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

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

In Conversation with: STARC Productions

Taeghan Buggy got the opportunity to sit down with the brains and bodies of Starc Productions for a talk about who they are, what they do, and their upcoming production at the Bakehouse Theatre.

From the get-go, the energy that Marc Clements, Stephanie Rossi, and Tony Night bring to the table is obvious. They have an easy rapport that lends itself to rapid fire conversation and a back-and-forth of ideas and topics. It’s something that they’ve made their own since the conception of their production company. Eighteen months and several productions later, Starc are gearing up for their next production, A Night at the Theatre; a selection of short comedic plays by American playwright, David Ives.
From the moment they amalgamated, Starc has built itself on a several founding tenets. ‘It was all very quick,’ Marc admits about the company’s conception, to which Steph adds ‘We did a collaboration and then went “lets make our three names one” [to form the company], and then we did.’ But despite this impromptu start, Steph admits that all three of them were agreed on wanting ‘the story, the acting, and the characters to be central. The bare minimum that we needed with props and staging’. ‘Our aesthetic is Starc by name, stark by nature’, Tony jokes.
Starc theatre is one that is also intended to provoke thought. Steph says, ‘We like to create conversations in the foyer. For every single one of our plays, I think we can safely say that people have gone out to the foyer and there has been conversations.’

‘[The audience] think we’re withholding the last two pages of the script and that we have answers,’ Marc adds.

‘But we like to create that conversation and that people are able to make up their own mind about what happens next because they’ve been so invested in the story that they make their own interpretations,’ Steph says.
The play’s Starc choose don’t necessarily wrap the story up in a neat bow, nor do they always have characters who are depicted in terms of black-and-white. ‘But good acting challenges’, ‘and I think that attracts us.’
The trio also ‘wanted to put on pieces that people maybe hadn’t seen before.’ ‘But that’s not adverse to actually honouring a past tradition,’ Tony adds, ‘It was great doing Neil Simon’s The Last of the Red Hot Lovers, for example.’
And what do Starc look for when they choose a new production?
‘We change genres each time,’ Marc states. ‘We don’t follow psychological thriller with a thriller.’
‘We look at what we’ve done so far and go “okay, where do we want to go now?” Steph says.
‘We [also] look on a slightly international level for example,’ Tony says, ‘– I’m not going to give the game away [about our next production] – but Terrence McNally was honoured at this years Tonys for a lifetime achievement award, and so we immediately went, “Well, why don’t we do a Terrence McNally?”’
Emotionally connecting to the play is also an important factor; Tony stating that ‘Stanislavsky talks about that; he calls it the lure for an actor, the thing that you hold onto … that sparks the imagination. We look for that. The three of us know each other well enough that we can tell. That kind of honesty and trust is really important.’
‘For this [production],’ Tony says, ‘Marc wanted to do some really wacky, crazy comedy. And we went “Okay, we’re going to some really wacky, crazy comedy”. We’d looked at David Ives’s Venus in Fur as a possible play to do – and we still may do it – but then I said, “do you know David Ives’s earlier work, All in the Timing, which is this collection of short little sketches?” You want wacky? We’ll go wacky.’
‘Only two of the five are really linear,’ Steph states of the five one-act plays they’ve chosen to showcase in A Night at the Theatre. It’s a statement Tony backs up by saying, ‘But that’s encouraged us to all really come out of our comfort zone and actually challenge us artistically. I’ve never done anything like this before.’
Delving more into A Night at the Theatre, all three admit to being challenged artistically by it.
‘Sometimes because these guys like naturalism, I’ve got go, “forget the naturalism, just say it.” That’s an understandable challenge because a lot of actors come from a naturalistic base, and in order to get into the style of [these plays] you have to throw that out the window.’ Says Tony.
‘It’s a challenge everyday,’ Marc says, ‘When you talk about building multiple characters … you know what you what to do, but just getting there is hard. In one of the play’s [in A Night at the Theatre], I think we’ve got about fifteen characters each.’ To which Steph adds, ‘And then you’ve got the characters of the other plays as well; so one of the challenges is finding the variations in each of these characters’.
‘But we have a great time,’ says Tony.

‘We laugh so much,’ Steph chips in.
When it comes to who should see A Night at the Theatre? All three agree on one point and that’s ‘everybody’.
‘People who love the English language,’ says Tony of this question. ‘That’s David Ives; he’s completely obsessed with the way we use words; how words can change. People who like comedy, [such as] Saturday Night Live, and vaudeville. The American 1930’s wisecracking style is very much in the spirit of this play. The Americans are the masters of the wise-crack; it’s one of their gifts to comedy.’
‘There’s a play for everyone in it,’ says Marc of the production. It’s a statement that Steph finishes by saying, ‘if you’re able to open your mind and just have a laugh.’
If one thing’s for certain, the audience is ‘going to leave having had your money’s worth –’ ‘ – or completely baffled.’ Marc and Tony joke. Either way, it’ll be a good night out.


