[20040010] Horse Country

Horse Country

Clancy Productions @ Eclipse

2:00pm, Sat 21 Feb 2004

Score: 9

Short Review: Ooooh, topical…

Two men appear onstage, facing the audience. At first, you’re a little unsure whether this is theatre, or a standup act – a joke is told, an appreciative murmur is emitted from the audience, and the men just stand there, drowning in the immense ensuing awkward pause, their eyes darting back and forth across the crowd. The eyes are everything; the pauses are everywhere.

Sam and Bob’s banter is drenched in metaphors for America’s ills – and they frequently skip from one contrived symbolism to another, eventually resolving them all in a cunning script. The focus seems to be on our prevalence for that which is familiar, and the reluctance to embrace change – fear of the unknown – despite the problems that persist: “What do you mean, fix it? It’s taken so long to get it working this way.”

Despite the lofty message hidden behind the metaphors, this is a wonderfully amusing show, very tightly scripted. Well worth a look.

[20040009] The International Clowning Hour

The International Clowning Hour

Strut & Fret @ The Umbrella Revolution

10:00am, Sat 21 Feb 2004

Score: 7

Short Review: Charming & surprising

An early, drizzly Saturday morning brought a relatively small audience to The Umbrella Revolution to witness another collection of Strut & Fret’s performers.

After a relatively inauspicious start, this act had some true gems of entertainment within: Captain Frodo performed his rubbery contortions spectacularly well, Birdman performed a surreally unstructured act utilising plastic bags (!), and The Bellboy provided some great juggling (and fantastic facial expressions upon recovery).

Sue Broadway (of ff2002’s Soobee & Jeffree) also performed a wonderfully ramshackle Australian Tea Party, which actually worked because of its imprecise nature. And German(?) clown, Cornelius, provided a fabulous exhibition.

In short – this was a great show, and very family friendly. Recommended.


So, after La Semence was cancelled (a shame, I was really looking forward to that), today (20040220) also had a few other curious tidbits:

I couldn’t believe how many people treat the alphabet as some strange foreign collection of characters. Whilst waiting for Dave Hughes to start, people were scurrying all over the Scott Theatre: “Where’s Q? I can see P, but where’s Q?”

Then there was my little Scaredies incident. I was really looking forward to the Scaredies too, though I’m not exactly unhappy having seen the wonderful BritCom…edy. I just found it a little odd that…

  • having lived in Adelaide for 17 years, I couldn’t tell the Arts & the Royalty apart;
  • after 4 Festivals, I couldn’t tell the Arts & the Royalty apart; and…
  • after 33 years, I couldn’t tell “left” and “right” apart. Even with the aid of my thumb & index finger.

Meh. I guess the real fun comes with trying to squeeze the Scaredies back into my schedule :}

[20040008] Late Night Tonight Live with Lehmo & J

Late Night Tonight Live with Lehmo & J

Lehmo & Justin Hamilton @ Rhino Room

11:00pm, Fri 20 Feb 2004

Score: 6

Short Review: Hey, it’s a talk show…

Not much to say about this one, really – Lehmo & Justin Hamilton present a typical “Tonight Live”-style program, with a little stand-up, crowd banter, and special guests thrown in. Pretty similar to Eric & Derek’s Hot Nuts & Popcorn show of ff2000, really.

There were some quality guests this evening, too: Kenny Kramer appeared for a bit of a chat (and quite witty he was, too); Amanda Blair appeared an provided a few laughs; and “Ron the Armenian comedian” appeared for a quick 5-minute bit at the end of the show.

Lehmo & Hamilton have a good stage relationship going, but the show has it’s teething problems – the “pizza race” was almost stillborn, and the half-time score was a great Year 9 drama piece. Still, what was there was fun enough, but as always with a guest-oriented show, YMMV.

[20040007] BritCom…edy


Gordon Southern/Rhod Gilbert/Stephen K Amos @ The Arts Theatre

9:00pm, Fri 20 Feb 2004

Score: 9

Short Review: Surprisingly refreshing!

Ummm… I was actually supposed to go to the Scared Weird Little Guys 30 Minute Variety Hour in this time-slot – I bought the ticket – but a wrong turn (and an inattentive ticket collector) saw me well engrossed in this show before I knew anything was amiss. Still, it’s a bloody good thing this mistake was made; this was one of the best Fringe comedy performances I’ve ever seen.

