[2009089] DeAnne Smith Lacks Focus

DeAnne Smith Lacks Focus

DeAnne Smith @ The Tuxedo Cat

8:00pm, Wed 18 Mar 2009

I’ve raved before about DeAnne Smith; I think she’s a brilliant comic, with an ability to conjure humour out of rambling stories, and she seems as comfortable with overt puns as she does with tales requiring the audience to think. That all leads to an act that is wonderfully satisfying.

After the previous show at The Tuxedo Cat, the room is hot and nearly full. And that seems to be liberating for DeAnne; her style seems to be a bit more aggressive than last year’s performance, a little more daring. Sure, there’s some familiar material… but there’s also a plethora of new lesbian jokes, many more than I remember (“I went to the museum with my girlfriend… because I like having sex with her.”) And there’s a bit more variation, too – the love letter she used to close the show was touching, as well as amusing.

Sarah’s still delectable on the door, and (apart from Smith’s short-sleeved shirt, necessitated by the conditions) it’s very much a continuation of last year’s effort. And that’s no bad thing; I still love her scattergun approach to comedy, and the extra edginess made it all the more appealing.

[2009088] Death in Bowengabbie

Death in Bowengabbie

Tamarama Rock Surfers @ The Tuxedo Cat

7:00pm, Wed 18 Mar 2009

The Rooftop Bar was absolutely buzzing prior to this show; word-of-mouth has worked wonders, and when the doors open the Tuxedo Cat is filled to the brim. People are standing in the doorway at the back; there’s much grumbling when they have to squeeze in to allow the daylight to be shut out. The hot day and closely packed bodies heat the room up to stifling; we’re sweating buckets, and beers brought in rapidly heat up to undrinkable levels, and are placed on the floor.

But mere minutes after Death in Bowengabbie starts, all physical discomfort is forgotten.

It’s a one-man play set upon a stage sparsely sprinkled with suitcases; as Andrew Brackman tells the story, he’s constantly re-arranging the suitcases into assisting structures with all the finickiness of an OCD Lego-phile. But while his presentation is curious and (hence) engaging, it’s the story that’s the real winner here.

Caleb Lewis has penned a wonderful tale that evokes memories of small-town Australia; whilst Bowengabbie itself seems to be fictional, there was much in the periphery of the story that reminded me of my own experiences growing up in country South Australia (though I always had the feeling that Bowengabbie was in Queensland – based on Bowen, maybe?)

Bowengabbie is painted as a shrinking town, fading from reality as the young leave – and the story works around the premise that “the only thing that brings people back is a funeral.” Brackman’s character is constantly brought back to the town of his childhood by a litany of deaths, family and friends alike. Lewis paints a vivid picture of a surreal town (if anything, you could think of it as an Australian version of Twin Peaks) and its residents; the funerals run the emotional gamut, and there’s a massive twist in the tail.

Let’s be perfectly clear – Death in Bowengabbie was one of the theatrical events of the year. In fact, I’d even posit that it’d be in the Top Ten Fringe performances I’ve ever seen. Brackman is perfect – open, engaging, and earnest, spinning this yarn and evoking emotions at will. It’s an absolutely magical experience, and you can bet I’ll be seeing it again in 2010; I highly recommend you do, too.

[2009087] Nik Coppin – Loquacious

Nik Coppin – Loquacious

Nik Coppin @ The Tuxedo Cat

6:00pm, Wed 18 Mar 2009

Nik Coppin won me over when he emceed another show, and at that gig I assured him I’d try to squeeze in his solo effort. The Schedule opened up, and Coppin snuck in.

He remembered me from the previous show too, which was nice. Until, during his amiable set, he started looking at me for support, and directly asking rhetorical questions of me. By name. Over and over.

And I’m not so much into that.

Still, outside of the focus-on-Pete bits, this was a reasonable show. Coppin’s not particularly insightful or cutting or vicious or… well, anything extreme really… he’s very much your friend, if a somewhat nerdy friend, what with his superhero geekery and Spider-Man hoody that he proudly wears and constantly references.