A Night at the Theatre is running from the 17th of July to the 27th at the Bakehouse Theatre. Tickets can be purchased here.
Words by Taeghan Buggy

Cover picture from STARC Productions.

‘The Day I Stopped Looking at the Stars’- By Cameron Lowe

The day I stopped looking at the stars was the day I stopped imagining. I used to spend many nights watching Alpha Centauri sparkle, spy onto the surface of Venus through my telescope, and imagine UFOs flying through the cosmos. Most of all, I would wonder what planets were circling around those distant stars. Were they ones full of life like our own planet? Were they barren wastelands like Mars? Gas giants like Saturn? This mystery fuelled my imagination. I found myself telling stories of new worlds and alien life to everyone I knew.

So why did I stop looking at the stars and imagining extraterrestrial worlds? One simple word: reality. Becoming a teenager, they started telling me to stop living in a fantasy land and start living in reality. Their vision of reality was simple: study hard, get a job, buy a house, get married, have children. To me, their version of reality was a living nightmare. It was primarily based on luck and left little time for imagination. I ignored their lectures and continued to go out and look at the stars, allowing their red, yellow, and blue surfaces to inspire and comfort me.

One day, they told me I was no longer allowed to look at the stars. They deadlocked the doors, gave away my telescope, and kept me from going out. They said it was time for me to grow up and face reality. I put up a fight to keep my imagination, but they fought harder to destroy it. They drained my imagination of its many weird and wonderful worlds through lectures of how important a good job was and keeping the door locked.

The last few strands of my imagination were torn up the day they got me a job at a local shop. The wage was bad and couldn’t even cover my weekly expenses, but they said it was a start and would one day get me a house. I did all I could to get out of there. I applied for countless better paying jobs, but got none of them. That local shop closed down not long after my fortieth unsuccessful job application, leaving me jobless. Their version of reality had backfired, leaving me worse off than I had been when my imagination ran wild.

I went out to look at the stars again. Tears formed in my eyes as I looked up at Venus. Seeing it again brought me back to, a time before reality had set in. I remembered all the nights I spent with my telescope, exploring the surface of other planets, looking for UFOs, wondering what else could be out there. Looking at the stars again, all those dreams and possibilities of life beyond our own planet returned. As they did, my imagination reignited. Stories of first encounters and journeys to the stars ran rampant in my mind.

The day I stopped looking at the stars was the day I stopped imagining. Now, looking at them again, my imagination has returned. Now I write down what other these alien worlds look like, weaving them into stories that make them real. They continue to try and crush my imagination but now use them as motivation to keep me going. For as long as I continue to look at the stars I will continue to imagine, something reality doesn’t offer.


Words by Cameron Lowe.

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Meet-the-Team-Cameron2Cameron Lowe is a horror and sci-fi writer, editor and student. He’s had fiction and articles featured in Speakeasy Zine and Empire Times. He loves to read, play video games, and drink green tea. He’s one of the 2018 editors at Empire Times. He tweets at @cloweshadowking.

‘The Red Dress’ by Suzanne Bowditch

The woman in the dress shop told her mother, Janelle, it fitted perfectly. ‘This is so now you know,’ she’d said, standing next to Rosie in front of the ornate mirror. ‘Red is the colour. Haven’t you seen it on the best catwalks?’

Janelle shrugged, pulling the dress down over Rosie’s knees. A whisper of gauze beneath, to complete the look, scratched the backs of Rosie’s legs. She barely noticed. Instead, the smooth taffeta had felt luxurious on her fingertips, the rich colour flattering on her pale skin.

Please mom?’

Her mother sighed, then nodded. ‘Just remember that it never looks the same worn at home,’ she said, but Rosie had already pulled it off her shoulders.

The ring of the bell had signalled their exit. Rosie’s grin was wide as she stepped outside, the parcel firmly tucked under one arm.

*

Now, in the shade of her bedroom, she wasn’t so sure. The taffeta clung to a bosom that was still as unfamiliar as the smattering of spots across her nose. The dress fitted just below her waist, straining across her stomach; puppy fat and wobbly thighs hidden underneath its folds. Why hadn’t she noticed in the shop? She pulled at the thick unyielding material, supposedly meant to fit across her shoulders in a chic 50s style. Turning sideways, the patterned black and red flowers seemed to mock her, spread as they were across her back and finishing on her bottom. She felt like an overgrown rose garden that had fallen into disrepute.