Gordon Southern opened (and MCed) the evening, and quickly got the gut-laughs rolling. His banter with the audience was superb, with quick-witted reponses to crowd murmers – “ah, Canadians – the Americans it’s OK to like.” His phone-sex cold calling bit was sublime, his description of tantric sex (“sober, in daylight”) perfect, and his advice for PlayStation widows was a great closer.

Welshman Rhod Gilbert was next. Think of Steven Wright with a southern English accent… and funnier. Gilbert delivered one of the driest, most surreal sets I’ve ever had the fortune to sit through – his board games recollections were bizarre for all the right reasons. Words really fail me with this guy, and the show would be worth seeing for him alone…

…but then Stephen K Amos emerged. With faux rasta tones he lulled the audience with some cheap laughs, then picked his poor unfortunate accomplice in the audience for the evening: 17-year-old toolmaker, Shane. Amos mercilessly decimated Shane’s entire life, drawing tears of laughter from the audience (Shane included) in doing so. Sounds vicious, but I swear it wasn’t so – just deliriously funny. His rubber-faced antics only enhanced the act.

So – it was a complete mistake I saw this show, but I’m not sorry at all. A thoroughly wonderful event.

[20040006] Dave Hughes – High Voltage

Dave Hughes – High Voltage

Dave Hughes @ Scott Theatre

7:00pm, Fri 20 Feb 2004

Score: 7

Short Review: All in the delivery

First up: this is straight stand-up. No “themes”, no recurring threads – just joke after joke, punctuated by self-effacing remarks and “it’s great to be here” comments.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Dave seems to amble from topic to topic, covering water restrictions, snotified bench presses, Guy Sebastian, his love affair with CentreLink and McDonalds, farmers, WMDs, and Vegemite: “it’s brown and it smells – I don’t like it.”

And it’s the abrupt nature of his comments (such as the one above) that make him so funny; it’s the one-second gag that takes twenty seconds to laugh out of your system. I suspect a lot of his material wouldn’t survive in another comedian’s act – but his classically Australian delivery (he uses the euphemism “root” copiously) is impeccable.

This is the first time that I’d seen Dave live (after having seen his TV bits on a few occasions previously), and it was everything I expected. This was the first of his four sold out shows, and there’ll be few punters going away unhappy.

[20040005] Libbi Gorr’s Three Night Stand: Bring Your Girlfriendz Tour

Libbi Gorr’s Three Night Stand: Bring Your Girlfriendz Tour

Libbi Gorr @ The Regal

8:00pm, Thu 19 Feb 2004

Score: 7

Short Review: Rollicking

In an audience where women outnumbered men eight-to-one, Libbi Gorr pitched the subject matter of her show perfectly – but the end result was a bloody good laugh for all concerned.

Gorr opened by getting the audience involved in a big girly moment – the pronouncement of the Three Sacred Vows of Women. The first of the three saw Gorr almost lose control of the audience, such was the reaction. But the big surprise of the night – for me anyway – was Libbi’s singing. With sterling piano support, her songs were remarkably strong – the Shadenfreude song, in particular, had me chortling. And her cover of NIN’s “Closer” was… well, genius.

The coup de grace, though, was the screening of Libbi’s encounter with Major John Hewitt. This piece was the ideal closer, with Gorr singing smokily over the top of a cunningly edited piece. Divine, classic comedy.

This wasn’t a laugh-a-minute show, nor was it a swear-fest (though the c-word was used, respectfully, towards the end of the show). It was, however, good, solid entertainment.

Day One: Numb

Mental note: never again shall I schedule four shows in a row at The Umbrella Revolution, or any other place that has nowt but planks for seating. My fleshy butt, cajoled for so long by the Smart Ball it usually perches upon, is now numb with shock.

A big cheerio to Helena, who I chatted to between shows. Lovely girl, she told me all sorts of goodies I never knew about the role of production companies.

[20040004] First Sound

First Sound

Sound of Human @ The Umbrella Revolution

10:00pm, Wed 18 Feb 2004

Score: 9

Short Review: Pummelling

After his Human in the Audiosphere performance in ff2000 (and appearing with Pablo Percusso in ff98), Ben Walsh returns to the Adelaide Fringe on a much bigger stage than he’s had in the past.

He needs it, too. The stage is littered with all manner of drums, hanging structures, water-bowls, springs, and (surprise, surprise) even a “traditional” drum kit. And Walsh plays them all in a wonderfully measured set that would alternate pounding tribal rhythms with delicately constructed tunes; visually violent explosions with quite passages of flute.