Given his origins, there’s plenty of material based on the differences between Australia and the UK – class system comparisons, bogans versus chavs… nothing really new here. In fact, that’s Nik Coppin’s biggest problem. If you’d gone to see him in April or May, you’d be pleased as punch; he really is a genuinely likeable comedian, without having to delve into cynical caustics for laughs. The problem is, come Fringe time, there’s a ton of other comedians out there that perform pretty much the same material better. So he’s recommended, but missable.

God that makes me sound like a prick :}

[2009086] Randy’s Postcards from Purgatory

Randy’s Postcards from Purgatory

Heath McIvor @ Le Cascadeur

8:45pm, Tue 17 Mar 2009

Since first meeting Randy in 2007, I’ve been enamoured with the foul-mouthed puppet; I think it’s the stark contrast between the Muppet-esque kid-friendly appearance and the filth that can come out of his mouth. So a gig that’s all Randy, all the time? Sounds brilliant.

The thing is, I’m not quite sure there’s an hour of decent material in this show.

Randy relays proceedings to the audience in the first person (well, it’s first-person omniscient, but who am I to quibble? There’s probably eight grammatical errors in this sentence alone). At the beginning of the show, Randy is happy; he’s got a great job, is in a joyous relationship, and is just in a good place. As you might imagine from the “purgatory” in the title, however, things take a rather life-altering turn: poor choices and the relationship shatters, work falls in a heap, and Randy goes off the rails. And it’s funny watching this wide-eyed, purple puppet hit the bottle and go off the deep end – and somewhat poignant to see him tentatively drag himself out.

Along the way there’s some cracking humour – the inexplicable Flashback Yeti (another uproarious puppet), hijinks with the private investigator, and the expected drunk & hungover gags. There’s also the odd mis-step – the over-enunciated herb discussion seems… well, pointless and rambling (but maybe that was the point?)

This is, apparently, Heath McIvor’s debut solo show. The presentation of the puppetry is perfect – you couldn’t ask for more. But there’s something that unsettled me about the voyage of self-discovery contained within this show; I’m inclined to think that it’s because the story felt… well, autobiographical. And I don’t know why that should niggle me – but the fact that it does is also unsettling. Sometimes it’s tough being stuck in my head.

Anyway, Randy’s Postcards from Purgatory? Flawed, but worthwhile.

[2009085] Orpheus: A Rock Storytelling

Orpheus: A Rock Storytelling

Simon Oats @ Electric Light Hotel (Producers Bar)

7:00pm, Tue 17 Mar 2009

Orpheus is one of the most bare-bones one-man productions you could imagine. It’s one man, his electric guitar, and a story. There’s no set to speak of, lighting is restricted to dimly “on”, and the narrow confines of the Producers Bar make this a very intimate experience.

The story, of course, deals with Orpheus’ descent into the underworld to plead for his recently deceased wife, Eurydice, to return to the land of the living with him. Simon Oats tells the tale whilst strumming, plucking, or even pounding his guitar; his vocalisations are superb, flitting between characters and narration at will. Some are sung, some are spoken – the rapping ferryman, in particular, is brilliant.

But whilst Oats has a strong story to tell, it’s in the telling that Orpheus really shines. Despite his quiet and unassuming approach to the stage, once he strums that first note, once he speaks that first word, Oats is completely engaging. His songs are clever, and the aural soundscapes that surround each character add a beautiful texture. But it’s his eyes that really tell the story – they’re merely warm and comforting when narrating, but light up when there’s a character on show. Because you spend most of the time focussed on his eyes, it somehow makes this a profoundly personal experience; the slow pacing of the story allows Oats to be wonderfully evocative with his storytelling.

It’s a bloody good thing I managed to squeeze this performance in – at the end of the show, Simon announced to the dozen or so people present (including friends and family) that this was to be its final outing, due to lack of patronage (it must have been galling to see that The Advertiser put it on their “recommended” list a few days later). And that’s a massive shame, because Orpheus was a wonderfully satisfying production.

