The Last Free Man and Other Stories

The Last Free Man and Other Stories

Lewis Woolston

Truth Serum Press 2019


The Last Free Man and Other Stories is the debut story collection from Alice Springs writer Lewis Woolston.

I was captivated by Woolston’s writing, a mixture of honesty and true-blue Australian-ism we don’t often see, these stories teleport the reader into the Australian outback. The outback is a place of drifters, stories, and backpackers. It’s a place you don’t stay unless you’re running from something.

Filled with stories from multiple perspectives and set roadhouses and other remote work around Alice Springs, the Nullarbor, and many other areas, Woolston has creates a picture of a quiet, nomadic life-style with the potential to make money and leave or, alternatively, live a quiet life away from the big smoke.

One of my favourite stories in this collection was ‘Driftwood’. Set across Brisbane, Perth, Mundrabilla, and Adelaide this story follows the main character and his relationship with Helen from their first meeting in Brisbane to their working and intimate lives. What I like most about this story is that is seems to give a wider picture of the characters’ lives, including Justin and Helen’s friend Louise, who are more than just supporting characters in the main characters’ easy-going love story.

Certainly, this isn’t a short story collection everyone will enjoy, like many Australian stories these might seem quite strange to some. Features such as curse words, outback slang, and drug use might be off-putting to some audiences; however, the no-fuss inclusion of these things is something I personally found comforting. Not often do you come across coarse language in a book that feels like it ought to be there. In Tim Winton’s work, certainly. But many writers do not do it well. Woolston’s inclusion of swear words throughout his stories spoke more about a cultural approach to these words and to the people; the drifters of the outback roadhouses, recovering addicts, and those who wanted to escape something.

I would recommend Woolston’s work to other readers of Australian fiction, particularly those who, like me, have not had the experience of being out there meeting eccentric personalities and learning how to maintain an awareness of what’s around you in face of Australia’s diverse and threatening wildlife.

To purchase a copy of Woolston’s book visit: https://truthserumpress.net/catalogue/fiction/the-last-free-man-and-other-stories/.

Words by Kayla Gaskell

The Ides of March

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

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

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

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

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

4.5 / 5 stars


Words by Isaac Freeman

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

For more information and to book tickets click here

Numinous Asylum

Numinous: Descriptive of persons, things or situations having a deep emotional resonance, psychologically associated with experiences of the self.

Wandering through the Hamilton Theatres, I was greeted by a man with electric blue eyes in a long white coat. The Numinous Asylum logo on the coats and the medical face masks lets me know that I will be experiencing something different for this Fringe show.

Greeted, I was ushered into the theatre on the wishes of a swift recovery. Handed a clipboard with information about the residential asylum patients before my entry, I familiarised myself with what was to come.

The act followed four patients and their stay in the asylum and introduced to audience their histories, explaining why they were in hospital. What were once normal people, the patients were effected by isolated, or not so isolated, traumatic events. The heavy hitting point of the show – that people are people, deep down, and they just desire connection.

Creepy and dark, Numinous Asylum was something that made me both curious and uncomfortable at the same time.

Numinous Asylum continuously broke the fourth wall during the performance. Being treated like one of the patients from the very first moment, the actors made us feel a part of the act itself. Lighting was projected into the seating to further include the audience into the show. To add another sensory layer to the performance, sound and loud noises were used to create a shock effect.

I was grateful for company that night, as I would not want to be alone in this Numinous Asylum.

I would recommend this show for people who would like to explore their darker side in a macabrely playful scenario. I would suggest there be a trigger warning for those who do suffer from some of the issues addressed in this performance, as it touched on many sensitive topics. I’d recommend bringing a friend.

I give this show four stars for the raw emotional performance. Well done.

4 / 5 stars


Words by Sarah Ingham

Numinous Asylum’s season has concluded

For more information visit their website

How to Drink Wine Like a Wanker 2020

How to Drink Wine Like a Wanker is not something I thought I needed coaching on. I’ve been doing that for years; nonetheless, Anna Thomas has opened the cellar doors to not just the elitist holiday-makers but to us catastrophic normal folk. Cinching together real-life anecdotes, grape facts, and wanky wine nomenclature, a new realm of wine tastings have been established.

It begins with entering the Treasury 1860 Bar – a modern, gold and marbled accented room attached to the Adina Hotel. Ordering a drink [palate cleanser] followed by the wine wankers flight [participatory aspect]. I was highly unprepared for the fact I was the only one alone and it’s very well lit. There are maybe 35 other people packed into the wall-clad lounges, and I wonder: what is this show actually about?

