FRINGE 2020 – Renfield : In the Shadow of the Vampire – 4K

Is it madness to want to live forever? What lengths would you go to in order to postpone death? To maintain your youth, strength, vitality? This darkly funny production poses these questions and more. Nominally set in a lunatic asylum of the late 1800s the ideas it contains are pertinent to today’s world where we are constantly facing new moral dilemmas as the range of opportunities presented to us widen.
Playwright and performer Ross Ericson keeps his character close to the one described by Bram Stoker in his novel ‘Dracula’. This Renfield has an imposing physical presence and displays manic behaviours which oscillate between high excitement and depths of gloom and self doubt. Ericson delivers through poetic language a monologue told from the perspective of Renfield which informs us of his backstory, of the traumas and disappointments that have led him to this place. From the outset the audience learn that they are there to judge Renfield’s actions, motives and sanity. Taking place in the intimate setting of the Bakehouse Theatre’s Studio, the stark set with its black painted walls makes us feel that we could be viewing him in his cell. We become like members of the public of 19th century England who toured asylums to gawk at the inmates as if they were animals in a zoo.
Renfield wants his food fresh. He comes to believe that by eating live creatures he will obtain their life force for himself. He starts with flies that he believes have been sent to him by his master, Dracula, whom he eagerly but nervously awaits. The tension is added to by the skilful use of sound and lighting effects.
Renfield has a conscience and this fact causes him distress. As his appetites increase he ponders the moral questions posed by his behaviour. How far will he go?
Renfield : In the Shadow of the Vampire is presented by Grist To The Mill (UK). There is only one more show during this year’s Adelaide Fringe – this Saturday 14th March at 6pm.


By Peter Maddern

Written and performed by Nicholas Collett, this is a superb show about 80 year old former WWII spitfire pilot, Peter Walker. Walker is getting old but his memories are razor sharp and his desire to control his world undiminished. When his grand-daughter unexpectedly arrives, he is given the opportunity to bring together some last unknitted threads in his life.

This is the sort of Fringe theatre that, in days of yore, packed them in and its merit is not diminished this year by the fact that it has been here before. Under Gavin Robertson’s direction, Collett does a great job leaping from the then to now, from male to female, from pilot to PI. It’s a wonderful exhibition of acting craftsmanship and of fine writing for a solo performer.

Kryztoff Rating 4.5K

An Evening of Tom Waits Songs -Stewart D’Arrietta and Band 4.5K

‘THE GOV’ Governor Hindmarsh Hotel – 8pm March 8th 2020

Review by Gary Clarke
4.5K⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 💫

This show was for one night only. It featured Stewart D’Arrietta (vocals, keyboards) supported by the band consisting of Rob Pippin (guitars) Mark Meyer (percussion) and Shaun Duncan (double bass and electric bass).

D’Arrietta is a master of the tribute/homage having performed Tom Wait’s material for more than a decade. He is also the man behind (and in front of) the ‘My Leonard Cohen’ show and he co-developed/performs with John Waters in ‘Lennon Through the Looking Glass’. Add to that the high calibre SA Music Hall of Fame’s Pippin and Meyer, augmented by the sublime bass of Shaun Duncan, and tonight’s performance had some serious pedigree! The stage was set for a great night out at The GOV.

The husky ‘Tom’ entered the stage followed by the band and they launched into Wait’s enigmatic spoken word “What’s He Building In There”. They then continued to rattle off a host of Wait’s best tunes including ‘Red Shoes’, ‘Step Right Up’ ‘Franks Wild Years’ and a heartfelt and moving rendition of ‘Kentucky Ave’ that had this audience utterly enthralled.

The band were sublime and despite not having worked together previously they didn’t miss a beat, providing expert musicianship to an extraordinary performance. We also heard Stewart’s soulful tribute to one of Tom Wait’s significant influences, poet/writer Charles Bukowski. A song written by D’Arrietta entitled “Bluebird”.