The last two pieces are incredible. First, Walsh demonstrates his mastery of the familiar drumkit as he matches a tremendous variety of pre-recorded musical styles; then, playing within a frame supporting drums above, below, and to his sides, his limbs become a blur, the roar immense. And it’s at this point that you realise that First Sound isn’t just a study of rhythm; it’s also an exploration of space.

The lighting was another standout of the performance – sometimes subtle, sometimes stark, always engaging.

Despite the equipment problems he had on the night (mic issues, levels, an errant drum stand), Walsh put in a stunning performance. Not to be missed.

[20040003] Three Piece Suit with a Sideshow Lining

Three Piece Suit with a Sideshow Lining

The Happy Sideshow @ The Umbrella Revolution

8:30pm, Wed 18 Feb 2004

Score: 8

Short Review: Erm… Freaky

I missed the Happy Sideshow in 2002, so I was keen to experience their talents early this time around. And this was a fair eye-opener of a show.

I mean, it’s not every day you see someone insert fish-hooks into their eye sockets and drag a woman riding on a little red wagon along. It’s pretty rare that you see someone ascend a tower of milk crates and perch themselves, swami-like, on top of a tin can, metres from the ground. And you’d be hard pressed to see a woman hack away at her metallic cod-piece with an angle grinder, while men cavort in the resultant pyrotechnic piss-stream.

You’ll stare; you’ll gasp; you’ll join in as those around you mutter “there’s no way he’s turning that drill on”. Oh yes, he does.

Go see the spectacle for yourselves.

[20040002] Mindbender


Peepolykus @ The Umbrella Revolution

7:00pm, Wed 18 Feb 2004

Score: 4

Short Review: Confused

Opening with a clever bit of mime, UK company Peepolykus promise much in the guise of psychic Michael Santos and his two off-siders. A bit of audience participation by Santos’ audience plant, Raymond, was well handled, with some light humour and neat sight gags.

The whole show takes a turn for the worse with the Python-wannabe death sequence. It seemed that Peepolykus decided to set sail for surrealism, but it all seemed horribly flat and uninspired. The appearance of a bear(!) as Santos tries to reconcile his past was puzzling; the musical finale just plain out-of-place.

There were some highlights with a little trickery after the death sequence; Santos gains “real” psychic powers, which left a few in the audience (me included) wondering how the tricks were performed.

In short, this is a confused production. A shame, really, because the first third of the show offered so much.

[20040001] Cirkus Inferno

Cirkus Inferno

Daredevil Opera Company @ The Umbrella Revolution

5:30pm, Wed 18 Feb 2004

Score: 6

Short Review: Slapstick

The first show of my ff2004 assault, I approached The Umbrella Revolution (“the red tent”) with a little trepidation after Adelaide’s recent spell of hot weather. Luckily, it was only a little humid within the tent, not detracting from the physical humour of Cirkus Inferno.

Lucky and Lady, the focus of much of our attention for this piece, emerge from the audience for an amusing descent into the ring (be warned – you will get wet!). The set is bold, surrounded by wacky placards – “can this lunatic make a lunar landing?” – and it’s only a matter of time before the pair are flailing away with comedic aplomb, using roller-skates, pogo-sticks, and a helmet made from a toaster, using almost every trick in the cartoon-humour book.

Presented by Canadian outfit, the Daredevil Opera Company, this is a competent piece of physical comedy – Lucky remains resolutely deadpan throughout, and Lady’s expressions are endearing. There’s also opportunity for a fabulous bit of audience participation, and the closer is quite imaginative. Great for a younger audience, but the old ‘uns amongst us needn’t feel left out, either.

The ff2004 Blog is go!

Well, here’s something new this ff – I’m going to attempt to blog my way through the haze that will surround me once the Festivals are underway. Hopefully, the blog may be written whilst in a somewhat lucid and sleep-endowed state, unlike many of my past reviews :}

In terms of the upcoming Festivals… well, the Festival of the Arts (FotA) looks great. Infinitely better than the 2002 FotA – though that’s not exactly a tough call – but a nice mix of trad & modern, and some genuinely exciting bits that had me salivating. The tickets are already booked :)

As for the Fringe – hmmmm. International acts are notable by their absence – only a handful of international theatre acts are going to be in town, which doesn’t bode well…