ff2016, Day 10

‘Twas a nice day for a bit of a wander around a sleepy-feeling Adelaide today; caught a few visual art exhibitions, chatted to a few peeps (Gary from A Gambler’s Guide, the cast of Human Project, Marcel, Ro), and caught a couple of great shows.

  1. The Human Project v1.1
  2. Tessa Waters Over Promises

Further examples of my new-found malaise: it’s a Sunday, on a Fringe night, and I was home by 8:15pm after having seen two shows all day. And I’m feeling pretty good about it.

Also: I actually bought (and ate) some vegan food. What’s wrong with me?

ff2016, Day 9

What a weird old Fringe this is turning out to be. Amiable chats about the sexual assault of a child at 7pm? Yeah, go on, then. Laughing at sociopaths threatening to kill us? Why not. One of the most pointless shows I’ve ever seen performing to a packed-out audience? Sure.

  1. Echoes
  2. The Flanagan Collective – Sherlock Holmes: A Working Hypothesis
  3. Strong Female Character
  4. The Gremlins

Despite all that: it was a good, solid day.

ff2016, Day 8

My first trip into the Friday night mega-venues initially left me fuming, wondering how all those people could possibly give a rat’s arse about the shows on offer; (mostly) packed houses all evening had me swallowing my words a little, though.

  1. Dropped
  2. Alice Fraser – The Resistance
  3. Tom Binns: The Club Sets
  4. Poet Against The Machine

That Poet Against The Machine show? Fantastic.

ff2016, Day 7

Three shows today… and, having settled my Schedule for most of the next week, three shows is actually looking like above average. And the scary thing is that I’m actually getting to see most of the shows that I Shortlisted.

  1. Sam Halmarack & the Miserablites
  2. Retrostalgia
  3. The Flanagan Collective – Babylon

A weird old day. One show that was scripted to be short, one show that was short because of tech issues, and one that felt short because of a small audience.

ff2016, Day 6

A short day today, allowing for a trip to visit my aged parents in the country to talk about The Future. You know, Fun Stuff.

But I’m starting to realise how much comedy used to fill out those early evening timeslots. There’s barely anything in the 6pm timeslot that is in my Shortlist; same goes for the late-night spots, too.

  1. Torte e Mort: Songs of Cake and Death
  2. Bruce

Anya Anastasia’s latest show is a glorious bit of comic cabaret (which she insists is not burlesque), and Bruce is an amazing bit of puppetry that is both technically wonderful, as well as a brilliant demonstration of what our imaginations are capable of. Both are totally worth seeing.

ff2016, Day 5

I’ll be totally honest: I was really, really starting to feel super-down about this year’s Fringe. Sure, I was enjoying some shows, but nothing was really grabbing me by the scruff of the neck and giving me a good shake and saying “See? This is why you love this stuff. Remember?”

Today, though… phwoar.

  1. Beautiful Words
  2. Satori
  3. Red Ink
  4. Hotel Tokyo

Satori gave me those anything-is-possible goosebumps, the ones I get when I see someone completely committed to a craft that I love whilst being absolutely unable to imagine the effort required to perform it. That put me on a bit of a high, and I left that show thinking it was my pick of the Fringe thus far… but then came Red Ink.

Now, it probably benefitted from the fact that Shannon whispered “You’ve got the best seat in the house” in my ear just before the show started, leaving me on tenterhooks; but the taut, electric feel of Red Ink was absolutely superb. It crackles with expectant energy, with a perfect cast and a constant feeling of threat, of danger.

ff2016, Day 4

‘Twas a nice day today: very little writing or planning was done, but I had plenty of nice chats and catch-ups this evening.

  1. This Storm
  2. The Last Time I Saw Richard
  3. Sex Depression

A weird trio of shows. All three seemed to want to keep me at arm’s length – by denseness of text, by age, or by style – with varying levels of success. Waiting for the silence to break in Sex Depression was hilarious… confronting, but hilarious.

[201601] Lifeline

[201601] Lifeline

Butterfly Theatre @ The Wheatsheaf Hotel

5:00pm, Fri 12 Feb 2016

I realise that I’m totally becoming a grump when I start harrumphing at my watch at 5pm on the dot, with no sign of any action on the Wheaty’s great stage; my grumpy hackles were raised, and I’m counting minutes with the knowledge that I’ve got a little bit of a tight changeover between my first two shows of the season… even though I’d sworn that I was going to take things much, much easier this year.

