[2008055] Bill Hicks: Slight Return

Bill Hicks: Slight Return (FringeTIX)

Chas Early @ SoCo Cargo

9:00pm, Mon 3 Mar 2008

I love Bill Hicks. He is, without a doubt, my favourite comedian ever, living or dead. Rant in E-Minor is one of the greatest comedy albums ever assembled, and is very much responsible for a lot of my comedic preferences today.

So it was with equal parts excitement and trepidation that I bought tickets for this show – excitement, for this is the closest I’ll get to ever seeing the man (aside from DVDs and YouTube videos). Trepidation, because… hey, it’s Bill Hicks. He is Great and Awesome and… Inimitable. And yet, Chas Early is imitating him, his style, for the purpose of this show.

So really, it could go either way. It could be great; it could fall flat on its arse and besmirch the Great Man’s name.

First up: Early has most of Hicks’ mannerisms and voices down pat… even Randy Pan the Goat Boy. His research into Hicks’ style is wonderfully thorough; he even looks pretty much like Hicks. And, addressing many of the ills of the world, he even sounds like you’d imagine Hicks would sound – ranting about the current Bush, reprising a lot of drug jokes, and – of course – riling against the War on Terror. There’s also a few good laughs available at bringing Bill back from the dead – what would Bill say?


There’s a common term in technology for the repulsive emotional response that one feels when observing something that’s almost – but not quite – human… the uncanny valley. And I reckon that, for all the Bill Hicks aficionados out there (and there are a few of us), Early’s portrayal of Hicks – which, all things considered, is as good as it could possibly be – invokes that kind of response. Yes, the look and sound of Hicks is there… almost. And the vocal style is there… almost. But when something un-Hicks-like jars you, it sticks out like a sore thumb – the most notable bit for me was the mushroom soundbites. Yes, the content was pure Hicks, but the manner of inclusion was forced and clumsy.

But perhaps I was expecting too much. Because Slight Return is most definitely funny; its sole problem is that it’s not The Real Thing.

[2008054] Version 12.25

Version 12.25 (FringeTIX)

Urban Myth Theatre of Youth @ 41 Currie Street (Basement)

7:30pm, Mon 3 Mar 2008

Oof. What to say about this…


Well, it’s short. Only about half-an-hour. And, to be fair, this performance was plagued with technical difficulties; the lights and sound systems seemed to have a mind of their own. It’s an interesting venue (an old basement club on Currie Street) which could… nay, should be used a lot more. And the plot was actually quite neat, if simplistic (a girl loses her memory falling off a bike whilst playing with her GameBoy. Friends help her regain her memory. Done).


Direction? Wooden, blunt, single-threaded. Actors? Ummm… there’s a couple that have real potential.

And that’s about the best I can do, sorry.

In fact, the highlight of the performance was well after the cast had taken their bows and retired to the dressing room (aka corner-of-the-room). Their production wrap celebrations were glorious, full of post-performance adrenaline and joy. That, at least, brought a smile to my face.

[2008051] Mommie & The Minister

Mommie & The Minister (FringeTIX)

Sisters Grimm @ Big Star (Basement)

9:00pm, Sun 2 Mar 2008

Wandering past Big Star on Rundle Street on Sunday night, I was taken aback by the two ghoulish children peering out from the front window at you; it’s not really something you expect to have greet you when attending a show. When we’re eventually allowed downstairs to the Big Star basement, we see that it’s a very small space – forty people would be a squeeze. The set is junky, and as the play starts we’re greeted by the two ghouls, Edmund and Harriet.

The children have been stashed in the basement for years by their Mommie, extravagantly played in drag by Missfit. Edmund suspects that Mommie’s tea parties with The Minister aren’t what Mommie claims they are at all, and is encouraged by Kitty – a painting of a cat – to seek The Truth. It all gets a little silly, with blood and gore flying everywhere, but in the end Harriet escapes the basement…

Ooooh, a spoiler. Best not read the previous paragraph if you were planning on seeing the show.

