RAW: Feu la Mère de Madame – Nexus

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

RAW: Waiting for Godot – Her Majesty’s – June 9 – 12

Directed By Sean Mathias

Reviewed By Miriam Keane

Samuel Beckett’s famous composition often leaves individuals struggling to provide a description of just what it is about. In Beckett’s own words, it’s two men “blathering about nothing in particular”. A more accurate summary might be that it explores the themes of life, death, and the waiting game that we all play in-between the two.

On a gloriously bleak set, never defined in time and space, we meet Estragon (Ian McKellen) and Vladimir (Roger Rees). They have come to this place with the usual issues plaguing old men – ill-fitting shoes, bladder control and memory lapses – but there is also the bigger problem of needing to pass the time until Godot comes to meet them. Into the mix come the intimidating and brash Pozzo (Matthew Kelley) and his tethered, downtrodden servant Lucky (Brendan O’Hea); travellers who provide a welcome distraction.

This play has the potential to be very boring. Happily, this was never an issue in the hands of the wonderful talent involved in this particular outing of the piece. Taking Beckett’s complex and often repetitive dialogue, the players turn it into an engaging, and frequently amusing, snapshot of the characters and their plight. Indeed, it is the non-verbal aspects of the performances which are most enthralling and highlight the calibre of those involved.

Exploring the hopelessness and pointlessness of the human condition, this play leaves audiences thinking, while also managing to avoid making them morose. Rather, spirits are lifted by the undeniable feeling of having witnessed something great.

Austen Found: The Undiscovered Musicals of Jane Austen

Young men of Adelaide – want to get in good with the missus and show your “sensitive side”? Why not take her to Austen Found!

While billing itself as the “Undiscovered musicals of Jane Austen”, Austen Found is actually an exercise in improvisation.  But not just improvisation, these girls rattle off period language, dance, sing, and fill out a pair of well cut breaches, all without seeming to break a sweat.  And for good reason.  Performance Troupe ‘ConArtists’ is made up of a number of highly skilled improvisers, who have even improvised for their country at world championship theatre games (I didn’t know there was such a thing).

The story is…. well you already know the story: girl meets unsuitable boy, they fall in love, but are unable to express their undying devotion to each other due to social pressures etc…..  The idea is that the story changes slightly every night, dependant on the choices the audience makes at the beginning of the show.  But in general, you are not going to this show for the story – you are going to see these women improvise their little hearts out!

If you are wanting a deep discussion of the issues facing these women in society – this isn’t the show for you.  But, if you are after a good night out with some laughs – why not give it a go!

Raw – Walworth Farce – Her Majestys

Enda Walsh’s playwrighting panache resides with families living in chronic isolation , ritually reenacting the story of what brought them to that point. If that is what excites you, especially in the Irish / English context, then Walworth Farce may very well be what you will enjoy. Others may well find the story rarely comprehensible, deeply sad, laced with delusion and cruel. The ‘play within a play’ idea is tough going for any audience but after a real world character enters the scene and for a few moments lifts accessibility and spirits, the complexity and rat-a-tat dialogue returns quickly making following it all hard to sustain and soon the rest is downhill until it all happily ends.

To be sure the acting is complete with all three major role players – Michael Glenn Murphy, Tadhg Murphy and Raymond Scannell – doing excellent jobs, with Murphy particularly outstanding. The set is well thought through and the ability to create isolated scenes in one of the areas is effective (or was it scenes within scenes within scenes).

Sure, this is what our great festival is all about – being challenged in ways we may not the other 23 1/2 months of every two years but as successful as Walworth Farce may have been in Great Britain, like many other arrivals from the mother country, it’s a fish out of water here.

Kryztoff Rating  2K

RAW: Shirley @ Arcade Lane

At first I found the show rather offensive. Then I realised it was MEANT to be offensive. Then I spent most of the performance pondering how I was meant to feel. There’s a powerful message in this performance about sex in popular culture and how some disgusting sexualised material goes unnoticed or unchallenged. Despite agreeing with the messages of the performance and understanding why these messages are important the delivery just seems needlessly over-the-top. Yes – I know it’s meant to be extreme, challenging and confronting, but it seemed to be confrontational and challenging at the expense of the choreography.

Kryztoff Rating: 1.5 K

>> Check out more interviews, videos, feature articles and polished previews in our latest Fringe Guide

Raw – True West – Adelaide Centre For The Arts

Flying Penguin’s True West is high calibre theatre superbly acted and produced by this emerging Adelaide theatre company. Sam Shepard’s play is about two brothers, two very different brothers, confronting each other’s strengths and weaknesses and exposing their sibling rivalries and jealousies. Other than for a few interventions, it is just two characters battling it out on stage to prove themselves to each other and themselves. Renato Musolino as Austin and Nick Garsden as Lee command the set as much as they attempt to do the other. Garsden in particular pulls off a very difficult character brilliantly belying a significant period away from the stage before this part.

