Cold War

As you walk in, you’re handed an ice-cube from someone wearing a vaguely Day of the Dead-style suit, and no further instructions. There’s a low, bass-y, static-y rumble, and almost as soon as you’re in your seat – still holding the ice-cube – it’s demanded that the audience gets out of the stalls and assembles on the dance floor, where the two cast members launch into some heavy punk-rock. This is not a drill, one of them repeats. You’re still holding what’s left of the ice-cube. Yep, welcome to Fringe.

For me, this is the heart of Fringe; big-money stand-up acts in 200-plus seat arenas might pay the bills and keep the wine flowing, but for a festival initially started as a rebellious response to the original Adelaide Arts Festival becoming elitist and exclusionary, Fringe needs these sorts of shows to remain the Fringe. Avant-garde, highly experimental, stuff like Cold War gives street cred to the event. MKA, with Doppelgangster, have created a boldly unconventional production that discusses the current inaction on climate change. The two performers talk at each other in rapid-fire, touching on a million topics but always coming back to the same theme. Seemingly all absurdist and random, and with that constant white noise in the background, it all pivots back to an underlying question – can you win your innocence back? Can you right the ongoing wrongs? Each ‘act’ is punctuated by some original punk songs – one notable one claims Titanic was an inside job – and these effectively set up each act’s scenario.

Unfortunately though, there just seems like there’s a bit too much going on at any one time. The conversations between the two actors are peppered with off-hand references and sharp wit, but because they’re also tending to a drone or shaving ice & walking around the audience, you miss specifics and have to rely on just getting the gist of it. Key parts are usually slowed down a bit, but the sound mixing was clearly off, and as a result some of the song lyrics were hard to pick up as well. Whether it was intentional or not, it detracted from an otherwise interesting and engaging show.

Inasmuch as Cold War is clearly designed to be a confronting attempt to experiment with how a play ought to be staged, the lack of narrative and chaotic nature will rankle some people, which is a pity as the spectacle is well worth the effort required.

 

3.5/ 5 stars


Words by Mikey Della Porta

Cold War is showing until March 15

For more information please click here.

The Perfectly Normal Family Friendly Circus

The Perfectly Normal Family Friendly Circus is exactly what the title suggests; a chaotic adult-only performance. With more f-bombs than a Tarantino movie, drugs, violence, and tricks it’s certainly not for the faint-hearted.

Think Playschool meets the circus with a dash of, scratch that a lot of, cocaine.

Your two hosts for the evening are Adelaide’s Murder clown the sane and YouTube star TK. The two have a disastrously intentional rapport and as the show develops so does their descent into madness and their escalation into chaos.

The “circus” side of the show is clearly where it shines the brightest. Expect card tricks, fire-breathing, rope escapes and perverse animal balloon making. These elements are the ultimate crowd-pleasers and come with quite a lot of unique skill and humour. The children’s show element is akin to that of Sammy J’s Playground Politics in its use of adult themes presented to the audience as if they were five. The utilisation of this theme gives us one particular long-winded joke that works quite well. There does seem to be a bit of a peculiar imbalance between the two elements, but you can quite easily accept it as an oddly twisted showcase.

The Perfectly Normal Family Friendly Circus brings familiar comedic stylings to that of The Eric Andre Show, Family Guy, and Monty Python albeit not at the same level. Certain jokes certainly overstay their welcome in their ambition. A “technical difficulty” drags out and its occasional moments of laughter ultimately become overshadowed by its enormity. A particular opening joke, unfortunately, matches the overly long formula and doesn’t necessarily land to well with audiences either. The closing joke involving a pie with a rather special ingredient doesn’t pay-off its effective set-up either. However, there are plenty of dead-pan moments, a political skit, and heated arguments that certainly do not escalate to where you expect them to (another bright moment). Ultimately there is great conflict within the show, as there are aspects that work brilliantly and others that don’t so much.

The obtuse aspects of this show are certainly commendable in taking great risks and ignoring the norm to deliver a unique experience. The Perfectly Normal Family Friendly Circus’s absurdist and unconventional approach is more likely to stay in one’s mind than other Fringe shows this year. But you might feel as though it needs just a little bit more fine-tuning.