Things started to really hit the straps when they launched into a rocking ‘Heart Attack and Vine’. Then it cranked up another notch with ‘Get Behind The Mule’ featuring solid bass, driving percussion and wrenching guitar work, pushing Stewart’s gravelly vocals to their limit. The Audience were enraptured and with a little encouragement from Stewart, we sang along to ‘Table Top Joe’. We continued the singalong with a gorgeous version of ‘Martha’. Fifteen songs, and that was only the first half of the show!

Returning from the break D’Arrietta soloed ‘The Piano Has Been Drinking’ and I suspect it wasn’t alone.😉. We were treated to brilliant performances of some of my all time faves including ‘Hold On’ and a ripping version of ‘Going Out West’. Pippin’s lacerating guitar solos took it to another level. They toned it down for a truly beautiful ‘All The World is Green’ and the melancholic ‘Heart of Saturday Night’ demonstrating their warmth and versatility.

It was a great night and a lot of fun. D’Arrietta continued to regale us throughout the evening with good natured and informative banter. Finally, to raise the tempo yet again we were treated to what must be one of the best performances ever of Wait’s hard driving hit ‘Big In Japan’!

Two and a half hours of solid Tom Waits for under fifty bucks. What a bargain! And they still came back for an encore of ‘Tom Traubert’s Blues’. A fitting end to a wonderful night of music.
4.5K ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 💫

Fringe 2020 – Sorcharess – The Piano Mistress – 3.5k

By Riccardo Barone

Just entering The Warehouse Theatre’s premises has been a transitional moment where you could feel to be somewhere else, not Adelaide, not Australia, maybe in a lost in time Italian or French place.
Sorcharess will take you on a journey, her journey, through her places, her scents, aromas, drinks and feelings, impressed in a glass of apricot wine.
Her show is well balanced with original songs composed by herself and a rich repertoire of numbers from Amanda Palmer, Kate Bush, Nina Simone and Diamanda Gala.
Sorcharess perfectly fits the genre, wearing different voice styles with an evident talent for soul music.
Really noticeable are her original songs, overall where the electric piano and the voice are supported by some delay effect, as well as her intense poems.
We love to remember one of her old original songs “The Kiss of the spider woman”.
The show was over after two brilliant encores, highly and warmly requested by the audience.

Kryzstoff rating: 3.5k

Fringe Comedy – George Glass Proves the Existence of God – LVL 5 @ RCC – 3K

By Belle Dunning

George Glass return to the Adelaide Fringe in 2020 with their latest musical exploration — ‘George Glass Proves the Existence of God’. Never one to shy away from the big questions, the local boys bring their unique brand of comedy with cleverly crafted lyrics, rock solid instrumental performances and high energy storytelling to the stage. 

The show centres on one night, one party, and a mysterious phone call from God. Will he appear? What will he look like?

Through the events that ensue (and just as many songs) we get a glimpse into the inner world of each of the characters. Perhaps most disturbingly, what would they ask for if God could grant them one wish?

Having seen ‘Scientology the Musical’ in 2018, this performance didn’t quite live up to my expectations — I felt as though it was missing some of the coherence and finesse of the last show. The venue this year (the old UniBar) also lacked some of the atmosphere and intimacy that you get from a crowded Fringe tent, and didn’t lend itself to the best acoustics for those sitting further back. Despite that, it was still a fun performance and I had a smile on my face the whole time, even if I didn’t quite know why!

George Glass Proves the Existence of God has finished showing for this year’s Fringe, but no doubt they’ll be back next year with an equally energetic and out-of-this-world show. Definitely keep an eye out, as this comedy rock band is something you won’t see anywhere else!

Kryztoff Rating 3K

FRINGE 2020: Shit-Faced Shakespeare: Hamlet – Gluttony – 4.5K

Every Fringe experience should include a session of Shit-Faced Shakespeare.

The concept is simple: bring together a group of classically-trained actors, give them a Shakespeare play, get one of them drunk, and see what happens. This time, it’s Hamlet, and whilst we get to the end of the famous work, it’s definitely not the most traditional of interpretations.

