The Foreign Legion (Cartoons)
5:00pm, Sat 4 Mar 2000
Short Review: Magnificent!!
Another combined theater simple and Ghostlight production, “Hard Times” (adapted from Charles Dickens’ novel by Ghostlight) proved to be truly exceptional theatre.
In typical theater simple style, the stage was stark but for performers and purely functional props (but why was Zoe Galvez reading “Moby Dick”? :) The performers themselves were superb without fault: Monique Kleinhans plays her 3 main roles (the regal Mrs Sparsit, the woefully drunken Maddy and the militant Slackbridge) perfectly; Amy Augustine is wonderful as James Harthouse (and the impish Sissy Jupe early on); and the love between Llysa Holland and Craig Neibaur (as Rachael and Stephen, respectively) is absolute.
One other point of note is the direction; Bill Peters (as well as directing “Hunting for Moby Dick“) controlled the floor with unwavering accuracy. In fact, it’s nigh-on impossible for me to fault this production in any way – everything about it is superb, from the labour songs that open each Act to Amy Augustine’s haunting closing song. To paraphrase Louisa Gradgrind: The only feeling I have ever been certain of is sheer, unadulterated love for this production. Without a doubt, this will be one of the highlights of the Fringe/Festival.
The Foreign Legion (Cartoons)
2:00pm, Sat 4 Mar 2000
Short Review: Surprising
This was a tricky review to write whilst remaining factual. Go see the show and you’ll understand why :)
Don Quixote, the Knight of Mournful Countenance, exists as a form of therapy within the walls of a mental hospital. The doctors within the hospital use the text of the novel to cajole the patients to mental stability with a healthy dose of roleplaying.
To be honest, halfway throught this play I was expecting the worst (despite the fabulous windmill scene); the performances all seemed way over the top, with the exception of Mark Fullerton (perfect as a noble Quixote) and Jena Cane (as the fluttery Dr Stucco & a wonderfully lovelorn Dulcinea). However, without giving anything away, the latter half of the play was just brilliant.
In all, a thoroughly enjoyable bit of work. Congratulations must go to One World Theatre – yet another great Seattle theatre company! If you like your theatre funny, extravagant, and with a twist, this is the play for you.
Eric and Derek’s Hot Nuts and Popcorn Show
11:00pm, Wed 1 Mar 2000
Short Review: Talk-show
Oh, how we did laugh. Eric & Derek (along with Terry and the music guy – sorry, forgot his name) present a pretty-much-nightly talk-show style performance, complete with guests, ad breaks (live “clips” from other shows) and a little stand-up. As you could imagine, the quality of the show on any given night is pretty much dependant on the guests, and what a great bunch we had tonite…
First up (after a bit of awkward banter from the “hosts”) was local Channel 10 reporter Chelsea Lewis. Entertainment reporter Chelsea Lewis. Who also covers “real” news stories. Like the Christmas Shopping. And back-to-school. To be fair, she also covers sieges – but she’s “never been in any dangerous situations”. Fine. Pretty much what you’d expect to hear from an entertainment reporter. But she also mentioned how she gets a little angry when she sees one of her stories get butchered by her bosses (“bosses” being Channel 10, a Fringe sponsor). And that she doesn’t know how long she’ll stay with Channel 10 “because of all the down-sizing going on”. And that what she really wants to do is documentaries – “I want to change people’s lives. Especially about racism and homophobia, they’re my two big topics” (you could feel the audience groan).
Well, good on her I say. Who cares that, as an entertainment reporter – reporting on the Fringe – she’d only sat through two entire shows (including this one?). Who cares that it’s every journo’s dream to do doco’s, and that people who bad-mouth their bosses aren’t likely to survive the next round of down-sizing? Who cares that someone who wants to change people’s lives doesn’t know who Michael Moore is? Who cares about my appalling over-use of sarcasm? Get over it, Pete!!
The ad break for the night was a snippet from “Help Wanted”, which looked to be a slapstick-ish bit of physical theatre. The real bonus for the night (besides listening to “but I really want to make documentaries” – FrontLine was sooooo accurate) was that the Tripod boys appeared for a bit of a chat. Witty to the extreme, they colluded well with Eric & Derek to create much mirth and merriment.
In all – the amusement factor was high, though probably not for all the right reasons. As always, your mileage may vary…
Nova (Cinema 1)
9:20pm, Wed 1 Mar 2000
Short Review: Lazy-in-a-good-way
After hearing of comparisons between Stewart Lee and the late, great Bill Hicks, I was anxious to check this guy out for myself. So, along with a ton of other people (who had either heard of Lee’s reputation, or were at his opening night because of the cheap tickets), I cosied into the non-air-conditioned (what? it was 40 degrees today!) Nova…
Lee’s style is fabulous. The best way to describe it is to say that he makes the audience work for, long for, virtually beg for the punchline. Maybe this is an acquired taste – I definitely heard some people post-show who didn’t agree with it – but I thought it was great. This was perhaps best demonstrated in his piece on the death of Princess Diana – the crux of the joke was introduced very early on, but you had to wait – almost labouring under the knowledge of what was to come – before Lee delivered the punchline that you knew was coming.