The first thing to note about Mommie & The Minister is that it doesn’t take itself seriously. From the brash and outlandish new-wave comedy stylings – all shouting and exaggerated movements – to the constant “pudding” and “bean” references (via the disturbing talking cat painting and foul-mouthed and unseen “Minister”), it’s all very wacky. The gory ending fits perfectly with this – you know it’s a good show when the techies warn you not to slip in the blood on the way out. Gillian Perry’s Harriet is the standout performance, all smutty innocence (!) and psychotic evil. Lovely.

Writers Ash Flanders and Declan Greene wrote:

We’re not sure yet if Mommie & The Minister is remotely enjoyable without prior knowledge of Flowers in the Attic, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, Mommie Dearest, Children of the Damned, or Carrie.

Well, I’ve only ever seen Carrie (though I may have seen snippets of Flowers in the Attic during an early sexual misadventure), and I – for one – can say that Mommie holds up very well indeed… as long as you don’t take it too seriously. It’s just a pity there were only 9 people who saw it this evening :}

[2008048] Comedy for a Cause

Comedy for a Cause (FringeTIX)

A whole ruck of comedians @ Adelaide Town Hall

12:00pm, Sun 2 Mar 2008

This is the second (or is it third?) comedy benefit gig I’ve snuck into; it’s a great way to get a taste of a whole bunch of acts at once. It’s ever-so-satisfying to be able to cross someone off the Schedule on the basis of a shit showing at a gig like this.

Here’s a whopping great bulleted list of all the wares on show today:

  • Asher Treleven was our emcee for the day. He hosted with verve and wit, keeping the audience in line, as well as doing some more of his book readings. On the strength of this bit (and last year’s hosting effort), he stays on the schedule.
  • Adam Hills: bloody hell, they bring out the big guns early! Hills is a consummate professional, and has no problems whatsoever getting the crowd laughing. He’s not edgy, he’s not really inventive, he’s just funny.
  • Daliso Chaponda hails from South Africa and, once your ears began to account for the accent, he delighted with a polished set, chock full of back-references. Ace.
  • You should all know I love Nick Sun, so I may be biased here; he puts in a brave set (suicide jokes before 1pm?) and inadvertently drops the first “c”-word for the afternoon. He got a bit of appreciation from the crowd, and managed to confuse many; job done, then.
  • Simon Palomares really surprised with fast, intricate, and acidic tales of family life with his emo kids. Recommended… next year, maybe?
  • Stephen Sheehan was incredibly unassuming, quiet, and spun long tales of absurdist size-related humour. Dropped from a Must Schedule to a Maybe; such is his timeslot, however, it probably won’t matter.
  • Kehau Jackson is still ace. No mastectomy jokes this year, though.
  • Canadian Tom Stade was so laidback he almost needed a bed. Some may label him a misogynist based on the amount of bitching he did about his wife, but – even if that were true (which it isn’t) – he’d still be bloody funny.
  • Gordon Southern struck me as trying a little too hard. More tales about flying, pirated DVDs, and I’m looking at my watch trying to calculate an endpoint for this benefit.
  • Elbowskin round out the first Act with a brilliant Ode to Adelaide, and a short song that seemed to be generated purely from the phrase “cum on my Facebook.”
  • Arj Barker did a decent enough job – his jokes on new fonts especially for e-mail (“Sarcastica”) were fantastic – but the LPM wasn’t really high enough to justify any Schedule re-jigging.
  • Mickey D is a local boy, and I don’t like to knock him. He just doesn’t appeal to me.
  • Maeve Higgins never changes. She’s still got the same shy-girl persona and gorgeous Irish lilt that makes her so delightful.
  • Josh Thomas did a bit of his act; I’d heard it all before, but he was still great – he may have won himself some new friends.
  • Claire Hooper also repeated some of her act and, wearing more grown-up clothes and with those innocent eyes further away, her meagre charms were lost on me.
  • I hate Justin Hamilton. He’s just shit. His style is disrespectful of the audience and he’s Just Not Funny.
  • Mags Moore: gentle, mildly amusing.
  • Kent Valentine was another surprise. Sharp, fast, with a nibble of surreality. Next time, oh yes.
  • The bumbling Mark Watson was brilliant, as usual, but a lot of the early part of his spot was lost on the majority of the audience who were mumbling to themselves when he was announced as the last act (Fiona O’Loughlin was also listed on the bill). Despite fighting a cold, he should also have won himself some new fans at this gig.