Of particular interest were the trashing of the stage and props (some poor body’s lot to restore each night) and the way the scene changes allowed the audience to almost participate in the shifts easing us all into the next part without having to unpack so many clues. That effectively just 2 actors could make nearly two hours so gripping is testament to both story and cast.

Theatre worthy of the Festival. Go see.

Kryztoff Rating: 4.5K

>> Check out more interviews, videos, feature articles and polished previews in our latest Fringe Guide

Click Tease – An Intimate Experience in the Digital Age

For anyone contemplating a “pimp my profile” service, Click Tease – Log On, Get Off could be the Fringe show for you.

Following insomniac Abbie (played wholeheartedly by Nikki Britton), who after an attack of cyber-insecurity brought on by spotting a former foe’s wedding photos posted online (girls – you know you have been there!) creates an alter ego ‘Debbie89’  (brought to life with verve by Kate Skinner) and lets her loose online.

Making the most of an intimate space upstairs at the Electric Light Hotel (around 20 seats), Abbie’s nervous exchanges with the audience during her quest to find her new ‘voice’ endear her to us.  You can’t help rooting for her as she makes her way through the internet dating scene. 

While the topic of the social impact on the online revolution sounds like something balding professors would be arguing about at some national convention somewhere, by dramatising it with such entertaining portrayals from the young cast, former Adelaidian Rebeeca Meston has made this discussion accessible to the ‘instant gratification’ generation.

Running from the 3rd to the 13th of March, Click Tease is highly recommended for those wanting to dip their toe into some discussion of the ramifications of the digital age without sacrificing the chance for a giggle and a good night out.  Go on – try something other than a comedian for the Fringe!!!

RAW: The Sapphires

The Sapphires is Australia’s theatrical answer to the American film Dreamgirls.

Set in the late 60s, four indigineous sisters, Gail, Kay, Cynthia and Julie, with powerful, soulful voices embark on a tour in Vietnam, entertaining the troops. Predictably, there are a number of love interests, references to drugs, racism and the War.

Sure the plot is thin at times, and the nods to complex issues, like racial tension, the Vietnam War, lack real substance, but that’s not what The Sapphires is all about. It’s all about fun. It’s a great crowd-pleaser.

Christine Anu, Casey Donovan, Kylie Farmer and Hollie Andrew sparkle as The Sapphires – their soulful vocals fill the Scott Theatre. Hear those fantastic vocalists sing motown classics, including Aretha’s R-E-S-P-E-C-T and I Heard It Through The Grapevine and much, much more.

As part of the Adelaide Festival of Arts, shimmy on down to the Scott Theatre.

Kryztoff Rating: 4K

>> Check out more interviews, videos, feature articles and polished previews in our latest Fringe Guide

RAW: The Servant of Two Masters

The Servant of Two Masters presented by the Adelaide University Fringe Club is a slightly confusing but nevertheless entertaining story. Showing at the Armoury Lawns behind the Adelaide Museum, the talented cast rely on voice projection to enable the audience to hear. It was at times difficult to hear what each character was saying, therefore, making it a little hard to follow what was happening in the plot. With entertaining pauses, audience acknowledgments and a great enthusiastic cast, the play had the audience laughing the majority of the way through. Shown in a beautiful location, the cast made use of the Museum’s stairs and balcony to add an element of surprise. Although a little long, the soap opera come comedy had me laughing and smiling.

Kryztoff Rating: 2.5K

>> Check out moe interviews, videos, feature articles and polished previews in our latest Fringe Guide

RAW: My Sweet Specter – Star Theatres

Anna McInerney’s ‘My Sweet Specter’ is another ambitious project this Fringe pitting looming, young Adelaide talent against a tough assignment. But for the most part, she and her cast and crew pull it off.

In Nicole Miller’s play and the Film Noir tradition of the Prohibition era, Miss Scarlett (Shaez Mortimer) comes to Chicago to make her name but quickly gets embroiled in some foul play and deception with the nightclub moguls the Blacks – Vivian “Vixen’ (Joanna McGovern) and John (Peter Enright) – for which her own shady past is well prepared. As the story develops dance scenes break out, led seductively by Rebecca Plummer and Madison Kuerschner (amongst the girls) and the stylish Joel Anderson. There is a lot of the musical style of Chicago in this and the players are up to the multiple roles of actor, dancer and singer with both Mortimer and McGovern giving stand out performances.

Thomas Phillips’ choreography and Krysia Vucic and Shannon Adams’ costumes are great for a performance on this scale but it has to be said the show at times suffered for its amateurish bits – the lighting (especially front of stage) was weak and for a theatre the size of the Star the use of microphones depreciated the performances.

But overall, great fun and entertainment and here’s to hoping McInerney brings more shows together and that dancing on this scale and high level can also get a regular guernsey in town. If her future shows are as well patronised as this, then any company Anna forms will have a strong following to support it.

Kryztoff Rating 4K

>> Check out more interviews, videos, feature articles and polished previews in our latest Fringe Guide