The Ides of March

Writer’s block is the bane of many writers; whether you’re staring at a blank page, hitting a wall, or just simply losing your steam it’s no enviable experience. However, if said writing is based upon a historical event there’s a simple solution. Time travel.

The Ides of March is a meta, witty, fourth wall-breaking romp of intelligent theatre. The premise is simple, William Shakespeare (Kieran Bullock) travels back in time with Cardenio (Paul Brown) to witness the murder of Julius Caesar (also Bullock). Unfortunately, Shakespeare makes a grave mistake, he becomes a suspect to the Detectivus (Jennifer B Ashley) and the Pomodoro (James Rosier). Mayhem ensues as the real culprits Cassius (Ashley), Brutus (Rosier), and Casca (Brown) try to sabotage Shakespeare’s every move to cover up their crime.

Slightly akin to that of an episode of Doctor Who, the escapades of these time-travellers are much richer in comedy. With only four key actors playing numerous roles (a great source of laughter) it’s commendable how easy it is to follow. The four reinvent themselves with ease utilising either a noir-like accent, a costume change, or a shift in mannerisms to switch between them distinctly. Their props and stage dressing are minimal but creative, and the intricacies of character changeovers (particularly in the final act) are handled exceptionally.

The cast of performers are well-rounded and bring plenty of charisma and talent to the stage. Ashley beams as Detectivus and Bullock’s hilariously narcissistic interpretation of Shakespeare as a struggling writer constantly taking notes runs the risk of being tired, but never does.

Certain elements of the narrative are slightly predictable in points, there’s the odd moment where you can expect it to go a certain way and it does. There is plenty to love with the odd twist or surprise that you won’t see coming as The Ides of March is a fantastic stage production that is bound to entertain.

4.5 / 5 stars


Words by Isaac Freeman

The Ides of March is showing at the Bakehouse Theatre until March 14

For more information and to book tickets click here

Tom Skelton 2020 Visions (What if I hadn’t gone blind?)

Walking a mile in someone else’s shoes means to completely put yourself in a different point of view. To imagine a life adjacent from your own and understand how it could be seen through another’s eyes. But what if that person only has 5% vision? Enter: Tom Skelton.

Tom Skelton: 2020 Visions (What if I hadn’t gone blind?) is an insightful, hilarious, and at times sombre narrative of one man’s journey. As a VIP (Visually Impaired Person), Skelton puts the audience in his shoes, taking them on a 10 year journey in just under an hour. 2020 Visions begins with a prelude to the tale ahead, providing some minor details and encouraging the audience to laugh at the jokes being made at his expense (after all it is a comedy). Skelton then takes us from his initial diagnosis to where he is today.

The years are filled with challenges, romance, growth, and laughter. But he weaves in and out of this reality with an alternate one. A reality where he is not a VIP but a person with 2020 vision. Skelton creates a brilliant contrast as he navigates between the two and dissects his own “What if?”

In the real world he is learning strategies to better handle day-to-day tasks (such as making cups of coffee). But in the alternate he has successfully eliminated the energy crisis, obesity, and climate change in America by implementing one simple machine in every home. While he is searching for love in one, he was having a publicised romance with Taylor Swift in the other. Skelton can show you the hard realities one minute and having you laugh the next at his alternate life fantasy.

This unique perspective is one that sticks and ultimately poses an interesting question to Skelton where he asks himself what reality he wishes to inhabit. Tom Skelton: 2020 Visions (What if I hadn’t gone blind?) is an expertly crafted narrative and is a show that one takes pleasure in being in the seat for.

5 stars


Words by Isaac Freeman

Tom Skelton: 2020 Vision (What if I hadn’t gone Blind?) is showing until March 14

For more information and to purchase tickets click here

 

George Glass Proves the Existence of God

George Glass Proves the Existence of God successfully scratches the itches to life’s biggest questions. Is there a God? Can God hangout later? What’s God’s biggest weakness? Will the Hungry Caterpillar show up? Is there anyone working on an Eyes Wide Shut musical?