Easy, eh? 19 comedians in four hours. Amanda Blair appeared to pat everyone on the back with the feel-good announcement that about $60,000 had been raised to fight homelessness. At $60 a ticket, that means that 1000 people saw Nick Sun perform today – and that, at least, makes me happy :)

[2008047] Jigsaw Collective

Jigsaw Collective (FringeTIX)

Jigsaw Collective @ Electric Light Hotel (Producers Bar)

10:30pm, Sat 1 Mar 2008

There are times when you just hate people in general. This show was one of them.

Not because of the Jigsaw Collective themselves, oh no. They held up their end of the bargain, bringing tempting tunes (largely jazzy in nature, with obvious blues and reggae influences) and a tight delivery to proceedings. With Jack Tinapple fronting this group of able musicians – drums, keyboards/melodica/trumpet, guitar, double bass, and guest congos – this show had all the hallmarks of greatness.

Reason to Hate People, #1: a shitty mix. Just because I can feel the double bass, doesn’t mean that it’s good. In fact, if I can feel the double bass, it probably means that everything else is being drowned out. Get with it, Mr Mixer. Yes, things were slightly better in the second set but, as soon as additional mikes were turned on for the guest accordianist(!), the levels all went to shit again. The trumpet doesn’t need to be clipped.

Reason to Hate People, #2: bugger all people turned up. They seemed genuinely surprised when I presented a ticket at the door, and I reckon the number of paying punters could’ve been counted on one hand. Sure, there’s more than a handful of other events on at the moment, but surely more than a couple of people out of over one million in the city could’ve made it to the Producers on a Friday night?

For shame, you bastards. Yes, you. Don’t pretend you were there, and I just didn’t see you. Because you fucking weren’t… and should have been. Double shame if you were off seeing some fucking covers band.

[2008045] Stuart Black – Pale & Confused

Stuart Black – Pale & Confused (FringeTIX)

Stuart Black @ Griffin’s Head Hotel

6:15pm, Sat 1 Mar 2008

Stuart Black seems like a perfectly nice chap. He patiently waited for the latecomers to arrive, started with some gentle puns, before bumbling into his regular act – which is more like a ramble than a structured joke-telling experience.

His material ranges from the personal (flyering people) to the surreal: owl-fuelled tirades on HD TV? Oooookay, then. He’s got a few Hicks-isms – “go with me on this” – and is constantly checking the time, but is otherwise nondescript, unremarkable, plain.

And that’s Black’s big problem. He’s really not that much better than that funny mate of yours who can hold a crowd at a party – except that he’s on stage in front of a small crowd of 30-or-so (though, as Penny Ashton told me, I’m rubbish at guessing crowd sizes).

He’s no Billy Connolly. His words, not mine.

[2008044] Dreamer

Dreamer (FringeTIX)

dreampuppets @ The Puppet Palace

3:00pm, Sat 1 Mar 2008

Wandering into the Puppet Palace on a sticky Saturday afternoon, I was surprised to see that the layout had completely changed since I was last in there. Apparently, they shuffle seating around on a per-show basis… seems a little too much like hard work to me, but hey. Of course, the seating layout for Dreamer – coupled with the fact that the tallest people in the audience sat in the front couple of rows – made clear, unobstructed viewing difficult for the sizeable crowd.

