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

Floral Peroxide

Alison Paradoxx Presents Floral Peroxide was my favourite Fringe show of 2019. It is intense, captivating narrative, eye appealing costume design and heart pounding techno-style music by 5000AD made this an unforgettable experience. Floral Peroxide has once again returned to the Fringe for 2020 with some changes made to the performance. I attended the opening night on February 16, keen to see how these changes have changed the performance. Like 2019, Floral Peroxide is one of the must-see Fringe shows.

Floral Peroxide is a deeply personal story of poet and performer Alison Paradoxx’s struggles with her numerous disabilities throughout her life. The narrative speaks of the societal desire to “fix” the broken self and the paradoxes of disability. This is portrayed through spoken word poetry, interpretative dance and stunning voice-over visuals.

One of the main changes to Floral Peroxide from last year is the venue. This year, it is being held inside the Nexus Arts Centre, in comparison to the outdoor setting of Libertine by Louis. This change to an interior venue enhanced the audio and lighting experience. I could feel the beating of the heart beats deeper within my chest and the ear shrieking sound of flatline more so than last year.

The revamped performance brought more life and awe to Floral Peroxide. Alison’s dance in the beginning, as she crawls to the wheelchair, while her story was told on screen was more impactful during this performance. Her addition of a scene detailing some of the potential side-effects of her medication made me uncertain if I should laugh or be horrified. Same can be said when Alison speaks of “men in business suits” who try to define one with a disability. It is confronting to hear, yet, I couldn’t help but laugh when she mentioned these had the scent of a particular aftershave. It adds humour to an otherwise terrifying reality.

Some minor changes were made to the costumes which helped enhance Alison’s performance further through their confronting, yet beautiful designs. One of the greatest changes to the costume is Alison’s hair, which is red this year rather than blue. There was beautiful contrast with her hair and the white dress worn in the final scene.

Like last year, I am struggling for words to further describe Floral Peroxide. It is such a powerful and confronting experience which I cannot find the right words for. For someone with a disability myself, this show is so empowering and speaks to me in a way few Fringe shows in the past have. I guess this is down to the main takeaway of the show: to not let outdated societal norms define you.

Alison Paradoxx Presents Floral Peroxide is unlike other Fringe shows I have seen over the years. This is a beautifully crafted performance from start to finish. It is shows like this which is a reason why the Fringe is such an important event for South Australian artists. This is one show that you cannot afford to miss.

Copies of Alison’s poetry book Subtitled Radiology and the Spitting Teeth anthology are available to buy for $7 and $20 respectively too. For more information on Alison Paradoxx, you can read our 2019 feature here.

5 / 5 stars


Words by Cameron Lowe

Floral Peroxide will be shown again on February 25 and March 11

For more information and to purchase tickets please 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

Jon Brooks: Selfies From Chernobyl

Jon Brooks got old, man. Ok, that’s probably a little mean, but he’d be the first to lament about the passage of time and the… seasoning that comes with it. Y’see, when you get old, and you inevitably reflect on the things that used to minor bugbears now really annoy you those things tend to stick in your mind, and after a while you’ve just gotta roll up your sleeves, spit on your hands, and hoist the black flag.

When Brooks makes an observation, he tends to deliver it like an annoyed heavyweight UFC fighter looking to exploit your glass jaw – and he hits like grandad’s homemade Grappa. He’s now the wrong side of 40, and with that comes changes, and they’re not always great; accidentally & mysteriously breaking his back last May – he’s still not sure how it happened, only that it very much did painfully happen – had him laid-up for five months with only the internet for company and has allowed him to really define things he absolutely detests – book people, social media spats between Z-List pseudo-celebrities, Brussel Sprouts, Scott Morrison, the light at the end of the tunnel that seems to be getting a little brighter every day – a booty call in your late-20s is a thing of joyous wonder that you excitedly prepare for, but in your 40s? For Brooks it’s now become more a matter of life and death, once more in the breach, dear friends, as what once was second-nature now requires a last will & testament is prepared and left on the bedside table. Stuff changes, and that’s scary, man.

Being a veteran of twelve years as a stand-up comedian, despite a hiatus of a few years, means that Brooks is instantly at ease on the stage, with an effortless cadence and delivery that underscores his show. Occasionally the jokes fall a little flat, and where a rookie would falter, Brooks squares up, dodges the jab, and suckers you with a left that you didn’t see coming… the caustic, acerbic, battle-scared pro doing what he’s really quite good at.

4 / 5 stars


Words by Mikey Della Porta

Jon Brooks: Selfies From Chernobyl is running from February 18 – 22 at Rhino Room.