This may sound like a crap idea – trust me, it’s not. I’m going to cop out just by saying – go see Stewart Lee. It’s a different style of comedy, but he’s still bloody funny.
Loose Moose Mammoth Big Improv Show
7:00pm, Wed 1 Mar 2000
Short Review: Improv
5 Canadians, 1 stage, 1 hour, no script. Hmmmm, I wonder what can become of this? As with any improv show, you’ve got to be lucky on the night, and this night wasn’t bad at all.
Each of the 5 participants took turns at “directing” the improvisation, with the audience voting after a given period whether or not to continue the current storyline. This provided the audience interaction required of a good improv piece. Some “directors” even asked the audience for story ideas.
It kinda seems pointless to discuss the plot of an improv show; suffice to say, it was pretty rapid-fire stuff, and bloody amusing too. However, just remember that it is improv; your mileage may vary.
International Brigade (Cosmopolitan Centre)
10:00pm, Tue 29 Feb 2000
Short Review: Rollercoaster
Wow. Thanks ever so much to the girl from the International Brigade who insisted that I see this show. I owe you lots.
The Weird Sisters each play a multitude of characters, effortlessly switching between them (with the aid of some brilliant use of lighting). Maintaining such integrity in the characters over 75 minutes is incredible, and they were all believable – Alison Goldie’s Dave (the doting father caught in a loveless marriage) was exceptional, as was the spurned-and-yet-to-deal-with-it Sally, played by Kath Burlinson.
As the performance moves along at breakneck speed, the audience are taken on a emotional rollercoaster ride – characters falling into, and out of, love; passion & unrequited love; and the love of the spurned all play heavily. But “Loveplay” is also funny – scenes with the marriage counsellor are amongst the funniest I’ve seen so far this Fringe.
In short, this is amazing stuff. Go see this now.
9:00pm, Tue 29 Feb 2000
Short Review: Curious
The Victorian company, Holophane, have put together an appealling (if short) piece of theatre exploring the concepts of identity and madness. While using multiple players to display different aspects of the self is not a new technique, the performance still seemed refreshingly original.
The use of live music also deserves a big tick; Tim Wootton on guitar provides a wonderfully moody soundtrack. Overall, the music, dialogue and performances all made this piece feel like a short, succinct David Lynch movie – and in no way is this a bad thing.
Rod Quantock – Utopia
Nova (Cinema 1)
7:00pm, Tue 29 Feb 2000
Short Review: Down
I think Rod Quantock is one of Australia’s best comedians. There, I said it. However, tonite he was a little… flat? disappointing? down? Hmmmm.
I’d been looking forward to this show for ages, and for all you RQ fans out there, there are a few surprises: No blackboard (gasp!), but a long diatribe about the lack of chalk in todays society, and how this impacts our social wellbeing. Very few Kennett jokes, replaced by the far more vitriolic Howard jokes. And the presence of toilet humour! …literally.
As I said previously, I think Quantock is brilliant, and so the show was still very enjoyable. Compared to previous RQ experiences, however, it seemed to be lacking a little spark… maybe Rod just needs some more chalk and a Nazi-esque Victorian Premier again.
International Brigade (Cosmopolitan Centre)
10:00pm, Mon 28 Feb 2000
Short Review: Cyclic
“Stand-Up meets Storytelling meets Beat Poetry” says the Fringe Guide on this, the second of TJ Dawe’s works in this Fringe (the other being the exceptional Labrador). The Guide was right. It’s a reasonable simple storyline, but the manner in which the show is delivered – using, at times, a very Beat-ish style – makes the piece a very enjoyable experience.
Once again, Dawe rapid-fires through another piece of his life, repeatedly using certain situations which, as a spectator, you know are significant – and the final 2 minutes ties all the loose ends together (oops, spoiled it). Dawe’s style, especially after having seen Labrador, is great for the audience – it makes for very satisfying viewing.
I’m going to rave again – TJ Dawe is the man. Brilliant writing… better than brilliant. Words cannot express, yada yada yada. See it. See it. See it.
The Kiwi Standup Show
8:30pm, Mon 28 Feb 2000
Short Review: Amusing
Obviously Monday nights aren’t big comedy nights in Adelaide. For the 16 people who turned up, these two Kiwis (Mark and Mike, apparently… why can’t I remember their names? what a crap reviewer…) put in a reasonable show overall.
Mark (I think… again, apologies for the names) opened up with the usual “flight over” gags, and I think the audience all inwardly moaned. The pace picked up, thought, and the highlight of his set was undoubtedly the ode to JFK Jr set to “Candle In The Wind”. Piss funny.
The second Kiwi, Mike, was far more memorable, and dealt with “comedy death” situations with great style. He also managed to dig himself into a corner when he proclaimed that New Zealand’s only poisonous spider was, in fact, a myth – until an audience member mentioned that she had, in fact, been bitten by one. Again, the escape was very amusing.
Overall, reasonable material, crappy venue – which bore the brunt of a large number of jokes in the show. Go for a beer, stay for the show.
