Larry Dean – Fudnut

‘Fudnut’ is Glaswegian slang for ‘idiot’ and in Fudnut Larry Dean attempts to dissect where and how he was a fudnut in his recent string of relationship woes. For Dean, owning his sadness is the key to dissipating it. Personally, I like to use copious amounts of rum, liberally applied as required, to own my sadness, but different strokes and all that.

His most recent meaningful relationship ended in a familiar way; break-up, reconciliation, discovery of infidelity, second break-up, couple of rebounds to take the edge off. Peppered with his trademark observations, Dean tends to go off on tangent after tangent before dragging the story back to the original narrative. It’s all really rather funny, his off-handed comments consistently hitting the mark. His penchant for impressions and accents also regularly enhances the story – it takes it all from routine stand-up to another level, a bloke who’s clearly very good at what he does and very comfortable being on stage telling you stories rather than firing jokes at you and demanding you laugh.

Whilst most of the material lands solidly, there’s a few rough patches where it’s missed the target. Although Dean expertly moves straight on, you can tell that some of the jokes need a bit of work. It doesn’t detract from the overall show though, with plenty of genuinely laugh-out-loud moments.

It’s all part of his very charming, somewhat inoffensive delivery. If that sounds like a backhanded compliment, it really isn’t – the ability to be funny and make jokes that don’t require punching down or being needlessly controversial is quite a skill than many comics couldn’t locate if they were the AFP raiding a journalist’s house.

Fudnut is critical introspection without being woe-is-me-please-feel-sad-for-me, and his casual but skilful stage presence underlines the overall quality of the show. He’ll regularly get lost in a story, stumble upon something that he finds tremendously amusing and just has to let us in on the joke, and in turn cracks himself up. Call me old-fashioned, but there’s something about watching a very talented comedian who clearly loves his job.

3.5 / 5 stars


Words by Mikey Della Porta

Larry Dean’s Fudnut is playing until March 15

For more information and tickets click here

Tom Ballard – Enough

What is it with an abrupt tragedy being the best foundation for stand-up? I mean, are we all merely a horrendous break-up or vicious firing away from writing an hour of jokes and making a glorious festival run? Well, probably not, because like a lot of things, stand-up requires you to actually have some talent at being funny, and if you’re just not funny then you can simultaneously have your heart ripped out whilst being forcibly led out of your office by security, all while watching a live feed of your favourite pet being mashed under the J1 bus and you’re probably still not going to have five minutes’ worth of decent material. It’s nice to think you could though, right?

Luckily for Tom Ballard, he’s got some talent. Well, a fair bit of talent. Ballard is funny, and so when his rather amusing acerbic ABC show Tonightly got canned after a few skits upset the wrong people, most notably a) calling a political candidate a very bad name, and b) airing a skit containing a song highlighting the hypocrisy of a certain religion, he had some options following the traditional pints-for-schooner-prices celebratory soirée that generally marks the commencement of surprise unemployment. He wrote a stand-up show, and – as previously mentioned – because he’s actually talented at the whole comedy thing, it’s actually pretty good.

Clearly, he’s a bit miffed at that little sequence of events, and so he takes aim at a few things that he’s got to contend with in his frenzied, rapid-fire style. The housing market, the failings of modern capitalism, our inability to escape colossal digital companies, baby boomers, the pitfalls of taking drugs and attending gay saunas… it’s catharsis for Ballard. When he attempts to push the envelope out a bit it all goes up a few notches and he hits a number of high-water marks, but they’re a bit inconsistent. The few rough patches are navigated mostly scot-free.

Whether or not you agree with the sequence of events surrounding the cancellation of Tonightly, the sterilisation of Australian comedy is to be widely admonished; I’m not entirely certain when conservative politicians got placed on the protected species list, but here we are. Allow me to dispense a trade secret: comedy is subjective. Revelatory, I know. If you’re not a fan of modern manic stand-up comedy, then you probably won’t like Enough. It’s not ground-breaking nor does it purport to be, but there’s nothing wrong with some classic stand-up.