That’s not a concern, though, as this is pure fun. The May Wirth in Gluttony was packed and the crowd were going wild as our drunk for the night teetered around the stage, revealed details about the actors’ sex lives (a big no-no apparently), and turned Hamlet into a feminist rant of epic proportions. Watching the other actors in the company work around her was hilarious, too – they had to improvise according to whatever she said, which led to Hamlet in drag, a Michael Caine impersonation contest, and the reversal of one of the play’s most climactic moments. And all of it worked.

The only reason this didn’t get five stars is that it appeared as though the other actors were getting drunk off stage, or would at times fight for the limelight. Let the drunk be free! The show worked best when the majority of the cast were serious, and the drunk was outlandish – it’s what had the audience in stitches.

Overall though Shit-Faced Shakespeare is a professional show of the highest standards, and a Fringe favourite for a reason – get there if you can.

Kryztoff Rating: 4.5K

FRINGE 2020: Gobby – Gluttony – 4K

In Britain, a ‘gobby’ is a loudmouth, someone who talks – a lot. Bri has been a gobby her whole life, and never found standing up for herself an issue. Next thing she knows, she’s in an emotionally abusive relationship with someone who isolates her from her friends and makes her feel at her lowest. When they break up, Bri finds it difficult to reintegrate with the people she used to hang out with, and finds that it’s easier said than done.

A play in five parties, Bri tells the story of her reinvention through five separate parties – some she’s hosted, some she’s attended, and some she’s been the core focus of (and not in ways she wants). We see the long-term effects of the abuse, and how the way she perceives herself isn’t they way everyone else does. And, ultimately, we see how she comes out the other side, with greater clarity and self-awareness.

Jodie Irvine has written an engaging, poignant piece of theatre. Irvine also stars and Bri, and is magnetic on stage. She captures Bri’s gobby-ness, her kindness, and most importantly, her fragility. Gobby wouldn’t have worked with an actor who couldn’t portray the shift between confidence and self-consciousness, positivity and negativity; thankfully, we have Irvine, who never struggles here. Another positive about Gobby is that Irvine and SA production company Hey Boss do their best to provide a safe space for this conversation to happen, which is incredibly important given the subject matter.

The play itself would have benefitted with a bit more backstory about the relationship – traumas are alluded to, and would certainly be familiar to people who have experienced similar scenarios, but it would have been worthwhile expanding on Bri’s ex-partner and their relationship together. Viewers who haven’t experienced emotional abuse themselves may not be able to fully comprehend the brevity of the situation – although, really, can anyone?

Gobby is a beautiful piece of theatre, helmed by a charming and engaging star, which is vital viewing in our current time.

Kryztoff Rating: 4K

FRINGE THEATRE – A Special Day – Black Box Theatre (Adelaide Botanic Garden) – 5K

Alexander Ewers

The day is May 6 1938. Hitler is arriving in Rome on visit d’Etat and the city is emptying into the streets to celebrate in pomp and spectacle. Her bellicose husband and 6 children having departed for the parade, one housewife remains at home to seek comfort in domestic duties and solitude but an incident with an escaped parrot leads to a chance encounter with a mysterious neighbour. Fortuity, spontaneity and desperation contrive to precipitate an unlikely connection, and for a brief period of time, for one special day, both housewife and neighbour find a temporary respite from the social and political norms that stifle the expression of their true selves.

Based on and closely adherent to Ettore Scola’s masterpiece, Una giornata particolare, A Special Day is  mesmerising theatre. Staged in the Botanic Gardens’ Black Box Theatre,  it transports to an age and an atmosphere now worlds away in time and place, but that for 60 minutes is brought alive again. The materials are simple, almost simplistic: chalk, black walls, a clothes line. But the performance remains engaging, engrossing, with a keen calibre of thespian investment that is evident from the beginning, and is maintained undimmed to the closing scene. Perhaps it is this transportative effect that is the most fitting metric of analysis.  It is a validating feeling to be respected as an audience, to be asked to use the most powerful resource available to actor and audience alike: imagination. Audience participation on this front is encouraged and aided by the refreshingly unpretentious attitude adopted by Ana Graham (playing Antonietta) and Antonio Vega (Gabriele) from the outset. Moments of whimsy, unabashed embracing of prop limitations, the odd nod to the fourth wall – all invite the dismantling of expectations of realism and serve to burnish the vivid world one is asked to enter. It is not a world in a black box, but one created within each mind and therefore enduring, alive, more real than stage or screen.

