[2009028] The Tailor of Inverness

The Tailor of Inverness – Krawiec z Inverness [FringeTIX]

Dogstar Theatre @ Holden Street Theatres (The Studio)

11:00am, Mon 2 Mar 2009

The Tailor of Inverness is writer / performer Matthew Zajac’s examination of his father’s life and, in turn, a deeper tale of post-war migration throughout Europe after the Second World War. The first act revolves around Matthew’s father, Mateusz, telling his own story – born and raised in Poland (in a village that, post-war, fell under Russian rule), he traveled through Europe and North Africa as part of whatever army he found himself in, eventually settling in Inverness and raising his own family. Throughout, there’s lots of gorgeous little theatrical touches – his countryman, Uri, dying in his arms, Zajac emulating his beating heart. There’s a fantastic sequence where Mateusz rides the trains through Europe, swinging a clothesline around to generate a tremendous feeling of movement and excitement… it’s riveting stuff.

The second act focuses on Matthew’s own attempts to discover more about his father, stemming from his need to reconcile the Polish, Russian, and German affiliations he’d discovered. The accelerated pacing of this act, as Matthew travels to his father’s old hometown, discovering a plethora of secrets that remained unknown to him, and the subsequent attempts to track down his half-sister, makes for all the feeling of watching a chase – in the cold light of day, it seems like pretty sedate stuff, but Zajac makes it edge-of-your-seat exciting.

Throughout, Zajac is superb – effortlessly slipping between languages, accents, and mannerisms of father and son (and any other characters). He’s supported by Gavin Marwick, providing live musical textures, and a comprehensive lighting display, including a series of projected slideshows, animations, and subtitles.

Even if the performance had ceased after the first act, I’d have been a happy man; that the second act occurred at all – and in fact was more compelling than the first – was a thrilling surprise. Absolutely fantastic theatre.

[2009027] The Sam Simmons Experience

The Sam Simmons Experience [FringeTIX]

Sam Simmons @ Le Cascadeur

8:45pm, Sun 1 Mar 2009

I had no idea that Sam Simmons was a local boy. I guess the coasters that are floating around with “I lost my virginity on a slide in Hallett Cove” should’ve given it away, but I’d not seen them before the show… which’d make it a bit hard for them to have passed on their pertinent information.

Sigh. Another day, another tangent.

I suspect great things when we enter to the strains of “Monkey Magic”, and am pleased when I manage to snaffle a prime spot in one of the dozen-or-so seats in Le Cascadeur with a back on it. I’m even more pleased to see a flip-chart onstage – because that pre-empted the utterly bizarre diagrams that Simmons scooted through. He’s also got a sound effects box that he used for aural puntuaction (and laughable contrast: jolly jingle + “your Dad has cancer” = guilty giggles). But the bulk of the show stems from his opera libretto based on his time as a Coles employee at the Marion Shopping Centre.

…errrmmmmm, yes.

There’s a few decent songs that come from this, a wonderful heartfelt ode to the KFC Girl who was the target of his youthful desires, some scarcely believable tales of teenage sexual tomfoolery, and the brilliant “sitting on things” bit.


I remember fondly the first time I saw Sam Simmons; his Tales from the Erotic Cat show was polished to a gleam, full of slick interactive multimedia, surreal content, and Simmons himself acting with complete and utter surety. So I was massively disappointed the second time I saw him, with a show chock-full of technical issues and undercooked material.

The Sam Simmons Experience is somewhere inbetween. Some of the hatstand leanings are back, but not all the confidence: he still stifles a smirk to himself occasionally, and often lapses into more conventional stand-up delivery – usually leading to a chuckle and a head-shaking “thirty-one years old.” And that’s not the Simmons I want to see; I want to the the refined Erotic Catster who had the crowd in the oddball of his kipper.

Still – great show ;)

[2009026] JP

JP [FringeTIX]

Theatre Group GUMBO @ Holden Street Theatres (The Studio)

7:00pm, Sun 1 Mar 2009

It should be obvious to regular readers (hahahahahaaaa – I crack me up) that I’m a fan of Theatre Group GUMBO – the boisterous productions that they brought to town in 2007 and 2008 keep me thoroughly entertained with bold visuals, a played-up culture gap, and enthusiastic Japlish.