You look lovely, Rosie.’ Her mother stood in the doorway. ‘It was a good choice after all.’ Janelle’s slim arms were folded across her chest, her jeans snug across slender hips.

For the thousandth time, Rosie cursed her own well-rounded body, a throwback to her grandmother. Why couldn’t she be long-limbed too?

Her younger sister Taylor bounded into the room, plonked herself on Rosie’s bed. Taylor wore a seersucker top and teeny denim shorts over tanned legs that seemed to go on forever. She tucked one limb under the other, like a young gazelle.

You look like a flowerpot!’ she said, giggling. A sprinkle of cute freckles and sparkling blue eyes completed Taylor’s look. Naturally gorgeous.

Rosie turned away, her brown eyes filling up. I can’t show I’m upset; I can’t! she thought, glancing at her reflection for a second time. If the flowerpot look was in vogue, she’d win it, hands down.

Taylor had a point.

That’s enough of that Taylor! Rosie looks beautiful.’ Janelle tapped her watch, encased around a slim wrist. ‘You’d better hurry Rosie, Amber will be waiting. Dad’s downstairs.’

Thanks mom,’ she replied, ignoring the sly giggles behind her.

That was her, ever the trooper. Rosie, the solid one of the family who let everything slide. It was water off a duck’s back.

*

The party was just starting as the car pulled up outside a huge house. Rosie could hear music blasting and the shrieks of laughter from people arriving. Everyone was chatting and having fun. She clambered out behind Amber and smoothed the folds of the dress, annoyed that the netting had caught on the handle of her dad’s car. How she wished she’d chosen to wear the blue dress instead. It had been worn before, an old faithful, but she felt much more comfortable in it.

Amber gave her an excited look, hooked an arm under hers as they walked up the driveway. A couple of giggling girls ran past, dressed in bright colours and flouncy skirts; a flash of skinny legs in pumps.

I’m starting to think that the ’50s were the least flattering time in history!’ Rosie moaned, scraping her pumps over the gravelled driveway.

Come on, you look fine.’ Amber frowned. ‘You know how cool Lily Anderson is, her parties are epic. We were lucky to get an invite.’

It’s okay for you. You look as if you’ve not eaten for a week! Whereas me…’

She sighed, pulling at the shoulder sleeve for the hundredth time.

A dark-haired boy walked past. His head down, hands in pockets, shuffling his feet.

Why was Alex Tomlinson invited?

Hey Amber, get you a soda?’ Blake Magill slid up behind them.

See you later, Rosie,’ Amber giggled, then ran up the driveway.

Great. Now she was truly on her own. She shivered, deciding to turn back. Mom would have fixed popcorn for her and Taylor. She could snuggle into her pyjamas; sorted.

Just at that moment, Alex sidled up. Rosie’s heart sank.

This was turning out to be such an awful night!

Hi Rosie,’ he stammered.

Hi Alex,’ she replied, hoping to sound as offish as she felt. Alex’s eyes looked deep blue, his eyelashes thick and dark. He had on a baseball jacket and sneakers, a vast improvement on the nerdy school tie and sensible lace-ups for a school day. This close, he didn’t look half bad.

Say, why don’t we try that new place down by the pier? I can get my dad to drop us.’ Alex looked encouraged. ‘Then we can take a walk along the beach…. if you want to that is?’

She could see a faint blush spreading across his face. Rosie had to think. Ice cream down the pier, against an awkward party?

*

Alex had kept to his word, and they’d strolled hand in hand along the beach. The wind had ruffled her hair, and she’d felt alive for the first time – ever. He’d dropped her home after.

Now, the red dress hung from the back of her wardrobe. Its ruffles and sequins shone from the street light outside her bedroom window. She remembered how it had hugged her curves, and how she’d looked through Alex’s eyes.

You got me a boyfriend,’ she whispered. Then she turned over and went straight to sleep.


Words by Suzanne Bowditch

Art by Emily Cooke

About the Artist:

49548081_291720338156778_4967218626596700160_nHi, I’m Emily! I’ve loved art ever since I was young and am now starting to take my artwork seriously. I mostly draw digitally, however, I do sometimes prefer paints, fine-liners, and pencils! I usually do a lot of character design but I sometimes branch out by trying different techniques!
At the moment, I just draw whatever I like as well as create some commissions and designs for people, but I aspire to work in the game/entertainment industry so I will be studying to further my work! I am inspired by a lot of the games I play as well as a general love for all things fantasy. I use my art as a way to communicate that love as well as just putting the worlds and characters I create in my head on to paper!
I run the art page Melancholy Socks, which is on Facebook, Tumblr, Deviantart, and Instagram. Check me out!

