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

Circolombia: Acelere

Forget conventionally mundane circuses with animal acts, cheesy showmanship and striped leotards. The stylings of Circolombia and their show ACELERE are all you need!

Hailing from Colombia, these group of artists bring many a jaw-dropping spectacle to the stage along with a refreshing injection of richly energetic culture. South-American musicality is on full display through the group’s exceptional vocalists and their collectively raw and kinetic style of dance. No matter the backing track (whether it be eerily atmospheric or full of Colombian flavour) ACELERE has a great balance and sense of unison with its sound and visuals. With the aforementioned vocal and dance performances serving as interludes or introductions to the next act, they work well to build audience anticipation.

Now, on to what everyone hopes for when seeing a circus act. Outstanding acrobatics and stunts. ACELERE manages to deliver these desires in droves. You may see limited potential in what can be achieved with a beam, a plank, wires, or large rings but Circolombia certainly doesn’t. Their approach to each of these obstacles/tools is so out of the box and inventively creative. Their rope and wire work is hypnotising as a result of their ability to use whatever they hold an extension of themselves.

Without a doubt, you’ll be sucked into sudden trances of movement before being slapped across the face with yet another dramatic manoeuvre. A large seesaw style plank serves as fuel on the fire for the performers to escalate their antics and constantly one-up each other. The giant ring is also a daring art for the performance, proving the strength, agility, and balance of the artists ten-fold.

ACELERE even manages to work its set up in a new way. Rather than just setting up mats or apparatuses in the background, they are interacted with as the performers find their place on stage. Circolombia flip, slide and vault around them as they seamlessly begin to transition into the conquering of their next stunt.

It’s unconventional, passionate, and successfully brings new life into the circus.

4 / 5 stars


Words and photography by Isaac Freeman

Circolumbia: Acelere is on until March 15

For more information and to book tickets, click here

Peach Cobbler

It’s a pretty familiar scene for just about everyone: family dinner. Some families do it every night, some maybe once a fortnight, if that. Or just when everyone’s free. Y’know, if you can make it, it’d be really lovely to have you over – mum’s making roast lamb. It’s tradition, the family get-together, everyone has a bit of a laugh, your mum will have a crack at you for swearing so much, and you’ll leave having eaten a bit more than you should have.

For Peach Cobbler, you’re led in to someone’s dining room, and it’s instantly familiar to you. Mum hands you some crockery – don’t just stand there, go help your brother set the table. Dad’s already sitting there, craning his neck to watch the T.V. on in the living room. Your sister is there, having had to move back home for a bit, but can we not talk about that? Do you have to bring that up? Here, open this bottle of wine.

This isn’t the Joker hanging out of a police car window, and here… we… go-style, though. This is just family dinner. Over the next three-quarters of an hour, playwright Laura Desmond’s family’s dirty laundry gets aired – brother Dan, father Gary, Carol, the matriarch trying to hold it all together, and Georgia, back living at home for a while. You get the feeling that this dirty laundry never really gets washed, and the topics of conversation – light, airy dinnertime subjects such as why feminism has gone too far, nationalism, misogyny, how it’s unfair that indigenous students always seem to be getting handouts – aren’t exactly on their first lap around the washing machine, and definitely aren’t on their last. That’s what gets to you about this show, the excruciating familiarity of it all, how you instantly know these people, how you don’t realise you’ve been clenching your jaw for twenty minutes. And then it ends, gradually, but suddenly. A long, drawn-out abruptness.

This show is like sitting on a chair that’s tilted fifteen degrees too far in one direction, at a desk that’s tilted fifteen degrees too far in the opposite direction. The light is 15% too bright or too dark, and the window just won’t open enough to get any of the breeze through – just like some family dinners you’ve absolutely been to, having to listen to racist aunt Mary or Uncle Dave who thinks that girls really should behave or dress in a certain way if they want to be taken seriously.

There isn’t a whole lot of things I’d give five stars to; Jawbreaker’s 1993 album 24 Hour Revenge Therapy, inter dismantling Barcelona in 2010, The Puma Suede… But this show is definitely one of them.