3.5 / 5 stars


Words by Isaac Freeman

The Perfectly Normal Family Friendly Circus is showing again at Ancient World on March 12

For more information and to purchase tickets click here

Eddie Ray – Leader of the Resistance

Do you love The Terminator?  Well this show is perfect for you! Even if your heart doesn’t miss a beat when you think of the time-travelling cyborg, this is still the show for you. A comedy cabaret – Leader of the Resistance is the strange mix of social commentary and silliness that you don’t even realise you’re missing.

Eddie Ray’s preview performance Wednesday night was so much more than I expected. From the first minute he had his audience hooked and hanging onto his every word in spite of the sometimes semi-deranged look in his eye when he talks about being that guy, you know the one, the one who’s crazy enough not to have a mobile phone.

Starting off with an anecdote about childhood and a much simpler time, the show progresses, exploring the growing disconnect irl. We, the collective, are obsessed with our smart-phones; they rule our day-to-day lives and give us an excuse to ignore those around us. It’s no longer appropriate to say “hi” to the person next to you when you’re waiting for a bus and even a polite “is this seat taken?” is often ignored in favour of the screens in our hands.

Eddie gets into just what this show is about with the transformation of his character from that guy without a phone into that guy with a phone – highlighting the reliance many people have on this technology today. Think talking in hashtags, targeted advertising (knowing what you want before you do), and the plain and simple degradation of language.

While the Terminator references certainly make it fun and appealing, it isn’t just this show’s inter-textuality that makes it brilliant. Together with social commentary and the whims of a talented musician, Eddie builds his music with his voice, his guitar, and a loop station. While Eddie proclaimed his show was silliness about a serious topic, this is a showcase of skill and the fun you can have when an idea catches hold and you’re free to play and create.

Having held his audience captive for nearly the entire performance, I’d highly recommend seeing this comedy cabaret during its short run time.

4.5 / 5 stars


Words by Kayla Gaskell

Eddie Ray Leader of the Resistance is playing at The Mill’s The Breakout until March 7
For more information and 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

Bend and Snap

What drew me to Bend and Snap was the way that it was sold to me. Three words: contortion romantic comedy. What was this strange genre, and how it would meld together to create a Fringe show? It was something I needed to see, and I am very grateful that I did.

I usually do not give out five stars. This show wasn’t Circus Soleil, but it deserves every single star I gave it.

The Café Outside the Square, a small café with a pay it forward program that feeds the homeless, is the perfect venue for the wholesome show. I did get lost on the way there; however, having the venue distanced from the Garden of Unearthly Delights and Gluttony meant that the atmosphere was less distracting and more focussed on the singular show I was there to see. The cosy café venue means that the audience can see just how much fun the actors were having performing and join in on the gleeful cheer. That is the magic of Adelaide at Fringe time, anywhere can be a Fringe venue.

A fun, down to earth comedy, Bend and Snap is a humorous show with amazing talent and stretchy bodies. Incorporating moments from popular film and theatre productions, there are scenes that will have you in giggles, gasping or gaping at great feats. Use your imagination to see the show’s minimalist set, and watch the actors themselves become tables, chairs and even the ocean.

I heard once in a Fringe show, that you should clap if someone on the stage is doing something that you cannot do. With this in mind, I was clapping for the whole hour length of the show.

I have given Bend and Snap five stars for many reasons. If you have a jolly sense of humour, like to see the human body bend into bizarre shapes, or just want to support some local, home-grown entertainment, please go along and see why I rate it so highly.

The sold-out show was so popular that it is returning for a third show on the 7th of March. I would highly recommend going along to support local Adelaide theatre and seeing the only con-rom-com Adelaide has to offer.

5 / 5 stars


Words by Sarah Ingham
For more information and to purchase tickets click here

Shit-Faced Shakespeare: Hamlet

Some might argue that tackling Hamlet is a task best left to those who aren’t in danger of spilling their beer mid-monologue. If you’re looking for a performance free of dirty jokes, foul language, and sexual references you won’t find it at Shit-Faced Shakespeare. Instead, you’ll find a drunken cast member set loose for the specific purpose of derailing the Prince of Denmark’s search for vengeance with a little mischief.

