A J Holmes: Yeah, But Not Right Now

The 10pm slot in Gluttony means that the crowd is varied in the demographic and levels of sobriety. The cosy tent was filled with laughter, singing, and playful banter with the crowd throughout the show.

Previously featured on Broadway in the hit show The Book of Mormon, AJ Holmes serenades the audience with his angelic voice, enthusiastic piano playing, a guitar, and a loop pedal.

Gloriously reminiscent of high-school musical theatre, Yeah, But Not Right Now has it all: awkwardness, validation tension, and overconfidence galore. Sit back while Holmes sings you stories about horrible things with a smile on his face, or joyful things in a sulk. This one man show conveys the highs and lows of showbiz, dating apps, and just being in your 20s.

AJ Holmes opens up about his grandma, his life on Broadway, his Facebook-posting mother, and his revelations along the way. I found myself laughing with sympathy, awkwardness, and sentimentality in this unique show.

Uncomfortably intimate at times, the show spans an hour of deep, and not so deep, soul gazing at AJ’s life: a kaleidoscope of joy, love, epiphanies, eroticism, and a riot of laughs. Aimed at an audience in their 20s and above, I found myself relating to every word with a knowing chuckle.

A musical born out of procrastination, this show is for any procrastinator, Casanova, wanna-be-actor or chronic over sleeper.

I give this show a four out of five stars, because I haven’t seen anything that left me grinning throughout and with an echo of that laughter pinching my cheeks hours later.

 


Words by Sarah Ingham

Yeah, But Not Right Now is playing at Gluttony until March 15

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here

The Devil Made Me Do It

An independent production by Write Me Originals, The Devil Made Me Do It is a theatre piece interrogating the pressures of being an actor/dancer in Hollywood or even just a woman in the 1950s.

Beginning as an intermission dancer, Nancy was offered the chance of a lifetime making films with director Robert Melva. Without much thought for the consequences, she signed on sacrificing not only her name but her independence, her body, and her life to the showbiz industry. Renamed as Nora Hudson, she’s cultivated into a glamorous starlet by the production company and encouraged to take a number of pills to enhance her suitability as at actor (eg pills for weight loss and energy). Eventually she loses herself along the way, realising that nobody in the industry valued her for herself, instead they valued her for being a sex symbol.

Nancy needs to break her contract with the devil – despite the fact he laughed in her face when she suggested it, she is determined to regain her soul. Given a challenge and a countdown, Nancy must revisit memories of her past and uncover what kind of person she truly is. It might be painful, but it’s necessary if she’s ever going to have a shot at regaining her soul.

While the story appears to be Nancy’s, it is more so about the haunting figure in the background. Both Nancy’s past and present selves are overshadowed by the devil. Nancy’s devil is the devil while Nora’s is her infamous manager, Melva, who is not only controlling and demanding, he is the person Nora must please daily to maintain her path to stardom.

With some dark turns this production explores a number of issues including drug-dependence, body-image issues, and gas-lighting. The Devil Made Me Do It is an engrossing piece of performance theatre with several quite talented young actors. The piece is a warning to performers, and people in general, to be wary of what you’re signing up for and the consequences of signing a contract that might exploit you later on/ bite you on the ass.

With costuming a throw-back to the 50s and the iconic blonde-bombshell archetype, the show is a delight to watch.

 

3.5 / 5 stars


Words by Kayla Gaskell

The Devil Made Me Do It is playing at the Bakehouse Theatre until February 22

For more information and to book tickets, click here

All Growed Up

Watson comes out on to the stage brandishing a fine bottle of gin, sporting a leopard-print cape and a beard to rival Ned Kelly, and launches into a staccato, rambunctious soliloquy. At 25, he got engaged. Might’ve gone all the way, picked out names for the kids, bought a house, lock, stock, the whole lot. It’s funny, he muses aloud whilst dispensing shots of gin – note to self, sit front and centre for future Zach Watson shows – how he’s ended up miles from that.