 

3.5 / 5 stars


Words by Mikey Della Porta

Tom Ballard – Enough is on until March 15

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here

Just Desserts

Opening night for Just Desserts had a bit of an abnormal hiccup. With an ambiguous location (The Park, Gluttony) and unfortunately some misdirection from Information staff, I found myself among perhaps thirty other show goers at a loss for where the show would actually be. Among fans of Michelle Pearson’s previous work, I heard stories about just how much they enjoyed last year’s Main Course and why they came back to witness her work once again. Thankfully, we were all able to make it to the show (which started late because of this hiccup) and enjoy the talents of Pearson, the band, and the night’s cooks.

With a comparatively high ticket-price, Pearson’s show is well worth the admission. She and the band work well together to present quite a neat cabaret about cooking, revenge, and the realities of being a new mum. While most of her songs are covers or simply altered covers, some like ‘That Don’t Impress Me Much’ have been altered to have just a touch more political commentary about our revered role models: Trump, ScoMo, and Ms. Pauline Hanson.

What makes this show unique is that, as the title suggests, it is Just Desserts. Throughout the show Pearson serves up three desserts to the audience including a toffee and apple lollipop, a chocolate truffle, and a nipple-cupcake. With a small amount of audience participation (one male individual selected at random) this is the kind of cabaret you could bring your mum to.

It is incredibly impressive of Pearson to be performing after giving birth just six weeks previous and some of her show is devoted to speaking to that experience. Pearson, like any new mum, wanted it all: to have the healthiest, smartest, and best-sleeping baby around, and to be able to perfectly manage working and motherhood together. Of course, no one can be the perfect mother and just like everyone else Pearson does her best to be the best mother possible.

As much as I would love to give this show a higher rating because of the amazing band and the incredible vocal talents of Pearson, I have to acknowledge the lack of narrative cohesion and the unrealised potential of the show given they could go so much further with the Just Desserts theme. Of course, as it is, it is well worth a visit.

4 / 5 stars


Words by Kayla Gaskell

Just Desserts is playing at Gluttony until March 14

For more information and to book tickets click here

Please note for anyone confused by the show’s location, that it is at the very back of Gluttony near the food trucks

Renfield: In the Shadow of the Vampire

A deeply disturbed, spider-eating nutjob. These are my thoughts on the character of Renfield from Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897). Throughout the book, we are only really ever told about Renfield through the other characters. This all changed on March 5 at Bakehouse Theatre’s Studio, when Grist to the Mill Productions debuted Renfield’s perspective on life in Renfield: In the Shadow of the Vampire. This one-man show adds depth to this character and tells the story of Dracula through Renfield’s eyes.

Renfield’s terrors are brought to life in incredible realism throughout the show. The actor does a fantastic job in capturing the sense of insanity in a late 19th century mental asylum. The costume design too, reflected well on that time period together with the battered mattress on the floor and wooden chair. Although minimal, this was effective in turning the stage into a cell. I really did feel transported to this time period throughout the show, this was enhanced by both special effects and lighting.

As engaging as the ramblings of Renfield were, it did almost become an insanity trip myself watching this show. The ramblings were presented in long intervals and are difficult to digest at times. They progress slowly and it may appear that the story is going nowhere. In many ways, this captures the essence of the novel really well. They do well to emphasise the craziest and disturbing parts of Renfield, including his catching of flies and hearing the voices of Dracula. Having read the novel, this is both effective and almost difficult to understand.

Renfield: In the Shadow of the Vampire captures the character of Renfield effectively with high accuracy. It feels like an official extension of Dracula and offers a different perspective into the story, one which would’ve been great to have. If you enjoy the book and the film adaptations then you will really enjoy this show. It’s a faithful retelling of a classic horror novel and a disturbing character.