Let’s cut to the chase: Dreamer is a one-trick pony – it relies heavily on a UV backlight to make the puppets and props fluoresce; the effect, within the inky black confines of the stage, is gorgeous. (And yes, I am aware that “fluoresce” is quite possibly not the most technically correct term… but it’s the most emotively correct term, so there ;)

But, when a screen is dropped over the front of the stage with tiny little fluorescent dots on it, puppets moving behind, it creates an impressive illusion of depth – the objects look half-a-universe away. That, mixed with the whimsical and colourful puppets, certainly produces a dream-like effect. The plot is shallow, but that’s not what it’s about; it’s an experience, rather than a story.

The titular main character, a cute little fella, is just one of the quirky puppets on offer: A walking bed. A rowboat. A bottle. Slinkies. A duck that seems intent on shoving its arse in your face. And, most of the time, the puppetry is really good – though there’s a few sloppy bits at the edges, where you can see the exits before the puppet has left your eyeline.


After the applause from the audience starts at the end of the show, we’re treated to the biggest reveal of all: Dreamer is a one-woman show. That alone turns its rating from a “pretty, but dull” into a “pretty, and massive respect.” Bloody impressive for one person.

[2008043] Men of Steel

Men of Steel (FringeTIX)

Men of Steel @ Bosco Theatre

2:00pm, Sat 1 Mar 2008

I love the easy write-ups:

Read last year’s notes, because the show is nearly identical to the previous rendition. The only differences were that The Bosco is air-conditioned now, the Men now provide the front row with disposable plastic aprons, and there’s now a lot more foodstuff being flicked crowd-wards. A lot more.

I went into Men of Steel very down-in-the-dumps, glum. I left smiling, after a joyous forty-five minutes. That, to me, speaks volumes.

[2008042] Amelia Jane Hunter is Keith Flipp

Amelia Jane Hunter is Keith Flipp (FringeTIX)

Amelia Jane Hunter @ Fringe Factory (The Fridge)

10:30pm, Fri 29 Feb 2008

Amelia Jane Hunter appears onstage, bright orange wig and slutty trash clothes, and immediately starts addressing the nearly-full audience. This makes me, as someone who sat in the front row to offer artist support when there was only three people in the room, super-nervous; but, after ten minutes or so, the performance falls from themed-stand-up to avante-theatre.

Amelia Jane Hunter has a problem: she’s the body afflicted with Vanishing Twin Syndrome, and her “twin”, Keith Flipp, isn’t real happy about it. Amelia is a socialite, conservative, affluent; Keith is rampantly gay, flamboyant, effluent. (God, that was a great line. I’d leave it in, even if it weren’t true)

Amelia allows Keith one week of body use every three months, and we’re witness to the end of that week; Keith starts at his strip club (where he performs as Fanny Hygiene), leading to a massive drinking, drugging, cock-sucking bender leading to a black-out… when Amelia regains control of the body. And then the fighting starts… Police. Hospital. All good things.

Amelia Jane Hunter is Keith Flipp isn’t going to win any awards, but it’s the type of theatre that I’m glad the Fringe allows; grungy, edgy, funny with a tiny twinge of sadness, with a solid, confrontational, and risqué performance by Hunter. I’m certainly glad I saw it, let’s put it that way.

[2008041] American Poodle

American Poodle (FringeTIX)

Guy Masterson @ Fringe Factory (The Pastry Room)

9:00pm, Fri 29 Feb 2008

Borne of desperation when prepping for the Edinburgh Fringe one year(the programme is really worth a read), American Poodle (the term coming from a less-than-affectionate nickname for the departed Tony Blair) is a pair of short plays dealing with two perspectives of the American Revolution.