This, of course, results in a keg load of hilarious unpredictability, showcasing the comedic brilliance and improvisational skills of both the drunk performer and the sober cast members, who must operate around the version of Hamlet the drunk cast member brings to life through a combination of actual Shakespeare and complete spit-balling.

The performance I attended featured a shit-faced Hamlet (played by James Murfitt), whose inebriated state resulted in a dramatic romantic sub-plot between Hamlet and Laertes,  the discovery of previously unearthed father and son issues between the dead king’s ghost and the prince, a brief chance for Ophelia to be an independent woman, and perhaps most surprisingly for one of Shakespeare’s tragedies, a happily ever after.

Despite the unpredictability of the sub-plots, the entire production operates like a well-oiled machine and any drunken detours taken toward jokes gone too far, or tangents carried on for too long, are quickly redirected by the sober cast, as well as the use of an air horn. The danger of the performer sobering up is likewise combated with a little audience participation, most of which is best left as a surprise.

So, if you don’t mind a little foul-mouthing and spilled beer, and if you’re looking for a show filled with an hour of riotous non-stop laughter, drunken shenanigans, a somewhat familiar story and a cast that’s having as much fun as the audience, then stop, and look no further; you’ll find it all in Shit-Faced Shakespeare.

4.5 / 5 stars


Words by Rachael Stapleton

Shit-Faced Shakespeare: Hamlet is running until March 15

For more information and to purchase tickets click here

Only Human

The future of Robotics, the uBot, was revealed last night at the Only Human showing at RUMPUS in Bowden. The South Australian Young Artists (SAYArts) delivered a thrilling and relatable story that pays homage to the tropes of the Golden Age of Science Fiction.

Only Human is an ode to Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. The show demonstrates that science goes too far, having the uBot learning quickly and despising humans due to their apparent inferiority to robots and A.I. The uBot, part of the next generation of robotics and A.I. technology, breaks the Three Laws of Robotics as set down by Isaac Asimov back in 1942.

Some of the main tropes from the Golden Age of Science Fiction are explored in Only Human with great detail. Issues with racism, accelerated advancement of technology, and human greed are discussed with subtlety. This subtleness is what I found one of the most enjoyable about the show. The creators have introduced these classic sci-fi themes to a wider audience in this show. One example is how someone thinks crocs are bad because others on the internet say they are, this shows how we mould our thoughts around what others say without experiencing them ourselves.

The cast of this show is made up entirely of young artists who did a fantastic job within this performance, carrying a high level of professionalism and enthusiasm bringing their characters to life. The human and the robot character who later fall in love were two notable actors who did a great job. I related to their character on a personal side as the character reminded me a lot of myself, through their love to overexplain everything and awkwardness with human interaction.

Another moment of the performance that is memorable is the dance in the last third of the show. They all dance along to Flight of the Conchords’ ‘Robots’, fitting the robotic theme of the show, this choice allows the performers to take advantage of this catchy, funny song.

Only Human is a well-written performance that is funny, thought provoking and filled with references galore. It explores the idea of science and technology going too far with an effective narrative that is deep but subtle. It is a show you must see if you are into any of the above-mentioned themes of science fiction. Even if you aren’t, this is still an enjoyable show in an equally enjoyable venue.

4 / 5 stars


Words by Cameron Lowe

Only Human is showing until March 1

Tickets to the final two performances are now sold out

For more information please click here

Grace Notes: Grace O’Malley, Irish rebel, pirate queen

In a captivating feat of storytelling, Jennifer Liston entrances her audience with a combination of spoken word and song. Liston’s talent for drawing in her audience is impressive as she tells the tale of a distant ancestor, the legendary Irish rebel and pirate queen Grace O’Malley (Grainne Mhaol).