‘The Wheaty’ by Peter Michal

The Wheatsheaf Hotel is in Thebarton, an inner-west suburb which has seen a remarkable transformation in recent times. Twenty years ago, the suburb was a real dive, half of it devoted to light industry, the other half made up of narrow and treeless streets with rundown cottages dating back to a time when people were a lot shorter than they are now. These days the suburb is still mostly a dive, but the real estate prices are so much better. It’s kind of like Fitzroy in Melbourne, but with only a fraction of the graffiti and the retro barber shops.
The suburb has a high Greek-Australian population, but whereas the Greek people have established a school, a bank and a church, they have not opened any nice places to go to eat or drink. This job has been left to people from other cultures, with a Lebanese bakery and kebab shop, a French dessert bar, and Thai and Vietnamese restaurants all located in the suburb. (In the neighbouring suburb of Torrensville there is an Afghani restaurant, which has become a local institution, serving amazing dishes of eggplant and lamb.)
And then there is the Wheatsheaf. The hotel, like most of the suburb, needs a paint job. They don’t have pokie machines and they don’t do food — they don’t even pretend to do food by serving ‘tapas’. (There is usually a food truck parked out the front though.) Their wine list, I am assured by those who say they know, could be better.
What the pub is known for is its beer list, which is as diverse and rich as its clientele. On a Saturday night the place has a real hum to it. People sit on old, shabby furniture, and they drink hoppy craft beers from around the world and talk. Of course, the hipsters, with their designer flannel shirts and manicured facial hair, are well represented, but the crowd is more diverse than that. There are young and old people, attractive and unattractive people, rough-looking men with neck tattoos and dapper old gentlemen with bow ties, stylish women wearing $200 skinny jeans with rips in them and daggy women wearing $15 Kmart jeans.
The Girl and I popped in for a quick drink one Saturday night in spring on our way to the Afghani restaurant. We ordered two glasses of Victorian Shiraz and then waited five interminable minutes for the bartender to open the last remaining cork bottle found in any pub in Australia.
Once our cheap glasses had been filled with expensive wine we went and stood in front of the open fire and talked about kitchen renovations. I was ready to make a move to the 1970s couch in stained orange upholstery fabric when a girl in her own 70s upholstery fabric came up and asked, ‘Youse sitting there, are ya?’
‘No, you go ahead, we’re fine here,’ I said.
She turned around and signalled animatedly, like a flight deck crew member on an aircraft carrier, to her friend across the room. She was a tall girl, built powerfully. She wore knee-high leather boots with white leggings to match the white woollen beanie over her long blonde hair. The multi-coloured, diamond-patterned dress she had on was quite busy, and had, I believe, the power to teleport you to another dimension if you stared at it for long enough.
Her male friend was a complete mismatch. He was a short and round Italian guy, tufts of chest hair sticking out over the collar of his T-shirt, and in his late-forties he was at least ten years older than the blonde.
‘That’s fucken awesome!’ she exclaimed after taking a sip of the wine.
‘It’s not bad, is it?’ her friend said.
‘Hey, this is fucken awesome,’ she repeated. At first, I didn’t realise she was speaking to us. But then she leaned forward, presented the bottle to us and said, ‘That’s just their house red, you know, but it’s fucken awesome.’
‘Oh yeah, where’s it from?’ The Girl, who was far more socially adept than I was, asked.
‘Mount Compass,’ the blonde said and grinned. She added quickly, ‘Nah, just joking, McLaren Vale. What are youse drinking?’
‘Victorian Shiraz.’
‘Any good?’
‘Sure.’
‘Yeah, where are you guys from, then?’
‘We’re from Adelaide.’
She stood up and came over to us. ‘Yeah, Adelaide, I can see it, you’re so… humble.’
Neither of us knew what this meant but we both nodded our heads. ‘Where are you from, then?’ I asked.
‘Guess?’
‘Melbourne?’ The Girl guessed.
‘Nah.’
‘Sydney?’
‘Nah.’
‘Gold Coast?’
‘No!’
I was going to say the 1970s but I didn’t know if this would have offended or flattered her, and I didn’t really want to do either. ‘Perth?’ I guessed instead.
‘Nah, I’m from Goolwa!’ And then she added casually, ‘I used to play netball for Australia, hey.’
We nodded our heads, trying to take in the randomness of the world. We had been to Goolwa. We had liked Goolwa. It was a nice little town, a bit windy being at the mouth of the Murray River, but nice. I didn’t have an opinion on netball.
‘What do you do in Goolwa?’ The Girl asked.
‘I work for a music magazine, hey,’ the blonde replied.
I nodded my head again. Of course. Of course, she worked for a music magazine, in Goolwa, when she wasn’t playing netball for Australia. It all made sense.
‘Whatta you guys do, hey?’ she asked.
‘Office jobs,’ I replied.
‘Yeah, that’s cool.’
‘Well, we work in the public sector,’ The Girl elaborated.
‘So you guys work together, hey?’
‘Yes.’
‘And everyone in the office knows you’re together, right?’
‘Yep,’ I said.
‘Fuck, you guys are so humble, I don’t believe it, honestly.’ She had a drink to us being so humble. ‘You guys ever been to the roller derby?’ she then asked.
‘Roller derby, sorry what?’ The Girl asked, confused.
‘Yeah, we’ve just been to the roller derby.’ She turned back to her friend on the couch and told him, ‘Oi dude, come here, show them the roller derby!’