For more information and to purchase tickets click here.

Songbirds

No doubt the Barossa is a prime spot for scenic views, fine wine and gourmet food – tourists from all over Australia and the world visit for just that reason – and us South Australians are proud of it, rightfully so. Adding the Fringe into the mix not only colours the area and makes it more vibrant for us all, but the locals come out in a display of support and it’s something city-folk need to see. The Barossa isn’t all about commerce; it doesn’t have to be so high-end. The Barossa is about community and its art, and Songbirds proved it.

Last night, in a massive shed of a primary school gymnasium in Tanunda, five singer / songwriters from the Barossa got together to celebrate the women who came before them. Promising something rustic and refined, something authentically local, the venue was decorated with flowing white curtains above a stage full of instruments (mostly acoustic guitars) and white candles enclosed in twigs and gum leaves centred on long, shared tables. There was a collective feeling in the air of laid-back class. After Sue Baker, Victoria Blechynden, Cara Boehm, Cloudy Davey, and Megan Isaacson performed their first song, which they sang as a group, the women took off their shoes and got comfortable. They joked with one another and with their audience, and then got down to story-telling.

Storytelling can take many forms, and the packed house of 250 people heard two: an introduction to what the notable singer and their songs meant to each artist, and the songs themselves. Supported by an all-male band playing guitars, double bass, drums, sax, dobro and mandolin (with the ever-versatile Jamie Blechynden playing most of them) the women covered the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Ricky Lee Jones, Eva Cassidy, Joni Mitchell and many beloved, iconic more, proving they weren’t one-trick ponies by switching and swapping instruments throughout the night. Sometimes folk, sometimes soul, sometimes political, sometimes feel-good, the women were always professional, which is a big call for a Fringe show as the concept behind the festival can mean productions might be very grass-roots with a high hit-or-miss rate. But these women are serious artists, and the audience got just what they came for (the wine, platters and desserts cost extra and were also worth the price, surprisingly modest at that). The individual personalities came out not only in how each woman communicated their passion for music, their chosen musicians and the women they shared the stage with, but also in their original songs, because what would a night of singer / songwriters be without originals? And with those originals a theme emerged within the group: finding yourself then letting yourself go.

As our emcee told us, Tanunda means ‘many water birds’ making Songbirds a perfect coming-together.

4.5/ 5 stars


Words by Heather Taylor Johnson

This was a one-off event for the Barossa Fringe but you can view it live-streamed here:  https://www.facebook.com/Songbirds2020/

Welcome to the Nightmare – A tribute to Alice Cooper

When the evening began with a clown dragging a shackled nun to the stage it soon became evident that Alice Cooper was not being covered – he was being embodied. Retro Production’s Welcome to the Nightmare – A tribute to Alice Cooper is a wickedly diverse two-act show spanning across the greatest hits of this 70’s icon. Expect costume changes, theatrics, props, and of course, legendary rock songs such as ‘I’m Eighteen’, ‘Welcome to My Nightmare’, ‘Department of Youth’, ‘School’s Out’, and more.

Dave Hudson shines on vocals, proving to be competent in handling the bellowing lows and threatening highs of each song. His stage presence is immense as he adopts the mannerisms of Cooper, almost making it seem as if the music has completely taken over him. He orchestrates his band much like a conductor at times (but if a conductor ruled with a long shiny sword rather than a baton). He plays around with the band, weaving in and out as if he is wildly encapsulated by the sounds being produced.

The band themselves are a true highlight of the performance, plenty of skills are on display from their guitarists, Chris Anthony & Richard Poray who both ooze of style and passion as they play. Steve Smith is thunderous on the drums (and notably adorns a Guy Fawkes mask during the second act), and Jason Anderson blasts the bass with ease as Ashley Miller provides the final touches on keyboards. The all-singing and all-screaming back-up vocals accompany the band with a well-balanced stage presence. Collectively the band covers Cooper’s classics with relentless energy and stamina often leaving you thinking “wait, they aren’t going to take a breather after that?”

Theatrics also play a huge role in this performance. While the specifics won’t be detailed, it has to be mentioned that there are live-snakes and a guillotine. They bode well as extensions of the music and provide many crowd-pleasing moments as a result.

Between the two acts, the first is noticeably stronger theatrically. While the second act certainly has its abundance of musical successes, the theatrics seem to become somewhat repetitive at points and drag for just a little too long. One particular moment involving a spider verges on becoming a little awkward.

That being said, these minor issues do not overshadow the successes of the experience. It is needless to say that Welcome to the Nightmare – A tribute to Alice Cooper is a fitting ode to its subject. Just try not to get too freaked out by the abundance of baby dolls littered across the stage!