Adelaide’s own George Glass brings musicality, absurdity, and plenty of blood in this exceptional one night only performance. Kicking everything off the band (Nic Conway, Pud Hamilton, Chris Nenov, Alister McMichael, and Ruby Gazzola) appropriately introduces themselves in an extremely religious fashion. The Garden of Eden. Eve is a man with balloon breasts of biblical proportions, Adam is a woman in a muscle suit, the forbidden fruit is, of course, an inflatable red costume with matching face paint, and the snake (a morph-suit) slithers its way on stage.

With an intro like that, you know that what you’re about to see is no Sunday service.

George Glass Proves the Existence of God is full of running bits that never grow old. There’s a cleverly instigated checklist at the beginning of the show that provides topics or thematic elements (e.g. baby, cake, pussy cat, tie him up and throw him in the River Torrens), a drummer with a small bladder, and a literal hotline to God. The back and forth tongue and cheek between the band is seamless and never fails to get a laugh, together inhabiting the stage as if it were their home.

George Glass is foremost a rock-comedy showcase. Boasting an array of original songs (that you can listen to yourself on Spotify right now) that are catchy, full of energy, and of course humour. Particular songs such as Detective Andrews, God Is Dead, Christ Likes to Eat Pussy, and Secret Song are the highlights and bring to mind the works of Jack Black and Kyle Glass from Tenacious D. Cohesively the band are multi-talented, switching between instruments throughout the show as each member has their moment centre-stage. However, the first two songs were a little hard to decipher. Whether it be some slightly muddled vocals or technical difficulty, the lyrics weren’t entirely comprehensible, but the band soon found their footing and from there on out it was crystal clear.

George Glass also effortlessly involves the audience in their religious escapades. Members are utilised to form Caterpillars (of the hungry variety), dispose of very incriminating evidence, and to create a crowd surf that more or less turns into a polite yet wholesome carry.

If George Glass Proves the Existence of God resurrects itself for another performance in the future, make sure you see it.

4 1/2 stars


Words by Isaac Freeman

George Glass Proves the Existence of God‘s season has now concluded

For more information about George Glass visit his website

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

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

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

Comedy Hypnotist Matt Hale’s Feelgood Factory

If you’re planning on going to Comedy Hypnotist Matt Hale’s Feelgood Factory in Gluttony this Fringe, bring someone gutsy with you, someone who likes to perform, and nudge them toward the stage when volunteers are asked to climb on up.

As Hale tells his audience at the beginning of his ‘Feelgood Factory’ show, hypnotism isn’t not mind-control or magic and he, as the hypnotist, really hasn’t any power at all. Hale is simply a guide. It’s the volunteers from the audience who have the authority to make the night a success. As a former ‘Crap Elvis’ impersonator travelling around the world and man-who-was-tied-to-the-bonnet-of-a-car-and-driven-through-fire and as a DJ in Ibiza for a six-month stint, Hale knows just how far enthusiasm to have a crack at things can get you.

No doubt that understanding what hypnosis really is takes the childlike wonder out of it because, honestly, it’s rather mundane. People fall in and out of various states of hypnosis every day. We ‘zone out’ while we drive a common route to work then suddenly ask ourselves, ‘How did I just get here?’ We meditate while doing yoga and sometimes, if we consider ourselves experts at self-hypnosis, we can get ourselves into a transitive state, preferably in places like an Ashram in India if we have heaps of money.

So what about the people we’ve seen on television or even on stage who, at the snap of a finger, can turn into an ape or an opera singer then, at another snap of the finger, will be asleep standing up? They’re either trained to do so for the audience, hence the whole thing is fake, or they’re really game participants.

Our show had people giving orders in screechy voices and singing Jon Bon Jovi’s ‘Living on a Prayer’ and substituting ‘prayer’ for a fruit or vegetable. They weren’t faking. They were in ultra-relaxed states when given the instructions and then, when they were ‘snapped out of it’ they were the friends and family members we know and love who don’t really mind being the centre of attention. Could this be you or someone you know? Then you need to join Matt Hale in the Empire Tent for Fringe. He’ll be the one cracking up, getting his body right into it and making sure a stage-full of people join him. It’s what you want from Fringe: a sixty-minute party.