The friend got up and came over and, without introduction, started playing a clip of the roller derby on his phone for us. ‘It’s great, isn’t it,’ he said as we watched footage of girls enthusiastically shoving and bumping each other while they skated around an oval track in a large hall. ‘We were just looking for something to do this weekend,’ the friend continued, ‘so I googled it and the roller derby came up, and yeah, we went, and they sell drinks, and you can have a glass of red and watch the girls go at it, it’s great…’
‘Yeah, looks like fun,’ I said.
‘Yeah, we had a couple of red wines at the thing,’ the blonde said.
‘Just a couple,’ the friend added.
That explained their friendliness. ‘Sure, why not,’ I said.
‘Some of the roller girls are coming here for a drink,’ he said.
‘We might miss them, unfortunately.’
‘Oh yeah, what are you guys up to?’ he asked, putting his phone away.
‘We’re going to an Afghani restaurant that’s close to here,’ The Girl replied.
‘Parwana?’
‘Yes, Parwana.’
‘So, you guys been together long?’ he then asked.
We looked at each other and smiled awkwardly, as you do when a total stranger in a pub casually starts asking personal questions.
‘Well, we’re both getting divorced!’ the blonde announced cheerfully.
‘Goodo,’ I said and took a gulp of wine.
‘Yeah, we’ve both got two kids each,’ the friend elaborated, unprompted, of course. ‘But they get on great, you know, and we’re just hanging out together and helping each other out. We’ll see where the road takes us.’
‘Well, that’s really nice,’ The Girl said.
‘Hey, get this, this guy tried to kiss me the first time he met me,’ the blonde blurted out.
‘Well, what’s wrong with that, I saw something I liked, thought I’d give it a kiss…’
‘Then after kissing me he tells me he loves me!’
‘Well, what’s wrong with that?’
‘Fucken creep,’ she said and leaned over and gave the guy a loving peck on the cheek.
‘Yeah, so you guys been together long, then?’ he asked again.
‘Ah, a year,’ The Girl replied.
‘That’s great. Living together?’
‘Ah, yeah, sure. Well, we’ve just bought a house together, actually.’
‘That’s fucken awesome!’ the blonde exclaimed.
‘Wow, congratulations,’ the friend said.
‘Cheers to that!’ she said and clinked our glasses. She then turned to the people on the table nearest to us and said, ‘Hey, these guys have just bought a house!’
One of the people on the table smirked.
‘Well, I need a smoke now after that news,’ the blonde announced. She put her wine down and rummaged through her handbag for a fag. ‘See youse in a tick, hey,’ she said and left.
The friend smiled and nodded his head. We smiled and nodded our heads back. He sipped his wine and we sipped ours. And then he sighed and said, ‘Yeah, I mean, this thing is going to cost me big time…’
‘What’s that?’ I asked.
‘The divorce. A hundred grand easy, and that’s just on the lawyers.’
‘Really?’
‘I’ve already spent twenty grand and have nothing to show for it, just a few letters between her lawyer and my lawyer. Each bloody letter is costing me four grand and it’s, like, two pages long! And her lawyer just ignores it anyway and sends back a letter with her own demands. It’s madness already and we haven’t started mediation yet.’
‘Aha,’ I said warily, not sure where this had come from or where it was heading.
‘See, when I came to Adelaide ten years ago I sold a house in Melbourne and had half a million. Now I own a house that’s worth 1.2 mill, right. But she wants sixty per cent of it, right. So, if I give it to her it’s like I’ve worked ten years for nothing! And I have worked whereas she hasn’t, she’s been at home all these years. And now she not only wants sixty per cent of the house but also money to support her lifestyle and money for the kids’ education. So, I’m like I’ll pay for the schooling, but you need to go out and get a job too, I can’t support you too! It’s like she thinks I’m made of money or somethin’, you know what I mean, mate?’
No, I didn’t know. I didn’t know what he meant at all.
Why was this person telling us these things about his life? Five minutes earlier he’d been sitting on the couch minding his own business. Ten minutes earlier we’d never even met. And now he was giving me the divorce story, no less. He wasn’t aggressive or overly bitter, just boring and strange, and I couldn’t take it. I finished my wine in one gulp.
‘My friends had warned me,’ he continued, mercilessly. ‘My wedding day and they’re like, “If you want to leave we’ll go, you’re not looking right, mate, this ain’t a good idea.” And I’m like, “What are you talkin’ about, I’m fine, I love her.” And they’re like, “No, you’re not, and you don’t, so if you want to call this thing off we’ll just get out of here.” On my wedding day! But I should’ve listened to them! I should have listened!’
I turned to The Girl and pleaded with my eyes and my whole face for her to finish her wine so we could make our excuses and never come back to this establishment ever again.
Sensing my pain, she took a final gulp of wine, placed the glass on the ledge above the fireplace, picked up her handbag and said, ‘OK, well, we better…’
‘But it’s alright, we’ll sort it all out,’ the guy interrupted. ‘It’s only money in the end, it’s only life…’
‘Yes, yes, it is,’ I concurred.
‘Well, we better be off now,’ The Girl said.
‘Yes, Parwana, enjoy,’ the guy said and smiled. ‘And good luck with your house.’
I felt sorry for him at that moment. ‘Good luck with everything, mate,’ I said and shook his hand. And then we left.
We were half way across the street when the blonde from Goolwa called out, ‘See youse later, hey!’
‘Goodnight, Goolwa girl!’ we called back.
‘They’ve just bought a house together!’ the blonde shouted into the night.
‘Congratulations!’ the guy in the food truck shouted.