Shortly, I am put at ease with the likes of a socks-without-shoes sporting woman whose warm smile welcomes you to her space. A space that, through sincerity and grounded humour, allows you to reflect upon your own journey. Not truly knowing how it is ‘on the nose’ or what an ‘oaky finish’ is works in my favour – her (un)pretentious descriptions transform the crushed grape into an experience. Her experiences. We are held captive by Anna’s storytelling, silent and immersed into the saga she paints before us.

“I’m the Grenache of the corporate world!” she exclaims after her analysis of the underrated wine. The wine was brilliant and is something I would never have found if not for this show.

Ana scoops up every self-proclaimed wanky monologue of spicy, nutty accents with a hint of realism. She explores the trials and tribulations of her corporate career and the ominous big questions we all swirl around the bottom of the glass – Who am I? What do I want? Part theatric monologue, part conversive narrative, Ana pinpoints the crossroads of her life and creatively pairs them with the six South Australian wines in our flight.

The show delves deeper than grape juice antics as she unravels her path through the adversity and heartache of womanhood, self-discovery, and vino consumption before you. At times, I could see the vines of the Barossa valley open up before her as she led us through her musings of Merlot and being a woman amongst the corporate top dogs.

Three whites, three reds, an hour of powerful storytelling and the unmissable opportunity to be a Wine Wanker for an evening.

4/5


Words by Taylor Veltman

How to Drink Wine Like a Wanker is running a sold out season at Treasury 1860 until March 15

For more information click here and to see our 2018 interview with Anna Thomas click here

Singin’ in the Pain: A Disability and Chronic Illness Cabaret

Attending a show with ‘Disability and Chronic Illness Cabaret’ in the title, I was ready to experience something remarkably different from the staple Fringe offerings; however, nothing could have prepared me for the unstoppable train of emotions that was Singin’ in the Pain.

Singin’ in the Pain empowered women of all abilities, restrictions and restraints, shapes and sizes to show what they are made of. These self-coined disabilibabes and chronic cuties were not simply performing for the sake of performing, but providing an honest rendition of the struggles they face day-to-day.

Set centre stage of the bar-theatre hybrid that is the Nexus Arts Venue, this stunning display of passionate story-telling simply blew my mind. Presented by Diana Divine, cabaret producer, teacher, and performer and teacher at Hot Sauce Burlesque, the show was a sexy and empowering display of physical and emotional human strength.

Full of impressive and award-winning entertainers, the show was a devastatingly and hauntingly beautiful homage to the pure resilience of humans living with disabilities and chronic pain.

I experienced hair-raising vocals, racy costumes, seductive booty bumping, and acts ending with tantalising tassels. Every single movement was meaningful and came straight from a place of raw vulnerability. Get ready to leak from both eyes at this intimate peak at the lives of so many inspiring humans.

The show was accessible to people of varying abilities, and the session I attended was Auslan interpreted as well as a Relaxed Performance – a welcoming, sensory-reduced environment for patrons with a learning disability, and/or sensory and communication difficulties.

I would recommend this show to absolutely everyone over the age of 18. I will forever be in awe of the glittering beauty and strength that every single performer displayed on that stage, dazzling the audience one act at a time. I give this show five, well-earned stars, because it was a sensational experience that I would see again and again.

5 stars


Words by Sarah Ingham

Singin’ in the Pain’s season has ended

To find out more about disability cabaret click here

Renfield: In the Shadow of the Vampire

A deeply disturbed, spider-eating nutjob. These are my thoughts on the character of Renfield from Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897). Throughout the book, we are only really ever told about Renfield through the other characters. This all changed on March 5 at Bakehouse Theatre’s Studio, when Grist to the Mill Productions debuted Renfield’s perspective on life in Renfield: In the Shadow of the Vampire. This one-man show adds depth to this character and tells the story of Dracula through Renfield’s eyes.

Renfield’s terrors are brought to life in incredible realism throughout the show. The actor does a fantastic job in capturing the sense of insanity in a late 19th century mental asylum. The costume design too, reflected well on that time period together with the battered mattress on the floor and wooden chair. Although minimal, this was effective in turning the stage into a cell. I really did feel transported to this time period throughout the show, this was enhanced by both special effects and lighting.

As engaging as the ramblings of Renfield were, it did almost become an insanity trip myself watching this show. The ramblings were presented in long intervals and are difficult to digest at times. They progress slowly and it may appear that the story is going nowhere. In many ways, this captures the essence of the novel really well. They do well to emphasise the craziest and disturbing parts of Renfield, including his catching of flies and hearing the voices of Dracula. Having read the novel, this is both effective and almost difficult to understand.

