Sunday 5 October 2014

My top ten shows at the 2014 Melbourne Fringe Festival

So another Melbourne Fringe festival comes to an end, and having watched 27 shows, I present to you my TOP 10!
If I reviewed the show on an official basis, the link to the review is attached.


So technically this was a free event at the Fringe Club BUT every single performance was amazing and I was thrilled to be able to see another Finucane and Smith show. I feel this shows encapsulates what Fringe should be all about, daring, bold, affecting, confronting and extremely entertaining.

Some acts I had seen before but with a show like this, once is never enough - still waiting to see a repeat of Finucane's act to U2's "With or Without You"- even after a year,  I still remember it so vividly. Highlight from this evening would have to be Anna Lumb's gimp hip-hop rap in response to what art is. 


From the brilliant musical minds of Nick Hedger and Ben Nicholson, this cabaret looks at a variety of relationships and the moments or factors that change the status of these, whether they be good or bad.

The four cast members - Michelle Brasier, Josh Ellwood, Vincent Milesi and Laura Johnston - took to their various characters with gusto and their musical numbers were hilarious to watch.

Great work from the talented duo and definitely need to keep an eye on what's coming out from them next.



I almost didn't see this one because of its show name, but just goes to show, don't judge a show by its title. A clever and witty look into what life would be like if Australia was the worst place to be gay. There are some "subtle" crude jokes but the way they are delivered, especially by standout actor Sonja Bishopp, makes them somewhat endearing.

I enjoyed the way in which this show looked at the issues of being gay in a country that outlaws it. A pair of neighbour living in their white picket fenced houses dealign with the unimaginable idea that their husbands might be attracted to each other.

Should it matter if the guy next door becomes the gay next door?



Another show I was slightly uncertain about, but great writing and strong performances by its two leads, Angus Brown and Ezel Doruk make this a firm favourite.

An Aussie soldier and a Muslim civilian have tripped a land mine and neither can move for fear of it exploding. They talk about their fears, lives and about the war that they are fighting.

Despite the lack of movement stage, the direction by Celeste Cody ensures the attention of the audience is undivided and with Nick Musgrove well-thought script, you are left questioning what is going on in the world right now.



An enjoyable and fun immersive theatre experience right here. Having been an improviser in a former life, I always enjoy being able to do something different than just sit and watch a show.

In CarnEvil, we find ourselves at a travelling carnival - brilliantly set up in the in Collingwood Underground Carpark - enjoying the games and stalls (all by local businesses) on display. The actors are the performers and when one of them is murdered, we are encouraged to interact with them (and other audience members) to find out who amongst them is a killer.

However, for those that prefer their theatre more straightforward, there were three sets of performances throughout the course of the evening, ranging from clowning, hooping and burlesque.



And the award for creepiest experience at Melbourne Fringe would go to The Grand Guignol Automaton. Left with nothing but a horrifically absorbing narrative, our storyteller, Alphonse Cheese-Probert, tells us of poor Sandrine Moreaux and her deep desire to be beautiful.

The descriptive language paints more than just a picture of the horrors faced by Sandrine and the final few moments of the story are truly unnerving. Quite fitting that apparently their next performance will be taking place at an abandoned psychiatric hospital.



Another show that relies a lot on the delivery of the actors, Snap.Catch.Slam looks at three different stories where people's lives are changed in an instant.

The only props are the five chairs on stage and a mixing bowl but even these are barely used. Instead, the actors just face the audience and narrate the moment they were faced with a life altering event.

Great work by Shian Denovan, Victor Gralak and Sarah Plummer in managing to bring these characters to life in such a short amount of time and with nothing but their voice and body.


A second production from Attic Erratic (Tripped) this time, a modern retelling of Lot and the fall of Sodom. A mixture of immersive theatre and performance, the set design for this show was brilliant, as was the acting by the cast, in particular Shoshannah Oks and Brianagh Curran.

Attic Erratic two shows during fringe, whilst very different in tone, execution and style, were both highly entertaining pieces and showed they're not afraid to take a risk and create something unique. Fleur Kilpatricks' win for Best Emerging Writer at the Fringe Festival Awards night is well deserved here.



Well, what's in a name? Yes, this one man (and numerous animals) show deals with a man having post-coital conversations with animals. At the heart of it, it is looking at the yearning that we all have to connect with someone (or something as the case may be), letting our guard down and opening up ourselves to being vulnerable.

Solid performance by Heath Ivey-Law and the direction by James Dalton is skilful and effective within a very limited stage space. 



And rounding out my top ten is Monster - a one man horror-cabaret on the perceptions and issues that are faced by the transgender community.

Daniel Gough is flawless as Madam and portrays a difficult character with ease. The claustrophobic set design and dimmed lighting further support the darkening mood that encapsulates the show, inviting us to question who the actual "monster" is in all of this.


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