3.5 / 5 stars


Words by Heather Taylor Johnson

Comedy Hypnotist Matt Hale’s Feelgood Factory is showing in the Empire Tent at Gluttony until 15 March

For more information and to book tickets click here

Welcome to Japan

From food to bathroom etiquette, public transport to comedy show audiences, Takashi Wakasugi is welcoming Adelaide to an hour of irreverent observational humour.  Having gotten his comedy legs under him as a university student in Sydney, Wakasugi is in the perfect position to make cultural comparisons between Australia and Japan, and he isn’t afraid to be a little x-rated (consider this a forewarning if you’re planning on attending the show with your grandmother).

Welcome to Japan moves seamlessly between everything from sex jokes and critiques of Western porn, to a performance of original haikus. There are reenactments, props, audience interaction, and a good sense that nothing is off limits. But while the routine makes use of a number of comedic devices, where it really shines is during Wakasugi’s direct observations, a point emphasised when the microphone made a dramatic lapse into silence halfway through the show, and he spent a handful of minutes interacting with the audience on the fly, maintaining the show’s momentum without breaking a sweat.

While the comedy routine creates laughs a-plenty, on the occasion a joke fell flat Wakasugi integrated the moment into his routine with grace and ploughed ahead with gusto. This ability to roll with the crowd, alongside an evident love for both cultures, carried the audience comfortably through the less polished three-quarter mark of the show.

There’s a lot that’s covered and poked fun at over the course of the hour, from his experience working in an office job in Japan, to the trials and tribulations of being a backpacker working on a farm in Australia, and perhaps most importantly, the dangers of getting a tattoo in a language you don’t understand. Together, the anecdotes provide a lighthearted introduction to Japanese culture and humour, while also reflecting on the best and most confusing parts of Australian culture.

3.5 / 5 stars


Words by Rachael Stapleton

Welcome to Japan is showing until February 29

For more information and to book tickets click here

Promise and Promiscuity

The reimagining and retelling of a treasured work of literature can be a risky endeavour; New Zealand writer and performer Penny Ashton courageously took this plunge in her one-woman-show Promise and Promiscuity. Ashton describes this piece of theatre as collaboration between herself and Jane Austen, the 18th century writer who gifted the world with texts such as Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Persuasion. Ashton engages with Austen’s timeless values and narratives to bring us the character of Elspeth, a young woman battling against the gender obligations and expectations of her time. Using wit, song and dance, Ashton stages a charming and utterly hilarious revision of Austen’s iconic works.

Ashton was a riot of energy on stage as she jumped so precisely between the portrayal of various entertaining characters who were all exaggerated depictions of classic Austen personalities. Ashton’s physicality, vocal talents and unwavering commitment made such characters overwhelmingly comical. Paired with sharp staging, all character distinctions easily identifiable.

Songs were scattered throughout the 70-minute production, adding an additional layer of amusement and ridiculousness to the piece. Ashton also interacted with her audience, introducing us to an eager participant, Mr Lock, who hand a grand time dancing across the stage with our performer. Ashton’s talents in improvisation were on display in these moments as the inclusion of the audience only added humour and appeared organic and comfortable.

The aptitude of Ashton’s writing shone in her inclusion of contemporary pop-culture references: although Austen’s work is timeless, Ashton made it relatable and relevant. This was not limited to Austen’s advocacy against gender conventions, although droll comments on the long-standing gender pay gap were slipped in. Ashton also provided references to Fifty Shades of Grey, Kim Kardashian, Kmart, Donald Trump, and Billy Joel, with this list is only scraping the surface. Intertwining 18th century life with our current day perspectives highlighted how little this world and humanity has really changed: we are as hilariously absurd now as we were then.

The themes in Pride and Prejudice will never get old; hence, Promise and Promiscuity is built on an intertextual solid foundation. Although this piece is rooted in Austen’s work, it must be noted that the enjoyment of this show is not exclusive to those who are well-read or obsessive fans of Austen’s literature. Promise and Promiscuity is widely accessible, cheeky and uninhibited, particularly in the way it draws from the current day zeitgeist. Ashton, her chummy friendship with Austen, and her delightful production provides all audience members with the opportunity to have a hearty chuckle.

4.5 / 5 stars


Words by Michelle Wakim

Promise and Promiscuity is playing at Gluttony’s Masonic Lodge until March 1

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here