(Luckily I got to give plaudits to Simon in person at another show the following night, and he struck me as being one of the quietest, nicest, most thoughtful people you’d ever want to meet.)

[2009084] Cellblock Booty

Cellblock Booty

Sisters Grimm @ The Ringbox

10:30pm, Mon 16 Mar 2009

After 2008’s Mommie & The Minister, I figured that the Sisters Grimm couldn’t fail with a schlocky premise of “sleazy jailhouse sexploitation RIOT!” And, with their own flyers quoting a review that called them “intentionally shithouse”, it was pretty easy for me to wander into The Ringbox expecting plenty of cheesy fun.

And that’s exactly what I got. Kind of.

In addition to being a pastiche of Prisoner and breakout movies, Cellblock Booty clearly takes inspiration from the blaxploitation movies of the seventies, as evidenced by Butterfly’s speech and posing manner. But there’s a ton of other oddball characters, too – the junkie, the Matron (with her impossibly long legs), and the Nun (lovely breasts ahoy!) Officer Onlyman’s strip dance was worthy of a good chortle, and the go-go dancing (complete with sixties-ish light show) between scenes was a great move.

But somehow Cellblock Booty just didn’t resonate with me in the same way that the Sisters Grimm’s previous work did. And that’s a bit of a shame, really, because I really want small companies like that to succeed. While the expected laughs were present, this production just felt a undercooked and unrefined.

I guess it wasn’t all intentionally bad.

[2009083] I Love You, Bro

I Love You, Bro

Three To A Room @ The Spiegeltent

8:30pm, Mon 16 Mar 2009

On a moody Monday night in The Garden, the only queue to be found was the one leading to the Spiegeltent for this performance. Running a little late, I successfully managed to queue-jump a little when I spotted the lovely Kim (from Holden Street); we started chatting, and she mentioned that her interest in this show stemmed from the fact that it was the same company that was behind An Air Balloon Across Antarctica… which I really hadn’t liked at all.

All of a sudden, my previously curious anticipation deflated to mopish dread.

I Love You, Bro is a bit of a mind-bender, really. Ash Flanders plays Johnny, a youngster deeply immersed in his MSN chat world, whilst living in a squalid English flat with disconnected family. He befriends Mark, a local football hero, and the interactions between the two are played out entirely from Johnny’s perspective.

Johnny’s online persona, however, is a web of confused lies – and despite his witless protests (“I’m not a fag, me”) it’s clear that there’s some serious questioning of his sexuality going on. But lies beget lies, and soon his innocent, then sexual, infatuation with Mark morphs into disgust; disappointment that the object of his desire could be so gullible, leading to more turmoil as Johnny is unable to reconcile his attraction to one who is, suddenly, so reprehensible. As the story comes to a head – Mark eventually stabs Johnny, leaving him to die – the initially throwaway piece of dialogue “kill off the lies to clear a way for the truth” really resonates.

As a former web forum addict, I could totally identify with the deceitful web that Johnny spun around himself; I’ve seen it all before, and the writing felt absolutely spot-on. And it’s most certainly a powerful performance by Ash Flanders, and his accent and delivery is perfect – but there were times when I Love You, Bro felt a little bit long, like it was dragging on too much, dwelling on scenes unnecessarily. And yet, in the cold light of day, I can’t recall an ounce of fat in the script, not a snippet that could be pared off without reducing Johnny’s naivety and confusion, without impacting the invisible Mark’s rising emotions. That this play is based on real-life events, that Johnny essentially incited his own murder, is pretty terrifying.

In short, Kim was right. This was a cracking show, and no mistake.

[2009082] Shaggers


An orgy of comedians @ The Tuxedo Cat

10:30pm, Sun 15 Mar 2009

I was really worried about pre-purchasing tickets to see this show. I mean, late-Sunday-night is hardly primetime for Fringe comedy, and how pervy would I seem if I was the only person who rolled up to a show that proclaimed to be all about “shagging stories”?

