Unplotted Potter

If you like improv; if you like comedy; or if you’ve ever felt the desire to delve into some wildly speculative background stories of Hogwarts’ most obscure characters — UnPlotted Potter is the must-see Adelaide Fringe show for you.


I first saw UnPlotted Potter at last year’s Fringe, and was left enchanted and deeply amused, so when I saw that Scriptease were putting on another season this year, I signed up right away.


UnPlotted Potter starts off with the names of three underrepresented or obscure Potterverse characters being drawn from the “Goblet of Fire”. Relying on audience members to select a favourite, the cast then immediately delves into an over-the-top and constantly hilarious construction of the chosen character’s origin story.


Friday night’s show had the choice of Susan Bones (a Hufflepuff from Harry Potter’s year), Mr Ollivander (the ancient and somewhat creepy wand-maker), and Professor Arsenius Jigger (an old professor of Potions and the Dark Arts, and author of three books) immediately dubbed “Arse Jigger” by the cast. After a majority win, Mr Ollivander’s origin story was played out. Opening with Ollivander’s son, Devon, “picking up things” in the Forbidden Forest as punishment after kicking a professor down the moving staircase (the stairs kept moving and she fell for three weeks), the story followed his rebellious yearning to move away from the family wand-making business; and saw his father (Mr Ollivander), his grandfather (also Mr Ollivander), and his great-great grandfather (another Mr Ollivander) as they worked to try and convince him to stay in the family business that had been around since 382 BC.


Over the hour-long show, topics covered ranged from Hogwarts sex education, to pirate first-aid, and even Ollivander’s secret past as a travelling bard and exotic dancer. The cast were quick-witted and adapted well to each scene change, and even managed to smoothly incorporate the sound of an audience member’s keys that fell on the floor into their act.


Perhaps the best part of this show is that every night is a completely new and different performance, meaning you could see it again and again, and by all means — you should!


Words by Kirtsty van der Veer

4 stars.

Unplotted Potter is playing at Tandanya Theatre at Live From Tandanya until March 18, except March 12 and 13. Tickets available here.


Cohen & Waits

Cohen and Waits provides a one-hour tribute to famed singer-songwriters Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits performed in perfectly professional and polished style. For anyone with an appreciation of the works of either Cohen or Waits, this is a must-see this Fringe.

The performers, Rohan and Polly, slip easily into the vocal styles of both individuals – a remarkable feat for performers of such unique qualities as Cohen and Waits. Between songs, both talk freely with the audience and bring the audience in, making it feel even more welcoming and enjoyable.

Mixing the songs of both singer-songwriters, the show provides a good helping of both Cohen and Waits – a highlight being the blurring of lines between them as we are treated to Cohen covering Waits and Waits Cohen.

As both Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen possess such a remarkable set of songs (both in quality and quantity) it is interesting to see how Rohan and Polly make their choices. Selecting an engaging set of songs that showcases the range of both those to whom they pay tribute and themselves. Throw in an original song that carries a significant element of the Cohen or Waits style, and you have a uniquely enjoyable and entertaining show.

Even if you are unfamiliar with Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits’ oeuvre, anyone with an appreciation for excellent music and good performances will find themselves truly enjoying this show. That the show could be such a perfected thing on the first night is worth noting as well. It doesn’t feel so much polished as it does organic. That is not to say that the show is not mounted with stunning professionalism but just that the human element so particular and important to writers and singers like Cohen and Waits is present in this performance. An over-polished result could risk the heart of those great performers’ works but this hits just the right mark to pay tribute to two greats of music in a deeply fitting manner.


Words by Liam McNally

5 stars.

Cohen & Waits is playing at the Gallery Room at National Wine Centre on March 14 & 16. Tickets available here.

The Bacchae

When you enter the lavish French Room at the Benjamin on Franklin, there are five women lying, arms akimbo, on the floor. They wake to find themselves trapped inside the room with you. They don’t know how they got there and they panic; trying the door handles, asking if they’re being sold, wondering what they’re being sold for. I felt almost complicit in their entrapment even though I was not. From this, you might think you know what The Bacchae is about, but this is not, however, the show you think it is.

It’s an arresting, confronting piece of theatre. It deals with women’s experiences of gendered-violence and micro-aggressions, but it also is an unflinching reclamation of space. Through a combination of the character’s trying to uncover why they’re in the room and a channelling of the Maenad’s from Euripides’ The Bacchae, the play is a bold examination of women’s stories and women’s anger. It is full of spine-twisting and unearthly powerful scenes that the actors pull out through a combination of physical theatre, light and sound effects, melodic-vocals, and dialogue pulled directly from classical text. The switch between the play’s contemporary text and the ‘channelling’ of the Maenad’s was masterfully smooth – at one point I forgot I was supposed to be reviewing the play entirely and for good reason.