JP is no different.

Initially introduced to a trio of GUMBO’s men, acting as Spirits in the Forest Of Truth, they are soon harangued by their Queen – find her a loving couple so she may extract their love from them and… ummm… stuff. When the lovers are introduced, He is portrayed as a narcissist, She as sex-mad (attempting to bump uglies with audience members). As they succumb to the powers of the Forest of Truth, She dons a nun’s habit, becoming a missionary of love; whereas He returns to birth, eventually devolving to become a sperm (!), trying to impregnate a member of the audience (!!) and eventually getting trapped in a testtube (!!?!OMGWTF).

So yes – this is everything I’d expect: loud, colourful, and utterly nutball.

Throughout, the cast of GUMBO are yelling their lines in glorious Japlish / Jenglish, and it really really appears as if they’re enjoying themselves… and enjoying making fun of themselves. And that’s great, because the crowd loved it too (except for the chap who thought it was going to be “serious” theatre) – and I’ll still be seeing GUMBO whenever they pop into town.

[2009025] Death in Heaven

Death in Heaven [FringeTIX]

Helen Vicqua @ Higher Ground (Art Base)

2:00pm, Sun 1 Mar 2009

Here’s another little factoid, dear reader, that you may not have picked up about me: I’m a morbid bugger. I find Death to be of immense interest. Exploration of themes surrounding death evokes fascination, wonderment. And, being of the male variety of homo sapien, I’m also interested in sex. Imagine my delight when, whilst at Uni, an ex-girlfriend borrowed The Joy of Sex from the Reserve Collection and we gigglingly pawed through it, coming across the perfect French term la petite mort – the little death, post-orgasmic stupefaction.

So when I read the précis of Death in Heaven in the Guide, I locked it in after only a few words – sex, death, what’s not to love? Oooh, a matinée? Perfect!

But just after I clicked the “Confirm” button on my FringeTIX order, I had a sudden pang of self doubt. I poked around the FringeTIX site for more info… and became a little scared. “Edgy interaction”? Uh-oh… that’s something that doesn’t interest me in the least.

But I turned up on a warm Sunday afternoon and descended the stairs into the Art Base; there’s only a few candles illuminating the “dungeon”, so the transition from bright daylight to stygian darkness resulted in more than a few bruised shins for the mostly full house. And I looked around at my co-punters, wondering what brought them there; seriously, a full house? Colour me surprised.

Anyhoo, Helen Vicqua – The Mistress Mortician – perches herself at the electric piano, black fishnet body stocking and shiny silver dress, and perfunctorily pushes out some morose classical bars before launching into the tale of Isis and Osiris, describing her practice of chalis (sp?), before delving into the first of three “case studies” – clients she had either helped pass peacefully into death, or helped through life, using a mixture of meditation, sex, and psychology.

Now, just typing that in and reading it back made the performance appear far more interesting than it actually was. The theme of death was strong in this performance; the crowd was deathly still and quiet, completely unresponsive. Vicqua dropped lines on a regular basis, which really surprised me given she’s been performing this piece since the Feast Festival last year. And yes, la petite mort was mentioned briefly, but the killer was the audience interaction – because there was none. Oh, it was intended – Vicqua tried to drag the crowd into discussions whenever she could – but no-one wanted to participate. Like I said, the crowd was dead.

I guess the big takeaway from this performance is the realisation that there’s still a lingering taboo with talking about sex, even in a room full of strangers. Or, rather, especially in a room full of strangers. Hmmmmm – maybe there’s something in that.

[2009024] Marcel Lucont: Sexual Metro

Marcel Lucont: Sexual Metro [FringeTIX]

Marcel Lucont @ The Tuxedo Cat

11:30pm, Sat 28 Feb 2009

Preface: I was as pissed as a fart during this show.

Then again, so was pretty much everyone else in the room. And The Tuxedo Cat was just about full – clearly, the promise of thirty minutes of comedy for twelve dollars sounds like a good deal to the inebriated.

Marcel Lucont drifts to the mike, floating on the aloofness we attribute to the French (and cats). In fact, he takes every stereotype we apply to the French and runs with it, taking it to the extreme, making it laughably over-the-top. He’s super-smooth, ultra-arrogant, and God’s Gift to women… of course.

