Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Top Ten Shows of 2015

I managed to see 154 shows this year! Not exactly sure how I managed that with life and everything but there you go. That's an average of one show every 2.3 days!
Yet again, I count the fact that I live in Melbourne to be a strong reason as to having seen so much this year. The performing art scene here is some type of wonderful and just so lucky to be able to experience so much variety on stage. 
There has been a huge number of theatre, dance, performance, cabaret, burlesque, circus and so much more to go see and experience this year. Interestingly enough there are quite a lot of circus and dance shows in my top ten this year.
Like I said last year, even if your work ranks at 154, big thanks to you for making that work and creating shows for people to see and experience. However, this is my list of ten ten show of 2015, so without further ado...
(If I reviewed the show, there is a link to the original review too)

1. FAG/STAG
The Last Great Hunt
- review
 

There have only been four shows I have seen more than twice in my life. FAG/STAG is one of them. Playing during the Melbourne Fringe Festival, it was a beautiful exploration of life, friendship and everything else in between.  
The story follows two best friends, Jimmy and Corgan (Jeffrey Jay Fowler and Chris Isaacs - who also wrote this) and the lead up to the wedding of Corgan's ex-girlfriend. Their friendship, thoughts and feelings on life and love were explored through the small insignificant moments right up the big stuff.
Fowler and Isaacs brought much honesty and vulnerability to their characters and as writers, they knew when to go further with something and when to draw back and allow the audience come to their own conclusions.
Like I've stated previously, not only is FAG/STAG the kind of theatre that I wish was made more often but FAG/STAG is the kind of theatre  people need to go and see.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Goblins review

Melbourne-based theatre company, Panopticon Collective are dedicated to creating new Australian work that focus on national identity and social responsibility. Performed at La Mama as part of their Explorations season, their newest production, Goblins attempts to do just that, with mixed results.

The "goblins" in this work are six women from six historical eras ranging from 2000BC to 2015 who are telling six individual yet thematically similar stories. Each of these women face some sort of persecution for daring to have control of their mind and body and speaking up for what they believe in. Written by Jeni Bezuidenhout and Cassandra-Elli Yiannacou, each story is predominantly a ten minute monologue as we attempt to get inside these women's heads and see what drives them to be a courageous force as they confront their fears.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

True Love's Sight review

The great thing about La Mama's Explorations season, is that it gives artists the opportunity to present works in various stages of development. It might be the first time it is staged to an audience or a scripted reading. In the case of True Love's Sight, we see a number of segments from their upcoming immersive theatrical experience.

Taking place inside the walls of Athens, the work, created by Michaela Bedel and Nikki Brumen, is inspired by Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. We meet a number of characters from the play, including Theseus, Hermia, Helena, Lysander and Demetrius. William Ewing, Doug Lyons and  Tamzen Hayes do well with their characters and are confident enough in making their interactions with the audience seem genuine and spontaneous.

Monday, 7 December 2015

The One review

For its festival debut, new kid on the block, Poppy Seed Festival, asked artists, individuals and theatre companies to submit proposals for a theatrical production. From all its entries, Poppy Seed Festival green lit four shows to be performed. The final show to open is Vicky Jones’ award-winning The One. Presented by Fire Curtain Co., it is a 65-minute analysis of one couple’s relationship and its use of love, power, and abuse over the course of one night.

From the beginning we can sense that this is not a couple that is completely happy in this relationship as Jo (Kasia Kaczmarek) casually munches away on twisties while Harry (Ben Prendergast) watches porn on the TV as the two have sex. The arrival of Harry's friend Kerry (Emily Tomlins), who believes her partner has just sexually assaulted her, gets the cogs turning for what will eventually be a fateful night for all three.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

The Classics preview

These days, circus is littered with young, up and coming performers in acts that push the boundaries of what circus and contemporary circus is. It has become a thriving art form. Batton & Broadway are one such circus troupe, with a catch; instead of young circus artists, The Classics is completely comprised of cinquegenarian (folks in their fifties) performers.

