Taikoz – Australia-Japan Taiko Drumming Fusion
Taikoz @ Norwood Concert Hall
6:00pm, Sun 22 Feb 2004
Short Review: Disappointing
Taikoz is one of the ff regulars, but it hasn’t been until now that I’ve managed to schedule them in. The first set they played was fantastic – the opening piece accelerated beautifully, each player having their own rhythm, merging them into one fluid piece. The closer for the first set was blistering, too – then an interval, during which Taikoz mechandise (including DVDs!) was available in the foyer.
The second set… well, I was reminded a bit of Spinal Tap, so I labelled the second set “Free Form TaikOdyssey”. Introspective and unfriendly might be another couple of terms I’d use. Still, the second piece was a neat ambient number, albeit with a few vocal misfirings.
As with many performances that take place in larger venues, Taikoz often failed (especially in that second set) to engage the listener in a manner that is easier to achieve in more intimate surroundings. But when they do reach across to the audience, the results were explosive.
But it wasn’t all about the rhythm, however – every move the performers made onstage appears to be part of a wider experience; the choreography is wonderful. Performers leap over the stage and twirl their thumping implements spectacularly, synchronising with their peers in a blur of movement. Lighting is functional and refined, with some neat touches – witness the silhouettes being cast on the walls of the concert hall during the third piece of the evening.
Overall, this was a disappointing show for me; the opening three pieces were superb. A pity the energy didn’t seem to survive the interval.
Attack of the 50 Foot Reels
Norwood Cheek @ Uni Cinema
2:00pm, Sun 22 Feb 2004
Short Review: Curiouser and curiouser…
An offshoot of the Flicker Festival, Attack of the 50 Foot Reels is a competition in which the participants are allowed one 50-foot reel of Super 8 film, and only in-camera edits – no post-production. Unlike the similar “Shoot The Fringe” competition being run during ff2004, however, filmmakers are also allowed to submit a soundtrack to their movie – but they aren’t allowed to view the movie themselves.
Sounds… interesting, right? Norwood Cheek presented a collection of 16 of his favourite films from this competition, and some of them demonstrated that such constraints cannot dampen creativity and enthusiasm – and, in some cases , enhance it.
Opening films, “The Photo Shoot” and “Unsomniac”, were gentle introductions – simple sight gags, simple direction. “The Gremlin” was the first of many films to utilise toy dolls – a later piece appeared to be a biblically apocalytic Toy Story. “Dreaming of…” was simply beautiful, “Clean” wonderfully paced, and “Model Behaviour” and “No More Americans” being flat-out funny (the latter being just one take). The best piece (in my humble opinion, of course) was “I, Filmmaker” – we had to wait for it, but damn it was good.
It was truly amazing what some of the filmmakers were able to achieve within the restrictions of the competition; stop-gap animation I would have thought improbably achievable was flaunted successfully in “Montage is Conflict”, the closer. And “The Powers of Preston Flair” showed the power of a good script ;)
Despite being plagued by technical problems, this event was a cracker. And if you missed it, then too bad – it was a one-show-only kinda thing. Your loss ;)
Best of Flicker
Norwood Cheek @ Uni Cinema
11:00am, Sun 22 Feb 2004
Short Review: Illuminating
Flicker, the Super 8 and 16mm film festival, was created by Norwood Cheek as a result of the financial (and creative) frustration he felt as an independent filmmaker in trying to get an audience for his short films. As a result, the festival has become a refuge for the truly independent filmmaker on a miniscule budget, and is currently running in 8 US cities.
Not that this means that the films are of low quality – one of the eight short films presented (all were 15 minutes or less), “Tom Hits His Head”, reflected mainstream cinematic qualities. The opener, “A.P.E. #9”, was a beautiful bit of sci-fi, and “Strip Mall Trilogy” was a wonderful cacophony of sound and vision.
The wierd and abstract were ably represented, too – “French Fries” demonstrated the obsessive, and “Not Too Much Remember” was a disturbingly surreal mockumentary. The collection of images and interviews in “Have you seen Axl Rose?” painted its namesake as a bizarre entity of Jackson-esque behaviour.
The fabulous “Clean” was used as a tease for the following show, “Attack of the 50 Foot Reels”. In all, this was a fabulous way to spend a Sunday morning – the creativity on offer was tremendous.