Mocking the crowd is, obviously, easy for him – after all, he’s French, so picking the youngest member in the crowd and harassing him with premature ejaculation advice is only to be expected. Hecklers are dealt with swiftly, and with absolute disdain… yet he still looks cool.

Honestly, I loved this show to death. It’s a short set, sure, but totally worth it… definitely one of my picks so far this Fringe. Check out the videos on Marcel’s MySpace page – and if they make you smirk in any way, get your arse to The Tuxedo Cat. Fantastique!

[2009023] Doppleganger

[2009023] Doppleganger [FringeTIX]

Bart Freebairn @ The Tuxedo Cat

10:30pm, Sat 28 Feb 2009

Bart’s a friendly enough guy. He pops onstage with little fanfare in front of maybe twenty punters – many of whom he’s successfully schmoozed out on the Rooftop Bar – and seems honest. Trustworthy. Not scary. You know, a comfortable comic.

But Bart has one big problem – he acts and sounds like a Complete Twat I work with. Which means that he’s probably stolen the style from someone else, because The Twat doesn’t have an original bone in his body.

Oh wait – now I remember. It’s the style of Pauly Shore. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing – lord knows I pissed myself laughing at Shore’s antics in Encino Man. In 1992. But Bart’s little punctuation mannerisms – the vocal uptick, the short dainty poses – get a bit wearing after awhile, and the entire show seems to be based on his backpacking experiences, but at least the gentle laughs keep coming.

Mind you, I was pretty pissed at this stage of the evening, so I may be giving him way too much credit. I remember patting him on the back at the Bar afterwards, congratulating him on a great show, so something must have cheered me somewhat; in the cold light of day, I’m arsed if I can remember what it was. But that irritating style is repeating on me the morning after.

[2009022] Geraldine Quinn – Hex and the City

Geraldine Quinn – Hex and the City [FringeTIX]

Geraldine Quinn @ The Tuxedo Cat

9:15pm, Sat 28 Feb 2009

Geraldine Quinn has yet to fail me. After a stunning debut in 2007, and a stunning more-of-the-same followup in 2008, she’s attempted to create a show with more depth by introducing a plot device… the problem is, she doesn’t need to do this (her “normal” act is strong enough by itself), and the storyline only introduces opportunities for stagnant pauses, creating a more stilted performance.

By virtue of the fact that she’s in her thirties, single, childless, and a bloodnut, Geraldine is being hunted down by an angry mob; much of the “story” element of the show is devoted to expounding this hunt, mainly via one-sided mobile phone calls which are stilted at best, mood-killing at worst. Many of her songs use a pre-recorded backing, leading to some amusing timing problems and admonishment for the sound tech.

Whilst all songs are up to the usual high standards, when she ignores the pre-record and picks up her guitar things get taken up a notch; this is the Quinner I remember, all sweetness and snarls and biting humour, fully deserving of her preferred “Captain Rock” moniker. And yet, possibly the best song on the night was the new “Young People” (“…are only useful for porn mags and fashion mistakes”) track, sung with gorgeous gusto and range over a backing track.

At least the storyline allowed for the “cameo” appearance of Jesus towards the end of the show – leading to the tutu-clad Quinn successfully uttering the jovial “fuck off, Jesus” line that we’ve all wished we could justify in conversation.

It’s still a decent show, and I love Gerry to death – but I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed by this one. But that’s probably only because her previous shows have been so exceptionally wall-to-wall good that the few flat spots were very noticeable; any other comic would probably kill to have material this good. It’s just a pity that I left this show thinking I was guinea-pigging for her prior to the inevitably profitable Comedy Festival run.

[2009021] Pablo ‘Libido’

Pablo ‘Libido’ [FringeTIX]

John Lattin @ The Tuxedo Cat

8:00pm, Sat 28 Feb 2009

My whole “five shows at The Tuxedo Cat in one night” plan was hatched from a desire to see this show; the thing is, I’ve no idea why I wanted to check it out. Nor why I didn’t opt for the gig later in the Fringe, which would’ve been much easier to schedule.