Luckily, I needn’t have worried – there were another dozen people there, which is enough to make The Tuxedo Cat feel populated. Uncomfortably, they were all females.

So there I sat, the only bloke in a room full of women, waiting to hear… well, who-knows-what.

Like I said, uncomfortable.

Nik Coppin opened, and also emceed for the evening. He’s a genuinely likeable and gently funny chap, whose only mis-step was suggesting that I was the luckiest guy in Adelaide, having my choice of all these women. Cue a dozen disdainful looks – not at him, but me. Bastard! Still, I was suitably impressed by Coppin that I commited to seeing his solo show later in the week.

Dan Willis was up next… and he did absolutely nothing to improve my already poor impression of him. A crude tale involving him fucking some slapper (his words, not mine) in a carpark felt more disrespectful than humourous. Luckily, though, Gordon Southern soon followed. As previously mentioned, he’s a ridiculously polished comedian, and he managed to get us all guffawing away. Bart Freebairn trotted out some familiar material and was – again – comfortably amusing, without much risk.

But then came DeAnne Smith – ah, how I love her. A fantastic little set, with content that had the rest of the audience squirming more than I… delightful. And finally, the wonderful Marcel Lucont brought forth his deadpan French arrogance, and was once again a hit.

All-in-all, a pretty good set, there. And the comedians weren’t bad, either.

[2009081] Sammy J – 1999

Sammy J – 1999

Sammy J @ Bosco Theater

8:15pm, Sun 15 Mar 2009

Sammy J appears to have graduated from the same young-and-crude niche that Josh Thomas currently inhabits; though he’s still got the fresh-faced and innocent look, and elaborate (and somewhat cherubic and effeminate) signature actions (such as the coy fruit-box sip), he successfully manages to create a gulfing juxtaposition with his brilliantly funny, rapid-fire songs of filth – such as the timeless Fingering Song.

And that’s great, it really is. Sammy J’s a cunning wordsmith, and can write songs that play off his camp delivery perfectly. The last time I saw him was a cabaret-type affair, where he dueted occasionally with Randy, but this year he was performing solo… and, what’s more, it was more of a theatrical production than an amusing collection of songs.

Dwelling on Sammy’s high school mishaps, he covered the dissipation of his relationship with his best friend, the kidnapping of his nemesis, and his rendition of the Nerd Song on Red Faces (in an attempt to reinstate the friendship). Along the way there was the occasional song – The Boner Song being the highlight – but they were relatively few and far between.

After knowing Sammy J as purely a funny songsmith with boyish charm, the theatrical nature of 1999 came as a bit of a surprise; but he proved that he’s got the chops to entertain on that level, too. Sure, it was far from the best production in the Fringe – but it was enjoyable, there were a few genuinely funny moments. But the surprising takeaway was the fact that there were some genuinely touching moments too.

[2009080] The Mad & Ugly Show

The Mad & Ugly Show

Cocoloco @ Bosco Theater

7:00pm, Sun 15 Mar 2009

The show starts – we’re watching a video that you may have seen before on YouTube. I certainly had; it had done the rounds prior to the Fringe. And it’s a bloody funny clip and all, but…

Y’know, it’s four minutes long. And that’s one-fifteenth of the show. That cost 25 bucks to see.

I was paying more than a dollar to watch a YouTube video.

Eventually, a man and woman come onstage. They do something odd – appearing naked bar translucent body stockings, or the one instance where the bloke appeared, illuminated by bike lights, dragging a skateboard along with a piece of string tied to his cock, swearing in strangulated epithets.

Then they’d leave the stage, and another YouTube video would play. Animals mating. Camels making use of their tongues. Monkeys wanking.

It’s all very highbrow.

The last straw was an extended slideshow of the man and woman partaking in oddball behaviour. Ironic costumes. Pedestrian confrontations. Self indulgence.

For some reason, The Mad & Ugly Show reminded me of 2002’s Taboo, the main differences being that (a) I liked Taboo, and (2) Taboo had something to say. This show was immature and unwarranted self-congratulation; I felt I could almost hear the couple laughing and backslapping each other on another fleecing job well done out the back of the Bosco.