5 / 5 stars


 

Words by Mikey Della Porta

Peach Cobbler is on until March 13

For more information and to book tickets, click here

Electric Dreams: VR Cinema – Cosmic

The future of entertainment arrived at the Great Hall at North Terrace’s Masonic Lodge with Electric Dreams: Cosmic. As part of the Electric Dreams VR Cinema experience, Cosmic showcases Virtual Reality in a 360-degree environment. Brought to the Fringe by Crossover Labs, it is fascinating technology with so much potential. Unfortunately, Cosmic as a show was somewhat underwhelming.

The two films shown with cosmic are Kembla Mela and Conscious Existence, both connected to the idea of cosmic and space. Kembla Mela is a BBC feature on the Indian festival of the same name, one which is so large it is visible from space. This was my favourite film of the two. It did an effective job at telling the story of the festival and the people who attend it. I really did feel as though I was taken to this festival through the effectiveness of its filming.

Conscious Encounters was what I found the most underwhelming part of the experience. Admittedly, it has fantastic visuals. The Earth and Moon together is an example of this. It transported me to space in this time. The wandering through the forest was also another highlight moment. Some moments I even tried reaching out for things like leaves and shooting stars, like I was watching a modern 3-D film. The 360-degree experience really worked well in this moment, bringing me into the forest.

While impressive, all of this isn’t new to me, on a VR standpoint. The film too felt very linear sometimes and didn’t utilise the 360-degree experience to its full potential. It too felt more like an example of what it could do rather than what it can do.

The VR technology itself is impressive. The VR sets offered from Oculus were just the goggles with an audio jack, similar to the PlayStation VR. They’re not the most impressive VR goggles available, but they’re not bad. I was really immersed in the world. It’s just a shame that Conscious Encounters was underwhelming.

Electric Dreams: Cosmic was a good but underwhelming experience for me. It didn’t really show me anything new in the VR world and what it can do. If you’re new to VR, Cosmic will more than likely blow you away.

This review is only for Cosmic, not the larger Electric Dreams Experience, one made up of other cinema experiences and a conference (running Feb 19-23). For more on the Electric Dreams Experience, check out their Fringe page here.

3 / 5 stars


Words by Cameron Lowe

Electric Dreams: VR Cinema – Cosmic is on at Gluttony’s Masonic Lodge until February 23

For more information and to book tickets click here

Werewolves

“As night falls on the town of Millers Hollow, there’s trouble afoot and werewolves are stalking the innocent villagers.” – Nicholas Philips

Werewolves is an interactive party game, hosted by Nicholas Philips, in which the players must find and kill the werewolves before the village is decimated. I attended the February 19 performance given at the Ruby Room at Holden Street Theatres. The experience was nothing like I thought it would be.

The premise of Werewolves is pretty good to say the least. There are several different characters: Villagers, a Seers (who can see other people’s cards), Cupid (who can make two people lovers), a Witch (who can cure or kill someone), Hunter (can kill someone before dying) and Werewolves (who kill other players). I was given the Hunter card, which saved me halfway through the game.

Werewolves is a game where the enjoyment comes from the audience. My experience was enhanced by the great audience. The people overall were engaging and enthusiastic about it. One or two people brought some unnecessarily long-winded conversations into the game, which took me out of the experience and was irritating; however, the host handled it very professionally.

Due to low numbers, the event almost didn’t happen. Thankfully, some staff members from Holden Street Theatres joined in bringing their enthusiasm.

The Werewolves experience changes with each game, which makes it a refreshing change for the Fringe. In my game, for example, our village got decimated (thanks to yours truly) and I was the only one left alive. It was these tense moments which heightened my enjoyment. Could you trust your fellow player, or should you suspect everyone?

If you’re interested in giving something different a go, or just want a fun game with strangers or friends, then Werewolves is a must see. There is a lot of enjoyment to be found within this game and is both tense and edge-of-your-seat entertaining. I would love to play Werewolves again this Fringe to see how different it is.

 

4 / 5 stars


Words by Cameron Lowe

Werewolves is on until March 15

For more information and to buy tickets, click here

Bella Green is Charging For It

It would appear that the daily mainstream media has gotten sex work all wrong. Well, we all mostly knew that already; the Murdochracy in which we live works pretty hard to cast certain groups of people in some pretty harsh lights. The accepted theory about sex work is that it empowers people. It facilitates a transfer of power from the traditional wielder to a previously marginalised minority. Bella Green insists we’ve got it all wrong, what’s empowering about this line of work is gaining the ability to sleep in until midday whilst also being able to spend $7 on a punnet of blueberries in the middle of winter. Y’know, she’s actually pretty spot-on with that logic.

