So – nearly three months after the end of the Festivities, I’ve finished writing about them. And, I have to say, it’s much easier to write in lazy retrospect, rather than straight after the event; I’ve found that the negative passions subside somewhat, allowing me to focus on the positives of the performance a little more. Undoubtedly, some performances benefited from that.

Apparently, the Fringe is now annual; everyone I’ve spoken to seems to think this is a bad idea. I certainly think that the “odd”, non-Festival-aligned years will lean even more heavily towards the comedy festival that we all fear the Fringe is becoming; but we all know where this rant will go if I continue. Regardless, let’s just hope the Fringe Overload that is about to be unleashed does not diminish the quality of the productions that come to our sleepy little city, nor reduce the enthusiasm of the city to the Fringe.

Best wishes to you all; see you in 2007 :)

One more thing…

And there endeth the “review” portion of FF2006. There are, however, a few other snippets of information it would be remiss of me not to mention:

  • I wound up seeing 52 Pick Up four times within a month; 17 & 18 February (the latter yielded a brilliant set of cards, for all the wrong reasons), and 11 & 15 March. Trust me, it never gets old.
  • I also managed to sneak into another theater simple show that they put on for the YEP (Youth and Education Program), Myth Understandings. It highlighted (once again) their minimalist approach, and it was fantastic to watch a class of year 4 kiddies light up during the production.
  • The Par visual arts exhibit in the Tea House Gallery was fabulous. If it weren’t for the practicalities of keeping some of the exhibits clean, I’d have considered a couple of purchases.
  • I think I single-handedly kept Illy on Rundle Street afloat during the three weeks of FF2006; not only do they have the best coffee on Rundle Street, but there’s a grand total of three seats where you can park your arse with a coffee and leech off Internode’s CitiLan wireless network.

The Festival’s Visual Arts program also provided an intriguing selection of goodies:

  • The Biennial was a bit hit-and-miss. Given the title of “21st Century Modern”, you’d probably expect equal parts insightful, creative, and wtf. And you’d be right.
  • The Francis Bacon Triptych was pretty much essential viewing for those who went to see Three Furies.
  • Walk-In Drive-In is one of those exhibits where you think that maybe the artist had a little too much money to spend. A great idea in theory, it’s a big installation that initially delights, then manages to underwhelm. Poking your head up into the drive-in’s projection room was a great experience, but the later examination of the wider model made me feel hollow.
  • The People’s Portrait: always worth a look as you wandered past.
  • The various Video Venice exhibits were great. Mother‘s hacked up movie snippets were comforting one minute, disturbing the next, with a wonderful presentation. The Trailer for a remake of Gore Vidal’s Caligula was completely over-the-top with cameos a-plenty. Lavish, lush, and camp, as promised. The Treehouse Kit video and installation was a delight for anyone who ever tinkered with Lego. But the best of the lot was Coexistencia, in which Donna Conlon paints the flags of the world on leaves, then films ants carrying these flags across a forest floor – miniature flag members of the UN, indeed.
  • [Media State] : Mobile Journeys encouraged artists to use the tiny screen on mobile phones as a canvas. The result was a bunch of low-res attempts at micro-multimedia productions. It’s a tough medium, and it showed.

There’s one more event worth mentioning, but there’s a little bit of a back-story. Some of you (and who am I kidding, there’s only about three people who will ever read this) will know that I was a Festival Angel for 2006. This basically involved tossing a lot of money at the Festival Corporation, for which they proffered cheap and early tickets, a dress rehearsal invite, and recognition of the fact that you tossed money their way (yes, that’s my name on the “Staff and Supporters” page in the Festival Guide).

Kind of like a little sponsor. Of a big event.

Anyhoo, it gave me warm fuzzies to do so, there’s a tax deduction involved, and – despite my thoughts of the quality of the shows – I’m happy to support the Festival.

To cut a rapidly digressing story short – by virtue of the whole Angel thing, I got an invite to a Civic Reception put on by the Lord Mayor to celebrate the success of the Festival. So, at the insistence of the invite, the SO and I dolled ourselves up (well, she dolled herself up… I just applied a foreign object – a necktie, I believe it’s called – to my throat) and toddled off to the Town Hall for a little bit of hobnobbing.