3.5 / 5 stars


Words by Cameron Lowe

Renfield: In the Shadow of the Vampire will be playing at the Bakehouse Theatre on March 10 and 14 at 6pm

For more information and to purchase tickets click here

Cold War

As you walk in, you’re handed an ice-cube from someone wearing a vaguely Day of the Dead-style suit, and no further instructions. There’s a low, bass-y, static-y rumble, and almost as soon as you’re in your seat – still holding the ice-cube – it’s demanded that the audience gets out of the stalls and assembles on the dance floor, where the two cast members launch into some heavy punk-rock. This is not a drill, one of them repeats. You’re still holding what’s left of the ice-cube. Yep, welcome to Fringe.

For me, this is the heart of Fringe; big-money stand-up acts in 200-plus seat arenas might pay the bills and keep the wine flowing, but for a festival initially started as a rebellious response to the original Adelaide Arts Festival becoming elitist and exclusionary, Fringe needs these sorts of shows to remain the Fringe. Avant-garde, highly experimental, stuff like Cold War gives street cred to the event. MKA, with Doppelgangster, have created a boldly unconventional production that discusses the current inaction on climate change. The two performers talk at each other in rapid-fire, touching on a million topics but always coming back to the same theme. Seemingly all absurdist and random, and with that constant white noise in the background, it all pivots back to an underlying question – can you win your innocence back? Can you right the ongoing wrongs? Each ‘act’ is punctuated by some original punk songs – one notable one claims Titanic was an inside job – and these effectively set up each act’s scenario.

Unfortunately though, there just seems like there’s a bit too much going on at any one time. The conversations between the two actors are peppered with off-hand references and sharp wit, but because they’re also tending to a drone or shaving ice & walking around the audience, you miss specifics and have to rely on just getting the gist of it. Key parts are usually slowed down a bit, but the sound mixing was clearly off, and as a result some of the song lyrics were hard to pick up as well. Whether it was intentional or not, it detracted from an otherwise interesting and engaging show.

Inasmuch as Cold War is clearly designed to be a confronting attempt to experiment with how a play ought to be staged, the lack of narrative and chaotic nature will rankle some people, which is a pity as the spectacle is well worth the effort required.

 

3.5/ 5 stars


Words by Mikey Della Porta

Cold War is showing until March 15

For more information please click here.

The Perfectly Normal Family Friendly Circus

The Perfectly Normal Family Friendly Circus is exactly what the title suggests; a chaotic adult-only performance. With more f-bombs than a Tarantino movie, drugs, violence, and tricks it’s certainly not for the faint-hearted.

Think Playschool meets the circus with a dash of, scratch that a lot of, cocaine.

Your two hosts for the evening are Adelaide’s Murder clown the sane and YouTube star TK. The two have a disastrously intentional rapport and as the show develops so does their descent into madness and their escalation into chaos.

The “circus” side of the show is clearly where it shines the brightest. Expect card tricks, fire-breathing, rope escapes and perverse animal balloon making. These elements are the ultimate crowd-pleasers and come with quite a lot of unique skill and humour. The children’s show element is akin to that of Sammy J’s Playground Politics in its use of adult themes presented to the audience as if they were five. The utilisation of this theme gives us one particular long-winded joke that works quite well. There does seem to be a bit of a peculiar imbalance between the two elements, but you can quite easily accept it as an oddly twisted showcase.

The Perfectly Normal Family Friendly Circus brings familiar comedic stylings to that of The Eric Andre Show, Family Guy, and Monty Python albeit not at the same level. Certain jokes certainly overstay their welcome in their ambition. A “technical difficulty” drags out and its occasional moments of laughter ultimately become overshadowed by its enormity. A particular opening joke, unfortunately, matches the overly long formula and doesn’t necessarily land to well with audiences either. The closing joke involving a pie with a rather special ingredient doesn’t pay-off its effective set-up either. However, there are plenty of dead-pan moments, a political skit, and heated arguments that certainly do not escalate to where you expect them to (another bright moment). Ultimately there is great conflict within the show, as there are aspects that work brilliantly and others that don’t so much.

The obtuse aspects of this show are certainly commendable in taking great risks and ignoring the norm to deliver a unique experience. The Perfectly Normal Family Friendly Circus’s absurdist and unconventional approach is more likely to stay in one’s mind than other Fringe shows this year. But you might feel as though it needs just a little bit more fine-tuning.