On the surface, All Growed Up is Watson’s musings on how it feels to be 33 and clawing back from the windswept par-6 that was 2019 for him. Having Evel Knievel’d himself over a planter box (that’s his story and he’s sticking to it), he shattered his wrist requiring a few month’s whack of workcover and some prescription narcotics, and the introspection that creeps in when you’ve only got the two cats that your housemates have adopted to talk to. See, by 33, his old man was married with kids and a house, and it vexed him; where was his high-school sweetheart with a meal plan? His three kids with ludicrous names? His bricklaying job in a quiet country town? How did he get here? Where is that large automobile? Watson’s debut Fringe show last year was The Zachelor, about his attempts to move on from the aforementioned fiancée and find love, so it’s only natural that All Growed Up is the realisation that adhering to some universally mandated syllabus really isn’t the solution.

Part ode to his father, part love-letter to the fine art of blazing one’s own trail, Watson clearly revels in stripping himself bare, the self-deprecation leading to the acceptance that if you’re happy telling jokes, slinging drinks, and going on the occasional surfing trip with some good mates whilst sinking biblical amounts of Cooper’s finest, then how can that be a bad thing?

Delivered with a sort of nervous energy, Watson won’t have you rolling in the aisles, he’s not that sort of comic. Some people just won’t get him, the dishevelled shirt, the wild pogoing from one topic to the other, the gleeful smile when describing his ex-boss going bankrupt, but you ain’t gotta like him. He’s Big Lebowski’s The Dude, the affable anti-hero, and really, that’s pretty alright by me.

 

3.5 / 5 stars


Words by Mikey Della Porta

All Growed Up is playing at Rhino Room until February 22

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here

Frankenstein: How to Make a Monster

It may be somewhat difficult to comprehend what can come of the words ‘Frankenstein’ and ‘beatboxing’.

Is there someone dressed like Frankenstein beatboxing? Is it just beatboxing with the word ‘Frankenstein’ thrown in? If you assumed either of those you’re be dead wrong.

In reality, what you get is an 80-minute musical spectacle from six diversely skilled and exceptionally talented performers. If beatboxing ensembles where superheroes these guys and girls would be the Avengers.

London’s very own BAC Beatbox Academy brings it’s ‘On Tour’ group to the Adelaide Fringe for Frankenstein: How to Make a Monster. Showcasing a multi-talented crew consisting of young rappers, beatboxers, and vocalists, this is a show which has to be heard to be believed.

Their approach to Mary Shelley’s original is incredibly unique, breaking down the content to three playful, entertaining, and quite socially relevant chapters. They deal with what exactly makes a monster in the modern age and how current behaviours and activities impact today’s youth. Dealing with themes of social media, body image, and mental health the show gives plenty of food for thought.

That alone is not all that Frankenstein has on offer; in addition to their narrative, they take plenty of time to interact and engage with the audience. You may find yourself part of a literal human drum machine at the hands of the group’s director, Conrad Murray (who really knows how to work a crowd). You’ll also witness plenty of tongue in cheek banter, improvisation, and short but sweet beatbox renditions of well-known songs such as Prodigy’s “Firestarter” and Ray Charles’ “Hit the Road Jack”. While the ending of the show won’t be spoiled, it is certainly a fun and heavily entertaining conclusion that guarantees no two shows will be the same.

One aspect of Frankenstein that needs to be commended is its ability to balance tone. The group can have you chuckling with glee one minute and deeply contemplative the next, a true feat in itself.

You will be scratching your head in utter bewilderment throughout as you think “how exactly are they doing that with their voices?”. You may think there is a backing track, you may think there is a DJ somewhere backstage, but there is not, they are just that damn talented.

Without a doubt, this show is a must-see for any Fringe goer in 2020.