Arriving a little early, we hang out in the foyer with a few other peeps. “Hang out” is a completely inappropriate description, though; it conjures images of people congregating in casual communication. Not here – stiff upper lip, speak when spoken to, treat the youngsters(!) like they are freaks. Luckily, the photographers that had been hired were personable enough, and helped thaw the noticeable chill in the room.

At the allotted time, we enter the Queen Adelaide Room to be greeted by Harbo himself – it’s all very official. The catering looked special – enough said there – and the drinkies were plentiful and very South Australian… but the congregation in the room were awfully cliquey. It was nigh-on impossible to strike up a conversation with anyone; the SO managed to engage in a lively chat with one invited Councilman, who left hurriedly when I returned to her from my tour of the room.

Harbo’s speech was amusing, but suprisingly critical of earlier Festival directors. Festival Artistic Director Brett Sheehy delivered an excellent short speech, praising his troops and injecting some genuine enthusiasm into the room. Thereafter, though, we couldn’t leave fast enough – we collected our photos and turned our back on a room of insular, back-slapping art-politics. It was nice to be invited, but… it was awful, and left me wondering what kind of people I had effectively paid to be with. I know you can’t buy your friends, but I at least expect civility from strangers.

And thus ended FF2006.

A little diversion…

Post-Diablo, I went to relieve myself as only a man who requires bladder relief can. Nothing unusual there, and the Belgian Beer Café’s facilities were in glorious condition. However, I spied some folded paper on the floor as I was leaving the scene of the crime.

Now, I don’t want to give people the impression that I’m some sort of toilet-garbage collecting freak, but I thought that the content of the paper was worth collecting and sharing. It bears no resemblance to any work I’ve ever seen performed, which is probably fair enough; still, here it is in all its transcribed glory.

I’ve had trouble looking for a job. The centrelink lady said it’s my resume. She said it doesn’t stand out enough.

So when I applied for my next job I though am I going to force an employer to notice me above 100’s of other applications.
So I sent them a singing telegram. This is what happened…

How are you supposed to get an employer to take notice above 100’s of other applications?? Send in a singing telegram or something??

The joke is… . I cant get attention so I have an over the top resume

One of the employers actually sent me a nasty letter back.
It read
“its ludicrous you would even consider that you could gain the respect of an employer for this stunt.
It shows you are reckless, audacious and lack maturity.
You caused a disruption and upset myself and my employees and I would appreciate a formal letter of appology from you.

So I responded. I was going to send another singing telegram. Instead I sent a prostitute. Just my way of saying get fucked!

So during the week I saw this it’s a new lynx mens shower called ignite.

That claims to be made of volcanoes. That’s ridiculous
Listen to this lynx ignite with stimulating…

In the mood.. to do what exactly? Destroy villages?
The thing is most volcanoes lay dormant for 100’s of years. So this isnt going to do anything..

I though no ill give it a go so I showered before the show. So your lucky really. cause last weeks audience really copped it!
And yeah so I rubbed volcanoes over myself and went out to see if it would make a’s what happened.

Normally, I’d say “if this is your work and you want me to remove this blog entry, let me know and I’ll do so.” However, given the number of readers of this blog (total: 2) and the quality of the work in question, I think the “Delete” button’s pretty safe.


Erm… yes. Well, then.

The Festivals ended nearly five weeks ago. “No problems,” I thought, “only twenty shows left to write up. Piece of piss, that. A couple-a-night after work, easy. Should wrap this up quick.”

But on the first night, the desire to sleep was too strong. The following night saw us toddling off to the Lord Mayor’s Reception to celebrate the success of the Festival. The following night we started catching up on all the TV that we’d missed over the Festival. The next day… ooh shit, the next day was the release of the Xbox 360.

As I often said to various peeps, I only really get out and get theatre-y for three weeks out of 104; the other 101 weeks, I’m a gamer. And I was looking forward to the release of the 360 greatly (if only for the appearance of Neon, the latest light-synthesizer from Llamasoft). So I picked up my 360 and a trio of games on release day, toddled home, hooked up my Xbox Live account, and…

…that pretty much brings us up to date.

And I’ve still got twenty shows left to write up.

Luckily, my memory still holds a lot of snippets, I’ve got a stack of scribbled notes, and some words have been stewing over those five weeks. Some write-ups may even benefit from the break.

But I’ve still got to write the buggers, eh?