Anyone can piss away an hour looking at freakshow videos on YouTube – that’s just filler. Not that I’m saying I necessarily want to see more cock-stretching action, but… you know what I mean. Show me stuff I can’t see elsewhere. Make worthwhile use of the time. Give the audience a little credit. It’s not that much to ask.

[2009079] RADIUM


G & J Music @ Live on Light Square Tonic

4:00pm, Sun 15 Mar 2009

Right, let’s get this out of the way, up front – I’m not the world’s greatest Radiohead fan. In fact, I’d only classify my interest in Radiohead as “passing”; sure, I regard OK Computer as one of the greatest albums of the nineties, but its successor Kid A sounded like someone overdosed on the “self-indulgent noodling” drugs, and predecessor The Bends is decidedly bland to me (with the exception of the phenomenal Just).

(So – that’s me in the shit-books with anyone likely to read this post, then. Hey, I really do like to pump my numbers up… I’m all about the reader pandering, I am ;)


A work colleague received a blanket e-mail from one of her ex-workmates (who just happened to be either the “G” or “J” of “G & J Music”) advertising their intended show. In the manner of all great word-of-mouth campaigns, that e-mail spread around the office and I, looking for any good excuse to lock shows into The Schedule, took the bait (but only after thinking to myself “Covering Radiohead, eh? They’ve got to have balls to attempt a gig like that.”) But, rolling up in the Sunday afternoon drizzle to Live on Light Square, the venue was quite clearly not going to be hosting any show; only the presence of actual wooden boards would have made the place look more boarded up. Fortunately, someone was rounding up the grumpily mystified punters and sending them to the new venue for RADIUM, the club previously known as Tonic.

Bumping into a former workmate-in-common with either G or J was a pleasant surprise; he was there with his family, a ruck of kids in tow. In fact, the entire audience seemed surprisingly child-heavy; not that they were the majority or anything, but they were quite noticeable in their presence, even in the dim interior of the club.

But onto the gig. G & J (sorry, I completely missed their names) came onstage to a rapturous welcome; this very much felt like a friends-and-family gathering (of about 200 people, which was impressive). A guitarist/vocalist and a multi-instrumentalist, they opened with Lucky – brave, I thought, given the fine balance of tenderness and power delivered by the original. But they created a more-than-credible rendition, which raised my hopes immensely. Paranoid Android followed soon after – again, a ballsy selection, but unfortunately this one suffered a little from a more creative re-instrumentation that lacked the blistering guitar that bookends the last half of the song.

Halfway through their first set, I was becoming quite staggered at the complexity of sound that these two chaps were able to produce… but then, in the middle of one track, some dense pre-recorded backing becomes evident… and the spell is broken. I’m left constantly guessing what’s live and what’s not. The video backing the pair onstage – entries from Radiohead’s In Rainbows video competition – were fair accompaniment, but overall presentation was perfunctory.

After a short interval, G & J returned to a much rowdier crowd. And unfortunately I was less happy with the second set; I’ve always hated Black Star, I found their thin rendition of the superb Airbag disappointing, and No Surprises has always been an album lowlight for me. Still, they managed to come home strong, and there was certainly masses of crowd appreciation.

Now, with my limited knowledge of the catalogue, I was unable to confirm G & J’s claim that they were selecting tracks that spanned Radiohead’s entire career; though I know there was the odd Pablo Honey track, and they certainly feasted on a lot of In Rainbows. But the selection of tracks covered a fair range of styles – sure, nothing like The National Anthem or Kid A got covered, but a pretty decent effort was put into Fitter Happier (courtesy of a young daughter). However, the effort the boys put into the staging of their vocals was evident – they were constantly covering each other, maintaining a deep vocal presence, and The Bends received a suitably rocking twin-guitar assault… but it very much typified the relatively straightforward adaptations of these songs.