Circus veterans Deb Batton and Sue Broadway share decades of combined experience in the circus and met when they were teaching Directing Skills for Physical Theatre and Circus. "Through this we began to wonder what we might do as performers NOW and to explore what we are as artists and what we have learnt over the years. Mostly the purpose was to enjoy each other and our audiences and remind ourselves of how funny we can be," Broadway explains. "The Classics was in response to demand from both performers and the public. People wanted to see the legends that they had only heard about perform live, and older performers wanted a place to strut their stuff again."

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Sideshow review

The circus has come to town, but in the case of Sideshow, this is not a family-friendly - or even a human-friendly - circus. There are powers of darkness, death, murder and spirits from the other world that are part of this troupe and in this immersive performance, it is down to the audience to stop this travelling carnival of horrors from causing doom.

Sideshow is certainly fun but there are a number of reasons it unfortunately does not work. Firstly, the experience just isn't as scary as it proclaims to be and this is bound to be a huge disappointment for its audiences. Apart from our creepy clown friend, there aren't any frights or tension, unless the constant repeat of people jumping out of the "darkness" and growling at you are where your fears stem from.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Briefs review

For those who have an immense fear of audience participation, this show could possibly be your worst nightmare. But for those after some sexy excitement and fun, then look no further because Briefs has got you covered, or uncovered as the case may be. 

Formed in Brisbane, this all-male boylesque group has spent the last year travelling around Europe performing sell out shows to rave reviews. Melbourne finally gets its turn to revel in the skill and beauty on stage in a show that is not to be missed. 

All the performers - Shivannah, Captain Kidd, Dallas Dellaforce, Thomas Worrell, Evil Hate Monkey, Lachy Shelley and Louis Biggs - possess a strong sexual confidence among them, which is imperative when your acts revolve around you wearing minimal clothing (and sometimes nothing at all). They also happen to be highly talented individuals and while the show is heavily structured and choreographed, there is a naturalness to their performances that allows for spontaneity and surprises for both themselves and us. There is moreover a brilliant mix of variety in the acts and they are so well paced that the ride we are on never stops being enjoyable. 

Monday, 16 November 2015

The Trung Sisters - Big West Festival preview

The Trung Sisters were two Vietnamese warrior princesses who trained an army of 80,000 people and led their country to freedom in the 5th Century. During the Big West Festival, 25 students from Footscray North Primary School will re-tell their story. Staged in Footscray's newly refurbished rotunda at McNab Reserve the evening performance will include martial arts, traditional dancing, opera and large-scale puppetry. 

"The students have built giant puppets, will enact powerful battle scenes and perform a script guided by their writing based on this epic story," explains devisor and director, Jo Trevathan. "The grade 5/6’s have interpreted a real and important cultural story that deals with big themes of love war, sacrifice, bravery and humanity, things we presume children will not understand but I have found they have strong opinions about. In the West where we have over 80 cultures and 140 languages sharing cultural stories such as The Trung Sisters, increases understanding by discovering what we have in common and where we are unique. In the current climate of cultural diversity and political division it is important to understand and appreciate this true story."

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Little Wooden Caravan: Shared Table - Big West Festival preview

For something a little more intimate and a little different at this year's Big West Festival, then head over to Little Wooden Caravan: Shared Table; a ten-minute show for two people at a time. The story unfolds as each person follows a unique set of instructions to animate the objects on the table and create a story with unexpected twists and turns.


"It's up to them to create the performance for each other," explains creator, the indirect Object."The experience is a bit like being inside a talking book, where voices narrate a story and give each person different instructions. You are both watching and creating the performance at the same time, but you don't know what the other person will do next. What story you get to experience is all up to chance, it might be a tragedy, a comedy, or something in-between!"  

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Mefetehe - Big West Festival preview

Australia prides itself on its multiculturalism and sharing these cultures with other people of our community. With much of the Ethiopia-born population in Victoria residing in the Western suburbs, it seems fitting that one of the performances on show at the Big West Festival, Mefetehe, is by renowned, award-winning Ethiopian writer/director Tesfaye Gebrehana.

