Posts tagged Cabaret Fringe Festival

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: The Geiger Sisters Radioactive Hour – The Promethean

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

RAW: Bird Wizdom’s Tiny Conspiracy – La Boheme

To think it is but three months since Anya McNicol-Windram produced that 5K extravaganza at the Fringe and here today we have a whole new show. Amazing output and determination! This time, Bird’s Wizdom’s Tiny Conpsiracy, features a much smaller entourage – a mere seven people participating – and in the much smaller La Boheme venue. Whereas previous shows seemed to have been anchored around a dispassionate Melanie Prior on cello, this time Anya is very much front and centre and as usual her talent, make-up and charisma carried the day.

Around 12 new songs are in the show, many with the familiar and engaging rhythm and beat we have heard on the Bird Wizdom album and with those lyrics of abandonment and envy that can inspire reactions from hilarity to emotional outpouring. ‘Tea Tea Tea’ and ‘Georgie Porgie’ stood out in this collection as Anya utilised many of her usual helpers including Lilly Sim belly dancing, Annie Siegmann on Bass and Josh Luke Rice as Dr Bones.

As usual there were as many questions posed (like, what is this all about?) as answered but nothing can deny Anya’s brilliance in conceiving and executing such a show and the raw difference it poses for audiences.

Kryztoff Rating  4K

RAW: Sex & Crime with Fraulein Antje – La Boheme

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

RAW: The Lonely Man By Jamie Jewell – Format Space

Jamie Jewell is extraordinary in this one-man cabaret show exploring loneliness through abandonment, unrequited love and not fitting in. The Format Space is the ideal venue for this intimate production and together this one man’s isolated yearnings, despairs and hopes draw out his audience’s empathy before its shocking conclusion.

Jewell is a highly skilled and experienced performer with a professional dance and theatre career spanning more than 20 years with credits in productions such as CATS, Moulin Rouge and Le Grand Macabre. This record shows as he most skilfully works his modest props to full effect – dice, scattered playing cards, plants in tins, stuffed toys and the like. Jamie’s singing is strong and his songs span all genres with a particular emphasis on classics – hymns of hope, then of reflected joy and finally anthems of total dismay. The performance is much enhanced by excellent use of light.

This is very different cabaret, more theatre than a jolly sing-a-long or another burlesque excess. At close quarters it makes for a memorable experience. Further shows on June 22, 24 and 26.

Kryztoff Rating  4K

RAW: Stevl Shefn and His Translator Fatima – La Boheme

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

RAW: Why Muriel Matters – La Boheme

An interesting piece of cabaret theatre, this tells the story of local woman, Muriel Matters, who left Australia at the beginning of the twentieth century to become an actress in London. After at first progressing in this area, she finds herself drawn to the Suffragette movement, joining the campaign to win voting rights for British women.

Presented primarily as a monologue by Muriel (Teresa De Gannaro) we follow her from the streets of Adelaide to bustling London and then all around the British Isles as she takes the message to the people. The storyline is interspersed with various songs; of the time as well as new compositions by writer Sheila Duncan.

De Gannaro does well in the role, embodying Muriel with a likable enthusiasm for life and social change. Her performance is not flawless – some lines were stumbled over – but she has a fantastic singing voice and a vitality that makes up for this. Ably supporting her is Carol Young, providing piano accompaniment and pleasing harmonies in several songs. She also inhabits the other citizens in the story, moving seamlessly from one character to another.

This show is, essentially, a history lesson, but one that is pleasurable and appealing. Despite her being Adelaide born and bred and having played such an important role in history, few people will have heard of Muriel. This piece offers a brief overview of her life, which informs the audience about this remarkable woman and why she matters.


Kryztoff Rating  4K

RAW: A Norah Jones Tribute @ The Promethean

Following on from a sellout season at the Adelaide Fringe, Georgie Aue presents music of acclaimed singer/songwriter Norah Jones.

Focusing on Jones debut album “Come Away With Me” the Georgie Aue Quartet comes out very energetic in the second half of the show. The quartet performs a number of songs written by Georgie Aue after the Adelaide Fringe season herself which where greatly influenced by Norah Jones.

The quartet includes Locky Ridge on guitar, John Aue on double bass and Jamie Jones on percussion. 

Two more shows on Sat 19th and 26th.

Kryztoff Rating: 3.5K

RAW: Lady Sings the Blues @ The Promethean

After a successfull season at the Adelaide Fringe Sidonie Henbest brings us Lady Sings the Blues. Again well accompanied by Mathew Carey. This time also accompanied with some great work on the  double bass by Alana Dawes.

A great variety of songs are performed to an eager audience, including Come Rain or Come Shine, Nobody Knows You When Your Down and Out, Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered and I’ll Get Along Without You Very Well.  

The seconed half achieved a great level of energy to the delight of the audience. It’s a pleasure listening to artists, such as Henbest perform who realy enjoy what they are doing.

Kryztoff Rating: 3.5K

RAW: Lisette and Her Faux Manouches – Nexus Cabaret – 3rd June

A musical exploration of love and all its pleasures and pains is common fodder for the Cabaret Fringe. But Lisette and Her Faux Manouches promise some less expected songs portrayed in less expected ways (Roy Orbison in Spanish anyone?) and delivers a beautiful and at times tragic review of love in all its forms.

Lisette battled on through a thin audience and an ill-fitting and sterile venue with a voice that drips with experience, aided by her excellent backing band: her faux manouches, or, for the steadfastly mono-lingual, ‘fake gypsies’ . Her voice is unpretentious, she leaves all the vocal acrobatics to the amateurs on reality television shows, and what is left is pure, unguarded and evocative.

Likewise, her musicians are all skilled and understated, and they let the finely crafted songs do the talking, blending the traditional with gypsy, jazz and Cabaret. Lisette served to remind us of the beauty of Jaques Brel, Django Reinhardt, Roy Orbison, and even the James Bond theme; their songs interwoven with her far flung stories of love.

Though one might suspect Lisette’s patter between songs was slightly over-rehearsed and at times was somewhat deflated by the venue and reticent audience (her jokes worked best when off the cuff) Lisette and Her Faux Manouches was close to captivating if for nothing but the music itself – a worthy look for anybody appreciative of music with a European twist.

Kryztoff Rating – 3.5K