It’s already been a week somehow. And what an incredible one! I’m not quite sure what happened. It’s all a frantic dust-blown haze of pretty lights, pub nooks, hot nights, cold beers, paradisiacal tiki dance floors and, of course, comedy, theatre, cabaret and circus. Phew! It’s killing me with love. Then there’s also been my new job in the Flinders Learning Lounge, preparing lessons for the new semester, and, of course, trying to overcome the anxiety my novel is giving me. Yikes! No wonder I need a lie down. Incidentally, it’s taken about three attempts to get this post happening, which, when I write it all out like that, is hardly surprising. But I love it! It is definitely true that busy people get things done. I haven’t been this productive in months. And so, onward! And by onward, I really mean let’s reflectively look backwards at what happened two weeks ago and is now largely superfluous as many of these shows have finished their runs. Hurrah!
My first official Fringe assignment kicked off at the Royal Croquet Club on a Saturday the 14th (a weirdly long time ago now!) and wow was it busy! I didn’t’t have time to explore the Chinese Laundromat or the hedge maze, but they look like intriguing adventures for another day. Instead, I rushed over to the Black Box (a weirdly ominous name, is it just me?) for Daniel Oldacker’s Dandyman. It was a little slow to get started but I soon fell for his cheeky Dick Van Dyck-esque charm. It was a great first taste some circus and physical comedy. It’s easy to forget in a seen-it-all age how effective perfectly choreographed, well executed physical comedy can be, and how simply it can be achieved. I’ve also never seen a watermelon used in the ways that Oldacker used his, and I don’t know if I’ll ever get those images out of my mind – not that that’s a bad thing!
‘As I sat reflecting on how utterly I was enjoying this nostalgic throwback to the childlike and innocent physical comedy of Dick Van Dyke, Rowan Atkinson or Jim Carrey – those wide eyed larrikins who turned the everyday into the wonderful – Dandyman birthed himself from a straw vagina and I exploded.’ Here’s my full review.
It was to the Rhino room on Monday night for an unexpectedly crazy evening of burlesque, cabaret, comedy and circus. Bacchanalia has everything in one. Hope and Gloria of Titty Bar Ha Ha were fabulous, and I think the highlight of the evening. They were cheeky, charming and totally charismatic. I particularly loved their kazoo battle (which, strangely, was only the first of several kazoo related cabaret performances I’ve seen since.) The Rhino Room is an excellent venue and although I was there alone, I was soon forced to become rather intimately acquainted with my neighbour as we all played suck and blow game. It was fantastic fun, and probably wouldn’t have been far more so had I had someone to share it with (ahem, you all know who you are!) The audience were rewarded for participation with tequila shots squirted into the mouth by three burlesque nymphs, so what’s not to love? Actually, there was one part not to love. I totally dug Imaan Hadchiti’s cheeky humour and the, ahem, enthralling muscular young men from Elixer, but Mickey D … Well, I suppose if you’ve never seen stand up, like, ever, you might find ‘what are you thinking about’ (insert whiny, high-pitched ‘wife’ voice here) jokes funny. I just don’t think I’m in his demographic. I imagine he’s very popular in pubs in the outer suburbs. Is that mean? Probably. Other people found him funny, so maybe I’m just being nitpicky. Here’s the review.
Right after Bacchanalia, the Fringe took its first harsh bite. I caught up with some other fabulous Flinders writers, Callum and Simone (hey!) at the Coffee Pot and left sans little green Florentine leather purse. I’m mostly sad at the $40 cash that was in there. But that’s okay, it’s not like I have much that’s worth anything! I didn’t have much time to dwell on it as Tuesday night I was off to Limbo.
Limbo!! Amazing. I don’t know that there is much that I can say about it that I didn’t already say in my review. It was an eerie, fantastical spectacle of feats that literally had my jaw-dropped for most of the show. Sxip Shirey’s compositions were particularly atmospheric, blending the ethereal and strange with more traditional hip-hop, folk and pop. But I will say this. As much as I was completely enthralled by these otherworldly feats, I was distracted by something. The cast’s two female performers kept appearing in various stages of undress, particularly the all-in-white, blonde beauty Evelyne Allard, and there was really no reason for it. Of course, the male performers too appeared in little, but it was functional, rather than purely aesthetic, semi-nudity. I was relieved when, finally, Allard performed her aerialist routine and proved herself more than a beautiful prop. In contrast, though Heather Holliday, the fire-breathing retro-babe, appeared similarly scant, she totally owned her presence, and oozed a composed, confident and completely self-realised sexuality. The contrast was difficult to miss, and I wished that Allard’s performance had been as similarly assertive. I don’t think it detracted from my enjoyment of the show, it was just one of those niggly things that I wish wasn’t still an issue. I also know that not everyone will have viewed the issue of ‘objectification’ the same way as me, and that Allard herself would probably disagree with me. There’s nothing wrong with nudity, I’m all for it, I just hope for it to be performed in a way that moved beyond objectification. The subtlety in tone and intent is important in such cases. But I don’t mean to say that I didn’t completely and utterly love the show, because I really, really did! I incidentally met Heather Holliday a few nights ago at the Fringe Club and she is every bit as bombshell sassy as you would expect her to be. She stood at what seemed to be several feet below me – because I am a giantess – but I felt tiny in her presence. She introduced herself with a flecks of attitude bursting out of her and then followed it up with a bold, ‘I’m sorry that I’m aggressively introducing myself!’ So yeah, she’s pretty great. Another review!
The next afternoon I was off to Sparrow Folk. They call themselves Glam-Folk, and honestly, I was expecting something that looked more like this:
But that’s what too much Boosh will do to you I suppose. I do get how they arrived at the term ‘Glam-Folk’ now that I’ve seen the show, and while it was unfortunate that it didn’t involve the Bowie-Dylan hybrid I was hoping for, it was a fabulously fun glamorous-in-the-suburban-sense folk-pop cabaret with songbirds Fox and Lark. It was a proper suburban party – bunting on the Hills Hoist, aprons, ukeleles. Seems like a standard Wednesday evening. I particularly liked the way they welcomed us all into the tent, asking ‘how our holiday was’ and telling us about which other neighbours they were expecting to arrive – and which to avoid!
Here’s some words I wrote about it: ‘Fox and Lark’s cheeky style, with innuendo that borders on the fun side of risqué (as opposed to the downright dirty) keeps the tone perky and mischievous, like the pair of songbirds themselves. With songs about from the joys of marital sex, to the horrors of parents’ sex, the endangerment of gingers and the nature of friendship – ‘Friends are like tampons – they’re always discreet!’ – the ukuleles and pleasant, melodic voices blend better than your Thermomix to create a catchy, sweet and funny show.’
Here’s that one too, if you want some more.
Well that’s where I’ll leave it for now. At this rate I’ll have the Fringe covered by sometime in mid-June.