Wesley van Gelderen takes the stage – call-centre corporate with a phone headset in place – and sits at a small table, hands on a laptop. James Whitrow follows him on, and very deliberately ties a noose using a fragment of rope that’s clearly been used for that purpose before. He throws the noose over one of the Wheaty’s rafters, and prepares to hang himself… when he receives a phone call from Lewis (van Gelderen) urging him not to go through with it.

Their initial conversation paints Guy (Whitrow) as newly-separated and (understandably) depressed… and Lewis as in a position of power. Passive-aggressive language leads Guy from suicide, and suggests that he’ll be able to reconcile with his ex… but there’s a trade to be made. Veiled threats, through knowledge of intimate details of his life sourced online by Lewis, push him into a corner and lead him into actions that are unthinkable. Guy is goaded into making semi-anonymous phone threats, choosing between ordering either an execution or a child slave, and is then forced to listen to the results of his “free” actions.

The highlight of the performance, though, was the denouement – with Guy out of the picture, Lewis dispassionately makes his next call… and a phone in the audience goes off. A woman next to me answers it, and we hear Lewis’ call-centre-perfect introduction again… “Oh shit,” she softly gasped.

It was a perfect end to a show that preyed on fears of technology.

Nat Texler’s script is not what you’d call cheery: there’s a lot of threats and (toothless) counter-threats, steeped in a healthy dose of internet-paranoia. Lewis’ justifications are thin, at best, and Guy’s reluctant desire to succumb to Lewis’ sociopathic requests borders on disbelief. But there’s enough there to keep the plot rolling along, and – at a relatively short forty minutes – it doesn’t drag too much… though the final five minutes could most certainly have benefited from a little extra trimming. But as my first show of this year’s Fringe, Lifeline proved to be a decent – but not rave-worthy – theatrical foray.

ff2016, Day 3

I’m bloody tired right now… pretty sure that’s got something to do with the 7am bushwalk this morning, though.

  1. Labels
  2. The Element in the Room: A Radioactive Musical Comedy about the Death and Life of Marie Curie
  3. Paroxysm (S)mashes It Up
  4. My First Ten Sexual Failures And Other Stories About Growing Up
  5. 80s made – THE SHOW

A great day, all up. Would’ve been better were it not for one show letting the side down.

ff2016, Day 2

Aaaaand this is the Fringe groove with which I’ve been so familiar over the years… except for the fact that the changeovers between shows is a lot more leisurely now.

  1. Tink Tank
  2. A Gambler’s Guide to Dying
  4. Moving Too Fast
  5. Art of the Eight Limbs

Some interesting shows today: Sarah Gaul deserves much bigger crowds for SLUMBERLAND, because it’s great fun. And whilst I think Art of the Eight Limbs misses the mark in terms of “dark comedy”, it’s a great piece of theatre… time flew by.

ff2016, Day 1

Another year, another Festival Season… but this one could be a little different. Or, rather, a lot different.

See, this might be my last Adelaide Festival and Fringe blogging excursion.

The reasons are two-fold: on the one hand, it’s pretty likely that I will be migrating to Sydney this year to spend more time with my Significant Other (and, maybe, to find a job)… and even if I didn’t move away from my beloved Adelaide, a change of job would almost certainly remove the ability to attack the festivals in the manner to which I’ve become accustomed.

The other reason is a little more… well, worrying. Or at least curmudgeonly.

Flicking through the Fringe Guide, I genuinely found it difficult to get fired up about the Fringe this year.

In the past three years, my Shortlists have all contained at least three hundred different events… this year? Ninety-two… and that includes a handful that were only selected because I figured they’d be of interest to my Significant Other, who’ll be joining me for the entire Festival (for which I am pretty excited).

Now, I realise that this is still a ludicrous amount of art to imbibe, but I was actually disappointed by the number of shows that enticed, that engaged, me from the pages of the Guide. And that’s probably just me being Mister Sullen McGrumpypants, but the end result is that this is going to be a pretty quiet year for me.

Still… Day 1 was pretty pleasant.

  1. Lifeline
  2. Old Tech New Decks
  3. A Night At The Venue
  4. Ollie and the Minotaur

That there Ollie and the Minotaur was sold out… and the cast absolutely smashed it.