The first piece, Snowball, is a fact-heavy and deeply historical view on the British perspective towards the American colonies. From discovery, through settlement, through to the Revolution itself (including some gloriously lyrical descriptions around the Boston Tea Party), this Anglo-centric performance is played in Guy Masterson’s typical style: roaming the length and breadth of the stage, refined sweeping movements, sudden jumps for impact. It’s a great bit of work; educational, even.

The second piece, Splayfoot, was penned by an American for the US viewpoint on Britain. It’s terribly contrived and, in contrast to the earlier British FactFest, very story driven: an American in London to strike a deal. Masterson is less convincing here as an American but, as it’s mainly played for laughs, it doesn’t really matter all that much; it’s most definitely the weaker of the two pieces, but is by no means a flat conclusion.

Yes, it’s a funny bit of work – but the (future President) John Adams quote regarding standing armies stands out as a distinctly contemporary message. No, really, it stands out; almost (but not quite) smug in it’s “look at me”-ness. But that’s fair enough; sometimes, for all those looking only to the future, a slap is needed to remind them of the past.

(And, again, I’m just going to mention how utterly impressed I am that Masterson pulled off great performances so soon after his personal tragedies. That’s professionalism for you… says I, who’ll painfully take a day off work after stubbing my toe.)

[2008039] Meow Meow in Beyond Glamour: The Absinthe Tour

Meow Meow in Beyond Glamour: The Absinthe Tour (FringeTIX)

Meow Meow @ The Bosco

11:00pm, Thu 28 Feb 2008

Meow Meow stumbles into the back of the Bosco, suitcases in tow. She enlists the help of anyone – and everyone (even Matt Byrne, on time for once, and not really pleased with his involvement with the show… I am, of course, assuming that the man can smile) – in moving her luggage to the stage. There are no safe seats with Ms Meow; even the centres of rows are fair game, as she inelegantly stumbles over legs and laps in search of her next friend/victim.

Less a cabaret act than a physical comedy show, Meow Meow still performs half-songs, smokily husking through the first half before breaking into audience abuse / chatter and then winding her pianist up to scoot through the remainder of the song. Curiously, this style doesn’t get old – mainly because Ms Meow’s comedic presence is immense.

There’s tons of audience interaction – as mentioned above, there’s not a safe seat in the house, and she’s always roaming the audience for drinks or volunteers; the piece where she had two german backpackers and another chap in a group hug around her was genius, as were her crowd-surfing antics. There’s a couple of costume changes – chance for more booby action! – and… well, it’s basically a laugh from start to finish.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that this is the cabaret act to see this Fringe. The fact that Anya Pouchanski (from Persephone’s Wolf) wound up translating French for Meow Meow was just the icing on the comedic cake; just a wonderful, laugh-filled, and slightly-nerve-wracking performance.

[2008038] The Gecko Enforcer

The Gecko Enforcer (FringeTIX)

The Gecko Enforcer @ Higher Ground (Art Base)

9:30pm, Thu 28 Feb 2008

The flyer/postcard for The Gecko Enforcer is a work of art; sharp writing that conjures interest from nothing, and yet manages to be completely – well, mostly – factual. Me likee.

The Gecko Enforcer is – nominally, at least – a trio: Sausage handles the beats and loops, plays a little melodica, intermittently bashes a drum, updates the “currently playing” whiteboard, and roams the audience. Gecko is the singer / guitarist – but by “guitar” I mean “ukelele and/or kiddie instruments”. They’re rounded out by the inimitable Flopboy – a stuffed doll, whose solos are… lacking.

Songs are laced with humour, and cover a range of styles – the audience-singalong “I Don’t Drink Beer” is rife with country roots; other tracks are more dancey, while only Flopboy’s solo track could count as anything approaching a ballad… the audience (of about 25) held their bated breath, anyway ;)

In all, The Gecko Enforcer were hardly the must-see musical comedy act of the Fringe – but a reasonably enjoyable hour, nonetheless.