 


Story by Peter Michal

Interesting Facts About Each U.S. President, Part 2

Theodore Roosevelt (1901 to 1909)

Both Roosevelt’s first wife and mother died on the same day, which happened to be Valentine’s Day.

He was shot just before a scheduled speech, but instead of seeking medical treatment, he went ahead with the speech. He started with the following statement: ‘I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot… I give you my word, I do not care a rap about being shot; not a rap!’. The speech went for an hour and a half, and he had a bullet lodged in his chest the entire time.

 

William H. Taft (1909 to 1913)

Taft had a big waist line and reportedly got stuck in a bathtub, though historians say this didn’t actually happen.

 

Woodrow Wilson (1913 to 1921)

In 1919, Woodrow Wilson was under incredible stress. He ended up having a series of strokes, leaving him partially paralysed and almost blind. Despite this, he stayed in office until 1921. He had to rely heavily on his wife though, who became known as the “Presidentress”.

 

Warren G. Harding (1921 to 1923)

Harding had quite a few affairs. He had one with a close friend of his wife and another with a woman named Nan Britton. Britton later wrote a book called The President’s Daughter, explaining that her daughter’s father was Harding. A DNA test was done in 2015, and it proved that the daughter was, in fact, Harding’s.

 

Calvin Coolidge (1923 to 1929)

Every morning, Coolidge had someone rub Vaseline on his head while he ate breakfast. He also had two pet raccoons named Rueben and Rebecca.

 

Herbert Hoover (1929 to 1933)

Before becoming President, Hoover and his wife had once lived in China for a while. While in the White House, they would talk in Mandarin when they wanted to have a private conversation.

 

Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933 to 1945)

The only President to have been elected to more than two terms, Roosevelt is also known as FDR.

He was the fifth cousin of Theodore Roosevelt, and he married his other fifth cousin (once removed), Eleanor Roosevelt. Theodore Roosevelt was Eleanor’s uncle. FDR was also distantly related to: George Washington; both John and John Quincy Adams; James Madison; Martin Van Buren; both William and Benjamin Harrison; John Tyler; Ulysses Grant; and William Taft. FDR was also distantly related to Winston Churchill.

FDR was terrified of the number thirteen. He refused to have meals with that number of people and leave for a trip on the 13th of any month.

He was crippled with polio; he was disabled from the waist down. But while he was President, the public didn’t know exactly how bad his disability was. The news media hardly mentioned it, and he always tried to be photographed standing up (he had to use heavy metal braces to do so, though).