In Mefetehe, a group of teenagers face off with the older generations in their family and community as they create a revolutionary plan  to build a new recreational facility. With this narrative, Gebrehana explores the differing opinions within the Ethipoian community regarding change and isolation. "It focuses on the broken connection between the older generations and the younger. It discusses the problems going on in our community and how we can come together to find a 'Mefetehe' (solution)," he says. 

Friday, 13 November 2015

Dumpster to Dinner Plate and End Sexism Now - Big West Festival preview

Presented as part of the Big West Festival, filmmaker and photojournalist, Melissa Davis has two short documentaries screening, Dumpster To Dinner Plate and End Sexism Now. The latter delves into ‘ordinary sexism’ and institutionalised misogyny that is so prevalent in our society. Dumpster to Dinner Plate on other hand, looks at one household’s approach to shared meals and "dumpster diving." While dealing with two different social issues, they are equally passionate issues that Davis has.

"End Sexism Now is from a much larger documentary I intend to make. The grabs you hear from speakers come from quite meaty, longer interviews, which cover a range of subjects from Tony Abbott, to men's rights, to the importance of language, to the right for a woman leader to be just average instead of exceptional," she says. 

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Neighbours - Big West Festival preview

It's interesting that it's often the people you live next door to or across the road from that you know the least about. You may see each other in the mornings as you're going to work or pass them when you take your dog out for a walk and exchange pleasantries, but who are they really? Performed as part of the Big West Festival, Neighbours takes you on a guided walking along Nicholson street and into the homes of residents as they perform accounts of their lives.

Melbourne-based performers/performance-makers from This Side of The Tracks, Kerensa Diball and Yuhui Ng-Rodriguez, have spent two years working on getting this project ready. "We've spent many hours inhabiting the street, building relationships, door knocking, loitering, being inquisitive about everything, listening, watching. Through conversations over time, we have gotten to know locals and residents; this has enabled us to work with the skills, personality, quirks and expertise of each resident to create Neighbours," they say.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Miss Friby, All Alone…At Last - Big West Festival preview

The big day has arrived and you have spent so much time and energy planning the event to end all events. But then it happens: one by one all your guests cancel and you end up alone. Alone on your birthday. Presented as part of the Big West Festival, Miss Friby, all alone...at last will examine her current life status with a new dazzling and captivating burlesque cabaret show.

Green Room Award nominee and Australia's Got Talent finalist, Miss Friby, promises plenty of fun and excitement for her guests. "There will be wild theatre, hilarious banter, impeccable choreography, incredible aesthetics and the unique brand of old world theatre. The show will also feature a live band, and the back room of the reverence will be transformed into a pop-up speakeasy, fit for a true diva spectacle," she explains. To top it all off, each night will also include a special guest performer including the brilliant Sara Yael, Miss Burlesque Australia 2014 Zelia Rose and Mr Boylesque Australia 2015 Daniel Ham. 

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Beers and Trees review

Performed as part of La Mama's 2015 Explorations season and developed with the assistance of Theatre 451, Beers and Trees by Allee Richards is a humorous yet thoughtful look at not only what makes a person strive for good, but what makes a 'good' activist and just how important this activity is? We all want to change the world and make it better for everyone but we also want to be happy and fulfilled by our own needs and desires. It's a fine balancing act to get it just right and the question of where this balance lies is what the five characters presented here attempt to answer. 

Adrian Del-Re is the stand out performer in the cast with his portrayal of Brad being highly natural, nuanced and convincing. The delivery really highlights the comfort that Del-Re has found with this character, and his scenes with Julia Hanna (Ruby) are the most entertaining of the show. Playwright Richards has succeeded admirably in finding clear voices for these two characters and really fleshing them out. 

Snuff Skool - Big West Festival preview

It's almost a year ago that I first saw a Snuff Puppets performance. It was at Testing Grounds where the world's largest human operated puppet gave birth live. It was a captivating and intriguing experience and have since looked forward to seeing more of their magic and fun. Fortunately, that moment is not too far off as during the Big West Festival, the Snuff Puppets will open up their Snuff Skool, with participants having the opportunity to learn the snuff way of life.