4/ 5 stars


Words by Isaac Freeman

 

Welcome to the Nightmare – A tribute to Alice Cooper plays again on February 21 at the Clovercrest Hotel and on February 27 at the Marion Cultural Centre.

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

Sh!t Theatre Drink Rum with Expats

Drink Rum with Expats is one of the many highly acclaimed productions currently on show at Holden Street Theatres. Presented by Sh!t Theatre – the collaboration of UK based duo, Becca Biscuit and Louise Mothersole – this production offers itself as a recount of Becca and Louise’s venture to Malta, a small, idealistic, sun-kissed island in Europe. Specifically, the pair take us to Valletta, ‘The European Capital of Culture’. This comical telling quickly shows its full depth as the pair take a deep dive into the political climate of this small country.  The production highlights the profound cultural tensions that lie beneath a country’s touristic offering and also explores the constructions of expats and immigrants.

On our entrance we were poured a beer and given cheese: Sh!t Theatre were welcoming in us in with the same pleasant rituals that expats experience when establishing their communities abroad. Soon after introductions, Becca and Louise begin to unpack the privilege of an expat and the marginalisation of an immigrant, yet they are not arrogant or overpowering in this political discussion. ‘Expats’ and ‘Immigrants’ are lined up alongside of each other, exposing their constructed similarities and differences – it is suggested that the former comes from a ‘rich’ country, and the latter from a ‘poor’ one. This is symbolically presented many times throughout the production, such as when we see our expats wearing life jackets and drowning themselves in alcohol, while the screen behind them plays a photo reel of immigrants drowning at sea. Before we know it, Becca and Louise plunge into one of Malta’s, and the world’s, greatest predicaments: who is entitled to citizenship?

This piece of theatre is by no means traditional; instead, it is a rich melting pot of various theatrical genres, mediums and devices. There is song, dance and elements of physical theatre. The set, in its structure, is rather simple but decorated with humble props that bring the space to life, with each prop serving as a connection to travels or the political discussion at hand. The use of real audio recordings, photographs and videos from Sh!t Theatre’s travels contributed not only to the humour of the piece, but in realising the authenticity and intensity of the unfortunate truths that sit behind the comedy.

A specific note of praise must be given to the inclusion of song within Drink Rum with Expats. Revised lyrics and touching harmonies were applied a familiar sea shanty tune and the audience were invited to sing along, establishing a sense of community and belonging within the quaint theatre. The singing was at times jovial but also offered the sensation of nostalgia and a melancholic connection formed within a patriotic community when under threat.

The execution of this production was sharp and seamless.  It was fast paced and engaging with an improvisational tone. It felt like highly organised chaos, a whirlwind, allowing 75 minutes fly by in an instant. The organic chemistry between Becca and Louise was evident, heightening the comedic appeal of the production. The fact that there was, arguably, no fourth wall ever built to be broken encouraged a relationship to be formed quickly between performers and audience members. Such a relationship enabled the uncomfortable undertones of this piece to be received without resistance. A hearty commendation should be given to Becca and Louise for their writing. Layering comedy with harrowing political commentary takes remarkable intelligence and acute social awareness.

Sh!t Theatre were right to present such a show to Australian audiences. An ‘Australian expat’ and ‘expats in Australia’ are common pairings. However, the relationship between Australia and immigration is not nearly as friendly and sometimes forgotten. Australian citizens have often exercised the privilege of living and travelling abroad, immersing ourselves in a foreign culture and then returning home to be welcomed with open arms by everyone in our country – even those working at airport security – all because of our Australian documentation. Becca and Louise’s experiences were much the same.

It has never been more important for people to see such pieces of art, and Becca and Louise make this piece of political theatre an absolute pleasure to watch.

 

4.5/ 5 stars


Words by Michelle Wakim

Sh!t Theatre Drink Rum With Expats runs until March 15.
To find out more and to purchase tickets click here.

1000 Doors

1000 Doors is difficult to describe. Like all art installations, the intention of the artist is personal and ambiguous, the meaning being up to the interpretation of the viewer.

Set up in the Garden of Unearthly Delights, 1000 Doors is a dark choose-your-own adventure in which you take your time journeying through the labyrinth of doors presented. You enter at your own risk and take your time to absorb the unique experience. A half an hour is the recommended time-frame, but you can take all the time you need.

Lining up, you’ll be greeted by a guide ready explains the simple rules: don’t break anything, don’t steal anything, and if you feel uncomfortable at any time you are free to leave.