6:30pm, Mon 28 Feb 2000
Short Review: Patchy
I love the cello. Love it. Unashamedly, unreservedly. I know squat about classical music, but the tones of the cello just fire me up. So it was with great anticipation that I cruised into the Pilgrim Church on a sultry Monday evening to attend my first cello recital.
Problem 1: it was hot that night and, due to the extensive (albeit attractive) amount of stained glass in the church, it was quite warm inside. Thus it was necessary to strategically place a large number of fans around the inside of the church to try and keep the air moving & the patrons cool(ish). Unfortunately, the aforementioned fans also managed to flip the pages of cellist Belinda Manwaring’s sheet music. Stutter, pause, recovery… but it didn’t do much for the piece.
That said, the Vivaldi Allegros (with Lesley Lewis accompanying on harpsichord) were exceptional, and Paul Hindemith’s “Solo Sonata op.25 No.3” was likewise excellent. The highlight of the recital, however, came from Manwaring’s rendition of Australian Peter Sculthorpe’s “Threnody for solo cello”… this work was incredible, and the cello belied the Aboriginal underpinnings of the work by managing to sound very didgereedoo-esque (!) at some points.
However, the rest of the works left a less palatable taste in the mouth. Maybe I was missing something, not being a huge classical buff… but some parts of the de Fesch and Bononcini sonatas seemed positively devoid of tonal sensibilities. Bummer, because half the program was exceptional.
11:00pm, Sun 27 Feb 2000
Short Review: Wacky
“The Exhibitionists” is a madcap bit of theatre exploring what may go on when gallery attendants are bored. Upon entry to the performance space, I was accosted by one of the performers, in character, who insisted my bag be placed in the cloak room. 5 minutes into the performance, the contents of said bag were being used as props :) In fact, one of the highlights of the show was watching other people be “checked” by the attendants upon entering the space. Be warned!!
The four players of the Irish company, Ridiculusmus, all play their multiple roles with a great sense of comedic timing. The play is, for the most part, an over-the-top, outlandish production, but it’s sheer wackiness kept everyone entertained. Suspend disbelief and roll along for a good laugh.
Nova (Cinema 3)
8:30pm, Sun 27 Feb 2000
Short Review: Wiggles-meets-DAAS
Tripod opened up with a wonderful musical ode to mucus which was, for a Tripod virgin such as myself, a hilarious introduction into the trio’s exploits. They then rattled through a series of songs (including the brilliant “political song”, which I haven’t been able to get out of my head all day ;) and, along the way, managed to insert large chunks of dialogue from “The Empire Strikes Back” (neat, since Yon was referred to more than once as “Yoda”).
Their songs were brilliant – rollicking, hilarious, entertaining, always on the mark, and reminding me of a tasty blend of The Wiggles and the late Doug Anthony All-Stars (not a bad thing, I assure you). However, when they strayed into the non-musical aspects of their show, their grip on me slipped. A lot of the stand-up/spoken word stuff fell flat, and they suffered from the “ad-libbed versus rehearsed ad-libbed” problem.
Don’t worry about that too much, though – for a roaring good laugh, they manage to hit the right notes often enough.
Anandamine (Visual Arts)
Top Floor, 27 Gresham Street
6:00pm, Sun 27 Feb 2000
Short Review: Thoughtless
If visual art is your thing, don’t bother climbing the stairs to the top floor of 27 Gresham St. The viewing of the “works of art” takes almost as much time as the ascension.
The opening of the Anandamine visual arts exhibition seemed poorly conceived; one “work” consisted of a bead G-string hung over a talcum powder “canvas” into which a simple vagina had been drawn. Problem was, many guests at the opening were shuffling through the talcum, essentially ruining the intention of the piece (unless, of course, it was meant to represent the downtrodden nature of women in society… hmmm, maybe not). No-one seemed to care… where was the artist protecting the sanctity of their work?
This seemed indicative of the whole exhibition – everything presented seemed to have no real thought involved, simply the feeling of “product” being shifted in time for the Fringe.
Let’s hope the other aspects of the Anandamine project are a bit more successful. Positives? Errrm… the free booze was nice :)
Hunting For Moby Dick
The Foreign Legion (Cartoons)
5:00pm, Sat 26 Feb 2000
Short Review: Existential
theater simple return to Adelaide accompanied by Ghostlight Theatre, in a Ghostlight-inspired production. As usual, the set was sparse and the content was dense :)
The main players were stellar, with Amy Augustine as Spouter entering the audience for a nice bit of improv. Bill Peters and Craig Neibaur were exceptional as the writer, Herman Melville, and the fun Stubb; Llysa Holland was a solid Starbuck.
So what did Moby Dick have to tell? As usual with theater simple’s works, the currents ran deep… “Hunting for Moby Dick” was a pretty involved work that, despite perhaps not shining as brightly as theater simple’s 1998 Fringe classics (“The Master and Margarita”, “Escher’s Hands”), still leaves a lasting impression. The influence of Ghostlight’s direction is evident, but theater simple’s innovative use of sparse props remains a delight.