It's important to understand though that a snuff puppet is not just a puppet. "Snuff Puppets arrive like a circus, parading through town ambushing audiences and enticing them into the world of theatre.  Our art explores, provokes and inspires progressive cultural change. We are unashamedly hand-made and experimental in a world obsessed with perfection and mass-consumption," I am told by the Snuffies.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Share House - Big West Festival preview

If you've never lived in a share house, you've definitely missed out. Whether they’re bad or good experiences, they play a pivotal role in growing up and building relationships with people. Performed as part of the Big West Festival, Share House explores the relationships between ‘strangers’ that co-inhabit the same space.

Performed in a house in Seddon, each room has a housemate with a story and neurotic traits that make them impossible to live with. "The show is about living with strangers and how even though it is almost necessary in growing up in today’s world, its actually pretty risky business,” explains show co-creator, Mia Robinson. “We all take on really different extreme characters and explore the dynamics between three people that live together but don’t like each other and how vulnerable that can make people."

Sunday, 8 November 2015

City of Angels review

Life Like Company's 2015 production has been the much-loved, Tony-Award winning musical comedy thriller, City of Angels. Paying homage to the 1940s era of film noir while also taking a swipe at the Hollywood film industry, it is a heavily engaging and engrossing meta-story of betrayal, love, passion and murder.

Despite being first performed 26 years ago, the book by Larry Gelbart still come across as fresh and relevant. It may be a little politically incorrect and chauvinistic for current times (despite being mediated through characters we’re invited to critique) but the cheeky wit and cleverness of the script and the direction of Martin Croft ensure you still enjoy watching the relationships being depicted on stage. Led by Musical Director Kellie Dickerson, the live band superbly bring to life the upbeat challenging jazz score by Cy Coleman and the cast certainly do justice to David Zippel’s sharp lyrics in their performances.

Blood! Death! Show! - Big West Festival preview

Halloween may have come and gone, but there is never a wrong time to experience a haunted house. Created as part of the Big West Festival, Blood! Death! Show! is a haunted house by Joseph O’Farrell (JOF) in collaboration with 11 year old children in which adults and children are free to view and interact with the work. 

O'Farrell, a multi-art performer, creates large-scale installation and theatre works with, and for, the community. With a focus on accessibility and inclusivity, these works aim to celebrate diversity and bring people together in hilarious and unlikely situations.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Wolf Boy and Zombie Dad - Big West Festival preview

Battling Narnia for the best wardrobe in town at Big West Festival will be Wolf Boy and Zombie Dad. With a combination of puppetry, mime, sound and image, father and son team, Anthony and Callum Crowley, will be taking audiences through a unique journey on life and time.

"The show is about how precious time is and how we choose to experience it, as it constantly moves through us and away from us," explains Anthony. "It's about children and how they consume it; the paradox of time. How you can dedicate hours of time to creating nothing and then how a second can reveal the universe if you are in tune to the moment."

Monday, 2 November 2015

Someone Like Thomas Banks review

Meet Thomas Banks, he is 24, gay and single - but hopefully not for too long. He also lives with cerebral palsy. Beginning as a short piece in 2010 that has since been developed to this full length and predominantly one-man show, Someone Like Thomas Banks focuses on Bank’s own experiences with online dating, hook ups and not only discovering his own voice and identity but holding on to it. 

Banks uses a variety of cleverly executed multimedia tools to share his story, such as projected text, a Lightwriter, animation, social media and pre-filmed segments. The projections of closing doors throughout the show speak volumes as to the rejection that Banks faces in his want for love. At another point, an audience member reads out Banks’ experience of being bullied as a student on the school bus. As this is happening (and in relation to the story), Banks augments the narrative by walking around the stage dropping coins on the floor clearly showing his resilience and determined nature.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Dracula review

Little Ones Theatre is back with bite in their nearly all-female, silent production of Stoker's classic 1897 gothic horror story, Dracula. It is a brilliant homage to previous adaptations of Draculawith nods to Bela Legosi, Gary Oldman and Catherine Deneuve, while also including the company's trademark exploration of sexuality and queerness.