Notes From Underground
theater simple @ Uni Cinema
10:00pm, Sat 21 Feb 2004
Short Review: Immense
It’s kind of scary when you’re watching a darkly themed play, spiked with vicious, self-effacing humour, and can strongly identify with the protagonist. It makes it impossible to remain objectively detached from that which is presented, you know?
Not that there would be a problem in that regard, anyway. Andrew Litzky, playing the Underground Man, absolutely dominates the Uni Cinema, projecting his troubled and deprecating character out into the capacity crowd. It’s an acerbic portrayal, but played with a lot of wit and humour – a devastating combination.
As usual, this theater simple production works brilliantly within a simple set, the use of light and simple props superb. And, as usual, they have presented a winning formula – challenging script + sublime performance = knockout theatre.
Bryan Lynagh – Culturally Unfit
Bryan Lynagh @ Bin 273
8:30pm, Sat 21 Feb 2004
Short Review: You owe me $15 and an hour of my life.
I like to say something positive about events (where possible). Here’s the best I can come up with: audience member Steve, when onstage helping Lynagh read a “script”, provided the best display of comedic timing for the night.
I’ve Got A Bug
Le Poulet Terrible @ Bin 273
7:30pm, Sat 21 Feb 2004
Short Review: Screechy
First to arrive at the Catchlove sister’s NYE party, I was escorted to my seat by Frances Catchlove. I attempted smalltalk with both her and her sister Mary, and that – to be honest – was more enjoyable than the show itself.
It’s not that the play on offer was bad – a nice twist in the tail, some sweet character transferance. The Catchloves (played by Irene Guzowski and Alice Bishop) both demonstrated gorgeous singing voices – so it was a shame that the play degenerated into a big screech-fest.
Like I said, this wasn’t particularly bad, per se – but with so much better around, why bother?
The Big Time!
theater simple @ The Little Theatre
5:30pm, Sat 21 Feb 2004
Short Review: Gigglingly good fun
What can you say about a show in which a Lamp, a Sock (but not the Other Sock) and a Vacuum Cleaner form a band, exposing the plusses and pitfalls of fame? Ummm… not a whole lot, other than the fact that it was fun.
theater simple are, as always, in fine form – and were able to reach the primarily younger audience with incredible ease. The reaction of the kids at the end of the show is a testament to the joy they bring to their roles; even though weighty topics of friendship and growing-up are presented, it’s never overbearing or preachy.
Take notice – this is not just a show for kids; it’s a giggly delight for all ages.
Clancy Productions @ Eclipse
3:30pm, Sat 21 Feb 2004
Short Review: Arresting
Trembling with tremendous bitterness, “Susan” explodes onto the stage, addressing the audience as her psychology-of-literature class. What follows is a tumultuous exploration of her psyche.
Drifting back and forth through several pivotal moments in Susan’s life, her true tale unfolds. A complex web, her mind is a mess – not without reason, as we discover – but gradually the audience is filled in, being gently introduced to her inner demons.
The presentation of Susan is terrific – initially manically seething, she catches herself, calms… then reflects, bringing herself to tears – before returning to embody pure rage. This performance is a true emotional rollercoaster.
This play was thoroughly engaging – up until (literally) the last minute. It then went up a notch; that last minute was so astounding, so wrenching, so beautiful, I’ve actually wept whilst reflecting on it.
Incredible theatre, astounding monologue. A must-see.
Clancy Productions @ Eclipse
2:00pm, Sat 21 Feb 2004
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.
The International Clowning Hour
Strut & Fret @ The Umbrella Revolution
10:00am, Sat 21 Feb 2004
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.
Late Night Tonight Live with Lehmo & J
Lehmo & Justin Hamilton @ Rhino Room
11:00pm, Fri 20 Feb 2004
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.
Gordon Southern/Rhod Gilbert/Stephen K Amos @ The Arts Theatre
9:00pm, Fri 20 Feb 2004
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.
Dave Hughes – High Voltage
Dave Hughes @ Scott Theatre
7:00pm, Fri 20 Feb 2004
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.
Libbi Gorr’s Three Night Stand: Bring Your Girlfriendz Tour
Libbi Gorr @ The Regal
8:00pm, Thu 19 Feb 2004
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.
Sound of Human @ The Umbrella Revolution
10:00pm, Wed 18 Feb 2004
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.