And thus, FF2007 is a wrap. Over 3 months after the completion of festivities, I’ve managed to finish tapping out my thoughts on 83 shows, and launched them into the ether for all to laugh at. Hurrah!

So – the first of the annual Fringes comes to an end. And how did it far compared to previous years? Well, the atmosphere was definitely down; by the end of the second weekend (coincidentally, the weekend when daylight savings finished) crowd buzz had hit an all-time low. In fact, the Sunday night after the cessation of daylight savings felt like the final night of the Fringe in previous years… eerie. Luckily, the 2008 Fringe is running from 22 February – 16 March, so we’ll likely not have that problem again.

The quality of shows was good, and didn’t feel overrun by comedy as I had feared; though I think a good deal of that might have been due to The Black Lung’s successful venture into South Australia. It could also have been due to my more adventurous show choices. And for that I’m truly thankful – The Black Lung deserved all the plaudits they received (Best Venue was only challenged by theater simple’s Caravan, and Best Production could’ve been a toss-up between pretty much any of their shows – I would’ve gone with Kissy Kissy myself, but Rubeville got the gong).

Some other notable moments?

  • The Media Travesty of 2007 – Bimbo gettng a four-star review by someone. Obviously they didn’t actually attend the show, and wrote the “review” from the bar, because Bimbo was a stinker of the highest calibre. Ah, maybe that was it – a four-star stinky review. In that case, the reviewer still got the rating wrong.
  • Kicking back with Nick Sun on a dead Sunday night.
  • Ali McGregor gets major kudos for the chat – and those eyes :)
  • Sitting for a bit on theater simple’s Park Bench.
  • Genevieve from The Black Lung also gets major kudos for the chats – and that smile :)
  • Being recognised as “that crazy guy who sees all those shows” by complete strangers in FringeTIX.

So… that’s it for another year. Christ, there’s only 8 months to the next one… :}

The Penultimate Show

The Penultimate Show of FF2007 for me was supposed to be Marat/Sade at the Xspace Theatre off Light Square; I was really looking forward to it, and the 90 minute duration left me a skinny 15 minutes to walk around the corner to see my final show at The Black Lung. As is usually the case when my changeover times are tight, I checked with the blokes on the door as to how the show was running for time.

“What time did the show finish up last night?” I queried.

“Oh… about 10:15. More like 10:20,” the chap replied.

This was a long way from the response of “9:15” that I was expecting… “Are you sure?” I pushed. “It’s only supposed to go for 90 minutes.”

DoorGuy looked at me like I’d just requested carnal knowledge of his daughter. He rubbed his beard and shoved some nondescript paper towards me, pointing at print too small to feasibly read. “Look, the first act is a bit over 90 minutes, then there’s a fifteen minute break, then the second act’s another half-an-hour.”


Fuck that, then.

Given the choice of “interesting show that I’d like to see,” versus “final show of the Fringe with the friendly theatrical misfits who’ve delivered hit after hit,” I opted for the latter. I whinged like a whiny puss to DoorGuy about crapulent information in The Guide (knowing full well that he could do nothing about it, and that Issues such as Accurate Durations affect all of four Fringe-Goers), got as huffy as I wearily could, and wandered to The Black Lung early.

And, in the pre-show lull, it felt like home. Even to a scruffy, wide-eyed, clean living chap such as myself, the coarse and grubby Black Lung crew were friends in this Fringey hubbub. I kicked back and chatted briefly with Tom and Genevieve, had a beer, and mused on The Wall:

The Black Lung Wall

Since it’s a nasty image (click for a slightly higher-res version), here’s the glorious text:

It began with the forging of the great rings… three were given to the elves, immortal, wisest and fairest of all creatures. Seven were given to the dwarves, great miners and craftsmen of the swollen gash and nine, nine rings were gifted to the race of men, who above all desire power… The Assassin… Justin Perry listened as the nuns beads clicked like loose fitting false teeth. And he smiled to himself, wondering how she would react if she new what had happened to the late, unlamented Frau Kappelheiner, leaving this vale of tears full of his sperm… or a good part of it, for the rug had got the rest – and her own orgasms churning inside her as she rammed that hard, black, arabian dagger deeper into her breast… You will see me naked, very naked, indeed… P.15… Ennio Morricone’s The Ecstacy of Gold… Anne Frank, Helen Keller, Anne Frank, Helen Demidenko, oh good God, this is all coming out wrong, isn’t it… From the high balastrade of the palace, the great Kahn was discovering the killer instinct, latent in all men… the fruit of sober reflection not passing whims when the German cook at the Georgetown mansion had seduced him in the pantry, “Perhaps I have already spoken of her Irene”; her slut-green eyes sent messages like a semaphore suspended over the abyss, she smelt of weeds and goats, “I should praise the flesh of the golden pheasant”. He had a big good body, he was a fag, a blind man with a cheetah on a leash; he looked at Dante and saw that Dante had ejaculated in his sleep, caked with sweat and blood, a drop of sperm… burst! From multiple fountains… other sharks, most of them hammerheads, were gathering… The description of the world to which you lend a benevolent ear is one thing, yarb blah blah, unslinging the submachine gun, the description that will go the rounds of the groups of stevedores and gondoliers… he said, unslinging the submachine gun… on the street outside my house the day of my return is another, ripped to pieces by a metal cock, for Dora was no longer the same as before, “It’s not that I no longer want to be a woman, oh great Kahn, but I don’t especially enjoy being a man, yet I cannot force my operation beyond a certain limit”, she doubled eagerly towards him, as though he had slammed a hard fist into her belly. Absorbed in that kaleidescope of eyes, wrinkles, grimaces… he seemed to feel her guts curling around his prick and found peace where horror had dwelled before… the second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension. Justin Perry closed the door of the room in the midst of the inferno… (I Calvino & John D Revere)