The seductive Dracula is "brought to life" by Alexandra Aldrich and Catherine Davies, with Davies playing a more youthful transformation of the bloodsucker. As one expected with films made during the silent era, on-screen performances need to be more emphatic and expressive, and on stage, Aldrich and Davies (like the rest of the cast) do not falter. Under the strong direction of Stephen Nicolazzo, their movements and actions are large and telling while still maintaining a menacing air of mystery around Dracula. 

Friday, 23 October 2015

Tender review

We all love, have loved and have lost. These are the times where we are at our happiest but also then our saddest and most vulnerable. But when you open up to someone and plan a life together, but what happens when your partner disappears and you have no memory of what happened? Presented by Avid Theatre and written by Nicki Bloom, Tender, is a tale of moving on when it seems impossible to do so.

The past/present/future structuring of the narrative is used effectively with scenes shifting adroitly between before the event, the night of the event and after the event. This gradually provides pieces of information to the audience to draw us into the unfolding narrative, and also shows the characters in different lights. This in turn builds on the emotional states explored throughout Tender, which would prove challenging and rewarding role for any actor to take on.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Us review

Presented as part of La Mama Theatre's Explorations season of works in various stages of development, Margaret Hickey's Us provides an insight into six very different lives bound by one thing in common, a connection to others. Through six ten-minute monologues, these stories are explored in a light-hearted yet truthful way that has us questioning what it is we are seeking from other people.

Hickey has struck gold in assembling the cast that she has for this show.  Natalie Carr, Travis McMahon, Ned Napier, Daniel Rice, Sally-Anne Upton and Janet Watson Kruse, all find the essence of their characters and their individual displays of equal bravado and vulnerability are perfectly captured. It is clear that each has put in much thought as to how their character carries themselves and their state of mind.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Bordello review

Bordello, the newest production from The Owl and Cat Theatre, is an immersive theatrical experience revolving around one fateful evening at a brothel. We are free to explore the three storey building of the well-known venue and follow the interlocking stories between the two owners of the brothel, Yvonne and David, its three employees, Trisha, Frankie and Cherry, and two of its clientele, Harry and Mathew.

This is very much a voyeuristic experience as the audience wanders around the premises, watching secret conversations and some highly intimate moments take place. Audience members are required to wear plain black masquerade masks throughout the course of the evening, which feels like a buffer between passively watching the story unfold and spying on these character’s lives.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Limbo review - Melbourne Festival

Presented as part of the Melbourne Festival, Limbo is an exhilarating blend of circus, acrobatics and cabaret that will have audiences speechless and leave them wanting much much more. With a strong nod to the 1920s and performed in a spiegeltent, Limbo transports its audience into a seedy underworld of no barriers or rules, a place where everyone can come and play no matter what your tastes and likes may be.

Its international cast ensures that they have the best of the best in its skilled performers including fire-breather sword-swallower Heather Holliday who at one point literally has the stage in flames and the near-impossible contortionist act by Tigris. Other highlights include Danic Abishev's hand-balancing act and Mikael Bres' Chinese pole act, which left audiences gasping throughout.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

32 Rue Vandenbranden review - Melbourne Festival

Performed as part of the Melbourne Festival, Peeping Tom return to Australia with 32 Rue Vandenbranden, which  explores the isolation and loneliness that a group of people feel through the company's trademark fusion of dance, physical theatre and music.

The stage design, which is how the Belgian company begins developing a new creation, perfectly encapsulates the emotional state of its inhabitants. High on a mountain-top, underneath an endless sky, sit three rickety caravans. The ground is covered in snow and there is an immediate sense of remoteness and desolation. The emotive sound composition by Juan Carlos Tolosa and Glenn Vervliet strongly adds to the feelings that the characters are experiencing, while mezzo-soprano Eurudike De Beul's musical moments in the show are an aural delight for the audience.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Lost In The Looping Glass review - Melbourne Fringe


I've often said if I had the time to learn any musical instrument I would choose the violin. There is something incredibly calming and meditative about hearing an accomplished musician play such an instrument. Upon learning there was a performance by violinist and sound artist Helen Bower as part of the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival, I made sure I would not be missing.