No matter, we’re here now, wodged back in The Tuxedo Cat (fresh drink in hand) with Pablo Libido and the Wild Robots – John Lattin on guitar and vocals, and a bunch of electronic bobbins as accompaniment. He was joined onstage by near-constant feedback problems; a result (it seems) of too many cooks fiddling with levels – both Lattin and the sound tech counteracting each other’s efforts in alleviating the noise. When the intended tunes were audible above the noise, what we found were a bunch of discordant tones, guitar seemingly at odds with the MIDI-esque synthed bass notes, fronted by whimsical lyrics.

All that changed with a tremendous pair of songs: “Ambassador of Love” and “Monkey See, Monkey Can’t Do” impressed mightily with their contrast of jangly verses and big fat power chords. From there, my interest was piqued somewhat: but nothing in the remainder of the show matched those examples, technical issues were rife, and I spent most of the rest of the show gazing longingly – or, perhaps, creepily – at two women sitting opposite me on the other side of the stage.

Beautiful, they were. Gorgeous. Unlike the bulk of what the Wild Robots could offer.

[2009020] Adam Vincent in Adamland

Adam Vincent in Adamland [FringeTIX]

Adam Vincent @ The Tuxedo Cat

7:00pm, Sat 28 Feb 2009

I first saw Adam Vincent waaaaay back in 2006, and remembered thinking “check him out in a couple of years.” He was on the shortlist last year, but illness saw me bail out of the opportunity to catch one of his shows; this year, however, I felt compelled to make good my (internal) promise.

Now, the Tuxedo Cat was a hot and stuffy room at 7pm – clearly, the heat of the day had not yet dissipated. So when Vincent appeared onstage wearing a suit (looking very much like a younger, thinner, taller version of my accountant), I began thinking of how much he’d be suffering (bam). Of course, the other two barbs of a triple-pronged attack were the generally dead crowd (thwack), and the fact that maybe half that crowd was family and friends… including his Dad (bocko).

But Vincent did his best regardless. Opening with some charming material about his Mum bricking kittens, he followed up by introducing Adamland – that place in his head where all the weird ideas are. There’s a tale or two about his ability to cope with violence, his predilection for looking in other people’s windows (“it’s not creepy if you have momentum”), and a delightful use of Bambi as a metaphor for the clitoris.

And that last bit is where Vincent’s act doesn’t really gel for me; he’s a relatively quiet comedian, kind of like a gentler(!) Adam Hills. But he never really runs with the joke, never takes it all the way; he’ll venture somewhere crude (the Bambi/clitoris thing, or his pissing-in-the-shower bit), but seems content to revel in the giggles obtained from the crassness of the phrasing. There’s no second act to his jokes, and for some reason I’m expecting one.

Throughout the show, he keeps mentioning that, if his comedy career doesn’t work out, he’ll have to keep up his “other” career as a nurse. Whilst I’d hate to see that happen, he needs to get a bit of depth into his material – because, as a one-shot or shock comedian, I’m not sure he’s gonna cut it.

[2009019] Planting the Dunk Botanic Gardens

Planting the Dunk Botanic Gardens [FringeTIX]

Big Toe Productions @ Holden Street Theatres (The Arch)

2:00pm, Sat 28 Feb 2009

It’s an oddball sort of description for a play: “Mark O’Connor’s passionate fight to plant an Eden on Dunk, challenged by time, cyclones and fellow man.” In retrospect, I have no idea why this even made the shortlist; I suspect it was due to my confidence that Holden Street wouldn’t let me down when it came to quality theatre.

I needn’t have worried.

With an audience that looked more likely to be watching Gardening Australia than a Fringe matinee, there’s an amusing little slideshow as the lights drop, informing us to switch off our mobile phones – lest they be mulched. And then David Malikoff takes to the stage; his is a quiet, yet potent and dignified presence, and he begins to tell the tale of the Dunk Island “Botanic” Gardens.

His initial spiel mentions the three Gardeners of Dunk: Ted Banfield, who essentially inspired development on the island; Mark O’Connor, the author of the play (present in the audience) and a one-time resort gardener on Dunk; and God as the ultimate gardener. This lead me to think that there would, then, be three acts to the performance, focusing on each of the Gardeners in turn (potentially leading to some unwanted religious pouting in the third act); this was not the case, however, as we are only privy to the work of O’Connor in the transformation of the Island’s resort gardens into exotic havens.