The best theatre often comes from a place of innate truth – and there’s much of it within this play. Some of this is inherently due to the themes of women’s inequality, gendered-oppression, and gendered-violence. There is a very careful line that needs to be trod when attempting to unpack such themes; there’s a risk that the ideas are either too ambiguous or too didactic. In this sense, some of the roots of The Bacchae as a graduating piece shows itself. But it’s also incredibly hard to try and meld the personal experience with the statistically shared one that The Bacchae opens itself up to, and they manage it with very few stumbles considering this fact. The personal stories the characters retell, however, contain a deep resonance to the experiences of women I know personally, and it was hard to not get caught up in the lived reality of their dialogue.

What this play does – and does well – is spur a conversation, literally. The ending of The Bacchae is striking, and more so for the fact I’ve never experienced one like it. Without any spoilers, it once again re-affirms the takeover of the space by these women (for all women) and the power they’ve gained by doing so. Make sure you stay for the after-play discussion between audience, actors, director, and dramaturge as it is a rare thing when it comes to fringe-theatre.

I left The Bacchae wanting to have my sister, my mother, the women and men of my life watch it; it’s a timely piece of theatre that desperately needs to be seen. The Bacchae hit at places I didn’t even know hurt and I loved it for doing so.


Words by Taeghan Buggy

4.5 stars.

The Bacchae is playing at 6:30 pm and 9pm every night from the 7th to the 10th of March in the French Room at Benjamin on Franklin. Tickets available here.

Adelaide Songs – Director’s Cut

I went to see Adelaide Songs at the 2016 Fringe and hoped then that they would prove to be fixture of our city’s festival scene. It seems my hope has been granted as here they are again for their third straight Fringe and I couldn’t resist checking in to see how things have changed.

Selecting from their bank of songs, the performers gave the audience a generous fourteen songs. Six I’d heard last time, and eight new. The six older songs were welcome returns including a rousing tribute to our state’s ‘best premier’ Don Dunstan in “Politics of Love”, and a song dedicated to the patchy nature of Hindley Street in “Hindley Street Waltz”.

The new songs included the very timely “Battery Powered Premier” and to discuss the changing face of Adelaide, “City of Towers”.

The song list charts South Australia’s long history, through its ups and downs, from arrival of Colonel Light to the present – while still paying due attention to all that went before Light. The performance celebrates South Australia without ignoring the less pleasant elements of our history. It’s not without an understanding of the questionable times in our past.

Adelaide Songs is educational, enjoyable, and a worthwhile show. Any member of the audience is sure to go home having learned something and possessing a greater appreciation for our state’s unique history. The show does not sacrifice entertainment for its educational elements, though, as it maintains a light touch and sense of fun throughout, except for when dealing with the more serious corners of our state’s past.

It is an unrepentant celebration of our city which sits in stark contrast to the popular view of looking down on Adelaide. The performance and the artists invested in it show a willingness to buck the trend of cultural cringe in favour taking time to celebrate the vast range our state’s past, present, and future takes in.

It’s well worth having a show in the Adelaide Fringe that puts Adelaide so much at the centre. Where Adelaide might be the canvas, Adelaide Songs makes our city (the fifth most liveable in the world, apparently!) the artwork itself.


Words by Liam McNally

4 stars.

Adelaide Songs – Director’s Cut is playing at The Jade on March 10 at 2pm and 5pm. Tickets available here.

That Daring Australian Girl

Directed by Nicholas Collett, That Daring Australian Girl certainly sounds daring, if not a little mad. Joanne Hartstone’s performance of Muriel Matters, the South Australian suffragette, was not only captivating but inspiring. Telling the story of a ‘new woman’ and the fight for women’s rights in England, Harstone crams into one hour a breadth of history and knowledge that has taken years to collect.


A one-woman-act, Hartstone demonstrated her skills at elocution and, like Muriel Matters, her strong belief and support for women’s rights both then, and now. It was amazing to see the entire audience beholden to this one intense woman as she delivered us into the past and carried us along Muriel Matters’s journey not only from Australia to England, but to joining the Women’s Freedom League, her lecturing tours of Australia, and her bid for office.


