[20060004] The Fever

The Fever

theater simple @ The MooBaarn

7:30pm-ish, Thu 23 Feb 2006

Score: 10

This was always going to be hard to write about. Even before the performance, I knew it was going to be an intense and personal experience for me; after all, it involved my favourite starving artists, theater simple, mixing it up with a selection family and friends in our home (which hasn’t seen a decent-sized gathering for nearly six years).

Way back in November 2005, Andrew Litzky first floated the idea of a salon performance to us; we were both flabbergasted that such a thing could be done, and gladly accepted the proposition put forth. My SO and I carefully thought through the guest list, and were frankly surprised at the number of positive RSVPs we got. Frantic house cleaning, all the other prep work, a “production meeting” with Llysa, Andrew, Monique and Bob at Beyond India

See that? That’s a real, live, production meeting sketch. Or something.

…the usual last-minute doubts, and then… the night was upon us.

After Andrew introduced himself to the crowd and laid down the house rules for the evening, Llysa came downstairs to engage in the performance… and what a performance! Cornered in our kitchen in an armchair, she evokes the labyrinthine story of a delusional reporter in a far-off land, who has seen too much and is questioning all she believes in; all she has been raised to believe. The underlying theme seemed to be: how can I bear to have so much, when others have so little? A particularly poignant query when posed in your own house!

Everything about this performance was sublime, all-enveloping; and, despite the location, it possessed all the hallmarks of a classic theater simple production. Prop usage was minimal, relying on a table-lamp and requisite beverages; the lamp coming into its own as dusk closed over the house, drawing focus into Llysa as the performance progressed. Just… riveting.

And then… the performance is over. I was grinning like a loon; it was such a great show, such fabulous theatre. In my house. Friends coming up to me, telling me how happy I looked – that wasn’t happiness, that was sheer delight. Delight that such an event could happen.

Then the drinks really started to flow. Catching up with old friends, realising that I hadn’t had any lunch. Or dinner. And simply not being able to thank theater simple enough – because it’s almost impossible to do so.

Well, what else can I say about this? It was an utterly amazing and unique experience. But here’s the pearler for me: hunting down some phone numbers for stragglers, I had cause to pop upstairs in The MooBaarn. There, in one of the rooms, I spied Llysa prepping for the performance. That insight, that snippet, that fragment will always remain so dearly personal and precious to me.

[20060003] Sam Simmons’ Tales From The Erotic Cat

Sam Simmons’ Tales From The Erotic Cat

Vanilla Productions @ The Garden Shed

9:15pm, Wed 22 Feb 2006

Score: 9

Quite frankly, nothing I write here is going to do Sam Simmons justice.

This act is surrealism at its finest. With fantastic pre-recorded accompaniment (“audible thoughts” and musical backing), Simmons appears totally comfortable performing his completely fractured routine; even his feigned awkward moments (don’t worry, he’s audience safe) are sublime.

His songs – especially the “Erotic Cat” closer – are completely hat-stand; his on-stage flip-chart support is genius. Props, cardboard masks – purrfect. There’s a flat spot in the middle of the show (the house story drags on a bit too long), but the rest of the time I was in tears of laughter.

Genius, abstract comedy genius. This is one I hope to see again before the end of the Fringe.

[20060002] Lawrence Leung and Andrew McClelland’s Somewhat Secret Secret Society Show

Lawrence Leung and Andrew McClelland’s Somewhat Secret Secret Society Show

Lawrence Leung, Andrew McClelland @ The Garden Shed

8:00pm, Wed 22 Feb 2006

Score: 7

After being happily amused with Lawrence Leung’s show in FF2004, and being a inquisitive fan of secret societies in general, I was looking forward to this. First things first, though: The Garden Shed is a very odd venue. It’s small, it’ll be very humid in the hotter weather, the bark chips beneath the audience’s feet make for an atmospheric smell unlike any other venue, and the fluoros used for the house lights makes for a very subtle transition when the lights go down. Or not, as the case may be.

Anyhoo, on with the show: long-time school chums Leung and McClelland launch into a somewhat limited expose of various secret societies through the history of man. “Limited” is good in this case, because they stick to those that provide solid comedy material – and that means either sex or sheer lunacy is involved. They cover the Ku Klux Klan, miscellaneous religious sex cults, the da Vinci Code(!), try to join the odd Secret Society or two, and poke much fun at the Freemasons. Very little is said of the Illuminati, though… suspiciously little.

There’s some quality humour thrown about, and some unintentional funny stuff, too – their computer (providing quality PowerPoint and media goodness for the show) locked up, they managed to break Leung’s mother’s dinner gong, and Leung managed to spray himself in the eye with deodorant (don’t ask). Their doctored coverage of the Prime Ministerial debate from the last election was sublime, too.

The only flat spot was the faux-tears ending, but that was compensated by having the audience start their own secret society! So I’m now a member of the not-so-secret (and rather unimaginatively named, given the options available) The Evil Of Stuff. Ummmm… yes. There’s other goodies on their website if you poke around, too.

In short – not bad, not bad at all.

[20060001] The Candy Butchers – A Circus Sweetmeat

The Candy Butchers – A Circus Sweetmeat

The Candy Butchers @ The Umbrella Revolution

10:00pm (more like 10:45), Tue 21 Feb 2006

Score: 6

Entering the Umbrella Revolution for the first time this Fringe, we notice that there’s an abundance of fairy floss… either pay $3 for some during the seating spruik, or be lucky enough to grab some as it’s flung into the crowd during the show.

The Candy Butchers have produced a theatrical acrobatic show reminiscent of so many that have gone before it in the Umbrella Revolution (Acrobat being the most notable). There’s tumbling, some hoop hijinks, some fantastic balancing acts, and a little trapeze work; it’s all presented within a framework of slapstick, pantomime, with a cute bit of fairy floss striptease thrown in.

The ramshackle nature of this show is both its charm and its failing; the sloppiness of some of the moves & routines suits the imprecision of the show in a way. However, where a show like Acrobat was gritty to the core, The Candy Butchers are merely grubby – there’s a feeling that the in-your-face brashness is just a thin veneer over a mishmash of acts. The ending, in particular, was disappointing – it was the kind of whimsical abstract bullshit that you’d expect from Cirque du Soleil.

Talented performers, yes. Enjoyable enough – well, yeah, and more than a few in the audience deemed the show standing-ovation-worthy. For me, the most exciting bit (after the outstanding balancing act) was the realisation that they were using a somewhat obscure PainKiller track as backing music. But that’s not really enough; The Candy Butchers are hardly essential viewing.