I chatted, I mused, I chatted, I drank, I saw Sugar for a second (wonderful) time, and I waited for the final act of FF2007.

Let’s wrap FF2007 up…

It’s about time I finished off the last few (seven, actually) entries related to FF2007. After all, it’s only been three bloody months since the Fringe finished, and 10 weeks since I last wrote about an event. Luckily, my memory (aided by the quiet voice-recorded ramblings I made as I wandered home each night) is sharp, so hopefully I can bash these last entries out ASAP.

Of course, there’s an ulterior motive: the Adelaide Festival of Ideas starts in a few days, and I was intending to blather on a bit about that, too. Hopefully within July. Imagine that, writings about events appearing in the calendar month in which the events occurred! Astonishing. Live-blogging, be damned.

(“Ulterior” motive, eh? What a silly thing to write. I’ll let all two of my readers tell me why)

This City Comes Alive At Night…

Some people might know that I’m a (tragic) Simple Minds fan – well, at least of their New Wave stuff, up until Once Upon A Time. Walking home from the city tonight, the opening verse of Ghostdancing sprang to mind:

Cities, buildings falling down
Satellites come crashing down
I see them falling out the skies like eagles
All mirrored glass and shattered egos
But in a corner of the world we’d meet to laugh and drink and plan our sequels
‘Cause in the alleyways and bars downtown
They’re singing up from here to there can we go
This city comes alive at night, see these city walls are heaving
And if these old city walls should crash, amid the rubble you’d find us breathing

Now I’m trivialising the intent behind the song terribly, but the line “this city comes alive at night” has always resonated strongly with me. That’s the first thing that pops into my head on those nights that are packed with people and buzz and neon and wonder.

Nights completely unlike tonight.

The city was dead tonight – absolutely dead. Bugger all people wandering Rundle Street. It was as if the Fringe was over, finished, petered out to its usual anticlimactic sputter. Matters weren’t helped by the fact that I had tickets to see Fiona McGary at a Rhino Room that had absolutely no intention of being open, and I was the only person to turn up to see Nick Sun’s Peripheral Yak :: Burnout Edition show. Nick was nice enough to sit and chat though, which was ace – and we discovered a mutual Mike Patton appreciation. Cool and relaxed.

Heh – Mike Patton appreciation. And I’ve just quoted Simple Minds.

Toughest. Day. Ever.

Leave the house at 11:30am. Walk 40 minutes to the first show. “Hang on, Pete! Wasn’t it stinking fucking hot at that time of day?” Why yes, it was. Arrive, and notice that I’m sharing audience duties with the worst behaved school students ever – zero theatre etiquette. I laughed my arse off when one of their teachers started screaming at them after the show was over. I then collared said teacher outside and mentioned that she should do it again. She agreed. And did so. The laughter was sweet, but taxing.

Toddle into the city. Go to my mailbox – ooooh, parcels, yaaaay! Wait – they weigh twice as much as my normal backpack contents, boooo. So I’m carrying three times my normal load… that’s OK, it’s not too humid.

Decide I want to catch the 3pm showing of Wild Animus – after all, it made the shortlist. Ah – The Guide says it’s on in The Mall, FringeTIX says The Garden. I walk the length of Rundle Mall & Rundle Street twice to ascertain which was true, braving the barbs of buskers who see a bright orange shirt and decide that I’m a good mark. Except that I’m moving, not watching them. Which apparently means I’m worthy of abuse.

Couldn’t find hide nor hair of Wild Animus.

Fallback plan – write some shows up whilst leeching bandwidth at Illy. They’ve been exceptional with my oddball requests, so I ask for a large double-shot lukewarm latte. After losing all sensation in my tongue, I discover they’ve ignored the rather important “lukewarm” bit.