He was obsessed with his dog, Fala. He was the only one who was allowed to feed him, and he also made him an honorary army private during WWII.

 

Harry S. Truman (1945 to 1953)

Truman’s middle initial doesn’t actually stand for an actual name. He got it from his grandmothers’ names, both of which started with “S”.

He met his wife, Bess, in Sunday school when he was six.

 

Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953 to 1961)

Eisenhower changed the name of the presidential retreat in Maryland from Shangri-la to Camp David.

 

John F. Kennedy (1961 to 1963)

Kennedy got $1 million when he turned twenty-one.

His father wrote him a recommendation letter for Harvard. In it, his father wrote that Kennedy was ‘careless and lacks application’, but Kennedy got in anyway.

 

Lyndon B. Johnson (1963 to 1969)

During WWII, Johnson boarded a plane, but he urgently needed to use the bathroom, so he immediately disembarked. When he returned, the plane had taken off without him. It ended up crashing, killing everyone on board.

 

Richard M. Nixon (1969 to 1974)

Nixon loved tenpin bowling. He loved it so much that he had a one-lane alley installed in the basement of the White House.

 

Gerald Ford (1974 to 1977)

Ford’s real name was Leslie Lynch King, Jr.

Ford is the only President to have not been elected President or Vice President by the voting public.

 

Jimmy Carter (1977 to 1981)

Carter appeared in Playboy during the presidential election. He copped quite a bit of criticism for it, because he’d told the magazine: ‘I’ve looked on a lot of women with lust. I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times. This is something that God recognizes I will do – and I have done it – and God forgives me for it.’ He never apologised for the comments.

 

Ronald Reagan (1981 to 1989)

Reagan consulted with an astrologer before making decisions and scheduling events.

 

George H.W. Bush (1989 to 1993)

Bush inspired “Bushusuru”, a Japanese word that means ‘to do the Bush thing’. This thing is to vomit in public, which Bush did (all over the Japanese Prime Minister) in 1992.

 

Bill Clinton (1993 to 2001)

Clinton was born William Jefferson Blythe III.

He has two Grammys: one for Best Spoken Word Album, the other for Best Spoken Word Album for Children.

 

George W. Bush (2001 to 2009)

Bush was head cheerleader in high school.

 

Barack Obama (2009 to 2017)

Obama had a pet ape when he lived in Indonesia. He was called “O’Bomber” for his basketball skills in high school.

 

Donald Trump (2017 to present)

Trump was a registered member of the Democrat Party between 2001 and 2009.

 


Words by Callum J. Jones

 

Shit-Faced Shakespeare: Romeo & Juliet

Presented by A-List Entertainment, Shit-faced Shakespeare was a hilarious rendition of the classic and well abused tale, Romeo and Juliet. We tend to think of Shakespeare as inaccessible or highbrow, yet that was never the playwright’s reception or intention. Shit-faced Shakespeare is a wonderful way of bringing Shakespeare back to everyone.

 

Playing on the ageless relationship between any drunk and their love of being the centre of attention, these guys certainly kept us on our toes as Romeo and Juliet took a walk in a new direction.

 

As we know, the story is about the forbidden love between Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet whose families are at war. Yet a befuddled mind doesn’t always remember the story right and it seems that this time Juliet falls not just for Romeo, but for Mercutio. Romeo and Mercutio, brothers in arms, are confused by Juliet and must make the decision to either reveal their separate identities or present themselves as twins who have won Juliet’s heart together.

 

With a not-so-godly priest, a church, and a three-way love, the story runs away from the original thanks to the interference of one inebriated actor playing Benvolio. The improvised Shakespearean English (adding ‘-ith’ to the end of words) and the not-so-occasional slip up into modern English as their drunken actor was reigned in, make it easy to follow and a lot of fun for the audience as well as the actors.

 

It’s safe to say this probably isn’t the most child-friendly show, but it is definitely worth seeing for everyone else, who knows, you might even get to participate, but only if you’re willing to blow (a bugle) in public.

 

Crude, rude, and full of dick jokes, Shit-faced Shakespeare endears Shakespeare’s work to all yet again to all through one ageless commodity—getting shit-faced with your mates! The wily old bard would be proud!

 


Words by Kayla Gaskell.

 

Five stars.

 

Shit-faced Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet will be on at Gluttony’s Cornucopia at 9:30pm nightly until the 18th. Tickets available here.

‘This Type of Exchange’ by Jess M. Miller

9:53

London Bridge is down.