Born in the 16th century, O’Malley’s life was different to that of the typical female archetype of the time. A born leader and a wily adversary, O’Malley’s life was ruled by her love for the sea. Having devotedly learned the art of sailing and clan rule from her father, O’Malley returned to her clan after the death of her husband, taking on the role of clan chief and maintaining their reputed strength on both land and sea. With her education steeped in Brehon law, O’Malley’s character is presented as being a highly moral individual both for the good of her family and her clan.

One of the highlights of this show is perhaps the explanation of Brehon law, a cultural norm of the time which bleeds into modernity. Together with explaining the concept and telling us of O’Malley’s afront at this law being ignored, she also graces us with a haunting tune that will stay with her audience for some time yet. Even now I can still hear the echoes of that chorus.

Liston transforms the atmosphere of the Grande Room in Gilbert Street hotel into something almost mystical. With the help of white and red lighting, subtle costume ‘changes’, and the skill of switching between song, narration, and poetry the audience is quickly drawn into this entirely captivating performance.

Born from scraps of history, legend, and a touch of innate intuition, this performance is telling in the way stories can inspire new works of art. If Liston hadn’t heard O’Malley’s story from Sister Peter back in school and if she hadn’t talked with her mother about it after, who knows if Liston would have come so far as to perform this particular show at this particular Fringe Festival far from the wilds of her Irish homelands.

4 / 5 stars


Words by Kayla Gaskell

Grace Notes: Grace O’Malley, Irish rebel, pirate queen is running until March 4

For more information click here

Fleurieu Films at The Fringe

This year finds the regularly occurring Fleurieu Film Festival taking a leave of absence. Known for providing a platform for filmmakers and their stories, Fleurieu Films at The Fringe showcases previous winners with a compilation of ten short works from the last four years.

Below are a series of short takes on the best the evening had on display.

Breaking Barriers (2018)
Director: Dave Wade

‘Breaking Barriers’ is equally hilarious and thought-provoking. A group of people follow a rather miseducated tour guide through the almost post-apocalyptic landscapes of the Great Barrier Reef. With sharp writing and comedic timing that works almost flawlessly, the film has a nostalgic nature and longing for lost beauty. The film is akin to the works of Taika Waititi in its balance of tone and playful dialogue, finding an ideal mixture of heart and humour. The run time is tight but effective at 3 minutes and 19 seconds, yet some audiences may desire just a little more.

4 1/2 stars

 
Healey (2018)

Director: David Parkinson

‘Healey’ is an ode to both Parkinson’s father and the rare and exceptionally unique Austin Healey 100S. Chronicling his first glimpse as a boy, owning it as an adult, and cherishing it as an older man the tribute is simple but touching. With no dialogue, ‘Healey’ speaks through looks, music, and exceptional visuals. The cinematography is gorgeous, the driving sequences in particular ooze of style and ferocity. There is also effective use of the super 8 film medium that provides a crackling warm feel (bringing a personal home-made essence in the best way possible). Upon initial viewing, ‘Healey’ came across almost like an advertisement in parts, but can alternately be read as a touching tribute to a father-son relationship.

4 stars

 

 

The First Place, The Last Place (2017)

Director: Phillip Storer

A passionately made documentary that showcases the disgraceful handling of a proposed nuclear waste site on the land of an Aboriginal community. The land’s significance to the Adnyamathanha people is brought to us through a local Elder, Regina McKenzie. Her passion and honesty as a storyteller is the true highlight of the film. The sites significance is also viewed from the lens of scholars, providing insights into its historical significance and the detrimental impact the proposed site would have on the environment. ‘The First Place, The Last Place’ lays out the reality of the situation and the lack of communication with the Adnyamathanha people.

5 stars

 

You and Me (2016)

Director: Richard Coburn

Charmingly executed, ‘You and Me’ is full of imagination and childhood innocence. The film follows an older sister helping her younger brother get to sleep with a bedtime story. Precise in its intentions and style, the writing is whimsical and comes across in a Dr Seuss type of way. Its themes of siblings and sweetness are heart-warming. Storybook like qualities not only come from the writing but from animation too. An array of creatures great and small find their way on screen to create even more visual appeal to its surrounds. A definite crowd-pleaser.

4 1/2 stars


Words by Isaac Freeman

 

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