At times, it devolves into plant-centric technobabble – incomprehensible to me, but strangely compelling and soothingly rhythmic. But the occasional slideshow (beautiful flora!) with lovely soft jazz-esque background music breaks things up, and there’s plenty of other characters at the resort to provide both comic relief and conflict; the tale becomes a battle with both man and Mother Nature, with O’Connor’s final day on the island one of frantic planting and passing on of ideals.

It’s a polished production: a gripping story, plenty of laughs, and Malikoff is fantastic narrating O’Connor’s tale. As I mentioned above, I’ve no idea why I shortlisted this one (since my green thumb is actually a gangrene thumb) – but I’m glad I did.

[2009018] Best of the Edinburgh Fest

Best of the Edinburgh Fest [FringeTIX]

Jason Cook, Jariath Regan, Mike Wozniak, Eddie Ifft @ The Governor Hindmarsh

7:45pm, Fri 27 Feb 2009

Escaping the city and its opening night crowds, I popped out to The Gov for one of the Fringe regulars – the (maybe fancifully named) Best of the Edinburgh Fest. Now, I have grave suspicions as to the legitimacy of that title; but it matters not, because a great time was had by all.

Jason Cook is the MC for the evening, and – quite frankly – was absolutely fucking brilliant. His loud, but affable style gets everyone on-side from the outset, with charming crowd banter (and the requisite mocking) and a real feel-good delivery. Tales of hometown gigs, conversations with other Poms in the audience, and crowd warm-up exercises were brilliant. Usually, the MC at these shows is the weakest link; not in this case, however. Even his return interstitials were exceptional; he completely won me over… I’d pay good money to see him in his own show.

The moment Jarleth Regan (or is it Jariath? I don’t know, so I’ll use both) comes onstage, the energy level drops substantially. Much more reserved than Cook, he takes a while to warm the crowd up, breaking through with tales of parental tech support (his Dad’s first photo message from his phone is a corker). He closes out his set with a quick run-through of some of his greeting cards, which really are piss funny. All-in-all, a really well paced set from a likeable guy.

Looking – and sounding – like a moustached David Attenborough on speed, Mike Wozniak blasted through a fast-paced set, tackling risqué topics such as medectophobia and mega-foreskin with a clean, clinical approach that, combined with his manic style, was bloody funny.

After a short interval (and more banter from Jason Cook), the “headline” act appeared: Eddie Ifft. Now, Eddie was the only one of these comics that I had seen prior to tonight, and I remember him being a bit crude – but in a good way. Unfortunately, a lot of the more… ummm… socially unacceptable rough edges have been filed off his act, replaced with bog-standard “wacky shit about Adelaide” stories. Sure, he still dips into the gloriously obscene (“people often ask me why I quit drinking. I tell them ‘because I’d get drunk and FUCK KIDS.'”), but moments where you consider checking your laughter because of the social implications are sadly few and far between.

None of that really matters, though, because Jason Cook carries the night. Even if the other comedians present had been dead weight, his efforts would have still made this a quality show; the fact that they all had moments of pure hilarity just makes Best of the Edinburgh Fest a gem.

[2009017] Everynight, Everynight

Everynight, Everynight [FringeTIX]

Darren Hassan & Company @ Adelaide Gaol

8:00pm, Thu 26 Feb 2009

After a cancellation leaves Everynight, Everynight my sole show for the day, an impromptu boozy dinner leaves me pretty cheery when walking into the old Adelaide Gaol for this, an adaptation of the Ray Mooney play; possibly not the best mental state to be in when watching a play about the debasement and humiliation of prisoners.

It’s a grim tale – we’re introduced to the prison hardman, Bryant, and his mate Barrett, and stand in a cramped cell corridor whilst we watch Barrett be repeatedly beaten and ridiculed by three Officers of the prison. Not a hand is laid on Bryant, however; his importance in the smooth running of the prison is evident from the outset, and expounded in dialogue later. The audience takes a short walk outside to the exercise yard, where we encounter young Flannery – who is summarily accused of assaulting another prisoner and sent to H Division – the maximum security wing of Pentridge. There, he is indoctrinated into the ways of H Division through prolonged beatings and humiliation (being stripped and raped).