3.5 / 5 stars


Words by Isaac Freeman

The Perfectly Normal Family Friendly Circus is showing again at Ancient World on March 12

For more information and to purchase tickets click here

AN EVENING WITH FIONA O’LOUGHLIN (& MICKEY D)

There’s a pretty good drinking game I indulge in these days. Requires the right people, though, can’t just be a bunch of random weirdos you’ve met at the bar – there’s other, less cerebral games for that scenario. What this game entails is you get progressively drunker, and begin every third sentence with, “Hey, do you remember when…?” Rather riotous fun, depending on the mix of people and alcohol. Fiona O’Loughlin and Mickey D – in this setting probably more Mick Dwyer than his alter ego – indulge in a fair bit of this game, sitting across from each other on a bare stage.

The two friends met twenty-odd years ago at Adelaide Fringe when both were barely rookies in the scene. Both have gone on to become veritable comedy royalty, having done the fringe circuit – Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, NZ, Montreal, and Edinburgh, in that order – for many years. As you’d expect, they’ve picked up one or two stories in that time. Dwyer acts as a foil for O’Loughlin, throwing out prompts and helping the show along; O’Loughlin freely admits that the show is vastly different every night. It’s not so much a retrospective or greatest hits album, released to eke out one last payday for either of them, but more two old mates shooting the breeze. There’s a little of bit of This is Your Life to it, but the nostalgia is quick and more a sub-text to the actual stories they both share. When they get on a roll over a certain story where they bounce off each other, regularly cracking each other up, it’s clearly purely organic.

Neither pull any punches regarding their sobriety either, both having battled addiction issues quite infamously in the past. Dwyer recounts a story where he came to in a Melbourne hotel room, having already missed a flight. His producer was reading him the riot act, telling him “Other comics can pull this sort of stunt, they’ve already got a profile, but you’re a nobody – pull your sh*t together!” Both have now got several dry years under their belts, and are clearly doing better for it.

O’Loughlin has announced that this will be her last Fringe, according to her she’s done everything and said everything she wanted to with comedy, and as far as a last hurrah goes, this is a pretty good way to do it. More victory lap than anything else, O’Loughlin’s definitely earned a chance to wave a trophy around and bask in acclamation.

4 / 5 stars


Words by Mikey Della Porta
An Evening with Fiona O’Loughlin is on until March 15

For more information and to purchase tickets click here

Eddie Ray – Leader of the Resistance

Do you love The Terminator?  Well this show is perfect for you! Even if your heart doesn’t miss a beat when you think of the time-travelling cyborg, this is still the show for you. A comedy cabaret – Leader of the Resistance is the strange mix of social commentary and silliness that you don’t even realise you’re missing.

Eddie Ray’s preview performance Wednesday night was so much more than I expected. From the first minute he had his audience hooked and hanging onto his every word in spite of the sometimes semi-deranged look in his eye when he talks about being that guy, you know the one, the one who’s crazy enough not to have a mobile phone.

Starting off with an anecdote about childhood and a much simpler time, the show progresses, exploring the growing disconnect irl. We, the collective, are obsessed with our smart-phones; they rule our day-to-day lives and give us an excuse to ignore those around us. It’s no longer appropriate to say “hi” to the person next to you when you’re waiting for a bus and even a polite “is this seat taken?” is often ignored in favour of the screens in our hands.

Eddie gets into just what this show is about with the transformation of his character from that guy without a phone into that guy with a phone – highlighting the reliance many people have on this technology today. Think talking in hashtags, targeted advertising (knowing what you want before you do), and the plain and simple degradation of language.

While the Terminator references certainly make it fun and appealing, it isn’t just this show’s inter-textuality that makes it brilliant. Together with social commentary and the whims of a talented musician, Eddie builds his music with his voice, his guitar, and a loop station. While Eddie proclaimed his show was silliness about a serious topic, this is a showcase of skill and the fun you can have when an idea catches hold and you’re free to play and create.