 

5 stars


Words and photography by Isaac Freeman

Frankenstein: How to Make a Monster is playing at RCC until March 15

For more information and to book tickets, click here

Interview: Tom Walker / Jonathan Pie

“No, no, no, absolutely not.” Tom Walker’s just broken my heart. I’ve put to him that he could consider taking his character Jonathan Pie to Westminster, or maybe even Number 10. Personally, I think he’d be better suited to Canberra, where he could potentially form a heavyweight tag-team of Australian politics with Penny Wong. “No, I’ve got this tour, and that wraps up in a few months, and then the diary is free.” Right in time for the 2020 US Elections, I tell him. “Oh god yeah, you’re right.”

Thing is though, he’s a bit sick of the constant supply of box office gold that keeps getting served up. “I’d really like it to level off a bit now. I’ve had my fun. When I started out the world wasn’t so strange and now we’ve got Trump and Brexit, and it’s time to swing back towards a bit of normality, you’d hope. Trump sort of set the standard where he can now seemingly get away with anything and everyone looks at him and tries to emulate him. It’s worked, our politics is now full of lies, it’s madness, isn’t it? And it’s really difficult to satirise Trump, he does it for you! All you have to do is read out his tweets, he can’t even spell!” Walker sounds resigned when he glumly predicts another term for Trump, but at least the source material will still be top shelf.

One thing that he’s loving is ‘Scotty from Marketing’. “It’s such a great insult. It’s so to the point, isn’t it? It’s great.” Allegedly Morrison utterly detests this nickname. “Good! I’m glad.” The topic of politicians giving themselves nicknames irks him, though. “It’s mad, isn’t it, we’ve got BoJo, but we’ve always just called him Boris, instead of Mr. Johnson, and it makes him seem friendly, and nice, when he’s far from it. I mean, Boris is a prick, isn’t he? He’s this bumbling bloody affable idiot, when he’s anything but. He’s a dangerous right-wing populist.”

Walker as Pie doesn’t mince words, he’s quite happy to make sure everyone knows about the elephant failing to wear a lampshade in the corner – regardless of whether the elephant is left or right, liberal or conservative – and so the degree of separation between him and Pie is welcome. “It’s quite nice to have that. The majority of people come up to me and say, ‘Hey Jonathan!’ it’s absolutely fine, I quite like it. I find it a bit weird when people go ‘Hey Tom’, like, how do you know my name?” plus it gives him a bit of freedom, he’s always got that ‘it’s not me, it’s Jonathan – he’s a character’ get-out-of-jail-free card, but you can tell that he knows his words carry some weight; 600,000 subscribers on YouTube, over 67 million views, a few live tours, but everything has a shelf life. He admits he’s yet to make that solid jump to mainstream though, and so Pie might be taking a sabbatical. In a field where making it to prime-time is pretty rare, a self-described underdog punching above his weight deserves a title fight.

 


Words by Mikey Della Porta

Jonathan Pie: The Fake News Tour, February 24th at the Royalty Theatre, Angas Street

For more information and to book tickets, click here

Evan Desmarais: Pizza & Ice-cream

One of the worst things, the absolute worst things ever, is peeling back the foil top of a cup of instant noodles and it tears awkwardly and you’ve got to sit there picking it off for twenty minutes, and it gets stuck under your nails or it just won’t come off and now the noodles are cold and everything’s terrible. Or discovering that you’re now lactose intolerant and can no longer enjoy two of your favourite things in life, pizza and ice-cream. Or the girl you love  and adore has met someone else and she’s genuinely happy. Actually, no, that’s the undisputed worst thing ever.

About five years ago, Desmarais discovered he could no longer get stuck into a family tub of neapolitan ice-cream and enjoy it, and it got him thinking, what else could he no longer do? What else did he have to reckon with? But, just like the difficult second album gets followed by the god-awful experimental reggae third or fourth album, he met a girl. She was lovely. She had a weird Australian name, just like half of the country. They didn’t last. As far as a discography goes, this rivals The Vines’ Melodia for a drop-off.