[2008036] Rose

Rose (FringeTIX)

Fiona York @ The Jade Monkey

5:00pm, Thu 28 Feb 2008

Returning to The Jade Monkey for the first time since last year, I’m reminded about the great vibe in the place – it still feels like a lush little artist haven, and it just begs for performance. Atop the stage in the corner, there’s an old wooden bench and two lights.

Fiona York quietly arrives and takes her place on the bench; she’s playing Rose, an eighty-year old Jewish woman, and she’s currently sitting shiva, mourning… well, we don’t quite know who she’s mourning until the end of the performance but, in explaining why she’s there, we’re treated to a monologue lasting nearly two hours.

Rose originally hails from a small village in the Ukraine; we follow her upbringing, travels to Poland, her first marriage and child – and her capture and internment during World War II. Death of loved ones, bureaucracy, and an attempted escape to Palestine, then America. Another husband, another child; more death, more tragedy.

The second Act starts as though the first never happened; the outpouring of emotion from fifteen minutes ago is replaced by light-hearted reminiscences – Rose finds a new job, loses another husband, and we bear witness to the network of friends she develops, and the family that develops too. And, in dealing with the plight of her children and grandchildren, we see Rose for the person she really is: one who is in constant inner conflict, who doesn’t necessarily believe in God, but believes wholeheartedly in Judaism. She revels in her culture, and it breaks her heart to see it used in vain in the acts of her family, her blood.

Despite a minor attack of the Dozey Monster in the first Act, I was riveted by the story on offer in Rose; though it’s only a monologue, York commands attention from her wooden bench. Her lighting is simple but, with the sun ducking behind clouds and the glass front door of The ‘Monkey, the set – and York’s face – lifts and falls in the varying light. It’s mesmerising and, combined with the performance, intoxicating.

In a Fringe that has, with only a handful of exceptions, thrown up few engaging experiences, the run home in Rose is truly memorable. It’s a shame that, in such a wonderful venue, there were only seven people there to experience it.

[2008035] The Very Best Of Empress Stah

The Very Best Of Empress Stah (FringeTIX)

Empress Stah, Ryan Styles, Le Gateau Chocolat @ The Umbrella Revolution

11:30pm, Wed 27 Feb 2008

Burlesque really hit the Adelaide Fringe consciousness in 2006, when La Clique was certainly the hottest ticket in town, and was accompanied by a stack of other such titillating compilation shows. La Clique returns this year to a much bigger venue, and Empress Stah – self-proclaimed Neo-Burlesque queen – also brings her own accompanied show to the Umbrella Revolution.

Technical difficulties lead to the show starting well past midnight, and releasing us back into the cold night air at about 1:30am. In between, each of the performers makes multiple appearances to shake their thang.

Empress Stah opens with an odd blood self-extraction and consumption, and a bit of a strip. And a little game I called “guess what I can hide in my orifi.” She also does a few aerial shows, hanging from a chandelier, and the much-talked about glitter show. Oh, and she fucks a blow-up man-doll on stage. No worries.

Ryan Styles does an energetic – yet tiresome – dance, and a performance art piece balances atop a stack of plates. His highlight, though, is his balloon trick; sure, I’ve seen it all before, but it’s still an good act to watch.

But the real star of the night is Le Gateau Chocolat, an overweight bearded black lycra-loving… beast. Belting out songs with a stunning voice (dropping as low as Barry White) and prowling the audience with a well-honed presence, Chocolat steals the show with larger-than-life characters and laughs galore.

By comparison, the “star” of the show – Stah – was the weakest link; positively lifeless, just an ornament to be gawked at. I’ll take the performer who engages, thankyouverymuch.

[2008034] Mind Eater

Mind Eater (FringeTIX)

Theatre Group GUMBO @ Higher Ground (Art Base)

9:30pm, Wed 27 Feb 2008

So I’m writing up some shows in the bar at Holden Street last Sunday (before Mile High) when I overhear someone mention that they’d seen Mind Eater to the bar staff. I go over and ask him what he’d thought of it.