The versatile costumes of Nikki Fort were well suited to the performance and era, cleverly using a variety of hats and coats to dictate a change of place or situation. The production design of Tom Kitney ensured that Hartstone was not just using her voice and her expression but her surroundings to draw us into her tale as her trunk becomes not just a trunk, but a horse and carriage and a flying dirigible.


The story of the suffragettes is not as well known as it should be and it is likely that the names of women such as Muriel Matters will one day be lost. What we do know of her though, is that she certainly is one daring Australian woman.


One of the greatest parts of any show at Fringe is the moment when the artist realises their show has been a success. We were not cheated of this moment tonight as Hartstone received a well-earned standing ovation for her endeavours. I am always amazed at how a single person can perform solo and achieve such a level of engagement from their audience as Hartstone did tonight, it is awe-inspiring and a wonderful reminder of the power of the spoken word.


Words by Kayla Gaskell

Five stars.

That Daring Australian Girl is playing at Holden Street Theatres from the 7th-11th, 13th-15th, and 17th-18th of March as well as appearing at Stirling Fringe on the 9th and 12th. Tickets are available here.


Aidan Jones: The Abersham Flat

One of the things stand up does best compared to other styles of performance is presenting an anecdote or true story in a way that feels so much more genuine. You really believe the outrageous and larger than life story being weaved before you. This is something Aidan Jones excels in his show, The Abersham Flat.

Here we follow his adventures doing what many of us only fanaticise about, moving to England to follow your dreams (in stand up) and ending up in a dodgy London flat. Here Aidan must deal with a particularly difficult roommate, conman and all-round-weird guy, Andy. This story is interweaved with other anecdotes from Aidan’s life, including the story about meeting his biological father, and a very complex STI scare.

What results in a highly compelling and hilarious journey that truly takes you on a real rollercoaster of mostly highs. It’s clear from his stage presence and performance that Aidan is no stranger to the stage. His light, self-deprecating style, and willingness to turn such personal and sometimes embarrassing stories leaves a sense of raw vulnerability which sucks you in.

Definitely a talent to look out for, check out Aidan Jones: The Abersham Flat.


Words by Simone Corletto

4 stars.

Aidan Jones: The Abersham Flat is playing at the Nook at The Producers until March 18 (excluding Mondays). Tickets available here.

Scarred for Life

As we went into the wonderful venue that is the Lab at Queen’s Theatre, hospital-style hair nets were handed out. This method of blurring the lines between performance and real life pays off in spades due to the strength of the show itself.

Being capable of eliciting anxiety, joy, and a whole gamut of emotions is a remarkable skill and one that Josh Belperio masters to great effect in Scarred for Life. A tour de force of musical talent, the performance balances both the intrinsic skill Belperio exhibits but also plays to his strengths to charm the audience. Quite a charismatic performer, Belperio is aided by excellent production to tell a story that weaves between emotional weight and lighter humorous turns. The shifting of tone could easily have been mismanaged but no emotional turn feels abrupt.

The production is perfectly geared to maximise the strength of Belperio’s story. Watching this performance is a powerful experience and is ultimately an uplifting one that will surely see the audience leave on an emotional high.

Charting trauma, anxiety, and recovery, it’s impossible to avoid the seriousness of the situations but Scarred for Life is able to measure the humour to perfection. The blend that results from this artistic measuring of themes is a special one. The story is a worthy one, the themes universal (even if not the actual experiences, hopefully) and the production pitched to perfection bring out the pre-existing strengths of the show. Undeniably, this is an engaging and charming performance mounted to perfectly play on the substantial strengths of Josh Belperio as a performer and Scarred for Life as a performance.

Seeing Scarred for Life in the same day as Mental as Everything only added to the experience as both shows complimented each other with their shared themes and ethos. I’m sorry to say that both shows are now ended but hopefully they will not keep us waiting and the wonderful and unique performance staged at the Lab at Queen’s Theatre will return before long and not starve the audiences of such great marvels.


Words by Liam McNally

4½ stars.


Katie Reddin-Clancy’s Grace is a unique experience this Fringe. Filing into the performance space of Tuxedo Cat at the Broadcast Bar (a place you could so easily walk past without noticing), Reddin-Clancy was already on the stage, ready for the audience. With a sizable selection of costumes to choose from, the audience is treated to Reddin-Clancy adopting a number of personas throughout the show. The transition is smooth and the commitment to each character is absolute.

One is not necessarily furnished with the full information of what is going on immediately, but through the course of the performance, the picture becomes clear. Set around a performance and the individuals attached to it, the story is filled out by Reddin-Clancy’s varied stable of well-realised characters.