He ended up in Manchester where he set about making new friends in the most efficient way possible – by going to bars and talking to the bartender where they have to be mates with you – which led to being out-bro’d by a newly-single girl testing the greatest bad theory there is; that the best way to get over someone is get under someone else. Or next to in a barroom toilet cubicle. Look, when life delivers you a swift kick in the slats, what’re you gonna do? You’re gonna milk that for comedy, man. And rightly so.

As you’ve probably guessed, Kierkegaard this is not. It’s self-described as dick jokes with heart by a balding man in a backwards cap, but some people like to laugh at swearing, yeast infections, and at themselves. The only drawback is that it’s a bit of a niche market, and accordingly, individual results may vary. As good as he is at charming a crowd – think Blur’s Parklife rather than Melodia here, as the ‘with heart’ bit is a gross understatement – it helps if the audience is on the same boat. Desmarais will pick at the foil still stuck to the cup, and even if it doesn’t fully come off, the noodles are still pretty damn tasty.

4 / 5 stars


Words by Mikey Della Porta

Evan Desmarais: Pizza & Ice-cream is on at Gluttony until March 15

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here

In Conversation With: Alison Paradoxx

Floral Peroxide is a personal account of my own journey through the medical system, and navigating society as a whole, in a chronically unwell body,’ says 2016 Poetry Slam Championship Alison Bennett, explaining her debut Fringe 2019 performance: Alison Paradoxx presents Floral Peroxide.

Floral Peroxide explores disability using performance poetry, sound art, and dance to tell her story. ‘As a disabled and chronically ill artist,’ says Bennett, ‘I explore the paradoxes of disability, and the societal desire to ‘fix’ the broken self. My work articulates injury, and trauma through metaphor, sound, and visual theatre.’

Floral Peroxide is based primarily on Bennett’s final diagnosis: Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (hEDS), which she’s had since birth but wasn’t diagnosed until she was 40.

‘It was my chance to reclaim my identity and construct my own narrative of how I see myself in the world around me. I was sick of other people’s narratives for my life, and, as a poet, naturally began to ‘write what I know’, for me – what started with a lot of anger, and resentment, ended in a journey of acceptance, and understanding.’

Bennett has collaborated with other artists like 5000AD (sound artist), Ian Gibbins (video artist) and Angelique Joy (costume designer) to bring a multimedia experience to Floral Peroxide. The multimedia experience of the performance was ‘motivated by this desire to create performance art that is inclusive, and accessible to all, regardless of ability.’ She also said it came from events she’s performed at which are inaccessible to a number of people with disabilities.

In the media release for Floral Peroxide, Bennett says there is a societal desire to ‘fix’ the broken self. This is to represent society’s view that someone who is ‘broken’ can be mended. She also says it comes from years of trying to explain her pains and disabilities, which have included severe spinal scoliosis and surviving a house fire with second-degree burns. ‘The western world has a majority viewpoint of disability as being a flaw that needs to be corrected, rather than a society that needs to adapt to change!’

When asked about what she thinks about the representation of disability at the 2019 Adelaide Fringe, Bennett said, ‘I feel that 2019 has been a stand-out year, in regard to forging forward with better access for artists, and audience members by Fringe as whole, and I can only see that this will be a positive in enabling other disabled artists to create work, with the Fringe festival in mind.’

She is happy with the inclusion of the Accessibility Champions, an Accessibility guide, and the work by the Fringe’s Access and Inclusion Officer. However, she says it still has a long way to go in giving disabled artists the required needs to be part of any large festival. She would love to see a bigger representation of disability at the Fringe in future years.


If you are interested in seeing Alison Paradoxx presents Floral Peroxide, it will be at The Libertine by Louis on February 23-24. For those interested in learning more about health/disability at the Fringe, be sure to also check out the Social Change Guide to the Fringe by the Don Dunstan Foundation. A link to the signup page can be found here.

Interview by Cameron Lowe