FRINGE 2021: Karen from Finance is Out of Office – Gluttony – 5K

I’ll just come out and say it from the start: this is drag at its finest. This is pure entertainment. This is Karen from Finance.

One of Australia’s most beloved drag queens returns to Adelaide Fringe for the first time in years in her solo show. Karen from Finance has accrued 4 months worth of annual leave – primarily due to never having a day off in her entire illustrious career – and the boss is forcing her to take time off. One hilarious (four month long) bender later and she and her best friend Clippy (yes, Clippy of Microsoft Office fame) are stranded here, trying to get to Melbourne in time for her first day back.

This one-hour, one-woman effort is filled with more laughs, lip syncing, and wigs than you can poke a COVID-safe 1.5m long stick at. Karen from Finance more than holds the audience’s attention with big numbers and clever little ploys (including a sneaky trick to get more social media followers – and yes, I followed). This is quintessential drag but with a relatable and very Aussie edge.

If you need a good time this Fringe, look no further than Australia’s own Queen of Corporate.

Kryztoff rating: 5K

FRINGE 2021 – Ange Lavoipierre: Zealot – Gluttony – 4K

Do you believe in God? What about Santa? In that case, why not a Christmas demon called Krampus or a “slutty Blue Google Maps Dot”?

Comedian and Journalist Ange Lavoipierre of The Signal fame asks these questions – the same ones she asked her mum when she was 10, just before she was converted by a group of extremist Christians.

In Zealot, Lavoipierre plots her life’s course from young wannabe witch, through to young Crusader, on past her experience of being a 12-year-old groomed by a 21-year-old Pastor’s son, sailing by a bout of serious illness in her teens, and landing right here, telling her story and questioning how easily we believe what we’re told.

This hour of comedy storytelling borders on the absurd, niche brand of character-driven laughs that make Fringe theatre great. Fleshing out her bizarre cast of characters with spot-on voices and great costume changes, Lavoipierre’s show is at it’s best when it’s at it’s craziest. It’s in these moments, often through the guise of other people, that the funniest (and somehow the most poignant) stories are told.

Hampered by tech issues, noise bleed from neighbouring venues in Gluttony (Zealot is in one of Gluttony’s new open air venues), wind blowing half the props away, and as Lavoipierre herself put it, time away from the show, this hour of comedy wasn’t at it’s snappiest. Some lines were missed or fumbled, and there were sections where it was hard to hear over the chorus of WAP occurring in a nearby show. This, at times, seemed to through Lavoipierre off her game.

Having said that, there were plenty of laughs, great characters, and an engaging story from a fantastic performer. Just sit back, pray to Krampus, and bring an extra jacket. Tarot readings encouraged.

Kryztoff rating: 4K

ADLFRINGE2021 – BasketballMan can Fly – The Garage International @ Adelaide Town Hall – 4.5K

The Fringe always brings some extremely unique talent, and ‘Basketball Man Can Fly’ certainly delivers.

The show follows the extremely affable BasketballMan (aka Rashaun Daniels), who dreamed of playing for the NBA but, in his own words ‘came up short’. Instead, he focused his energies on perfecting his handling of the basketball, and honed his skills into being able to perform jaw-dropping feats of coordination.

Genuinely hilarious and breath-takingly impressive, BasketballMan makes it seem as though he really can do whatever he wants with the basketball – and can even fly while saving the world.

Based on both the raucous laughter heard from the young audience and the number of starry-eyed kids in basketball jerseys lined up outside after the performance, he certainly delivered.

This show is truly enjoyable for young and old, but will truly delight sporty kids between the ages of approximately 6 and 12.

An absolute must-see of this year’s Fringe.

4.5K

Lost Lives – Holden Street – 3.5K

By Ben Watson

A blood-stained bed idles the stage floor as the audience awaits the hard-hitting two-hander to come, Lost Lives. The vacant mattress marks the brutal death of a young woman, Jane Kelly. On the verdict day of her murder trial, an unlikely forensic cleaning duo begin their work – an elderly lady nearing her tether and a young Muslim boy. Despite Immediate friction between the pair, as the story progresses, similarities become apparent while mutually shared hardships emerge. Both characters struggle with loneliness and finding a sense of belonging in a morbid field of work and an ever-evolving society. A clever script normalizes the abnormal (domestic violence, murder) in order to highlight the subliminal challenges experienced by all.

a close up of a book

Humour seeps through the bleak plot in the form of both intergenerational and cultural conflict. Among the contrasting factors, a seemingly cold environment evolves into a safe space for intimate, vulnerable discussions. Unexpected twists and turns await as the story unfolds.

Frontline investigators aside, this drama offers an interesting perspective from the unsung cleaners of every grisly crime-scene. A thought-provoking play, delivering a pertinent message –  of moving beyond racial, cultural and generational stereotypes, embracing everyday commonalities. Simply put – don’t judge a book by its cover. Recommended for ages 18+, violent themes.

3.5K

DIRT – Holden Street – 4K

By Peter Maddern

When a 20 something Australian journalist (Wil King) follows up his similarly aged Russian tour guide (Patrick Livesey) after a museum visit a cat and mouse drama unfurls. At one level, can these lads confess and consummate lives as gays, on the other, what is the real story of homosexual repression in Chechnya that needs to be told?