Through humour, thought-provoking discussion, and character development, Grace slowly uncovers its core: a story about identity and love. It explores quite intrinsic elements of humanity while maintaining humour and wit throughout.

As you scan through the Fringe’s massive schedule, it could be easy to miss  this enigmatically titled performance, just as it could be easy to walk past the door of its venue without noticing, but it would be a mistake. Charming, funny, and witty, Grace is perfectly pitched to elicit the audience’s responses at every moment. Mixing humour, seriousness, and irreverence, the blend of the performance is something that almost should not work – yet somehow, by the skill of Reddin-Clancy as a performer, it works.

In its short 60-minute duration, Grace poses an enigma to the audience, solves it, and takes the audience on an engaging run through a series of characters brought together around a performance as the nexus by which they mutually connect.

Remarkable in its originality and daring, Grace is an excellent performance showcasing a talented performer’s ability to adopt new and distinct personas deftly.


Words by Liam McNally

4 stars.

Grace is playing at Tuxedo Cat at the Broadcast Bar every night until March 18. Tickets available here.

Alcohol is Good for You Too – Sam Kissajukian

First thing’s first. Alcohol is Good for You Too is one of the best stand-up comedy shows I’ve seen in my life. It’s just unceasingly funny. Sam Kissajukian starts strong right out of the gate and never lets up. Covering things as varied as the true and chilling face of God to what Kissajukian gets up to with onions (don’t ask) and stopping along the way to acknowledge the evolutionary failure that is sausage dogs (sorry).

Kissajukian doesn’t tell jokes so much as take the audience on a long and winding path of comedy through uncharted (in some cases, perhaps best left uncharted) territories in which every observation is funnier than most punchlines could ever hope to be. The most talented Australian comedian I’ve ever seen, Kissajukian’s style and quality is not unlike an Australian Dylan Moran. A real highlight of current stand-up comedy in this country.

He had the entirety of the Producers’ garden in rapturous laughter throughout his 55-minute set. It’s a shame it’s as short as it is, but not a single minute of its length is wasted.

Kissajukian us able to engage with the audience and even when the audience is not particularly cooperative (as happened on a couple of occasions) he is able to make something else of the situation and it is apparently impossible to turn him from his determination to keep the audience in fits of laughter.

Fortunately, Sam Kissajukian’s Alcohol is Good for You Too is playing until the end of the Fringe. Go, and you too, could see the horrifying face of God.


Words by Liam McNally

4½ stars.

Alcohol is Good For You Too – Sam Kissajukian is playing at the Producers in the garden until March 18 (except Mondays). Tickets available here.

Mental As Everything

Mental as Everything charts the breadth of two talented musicians’ personal experiences with mental health. Immediately impressive due to the significant talent of Damon Smith and Adam Coad, the performance only grows in strength as it continues. The depth of meaning and feeling charted by their assortment of songs and open discourse with the audience is something quite special. The show possesses something that cannot be fabricated by any amount of skill or talent – it has something intimate, understanding, and very, very true about it.

Exploring the effects and impacts of depression, anxiety, OCD, panic attacks, and bipolar disorder, the performance tackles its issues with humour, earnestness, and truth. It’s a show with a message and while that message is definitely front and centre of the show, it doesn’t fall into preachy territory that could undercut its own meaning. It succeeds entirely in formulating an experience that both delivers a message and entertains. Thought-provoking theatre at its best, Mental as Everything is a valuable show. Sadly, the run has finished but hopefully the Smith and Coad will return before long to offer more of this show.

Almost confessional in its honesty, Mental as Everything ticks every necessary box to be a marvellous and worthy experience. Both Smith and Coad offer us an insight into their own respective lives, giving specific examples of the way they interact with mental health daily.

The performance features a range of new and familiar songs that are used to expertly weave a musical exploration of mental health issues. Songs of their own composition mix perfectly with other more familiar songs like Trent Reznor’s Hurt (the Johnny Cash version) to form a perfect song-scape of mental health exploration.

With its wonderful balance of music, truth, and a message to share, Mental as Everything is simply necessary viewing. The chances of any given individual having their own experience with mental health is very high and as Smith and Coad say in their performance, we live in a transitional period. It is becoming easier for individuals to acknowledge a struggle with mental health without being harshly judged, but this performance plays its own part in pushing for more significant movement on that front.

Not only all those worthy, important issues, but also this show exhibits the most exhilarating shoe-on, shoe-off sequence you are ever likely to see.


Words by Liam McNally

4½ stars.