Eventually, Flannery “resigns from the human race,” claiming that the rules and regulations no longer apply to him; he wins the support of Bryant (and hence, most of the rest of the prison population), and instigates an uprising within the prison, resulting in an ultimately unsuccessful, but damaging, Royal Commission into brutality against prisoners. The prisoners’ revolt – prior to Flannery’s stand, the unbroken law within the prison was to never dob anyone (even the screws) in – had massive repercussions inside the prison.

So – a pretty interesting story, I reckon. And the Gaol certainly makes for a decent setting for the performance (although I tend to think that a few more flourishes in the staging would’ve been nice… how about positioning the audience / actors above / below each other?) But it was a pretty hot and sticky night, and once we were all eventually seated within “H Division”, there was no airflow – resulting in a slightly uncomfortable experience.

Another problem – for me, anyway – was that the long, narrow corridors in which the play was performed were acoustically ratshit. Echoes, high frequencies triggering my tinnitus, awful. But – and it’s a big but – this was still a quality production; the acting was generally excellent (though Damien Carr was weedy as Flannery, Gary Harrison absolutely nailed the solemn menace of Bryant), and direction solid, if unimaginative. So quite why the insolent little shits in front of me refused to clap at the end of the performance, I don’t know. The twats.

Speaking of which… it’s important to note that I am completely au fait with profanity; those even only moderately acquainted with me know that I swear like a fucking trooper. No word is off limits to my spoken vocabulary; I guess what I’m saying in a very roundabout way is that I drop the C-Bomb a lot. Not a problem to me. But I recognise that, despite Sex In The City‘s best attempts, it still remains one of the few words that carry any level of taboo today, and – when writing, at least – I like to keep it tucked away, ready for when I really need that extra little bit of impact, of oomph.

So it’s a real treat to realise that Everynight, Everynight seems to be on a bloody-minded mission to drop the C-Bomb as often as possible during the show… in fact, I’d wager it outnumbers “fuck” and, indeed, any other word in the show. Initially, there were a few gasps and pulled faces from some audience members; but by the second act, it was second nature to them (and, speaking of audience-related giggles, it was damn funny to hear the young lasses behind me (previously intimidated by cockroaches outside) scrabble to catch a glimpse of Flannery’s cock when he was stripped. More gasps there ;)

In short: decent theatre, well performed, slightly odd location. Solid Fringe.

[2009016] Tarnished

Tarnished [FringeTIX]

La La Parlour @ The Spiegeltent

10:00pm, Wed 25 Feb 2009

I was thrilled, when compiling my shortlist, to discover that Tarnished was returning; I adored that show back in 2007, and needed no coercion whatsoever to whack it into The Schedule.

But here’s the thing, though – the show is more-or-less exactly the same as it was two years ago. So go read that post instead.

Now, you may consider that a Good Thing or a Bad Thing. For me, it’s a very very Good Thing: Neridah Waters is still drop-dead gorgeous, a beautiful cheeky smile that makes me melt a little inside; Tigerlil and Kellie Vella still donate a gob of circus to proceedings; and Imogen Kelly’s bathtub antics are still a hoot… and an eyeful. And there’s still crotch angle-grinding, perfectly-pitched banter with the (mostly female!) audience, the weird bubble-gum segment, and some lovely tongue-in-cheek theatrics.

But, most of all, it’s still fun – you come away thinking that these girls have a ball up there (dodgy staging this evening notwithstanding), and I’d be very surprised if there was a single grumpy person in the audience by show’s end.

It’s still an absolutely wonderful performance; and if they came back in another two years… or next year… hell, even next week, it’d still be an amazing show.

[2009015] Autobahn

Autobahn [FringeTIX]

junglebean @ Garage Bar

7:30pm, Wed 25 Feb 2009

A series of six short one-act plays by Neil LaBute, Autobahn confines each piece to the inside of a car, restricting the movements and concentrating on the dialogue shared between each pair of characters.

This first piece, “Funny,” bodes well; Renee Gentle’s chatty rehab survivor being driven home by her mute Mum generates a few solid giggles. “Long Division,” however, doesn’t come off quite as well – Tim Overton’s manic delivery feels an awful lot like over-acting to me, and I’d hate to have been in the car with him driving… he barely had his eyes on the road during their quest to reclaim his mostly-silent companion’s N64 from his ex. “Road Trip” is a touch uncomfortable, the undercurrent of paedophilia being telegraphed early on in the piece; it mopes and broods for awhile, before a thoroughly creepy climax… a wonderfully measured performance by John Doherty.