Green started as a dancer at 18, and progressed to other disciplines of the industry – dominatrix, escort, peep shows, brothels, nice strip clubs, bad strip clubs, gentrified strip clubs – and has gained a pretty extensive knowledge about the do’s, don’ts, and really don’ts about a pretty taboo topic, for both patrons and employees. Like, for example, how if a person asks a sex worker about what’s the freakiest/nastiest/weirdest thing they’ve ever done, in under ten minutes that patron will undoubtedly ask to do some seriously freaky/nasty/weird activity. Which, if they’re willing to pay appropriately & not be a douchebag, can absolutely be negotiated, because for Green, this is just a job. Why not do the easiest thing in the shortest amount of time for the most money? Again, she’s making some pertinent points. Having worked ‘real’ jobs for six years, she’s happy to compare conditions, and maintains that working in a call centre for a bank definitely comes dead last.

A lot of the humour is derived from the frankness of Green, and the ease at which she talks about and deconstructs her day job. There’s a couple of laugh-out-loud moments, but the pure stand-up portions of the show probably aren’t as strong as the unfiltered observations and commentary of her industry, being as candid, blunt, and thoroughly engaging as she is, and having discovered her interest in ‘these sorts of things’ early on, any stigma is long gone. She’s also not scared of drawing attention to the wild injustices that surround it, the criminalisation of sex workers and the opprobrium levelled at those that pay for their services. A comparison between her line of work and a doctor conducting an STI test pithily asks why there isn’t an ocean of pearls being clutched for the unfortunate gynaecologist.

Look, sex is fun. Sex is funny. Being a judgey little schmuck and maintaining outdated stereotypes about these things is decidedly unfunny. Bella Green’s here to set you straight.

 

3.5 / 5 stars


Words by Mikey Della Porta

Bella Green is Charging For It is on at Gluttony’s Masonic Lodge until March 1

For more information and to buy tickets please click here

Right Here, Right Now

Incredibly talented and immensely creative, Josh Belperio is someone I’m privilaged to have seen perform. Despite this show being raw and a little unpolished that only serves to highlight his creativity and ability to improvise on stage.

Having attended Belperio’s show 30,000 Notes last year, I was keen to find out more about this introspective individual. Having produced such an emotive show, I was keen to see one of his more comical shows with Scarred for Life. Instead, shortly before the launch of Fringe, I discovered that Belperio was taking a different route again, turning away from his previous two introspective shows to produce something a little more off-beat. Something to showcase his anger at everything that has occurred across our recent and quite devastating summer. This made me even more intrigued to know what Belperio has been up to and just what kind of show he would produce.

Going to Holden Street Theatres in the evening just after the sun has set is quite a special experience, one I aim to have at least once throughout the Fringe season. With a number of shows on simultaneously, there’s always a vibe of quite anticipation waiting.

We were led into a room much smaller than I’d expected where we found Belperio waiting beside a keyboard with the calm enthusiasm of an experienced performer. Since the previous year where he was presenting his notes and those left behind by his beloved Nonna, Belperio’s character had undergone a transformation. The clean-cut man of yesteryear replaced by someone clear in his rebellion.

Belperio started the show discussing the recent bush-fire crisis in song, moving on to his criticism of PM Scott Morrison (which is available to watch online here), and discussing the link between the bush-fire crisis and how LGBTQIA+ rights have been challenged by the religious discrimination bill.

The show itself was engrossing, breath-taking, even awe-inspiring. Belperio had homed in on his anger in the last few months, distilling it into something resembling cabaret but also a little more. Raw and, in places, improvised, this performance was both authentic and compelling .

While certainly presenting a relevant show, Belperio opens the discussion with his audience about the current political climate and the issues with media scapegoating the LGBTQIA+ community as a way to avoid climate action. It should be a time for us to come together to work on a solution; however, Morrison seems set on creating further division at a time when time is running out.

Drawing in new information to the discussion daily, Belperio’s improvisation for this show is impressive. Part cabaret, part honest discussion, this is a show you need to see to fully grasp. I would highly recommend seeing Belperio perform. He is such a talented person and I look forward to watching his career progress.

5 / 5 stars


 

Words by Kayla Gaskell

Right Here, Right Now is playing at Holden Street Theatres until February 28

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here

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