That’s what they’ll say when the Queen dies. He’s read about it online. Couldn’t get the image out of his head. It ought to be something similar, over here. Eagle is down. That’s what they say in action films. It was Clinton’s code name, and it works better than anything. It works so well that he barely remembers the actual code. But this is not an action film; there is no script, and they have no other selves to escape to when this is over. Alice has been his secretary for seventeen years. Her face is blotched and gushing, ugly in the way that on-screen women rarely get to be.

‘A sniper, Ted. A sniper.’ She talks to him in the way that she builds his schedule, in bullet points which live up to their name, words that carry death.

Secret Service men spill in behind her, black and slick like ravens. ‘Come with us, sir,’ they say. But his brain is sludge. He can’t remember how to work his legs.

9:54

Slowly, he peels back his cuff to look at his watch, at the engraving on the other side facing his skin. Gratias ago. Thank you, in Latin. An inauguration present, the precursor to this present, he supposes—and for a moment he is a child at Christmas. Bleary and confused under wrapping paper; not sure if this present is the right shape, whether it matches what he asked for. But this is not the kind of present you scrawl down on paper. He unloops the watch from his wrist, lies it face-down on his desk. Not his desk anymore. He looks straight at Alice, takes her all in. This type of exchange is almost as heavy as she is. The next one will be different. The next exchange will not recognise the one now.

‘Sir, we have to move quickly.’

Eagle is down. He nods. He stands.

9:55

Alice steps towards him but the ravens push her back, lead her to the couch. An agent’s jacket catches on his holster. The momentary glimpse of a Glock 9 mm. Has he ever used it? Will he need to use it again? Does he ever think about it, on nights when he can’t sleep?

‘You think too much.’ Eagle’s words, just the other day. ‘You think more than all of Congress put together.’ It had been meant in affection. Let go in those few precious moments of exhale between the 8.45 and the 8.50, on a day still too young for malice, a day they’d let sleep in while they’d worked. Their own staff bleary-eyed since five thirty; their wives recently left for that peace conference in Geneva.

Hazel. Does she know? Has she seen it on the news? He should call her. But he’s left his phone on the desk, and they won’t let him turn back now.

9:56

These portraits on the corridor wall have watched him trudge by for two years and nine months. They’ve seen his bad days and his good days, his wins, and his losses. This convocation of eagles. Their faces stretched across time, across bank notes and history books. His Eagle looming at the end of the procession—the man with the shoes that will be the biggest to fill.

Ted’s own feet are two full sizes smaller. He is two inches shorter, twenty pounds heavier. They will have to expand the nest, add sticks and twigs and shiny things.

The corners of the painted man’s mouth are turned up in a smile. Tobacco has crinkled him in real life, but they haven’t painted that, of course, they haven’t. Smoking is a bad habit. And the President doesn’t have bad habits. Eagle told him that once, four moves from checkmate, ash collecting like dust on the shoulders of his knights. Both their ties dangling from the Deputy Chief of Staff’s office lamp. There was a man outside their door, but they liked to imagine that no-one knew about them here, playing chess in this deliberately abandoned office.

‘I don’t smoke,’ he’d said, and tapped his cigarette. ‘There is a reason, Ted, why your title includes the word vice and mine doesn’t. Ask the press. Any decent reporter will tell you that what you’re seeing now is an illusion—and the press only prints the truth. We all know that.’

He looks at the empty space on the wall. His own portrait will hang there soon. He wonders what they’ll paint out of him, to make him match the others. He lingers. And then the ravens carry him away, around the corner, and there it is. His oval office. His nest of shiny things. He looks once more around him. And then in his head, he says, action.

9:57

Cameras. Click, flash, click, flash. Like an old movie. He is photographed into being. The Secret Service steps away. One by one. Click, flash. His first captured moments. Frank walks over. Holds him by the shoulders. Click, flash. Everyone is there. The leaders of the free world. Of the saved and the damned. The ravens, the vultures. All the other birds. The Chief Justice picks up her Bible. He is sure to take short, sharp breaths, to paint shock and grief in nuanced layers onto his face. He’s been practising.

Networks will broadcast his moment across the world. Across time and bank notes and history books. And the press only prints the truth. We all know that, don’t we, Eagle? We all know you do nothing wrong, and when you do it’s either left out of the painting or passed on down, to the Vice President, because there’s a reason the title is called that, there is a reason these four letters distinguish the eagle from the crow. Because the Vice President will take your punches for you, won’t he? He helped you get here and asked no questions and certainly won’t ask any questions now. But your Vice President thinks too much. You told him that yourself. Gratias ago. Thank you, very much, for the advice.

‘Sir, please raise your right hand and repeat after me.’

Click, flash.

 

Written by Jess M. Miller.

Artwork by Rhianna Carr.