Renfield: In the Shadow of the Vampire captures the character of Renfield effectively with high accuracy. It feels like an official extension of Dracula and offers a different perspective into the story, one which would’ve been great to have. If you enjoy the book and the film adaptations then you will really enjoy this show. It’s a faithful retelling of a classic horror novel and a disturbing character.

3.5 / 5 stars


Words by Cameron Lowe

Renfield: In the Shadow of the Vampire will be playing at the Bakehouse Theatre on March 10 and 14 at 6pm

For more information and to purchase tickets click here

AN EVENING WITH FIONA O’LOUGHLIN (& MICKEY D)

There’s a pretty good drinking game I indulge in these days. Requires the right people, though, can’t just be a bunch of random weirdos you’ve met at the bar – there’s other, less cerebral games for that scenario. What this game entails is you get progressively drunker, and begin every third sentence with, “Hey, do you remember when…?” Rather riotous fun, depending on the mix of people and alcohol. Fiona O’Loughlin and Mickey D – in this setting probably more Mick Dwyer than his alter ego – indulge in a fair bit of this game, sitting across from each other on a bare stage.

The two friends met twenty-odd years ago at Adelaide Fringe when both were barely rookies in the scene. Both have gone on to become veritable comedy royalty, having done the fringe circuit – Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, NZ, Montreal, and Edinburgh, in that order – for many years. As you’d expect, they’ve picked up one or two stories in that time. Dwyer acts as a foil for O’Loughlin, throwing out prompts and helping the show along; O’Loughlin freely admits that the show is vastly different every night. It’s not so much a retrospective or greatest hits album, released to eke out one last payday for either of them, but more two old mates shooting the breeze. There’s a little of bit of This is Your Life to it, but the nostalgia is quick and more a sub-text to the actual stories they both share. When they get on a roll over a certain story where they bounce off each other, regularly cracking each other up, it’s clearly purely organic.

Neither pull any punches regarding their sobriety either, both having battled addiction issues quite infamously in the past. Dwyer recounts a story where he came to in a Melbourne hotel room, having already missed a flight. His producer was reading him the riot act, telling him “Other comics can pull this sort of stunt, they’ve already got a profile, but you’re a nobody – pull your sh*t together!” Both have now got several dry years under their belts, and are clearly doing better for it.

O’Loughlin has announced that this will be her last Fringe, according to her she’s done everything and said everything she wanted to with comedy, and as far as a last hurrah goes, this is a pretty good way to do it. More victory lap than anything else, O’Loughlin’s definitely earned a chance to wave a trophy around and bask in acclamation.

4 / 5 stars


Words by Mikey Della Porta
An Evening with Fiona O’Loughlin is on until March 15

For more information and to purchase tickets click here

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

Big Glittery Sh!tshow

Big Glittery Sh!tshow… What can I say? The name says it all.

A perfect show for a night out with friends, and definitely not a night out with family, Big Glittery Sh!tshow is a cacophony of lights, glitter, singing, and drinking.

Set against the background of The Parlour in Gluttony, Big Glittery Sh!tshow is a show that just doesn’t make sense. Awkward laughs, in your face attitude, and the sculling of various liquors will be thrust upon the audience in this late-night show.

Starting with fluffy dressing gowns and a lunch box, the show quickly progresses to sexy skipping rope jumping, potato throwing, aggressive trampolining and more. Incorporating classic Fringe staples such as ladder tricks and hula hoops with groovy music and dildos in a strange and enjoyable cocktail of fun. There might even be a fight to the death with members of the audience in a strange saga involving rubber ducks.

Continuously drinking between each act, the show gets more and more ridiculous as the night goes on. At the Fringe, you’ve got to be different to be noticed, and the masterminds behind Big Glittery Sh!ishow were successful in this; creating an atmosphere of reckless abandon. For one hour, I was sitting inside a world of shiny, gold, alcohol-soaked antics with absolutely no consequences.

Almost a cabaret show on crack; this dark and stupidly funny show is like a vodka aunt back in her glory days: inappropriate, nonsensical, outrageous and just plain sexy.

This show is for people wanting to forget about their lives and be swept away into a riot of colour and gold unitards. Recommended for an 18+ audience, preferably without a parent in tow, it might get a tad awkward.

I give this show a four and a half stars for its unapologetic approach to Fringe entertainment.

 

4.5 / 5 stars


Words by Sarah Ingham

Big Glittery Sh!tshow is on at Gluttony until February 29

For more information and to book 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