After a short interval, we return with the highlight of the night for me: “Bench Seat” is a lyrical tug-of-war between a dating couple parked at a popular lover’s lookout. She is utterly bipolar: flitting between fear of the breakup, and the desire to ram Her tongue down His throat. He, of course, has His heart set on the breakup; but, after She reveals Her obsessive side (by stalking the last guy who dumped Her), He holds back… as the lights dip, the look of confined horror on His face as She snuggled into His chest was priceless. Renee Gentle excels again, and Tim Overton more than makes up for his earlier transgressions.

“Merge” was, likewise, an entertaining bit of work, watching a man strain to contain his outrage and incredulity as his partner – ever-so-slowly – reveals her group-sex transgressions incurred whilst away on travel. But the glacial speed of revelation works against it in this case; I’m already eying my watch, mindful of making my next show. And the final piece, the eponymous Autobahn, was like pulling teeth; every word, every stanza, every rant about the couple’s wayward foster child, was enraging me, because (a) this show was running well over time, and (2) I was arsed if I was missing Tarnished.

junglebean, a collective formed to put this piece on, quite obviously focussed on the car motif – but that didn’t necessarily work that well. Having a mechanic essentially propel proceedings (including the rather ineffectual interval announcement) was a bit of a stretch, but the video screen behind the stage – whilst a good idea in theory – was completely wrong; for one thing, all the footage used to impart motion in proceedings went the wrong way – the “car” onstage was coming towards the audience, so the screen should have been moving away! And, given the distinctly American feel of every play, to have quite identifiable Adelaide streets used in these shots was a little disconcerting, and felt lazy (though, it must be said, the lookout used for “Bench Seat” set the mood perfectly). None of that seemed to matter, though – the packed crowd (friends? family? ex-AC Arts classmates?) loved it, and glared at me as I scooted out (whilst clapping, I might add – I’m no respectless heathen) through the final bow. And, despite the fact that it ran about 40 minutes long (something that really pisses me off), I have to admit that I liked a lot of what Autobahn had to offer.

[2009014] Poly Hood Cabaret

Poly Hood Cabaret [FringeTIX]

Polytoxic @ The Ringbox

10:30pm, Tue 24 Feb 2009

Hmmmmm. Oooooooh-kaaaaaaay.

“A suburban safari with a coconut twist,” claims the flyer. And, on the basis of other external stimuli, I was under the impression that Poly Hood Cabaret would be a polynesian-tinged Fringe cabaret – you know, a few songs, some acrobatics, a bit of humour. So I was a little surprised when the show opened with a documentary projected onto a screen at the back of the stage, following the “tapping” of a tattoo covering pretty much all of the recipient’s lower body. Lindah E provided a low, soulful backing to this story and, when the screen dimmed and the tattoo that we watched accompanied it’s owner out on stage and up the rope for some acrobatics, the crowd of about thirty-or-so went wild.

Right about now, I was thinking something like: “fuck me, this show is going to be amazing.” Great content, a well balanced audio-visual show… what was not to love?

It didn’t last.

Out trooped the first dance component of the evening, led by Fez Fa’anana. Now, I’ll happily argue with anyone who reckons that the Polytoxic crew can’t dance – throughout the evening, their talent is clearly on display. Unfortunately, it’s being used in pieces that rate off-the-charts on the kitsch-ometer. And I could never really get past that happy-go-lucky, twee-islanders aspect of the performances. There were some other good snippets – a few more acrobatic bits, one decent dance piece – but the bulk of the show wound up leaving me feeling… well, cutesy-sick. Or something – let’s just say it rubbed me the wrong way.

To be honest, Poly Hood Cabaret was on the outer fringes of my shortlisted shows; it was only after seeing Fez Fa’anana, Lindah E, and the hoop act in Club Cascadeur that I figured this was worth a shot. The sad thing is that, aside from the fascinating “Tapping” pseudo-doco at the start of the performance, I’d already seen the best bits. Ah well, chalk this one up to experience, then.