“Oh, it’s wonderful,” he said. “When you’ve worked in theatre as long as I have, you recognise all the different methods of blocking, and what they’re done is quite clever – they’ve boiled it down to the essence of musical theatre.”

“Ummmm… OK,” I say. “I saw GUMBO’s show last year [Sakura Sayer] and thought it was great… just wondered whether it was more of the same.”

“Oh? I don’t think they performed here last year.”

I point to the poster on the wall. “Oh yes. They were utter nutball Japanese loveliness.”

He snorts. “Well, I’ve had an interest in Japanese culture for years, and one of my friends is a lecturer in Japanese culture at UniSA. Mind Eater really draws on aspects of anime and magna [sic] in the production.”

And it’s now that I get really annoyed – on the inside, mind you – because I notice his media badge. He’s a reviewer – a journalist, he corrects me later – for one of Adelaide’s street papers. And he’s speaking very authoritatively.

So I’ll spell this out: EM – AY – EN – GEE – AY. Manga. Pronounced “mun-guh” or “man-guh”, with a short last “a”. Or “man-gay”, if you’re a dickhead teenage otaku wannabe trying to be funny.

Now – most people will probably think, “So what, Pete? So he said a word wrong. Big fucking deal. Get over it, you pedantic prick.”

To which I retort: yes. Yes, it is a big fucking deal. This man was trying to impress upon me the depth of his knowledge and, by getting that one little word wrong, by making it apparent that he’s talking complete bollocks on that one particular point, it calls into question everything that comes out of his mouth.


And this is the type of person who makes or breaks shows. The little blurbs created by these “journalists” can drive hordes towards performers or, just as easily, keep them away. And the stark realisation that they may be dribbling complete shit just hit home.


Let’s talk about Mind Eater then, shall we? :}

As mentioned above, I saw GUMBO’s Sakura Sayer last year. Loud and extravagant, it had an infectious charm that still brings a reflective smile to my face; thus, GUMBO’s new work was a shoe-in for this year.

Mind Eater is based on the quest of a Female to be happy; after being dumped by her boyfriend, she first chases happiness in a quest to find another man. She dies while attempting to starve herself thin, but is reincarnated a total of three times… each reincarnation see her chasing happiness via another route. The mysterious Mr Master also has his eye on the Female, and the male supporting cast acts as various Souls and comic relief.

Again, GUMBO presents in a very extravagant manner – wild gestures and exaggerated Japlish (including lots of G’Days, No Worries, and the occasional Crikey). What starts out as a rather simply staged show rapidly deteriorates into a deliciously delirious mess – when all three renditions of the Female are onstage at once, surrounded by the wacky-sign-brandishing Souls, with Mr Master prancing around, and the air filled with plush baby parts(!), it’s a treat for the eyes and a challenge for the brain.

There’s a bit of audience interaction – one audience member is called up to serve as food for the “first” Female, another acts as a wife for a bizarre game-show host. It’s all wonderfully good fun; costumes are gloriously oddball, props are brilliant (lots of food plushies), and there’s even a deeper message of positivity to the whole show.

In fact, the only real problem with Mind Eater was the venue. Tiny – 30 people, I reckon – and wodged in the basement beneath the Higher Ground café, it’s plagued by the cunning placement of supporting columns that, upon first impression, create a natural staging area. Later, it becomes apparent that all the columns are good for is destroying sight lines. The Art Base is small, cramped, poorly laid out, and just all-round shit.

But I don’t really want that rant – and the one opening this post – to rub off on the show. Mind Eater was another riotous, addictive gaggle of giggles, and worth every cent that you could donate to GUMBO. Here’s hoping that the rumours that they’ll be joining the Garden brigade next year are true; even though they had a packed house tonight, they deserve much bigger audiences than the Art Base can provide. Such enthusiasm and genius cannot go unrewarded.