By sensitive portrayals of nuanced characters, A Special Day proves a delicate rendering of themes that are so often astringently addressed in contemporary theatre. It touches on elements of identity, but rather the freedom to realise the fullness of identity than entanglement in the politics of identity. Both protagonists are yoked to and chained by social and political constraints on the expression of their selves, but a question lingers, extant beyond the historical. How often are self-constraints the real chains that limit the haecceity of being truly ourselves, of being truly alive?

Perhaps today is the day to dance. Today the day to love. Today the day to laugh. Or as Gabriele discovered, perhaps today is the day to live. Because one day, a day when one is free to truly be, a day that may be alone in a lifetime, such a day is indeed a special day.

Kryztoff Rating 5K

Fringe Theatre – Cold War – Little Theatre @ RCC – 2K

By Belle Dunning

Cold War is definitely the most unusual theatre performance I’ve seen in a long time, and I’m still not sure what to make of it. Over the course of an hour, Doppelgangster present to you their version of contemporary theatre, complete with live punk music interludes. It’s frenzied, chaotic and doesn’t make much sense — the two actors spend most of the time having intense conversations with each other that cross a broad spectrum of political and environmental themes, interspersed with conspiracy theories and strange personal reflections.

It’s hard to keep up at times, but there are moments of quick-witted humour and interesting observations about the world. And other members of the audience seemed to enjoy themselves more, perhaps picking-up on some of the niche cultural references that went over my head. 

From the show description I was expecting more environmental and climate change-related content, and I struggled to find a consistent theme or message in the performance. But they did successfully create the kind of frenetic energy you would expect for a show exploring ideas about the end of the world.

Fringe is all about seeing strange shows that push boundaries, but this one just missed the mark for me. But if you’re in the mood for high energy, fast-paced contemporary theatre and can leave any expectations at the door, you might just enjoy yourself.

Kryztoff Rating 2K

FRINGE THEATRE – The Loneliest Woman – Star Theatres – Star Theatre Two – 4K

By Fiona Talbot – Leigh

Local playwright Peter Maddern draws on the exploits and adventures of Sir George Hubert Wilkins, an Australian explorer who in 1931 made an unsuccessful attempt to travel under arctic ice in a submarine.

The play takes place mainly in the Wilkins home with the audience being privy to dialogue exchanged between Wilkins’s wife Suzanne and William Hearst; a very powerful media mogul of the day who financed her husband’s trip in the hope of having a hero come home whose story he could then splash across the front pages of his newspaper for more sales.

However rather than the story being about Hearst or Wilkins, Maddern has instead chosen to focus his narrative on Suzanne Wilkins. We are let it into her world in a very intimate way as she shows what life is like to be the wife of an explorer who is away for long periods of time, how she fills her days in a society where independent women are often frowned upon and how she handles herself when pushed too far by Hearst. Suzanne was already an accomplished singer and actor before she met and married Wilkins and it is that independent streak which shines throughout the performance.

Suzanne Wilkins is perfectly portrayed by Michelle Nightingale who brought such grace and poise to her role befitting that of an elegant 1930’s woman. Her speaking voice as that of her singing was beautiful, crisp and clear. She offered such a relaxed and subtle tone to the role but also played it with an underlying strength which came to the fore in a most remarkable way. Her overall performance was quite compelling to watch.

Adrian Barnes was more than up to the task playing William Hearst. Slightly regal in his portrayal, it was interesting to try and work out his relationship with Suzanne as well as to decipher the nuances between the two.

The script cleverly called for interspersion’s by Don Iveson, a reporter who gave great insight into Wilkins’s story. Played by the amiable Mark Healy, his realistic portrayal of an American reporter along with his great accent, added to the already intriguing story line.

Maddern’s wonderful script flowed beautifully throughout and in the hands of such gifted performers, makes this a show to see. Maddern but scratches the surface of this most interesting man and opens up our curiosities about Wilkins and his affable wife. This is a fabulous South Australian production and a telling of a part of our history which has been very well received.