Get some writing done, go to next show. Discover that it’s now lightly raining. Mmmmmmm, humid. Show is downstairs in the Rhino Room. Mmmmmmm, hot’n’humid. Next show at the Duke of York – first time I’ve ever been in there. It’s lovely. Still nasty outside, though. Good to be able to sit down in comfy chairs.

Next show at The Black Lung. Oh look, it’s been sold out. Oh look, there’s sixty people crammed into a small room waiting for the show. They’re running a little late. We wait. I sweat. We wait. I sweat. We wait. I sweat. We go in. I sweat more and more and more. I think I sweat more during that show than I did during the ’93 Big Day Out. Yes, that was the 44 degree day.

Show finished late. Mercy dash to The Garden. Sweat. The Bosco is chockers. Sweat.

Walk home. It’s 1am.

Toughest. Day. Ever.

(…for this wussy little whiny patron.)

So that’s the short-list done…

Just finished plowing through the Fringe (and Garden) Guide, shortlisting interesting shows – and came up with a lazy 111 events of interest. Typically, about 20% get culled, cancelled, or just won’t fit – which would still leave a gentle 90-odd to schedule.

So that’s my Sunday night settled, then ;)

I resolved not to venture into town while the Clipsal 500 was on, which meant (as I just discovered) that I missed the Von Trolley Quartet. Which is a shame; I loved them when I saw them last year.

Ho, hum… off to start scheduling :)

Another Year…

Another year, another Fringe… wait, that’s not right, is it? Well, this is the first of the yearly Adelaide Fringes – a prospect that has, as I’ve noted before, filled me with fear and dread. It brings Adelaide in line with Edinburgh as a yearly Fringe fixture, and I guess the $39 million profit that the 2006 Fringe drew was a big juicy carrot to dangle in front of organisers.

Just far enough from all major thoroughfares in Rymill Park to be invisible to all but the most observant, the Fringe kicked off with a Launch brunch with a couple of hundred people. Lots of families with young kids, a nice cross-section of ages, cultures, and artistic inclinations. Apparently, this venue – The Hard Rubbish Café – will be one of the Fringe’s alternate after-hours watering holes; how that works out, especially given the chaotic shamozzle that was the Fringe Club at Higher Ground last year, remains to be seen.

It’s a hot day – the forecast is for 36 degrees – so maybe the cross-promotion with the (shitrag) Advertiser for a free danish and coffee was, in hindsight, unlucky. Trees are at a premium, and the optimally positioned shade in front of the small stage is already packed – in the next hour, those on the edge of the shade are likely to get uncomfortable as the Sun… moves. The Sun’s weird like that, with it’s whole east-to-west transition thing. Still, there’s a nice and friendly vibe… a little apprehensive, though. After all, it is hot. And I notice a lot of familiar faces. Which is nice. None of them notice me. Which is expected.

There’s a small collection of flyer-spruikers, too – christ, the Fringe is 5 weeks away and I’ve already got three flyers. Make that four… at last, one for a show that I’m interested in. A few more, and the total tally is thirteen. One presents me with a flyer for the Holden Street Theatres; I mention to her that it looks a strong program. “Oh thanks,” she says, peering at my Young Gods t-shirt, “who are you with?” Hey, I’m just a punter. There’s a string collective on stage (it could be a trio, it could be a quartet – I lack the inclination to determine) performing straightforward renditions of songs by Bon Jovi and The Police.

The Fringe Guide is a bit of surprise for me – it feels a little lighter than in previous years, but – most importantly – it doesn’t feel overwhelmed by comedy. My worst fears may not be realised, after all. One notable absence is Union Hall – no shows seem to be scheduled there. A shame, since it’s such a handy venue.

Anyhoo, back to the launch: Adam Hills emcees, has a gentle intro, throws over to Fringe Director Christie Anthoney, who performs the expected welcomes and thankyous and such. Auntie Josie welcomes us on behalf of the Kaurna, and then Hills manages a cheeky quiz with Anthoney, BankSA MD Rob Chapman, Jane Lomax-Smith, and comedians Big Al and Hannah Gadsby. Of course, the quiz was thinly veiled bignoting for the Fringe, but at least it was handled in a humourous manner. theater simple even got a mention, with Chapman correctly picking them as a returning artist (as opposed to “Project Moron”).

Sam The Caravan Man also provided a bit of comic relief amongst the crowd, and with Chapman winning the quiz and failing to cover the four people in front of the stage wth a spray of celebratory Heineken, the closing of festivities was left to Ben Walsh (performing in the Tom Tom Club) – a curious mix of reggae, latin, and death-metal influences performed on an omnichord(!). Ben was later joined by Bobby Singh (sp?) on tabla for a fantastic bit of beatbox-esque percussive-vocal drum battle. Or something. It was ace.

Did I mention it was hot? So hot I managed to stop by the pub on the way home to write this. Hence the foggy, no-breakfast-plus-a-couple-of-beers state of this writing.