Walking inside, you are confronted with a long hallway with loud fluorescent lights down the centre. Wallpaper, beautiful but hanging ripped from walls stained with unknown liquid. Blurry black and white photographs scattered around the floor. Sounds, impossible to pinpoint, seeping through the walls, the effect is loud and all encompassing.

Initially, you might be waiting for the classic haunted house jump-scare. This experience is so much more than that. A journey through time and genre, I was completely immersed in the four walls and varying doors presented to me. Choosing your own path through the winding corridors and oddly shaped rooms, you are one with the art around you.

A feeling of unease propels you through the myriad of time and experience. At once not here, nor there. Not in the present or the past, but somewhere different entirely, surrounded by the echoes of the voices of those who came before you.

If you can find the exit, you will experience the installation peaking in a divine crescendo of sight and sound. Returning to the bright and brilliant Fringe is a sharp jolt back to reality from a world not quite our own.

Encouraged to touch the surrounds, backtrack and interact, 1000 Doors is a truly sensory experience. I would recommend that someone wishing to attend bring along a friend to share the experience, or just have someone else open the doors for you. You never know what’s behind the next door. For anyone curious to see what fears and curiosities might await in the space beyond, 1000 Doors is a place for you.

I give 4 stars for a show that leaves you thinking: how and where did someone find this many doors?

 

4/5 stars


Words by Sarah Ingham

 

1000 Doors is on every day apart from 17/2/2020.

For more information and for tickets click here.

Confessions Of A 59 Year-Old Fringe Virgin

Hello. My name is WeeStu Campbell and I am a stand-up comedian.

If the rhythm and cadence of that sentence rings familiar, it is no coincidence. Both it, and the more familiar AA introduction, points to a deep-seated addiction.

Stand up comedy is the hard stuff. Once it gets into your system it is hard to shake. For 59 years I was abstinent, sober if you will, from stand up. Until that is, one fateful Monday night in July 2019 when, at the urging of my pushers, I got up on stage at OneMic Stand open mic comedy at the Rhino Room in Adelaide. The stage lights blinded me, the laughter intoxicated me and from that moment I was hooked. Now, if I go more than three days without a fix I am in withdrawal. Believe me, it’s no laughing matter.

Now I’m about to take my addiction to a new, higher level. I’m hitting up new pushers and suppliers, sorry promoters and venues. I’m upping the frequency and intensity of my doses. I’m going to run with a much bigger, far wilder crew of performance addicts. I’m seeking the mainline, the purest shit. I’m about to embark on my first ever Adelaide Fringe as a true user: a registered artist.

I write this on Monday February 10. Opening night still four sleeps away. But, today the journey begins. FringeWorks, the administrative hub of the Fringe is open, in the Fringe Club building on the corner of Frome and Grenfell. That means I can get my hand on the ticket to all my Fringe rushes. The artist’s pass.

For the moment FringeWorks, like any good dealer, is hidden from prying eyes. The club doesn’t open until Friday. No one advertises FringeWorks. It’s a secret for us performance junkies. The Fringe signs aren’t out yet. I enter the building cautiously, surreptitiously. It’s a building site, still being fabricated. There are no signs to guide me. Luckily three magicians come down a staircase, as if floating. They recognize me; I’ve worked with them in numerous variety shows. I’ve found my dealers den.

Upstairs the dealer’s hub that is FringeWorks is also in a state of flux. Workstations, printers the other necessities of an artist’s mobile office, still being put together. Again, I’m recognised. Being called WeeStu and wearing outrageous t-shirts has some advantages. Matt, Supplier, Artist and Venue Coordinator beckons me over. He sees the desperate hunger in my eyes and gives me what I need. The good stuff, the key to magic journeys. The Adelaide Fringe Artist Pass. With one of my aliases, Wee Stu, on it. This will give me access to the 25 nightly hits of stage time I’ve already secured, and hopefully many more.

I leave elated. A little drunk maybe. I pass another comic on the stairs; I recognise the cravings in his eyes.

By evening, however the hunger has returned. I’m back at Rhino Room OneMic stand begging for another hit of five. They give it to me. Third act in the first session. The routine works. The laughter fixes me. Very briefly I own a piece of stage real estate. Now I only have to wait until the next open mic at the Goody Hotel on Tuesday, BRKLYN Bar on Thursday and then, at last, my Fringe debut. Love 2 Laugh, Brompton Hotel Friday 14th February, 9pm.  Come along. Join me for the ride. Share the highs, the lows, the empty rooms, the deaths on stage, the behinds the scenes, the coffee (oh the coffee) and the confessions of a 59 year-old Fringe virgin.


 

Words by Stuart Campbell