Having held his audience captive for nearly the entire performance, I’d highly recommend seeing this comedy cabaret during its short run time.

4.5 / 5 stars


Words by Kayla Gaskell

Eddie Ray Leader of the Resistance is playing at The Mill’s The Breakout until March 7
For more information and tickets click here

SHAD WICKA – BACKFIRED

I’m not particularly well-versed in corporate office behavioral requirements, but I’d have wagered that posing next to the Prime Minister for a social media photo whilst holding a craftily-designed mug that had a certain word that rhymes with ‘punt’ printed across it probably falls outside the realm of what’s deemed acceptable. Really rather amusing though; I mean, who doesn’t like sticking it to The Man? I can certainly condone it. Unfortunately for Shad Wicka, when he decided he was going to take a stand for the everyman, the reality of corporate management tending to take a dim view of the great unwashed attempting to strike back reared its ugly head, and he found himself – rather unsurprisingly – with a  lot more spare time on his hands.

For Wicka it was even worse; he’d previously been offered a promotion to host a drive-time radio slot only a few days prior to his act of rebellion, and so he’d canned the lease, packed the car, and convinced his partner to follow him to Sydney. Leaving Cairns, he got as far as Mackay before he got the phone-call from upstairs informing him that they were choosing to take a different direction with the hosting position, and he was politely asked to leave through the door marked ‘do one’. Having to then inform his partner – who’d quit her six-figure-paying job in order to support him under the bright lights of the big city – was probably akin to liberally applying chilli to an open wound. Still, laughter is the best medicine, right?

Following on from his previous show Not Great (but not sh*t), Backfired continues that theme by being a bit haphazard. Bouncing between adjusting to the abrupt upheaval of his life and some random observations, Wicka clearly has a knack for being funny, and whilst his casual and comfortable demeanour is gleaned from years behind a microphone, being up on stage is a different kettle of Atlantic salmon, and this is where things tend to fall a bit flat. It probably doesn’t help that he’s at a venue that’s a bit DIY; required to announce himself and also do his own sound work, he probably even has to put the chairs out beforehand and clean up the empty glasses after. He takes the hits as well as the misses, and the funny parts are genuinely quite funny, but the see-sawing unfortunately detracts from what is otherwise a solid set.

3 / 5 stars


Words by Mikey Della Porta

Shad Wicka – Backfired’s season has ended

Bend and Snap

What drew me to Bend and Snap was the way that it was sold to me. Three words: contortion romantic comedy. What was this strange genre, and how it would meld together to create a Fringe show? It was something I needed to see, and I am very grateful that I did.

I usually do not give out five stars. This show wasn’t Circus Soleil, but it deserves every single star I gave it.

The Café Outside the Square, a small café with a pay it forward program that feeds the homeless, is the perfect venue for the wholesome show. I did get lost on the way there; however, having the venue distanced from the Garden of Unearthly Delights and Gluttony meant that the atmosphere was less distracting and more focussed on the singular show I was there to see. The cosy café venue means that the audience can see just how much fun the actors were having performing and join in on the gleeful cheer. That is the magic of Adelaide at Fringe time, anywhere can be a Fringe venue.

A fun, down to earth comedy, Bend and Snap is a humorous show with amazing talent and stretchy bodies. Incorporating moments from popular film and theatre productions, there are scenes that will have you in giggles, gasping or gaping at great feats. Use your imagination to see the show’s minimalist set, and watch the actors themselves become tables, chairs and even the ocean.

I heard once in a Fringe show, that you should clap if someone on the stage is doing something that you cannot do. With this in mind, I was clapping for the whole hour length of the show.

I have given Bend and Snap five stars for many reasons. If you have a jolly sense of humour, like to see the human body bend into bizarre shapes, or just want to support some local, home-grown entertainment, please go along and see why I rate it so highly.

The sold-out show was so popular that it is returning for a third show on the 7th of March. I would highly recommend going along to support local Adelaide theatre and seeing the only con-rom-com Adelaide has to offer.

5 / 5 stars


Words by Sarah Ingham
For more information and to purchase tickets click here