And that, perhaps contrary to my complaint of Paranoid Android above, is possibly my only criticism of the show; whilst you could tell that G & J had a personal attachment to these songs, they didn’t really do a whole lot to make them their own. Having said that, RADIUM presented a lot of excellent songs well performed, and you can’t really complain too much about that.

[2009078] A Restaurant Like Alice

A Restaurant Like Alice

The Angry Penguins @ The Tin Cat Cafe (Garden)

2:00pm, Sun 15 Mar 2009

It’s a bit steamy out the back of the Tin Cat Cafe on this Sunday afternoon; it’s been a hot week, and the weather’s about to break… there’s a storm a-comin’. Which makes it an apt day to see A Restaurant Like Alice, with its perfunctorily accurate subtitle “Songs of Protest, Peace and Draft Dodgers”.

Now, from that title you’d expect the setlist to be nothing but anti-war bellyaching – Dylan and Guthrie – but The Angry Penguins (Andrea on keys, Chris and Mark on guitar, and John on bass & harmonica) demonstrate a deeper appreciation. Opening with tracks that come from older American protests – Sixteen Tons and Strange Fruit, it’s not long before they place us in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement, before eventually pushing through into the sixties and the songs of peace that accompanied the Anti-War Movement.

This wasn’t just a cavalcade of hits, though; throughout, The ‘Penguins explained the actions of participants in these protest movements – the well-known international events and their local counterparts – and took us on a descriptive tour of the smaller bars and hangouts that formed the counter-culture movement in Adelaide (including my beloved Catacombs). There was even a bit of audience participation; a faux protest march (complete with placards and bras to burn), and a storming audience-powered rendition of Eve of Destruction (that, incidentally, knocked The Beatles’ Help! off the Billboard #1 spot in 1965).

After an hour or so (that just flew by), there was an interval – a chance for vocal chords to take a break, for those that were stuck in the muted sun to try and garner some protection. I had managed to perch myself in a sheltered bar area at the back of the Garden, though I had to contend with the noise of the fridge overpowering the performance; as such, I didn’t notice the light rain that began to fall. When The ‘Penguins returned, they warned that any rain would force them to stop the performance; they were uncovered, and – with a couple of electric guitars and a keyboard – they (understandably) didn’t want to take any risks (how cheerfully ironic for the counter-culture socialists! ;)

Regardless, they leapt into more anti-Vietnam songs, but it was clear that the impending rain was a major concern – one eye was always on the heavens. A couple of songs in, and they glumly announced they’d have to stop the show – but were happy to start again when the weather cleared.

I sat out back for awhile; a lot of the crowd remained unmoved (though, it must be said, they were the lucky buggers who were under cover). After ten minutes or so, it didn’t look like the weather was shifting, so I left to head back to town for my next show. On the way out, I bumped into one of The ‘Penguins having a smoke out the front of the Tin Cat; thanking him for the show, I explained my forced departure and discovered they had another half-a-dozen songs up their sleeves.

The Angry Penguins are a leisurely lot, but they know how to belt out a decent tune. All contribute vocals but, given their Baby Boomer status, their voices sometimes struggle – but are always earnest. And, most importantly, they kept a packed crowd entertained and enthralled this afternoon with great songs and history… my Dad would be so proud if he ever read that.

[2009077] Best of the Fest Late Show at The Gov

Best of the Fest Late Show at The Gov

A whole ruck of comedians @ The Governor Hindmarsh

10:30pm, Sat 14 Mar 2009

Alright – so my scheduling wasn’t as smooth as expected. Normally, I’d have backed nightlight up with another show at Holden Street, before ambling home for an early night. But I’d seen all the late shows I wanted to see already, and didn’t particularly care for the rest… hence, I found myself wandering home via The Gov.

Arriving right on starting time, the place is teeming with people; it’s at least three-quarters full out back, it’s a ‘mare getting anything from the bar, and there’s already a lot of happiness and laughter in the air. Gordon Southern is our emcee for the evening, and there’s no rocky start in sight. He’s a bloody polished comedian and, after wasting no time identifying his audience mark for the evening (though, it must be said, the chap’s jumper was pretty ordinary), soon had the crowd eating out of his hand.

