and is matched well by Jessica Viven’s demanding and hysterical Yvonne; the latter bringing to mind the type of monster her late mother may have been for Lucien. As Joseph, the bearer of the bad news, Olivier Ducros is just the right mix of obliging and anxious, injecting a natural humour into the situation. Danièle Allen is also good as the put-upon and sleep deprived servant Annette.
The play is presented entirely in French, with surtitles provided for the non-fluent audience members. There is much to amuse in this script though, sadly, some of the jokes are left out of the translated English. It is interesting to watch foreign theatre in its original form and this is an agreeable, light-hearted introduction to the genre.
Kryztoff Rating 3K
Floozy June (Charlotte Mudge), love-cynic Jean (Bronwyn Gell) and desperate-housewife Joan (Rachael Kirkham) Geiger, are three sisters who, ably supported by their ever-enthusiastic (and possibly intoxicated) cousin Gertie (Carol Young), present an evening radio show in the years following WWII. As the studio audience, we get to see what goes on, both on and off air, the night the radio station is sold and the girl’s careers are on the line.
The key element to the radio show is music and, accompanied by Gertie, the sisters sing about life, love and their world. All four performers have strong voices and while combining on several songs to create attractive harmonies, accurately reminiscent of the time, they are also given the opportunity to shine individually with feature numbers. In addition, the physical action, which could easily be left by the wayside in a radio based piece, provides much amusement and showcases the performers’ talents.
The overarching structure of the show works well; enabling both a continuing plotline to run throughout while also providing opportunities for amusing individual sketches. The Life and Times of Fanny Mac is one such piece; a radio play, complete with coconut horse hooves and some truly hilarious one-liners. Other highlights include the various advertisements smattered throughout, particularly those for the major sponsor, Dr Cardwell’s All Purpose Elixir, and that beloved Aussie icon, the Hills Hoist.
This is a well constructed and polished piece of entertainment, with comedy and musicality in equal measures, and fine performances all round.
Kryztoff Rating 4K
Amongst the lush surrounds of La Boheme, the audience settled in as Chris Martin, on upright piano, played a delightfully jazzy introduction and Antje Guenther took to the stage. Guenther will be familiar to Adelaide audiences, having appeared in recent plays with State Theatre Company, but this is her inaugural solo appearance on the Adelaide Cabaret scene.
The audience was taken on a light-hearted expedition through a dozen or so songs fitting under the banner of “Sex & Crime”. These were frequently amusing, with laughs abounding during To Keep My Love Alive, I Got It From Agnes and I Hold Your Hand in Mine, while at other points they explored both the more risqué and serious sides of the theme. Adding to the variety, several of the pieces (as well as a rather amusing story explaining the birds and the bees to young children) were presented in Guenther’s native German.
The quality of the singing varied across songs. Those in the higher register, such as Die Lotusblume and Barbara Song, were more successfully produced while the lower, throatier songs tended to be a little flat. Nerves also appeared to contribute to these issues at some points. Happily, the banter between songs was pleasing and genial – an exhibition of Guenther’s acting talent – and this helped to offset the abovementioned problems. Despite its flaws, this was an agreeable, cheeky and amusing afternoon of entertainment.
Kryztoff Rating 3K
This is a comedy show with a difference – the comedian, Stevl Shefn (Steve Sheehan), never utters an understandable word for the hour he’s on stage. Instead, he interacts with the audience in two ways; via his monotone, burka-clad translator Fatima and through the inspired physical comedy present in both his and Fatima’s demeanours.
To refer to this show as “cabaret” is stretching the truth a little; though there are a few song-based interludes, I don’t know that you’d call any of them a musical number. Having said that, it does provide one of the more interesting duets you’ll come across, as well as a chance for you, the audience, to engage in a sing-a-long in a “foreign” language.
Covering subjects as wide ranging as the intricacies of thesis writing, interspecies relationships and rainbow-chasing, you never know which direction the show is going to take next. The beauty of it is in the absurd places it goes and the pace at which it does so.
The material comes close to crossing the line of decency several times but, somehow, the calm no-nonsense voice of Fatima manages to keep it on the right side (just) and make it even funnier. Stevl and Fatima have been around for a few years now, popping up during Fringe Festivals (winning this year’s Adelaide Fringe award for best comedy) and the like, and although those who have seen them before may recognise some of the jokes there is also new material to enjoy.
Kryztoff Rating 4K