King’s almost naive innocence in a world where the rules are very different to those at home is very becoming against Livesey’s battle scarred wariness in his homeland. The threat of state sanction in Russia more or less mirrors the risk of getting it wrong and being outed that still pervades gay relationships in Australia.

The creation of various personas to get what each wants adds to the tension, underlining the confusion and fraught nature of moving hooking up to some of relationship no matter the setting.

Both actors do a great job, being comfortable in their roles, no doubt helped by they being real life partners. The spare stage, bar the couch, is cleverly and convincingly used as the chase scurries across the space. Not completely convinced the ending is the best possible but no doubt playwright Angus Cameron agonised over that more than enough.

Another excellent headline act at Holden Street.

Kryztoff Rating    4K

FRINGE 2021 – Attenborough and his Animals – Hillside Theatre at Gluttony – 3K

By Belle Dunning

As you recline on a grassy hillside in Rymill Park, Clownfish Theatre cleverly bring to life a cast of animals from David Attenborough’s most iconic films with nothing but their two bodies. Making use of one of Gluttony’s new outdoor stages, ‘Attenborough and his Animals’ is a fun, light-hearted exploration of theatrical comedy. 

Jess Clough-MacRae is incredibly skilful in her imitation of a motley assortment of wildlife, capturing your imagination with cleverly choreographed body movements, hilarious facial expressions and mind-blowingly good sound effects (a particular highlight being a fight to the death between a crab and an eel), while Jonathan Tilley has meticulously perfected the signature lilt of Attenborough’s voice.

The two are dynamic in their interactions with one another and the audience, blending moments of absolute hilarity with the heart-warming vibe you expect from a wholesome nature doco. 

Perfect for die-hard Attenborough fans, but a fun night out for the whole family, Attenborough and his Animals is showing in Gluttony until Sunday 7 March. 

Kryztoff Rating 3K

ADLFRINGE2021 – Shake It – Gluttony – 3.5K

Nothing screams Friday night like a variety burlesque show deep in the heart of Gluttony, and this show  certainly delivers.

‘Shake It’ is a combination of the most raucous, wild and titillating acts of the 2021 Fringe. Not for the faint of heart, there is nonetheless something for everyone (over the age of 18 at least) – including seductive striptease, amazing hula hoop acts, and a very creatively used popcorn machine, and much, much more.

The act of the night almost certainly was the whip-cracking dominatrix, borrowed for the show from the delightful Rouge. 

If you’re looking for an entertaining, fun and adult way to spend an evening, ‘Shake It’ is a great option.

3.5K

 

ADLFRINGE2021 – COLLISION – Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute – 3.5K

By Ben Watson

Collision | Adelaide FringeFollowing a very gloomy 2020 for performance-based creatives, Collision is a pleasant reminder of what talent remains prevalent within the Australian arts sector. The show bustles and weaves through a myriad of hip-hop moves, circus skills and cheap gags. With their six-person team, several wonderfully fast and engaging scenes unfold. The choreography is particularly satisfying, a countless sea of eye-catching moves landed with exceptional timing.

Among sections of group dancing, each of the Brisbane-based crew is given the spotlight, successfully keeping the audience interested whilst aptly segmenting the show. Highlights include a brilliant hula hoop display closely followed by a contortionist act that reminded me of 1973 film, The Exorcist. Although some scenes were drawn out a touch, Collision can be fairly summarised as high energy, rocket-fuelled fun.

The soundscape was loud (sometimes painfully so), but overall evoked plenty of excitement to accompany the wowing spectacles amidst.

Certainly a versatile, promising bunch with an enormous collective skillset. A viewing for all ages (not The Exorcist, that movie is most definitely R18+).

3.5K

ADLFRINGE2021 – 1000 Doors: Door within A Door – Garden of Unearthly Delights – 3K

Following on from the huge success of House of Mirrors, 1000 Doors: Door within a Door is an entertaining art installation where the devil is in the detail.

Based on the queue to get in, clearly this is a show that people are interested in, as they should be. However, calling it a maze with endless possibilities might be a bit of a stretch, as there is a fairly linear progression through the show. Certainly the atmosphere is haunting, with eerie photos, spooky sounds and a general sense of unease .

If you are looking for an entertaining and creepy way to spend 20 minutes, and a great way to add to your Garden of Unearthly Delights experience, this is a show to take in. However, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend a special trip to the Garden just to see this installation.

3K

ADLFRINGE2021 – ELIXIR – Wonderland Spiegeltent, Festival Hub – 4.5K

The Adelaide Fringe has a long and wonderful history of providing fabulous “adult” circus acts, so one would be forgiven for feeling that this kind of show has become a little stale. This is most emphatically not the the case for the delightful ELIXIR, presented by Head First Acrobats.

Set in a futuristic lab, the show follows three intrepid scientists using themselves as guinea pigs for a mysterious “elixir” which promises superhuman powers.

Demonstrating many of the usual aspects of physical performances, including stunning acrobatics, aerial work and feats of strength, the show is nonetheless also filled with clever adult humour, impressive tricks, and a genuinely entertaining vibe.

If you think you have seen one adult circus and you’ve seen them all, you’d be wrong on this occasion. Do yourself a favour and have a date night at ELIXIR.

4.5K