Lindsay Webb, a likeable Queenslander, was up next. He has a pretty laid-back kind of approach, permanently wide-eyed with a hangdog expression, and his laughs are pretty innocuous but cheery. Tales of police encounters and the birth of his child kept me entertained, but didn’t threaten to split my sides.

Last act before the mandatory beer-break was Dave Thornton. Again, he’s likeable enough as he presents his case on the faux pas inherent in world flags and tales of tennis, and with his typically Australian demeanor there’s a chuckle or two to be had… but it’s up to Southern to get everyone revved up again before the show had a short recess.

The quality zoomed up a notch or seven after the break with the emergence of Felicity Ward. Yes, a lot of her spot this evening was familiar from her current show, but that’s just fine by me – she’s been one of my comedic finds of the Fringe.

The final act of the evening was Daniel Townes. Now, I must admit that I was initially surprised that he headlined above Felicity, but he absolutely nailed his spot and left the crowd absolutely delirious. As I’ve said before, he’s bumbling and iconically laconic, and that’s just magic.

In all, this was a pretty bloody good gig. Two chaps who I wouldn’t have otherwise seen, two fantastic acts, and a quality emcee linking all the bits together… well, that all adds up to a decent night out. The crowd certainly thought so.

[2009076] nightlight


the indirect object @ Holden Street Theatres (The Studio)

9:30pm, Sat 14 Mar 2009

Oooooh – this was a bit different.

nightlight portrays the last days of a young teenager, incurably sick and restricted to a hospital bed. His mother is distraught, smothering him with desperate and guilt-ridden affection, whilst the rest of his family and friends are physically – and emotionally – absent. Every so often, the performance is punctuated by dream sequences, colourful and crazy and vivid. And then the child dies, and there’s a touching closing scene where his heart is exposed for all to see, to demonstrate the love he had for those around him that they didn’t care to acknowledge.

It’s not that cheery when I type it out like that, really. Not really family fodder. Which makes the fact that it’s a puppet show all the more surprising; not because of the technical excellence in the production, but because of the maturity involved in the storytelling. Only occasionally does it delve into the well of whimsy, and there’s so much… respect shown to the characters that it takes a real effort to recognise them as puppets.

Because those puppets, those marionettes… those eyes… I can’t recall eyes as deep in something inanimate. The eyes give the characters a life of their own, whether it’s the pleading eyes of the mother, the sultry eyes of the slinky nurse, or Josh’s eyes, innocent and frightened and – dare I say it – excited when he’s freed from the confines of his bed in dreams.

Supported by clever sets and emotive puppeteers, nightlight is a brilliantly conceived puppet show… that much is obvious. But the respect and sensitivity and maturity imbued in the storytelling aspect of this performance elevates it beyond just a technical achievement.

[2009075] Kiss Me Quick… I’m Full of Jubes

Kiss Me Quick… I’m Full of Jubes

Hannah Gadsby @ Rhino Room Downstairs

6:30pm, Sat 14 Mar 2009

I sat at the back of the dingy little space downstairs at the Rhino Room, feet up and beer in hand, slothfully comfortable… the Fringe was taking its toll. I was well tired, knew I had a bunch of venue-dashing to do in the next couple of days, and the hydra that ff2009 was becoming (with the triple heads of work, play, and blogging) was really starting to wear me down.

Now, I’ve seen Hannah Gadsby a couple of times before (1, 2), and I love her style – dry and wry, with little variation in presentational tone, and with a distinctly different outlook. And so, when she stood awkward and uncomfortable on the teensy stage and told some tales that were familiar (life in small-town Tasmania, and her experience coming out to her mother), there was a certain comfort to be had. Her new material was decent as well, but in the end I just eased back and let the laughter gently lull me.

Is it wrong that the most memorable thing about a stand-up comedy show was that it was very relaxing? Maybe – but let’s put it this way: I’ll be seeing Hannah Gadsby again. I think she’s great.