At least I’ll have a somewhat easier time of it, having come across (in the course of my usual diligent recycling duties) a plethora of other press coverage from events. Russell Starke, for example, enjoyed Here Lies Love about as much as I did; as usual, though, he got the point across much better: “Cut by half; eliminate Byrne as narrator; rewrite the script with greater guts; put some punch into the performances; liven up lighting and film imagery; and maybe there’d be the potential for a show.” (emphasis mine).

Several weeks later…

OK, so then there was another setback… the server that this blog was hosted on died. Backups were discovered to be less-than-robust, which meant I lost a few comments and the two reviews that I’d posted after I wrote the above. But we’re back on track now… though the Xbox Live Gamer Card looks more like this now:

So I guess you can see what I’ve been focussing on ;)

The End of Ratings…

Something Daniel Kitson said on the night of my birthday has really stuck with me – he joked about how arbitrary the Advertiser reviews appeared to be with their star-ratings. That, in turn, has made me consider the legitimacy of my own ratings – with the result that I reckon I’m going to drop them entirely.

Now, I know what the four of you who actually read these posts are thinking – “Oh Noes!! How will I be able to determine what shows I’d go to if I actually went to any at all without Pete’s ace scores?”

Well, let’s just look at a little background info… I treat my scores as an event score, simply because the question “is Show A better than Show B?” is such an arbitrary question. How can you really look at two performances and think “4:48 Psychosis is better than Sam Simmons“? It’s absurd to even attempt to compare the two. So I’ve always taken a different approach – I’ve always scored the event, the totality of the experience. And I’ve always asked myself the question “which event would I most like to re-live?”

Of course, that gets me into trouble. For example, Under Milk Wood is a cracking bit of theatre that’s well worth seeing… but I wouldn’t like to see it again. Thus, my initial “10” has always caused me some consternation – it’s ace, you should see it, but I wouldn’t want to see it again.

So – I’m going to not score things anymore. I’m going to try and get the point across without numerical support. Which requires better writing. Which is bad, because my writing SUX. Ho, hum.


So that’s it – the “worst” of FF2006 is over.

Numerically speaking, of course.

Today was a nasty 6-show road crash, but one cancellation (the von Trolley Quartet apparently thought it was more important to play backing music for the Busking Competition than play for me), and some clever planning, made it bearable. That, and one of the shows was an absolute belter:

Die Roten Punkte.

Worth every penny, worth every morsel of your time.

So – 73 shows down, at least 12 more to go.

And I’m only up to review 38.

Family Fun Day?!?

Mondays are traditionally a dead day during the Fringe; a day when you try to schedule whatever is on, Festival shows… whatever you can squeeze into the day. So imagine my delight when I discovered that most of the Sideshow Paradiso and Garden of Unearthly Delights shows were on that day… lickety-split, I had six shows slotted in on Monday the 13th of March; the last “big” day of FF2006 (numerically speaking), but – due to the physical proximity of the shows, a pretty relaxing day.

Or so I thought.

I just arrived at Paradiso. The place is packed. Choc-a-bloc. Someone figured a Family Fun Day was in order; as a result, there’s thousands of people down here. With their kids.

Oh dear.

This could be the longest ten hours of my life.

Festival Opening Night Party…

(I just found this on my laptop; it’s the inane tappings I made whilst at the opening night part for the Festival, Friday 3rd March 2006)

A little black and silver card gets me into the party that overlooks the Persian Garden. It’s supposedly a party to celebrate the opening of the Festival; the invitation was claimed back off me at the entrance, and I really can’t remember; it’s probably a (Festival) Friends and family affair.

Anyhoo – looking into the Persian Garden, I see the young and influential milling around. And it suddenly strikes me – those people are going to be the ones making the Persian Garden the “In Place To Be” tomorrow. Those people are the ones setting the trends for the next fortnight. And they probably don’t even realise it. Or maybe they do; maybe they’re there to set the trend, it’s their lot in life.

The crowd here are a bit more reserved – each, like me, are likely to be considering themselves “special” by virtue of the fact that they’re here. But they’re not setting the trend, not setting the tone; sure, they’ll name-drop to their friends that they were here, but in the grand scheme of things we mean nothing. The Festival’s already got our commitment, already got our money; the ones below, the casual punter, the malleable, are the ones that need to be indoctrinated. And the trendsetters will do that job for them. And the Festival will be deemed a success.

(I’ve just had my first glass of orange juice in years – it’s supposedly bad for my haemochromatosis – and it’s absolutely delicious.)


There’s camels down by the riverfront. There’s eastern-influenced music playing in the Garden. The sound system is great – it sounds brilliant from our position up on high. Half the people in this enclave line the front wall of the Riverfront Promenade on their barstools, all enjoying the music. None of them applaud the artists onstage; the crowds below (sans the drunkards on the edges) are raptuous and appreciative. The lines outside the Garden are long.

In general, the people here are done up for a party. Put another way – there’s a total of about five men here wearing shorts, and precisely one wearing bright orange Okanuis (guess who). There’s a lot of evening wear, a lot of sideways glances. It’s fantastic to watch these social interactions, rendered invisible by my own stubbornness and fashion crapulence.

Later still…

People milling about in the general vicinity of Brett Sheehy, all eyes on him, hoping to hobnob. He’s a busy man, he has little choice but to ignore most of them. They nod knowingly towards him as he drifts past. Security asks some guys sitting on a wall to please refrain from doing so; they comply, wait until some better dressed patrons seat themselves in a similar manner, then re-acquaint themselves with the prime seating area.

There’s an opening-night speech: Welcome to all the politicians who are here. Welcome to all the artists who make this Festival what it is.

On leaving…

The security guard who stamps my wrist as I’m leaving looked at me disdainfully… “nice to see you dressed up for the occasion.” The snappy comeback only occurs to me later.

Irrational Beliefs and the End Of Cantankering

(Despite the fact that this was only posted now, it was written waaaaaay back on the 17th of Feb, after I’d come home from the first of two benefit shows that theater simple did for Urban Myth Theatre).

I must be growing up.

I was sitting in The Space (a familiar and homely space to me) watching the crowd drift in to catch “52 Pick Up“. It’s the third time I’ve seen this piece, and I’m keenly anticipating the fall of the cards. But right now my interest is in my partners in this particular endeavor – the other people in the audience.

Those who know me even vaguely should have already made the connection between the previous two paragraphs – I referred to the audience as “my partners”. I shocked myself when I first realised that was what I was actually thinking; in the past, I’ve been adversely territorial to the point of rudeness towards my fellow audience. Now, I felt a kinship.

Then, an overbearing feeling of superiority; now, a sense that we’re about to share something, that – by our very observance of the same act – an unacknowledged bond is being generated between us. Previously, a pathological hatred of every mannerism they bought into the space, my space; currently, a deeper understanding – and even forgiveness for imagined sins of times gone by.

This sense of what others may call “normalcy” – but which I call “kindness” – was completely unexpected. I must be growing up.

And so I watched these people file in – either committed to the cause of the benefit, or maybe just in search of a great show (and they certainly saw one that night). No matter; I watched them with curiosity and acceptance, a smile in my heart. I love watching people file into a venue. I love knowing that I’ll never know their stories – why they chose this particular performance. And tonight – for just about the first time ever – I didn’t feel the stabs of angst, masquerading as superiority and loathing.

And that’s what this biannual event – the Festival/Fringe combo – means to me; a chance to get outside my own head, to expand my horizons (if only for a week or three), the chance to emote where I would normally not, the chance to engage where I would normally remain remote. Emote/remote. Piffly word-play. Good one. Expect more of that as I exercise my normally dormant (thank god!) writing gene over the next month.

For the record: “52 Pick Up” was awesome that night – the cards fell well. The following night – Feb 18th – the cards were nasty. Llysa regarded that show as “whiplash”, such was the emotional contrast between subsequent cards. Still, both nights were fantastic theatre.

The (belated) Beginning…

So – the Fringe has been going for over a week now. The Festival officially opened last night. I’ve already seen 30+ shows. So it’s about time I got the review action happening, hmmmm? This year State Bank have their TalkFringe site set up, and I’ll try submitting some of these reviews there; however, given that their T&C states:

You can expect that swear words, obvious slander, offensive postings and repeated entries will definitely be moderated, and the posting and rating may be rejected, modified or deleted.

…you can imagine how some of my more assertive reviews would go down ;)

I’ve shifted hosting companies & blog engines (amongst other things) and, more importantly, re-enabled (moderated) comments – so please let me know if there’s anything amiss. Hopefully I can get this thing running sweet-as-a-nut by 2008.