Bower's Lost In The Looping Glass is a 50-minute violin concert played alongside a loop pedal. She records fragments or sequences on her violin from compositions by local and international composers live, and has them playing on loop where they gradually layer on top of one another to create their own music.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Top 10 shows of 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival

Well, it's that time of year again! After seeing a staggering 41 shows, (which is STILL only 10% of what was available), here are my top ten shows of the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival. 
Admittedly, there are shows I really wanted to see but timing and life meant that I just couldn't make it work!
If the show was reviewed, you will find a link next to its name for more detailed thoughts and opinions. 

1. FAG/STAG - review

There are only three shows I have ever gone to see more than once. FAG/STAG is now one of them.
 It's a beautiful exploration of life, friendship and everything else in between. The way the story is told and performed is extremely natural and relatable. The two stars - Jeffrey Jay Fowler and Chris Isaacs - play the characters with such honesty, truth and vulnerability.
FAG/STAG really is the kind of theatre that I wish was made more often. FAG/STAG is the kind of theatre that people need to go and see.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Top Spot review - Melbourne Fringe

Presented as part of the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival, Top Spot is a one-woman show performed by two blonde bombshells, Gloria and Delia. Well no, it's just Gloria's show. But actually it's really Deliah's show. Either way, it's a great evening of cabaret, burlesque and comedy as the two women fight it out for the highly coveted "top spot" in the eyes of the audience. 

Having been working together since 2013, Stephanie Marion Wood (Gloria) and Elizabeth Dawson-Smith (Deliah) are a perfectly matched and complimentary team to watch on stage together. Having previously seen the two perform twice in Miss Friby's Two Pound Parlour, I expected to be in for a night of naughty hijinks and I was not disappointed.

People Piss In Here review - Melbourne Fringe

Jo is suffering from a mental illnesses find herself unable to leave the bathroom at work. Is she having a heart attack or a panic-attack? She's not quite sure. Her friend, Sam, also suffering from a mental illness, goes in to help her. Performed as part of the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival, Isobel Marmion's People Piss In Here is an absurdist take at living with mental illness.

The exploration of mental illness is explored honestly and sensitively but also humorously through the characters as they react and respond to the effects of their conditions. The fears and uncertainties expressed in Marmions' script (written in consultation with individuals diagnosed with mental illnesses) about living a fulfilled life while battling these, is subtle and reflective.

Little V's Terrible Tea Party review - Melbourne Fringe

Little Vaginia is having a tea party and we are all invited! Presented as part of the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival, Little V’s Terrible Tea Party is a dirty little cabaret that brazenly explores the darkest recesses of morality and perversions where our hostess will also be revealing a big surprise!

Yasmin Mole is perfect as the unhinged and somewhat psychotic Little Vaginia. With her big curly hair and pink frilly dress, she is a life-size version of the dolls that are scattered along the stage. Her wide innocent eyes are unsettling as she sings about abortions and rape and her quavering voice is constantly on the brink of losing her self-control. Joining Mole are Charlotte Righetti, David John Watton and Jack Lad as the three clowns, and their physicality, facial expressions and their individual character traits are all well constructed.

Transplant review - Melbourne Fringe

Every now and again, there is a show that is so unexpected and unusual that it remains vividly with you for quite some time after seeing it. Presented by Such As They Are and as part of the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival, Transplant is one such show. Performed at its uniquely designed installation space in a corner of Club Voltaire, it is a self-proclaimed medical fairytale that seamlessly infuses puppetry and performance.

As we wait outside the curtains of the performance, a nurse (Tim Ratcliffe) appears and before we know it, we are being prepped to assist in a surgery. Nothing is forgotten in the process, as we are told to swab behind our ears, have our nostrils examined and if anyone has been travelling overseas in the last month, well…

Homme review - Melbourne Fringe

Created by the House of Vnholy and performed as part of the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival, Homme is a performative piece that explores male identity and contemporary masculinity within Australia. Through a series of vignettes and in complete silence, the differences between what it means to be a male and be a female are subtly explored.

It is standing room only during the performance, with Homme enveloping virtually the whole space. The white flooring is bare except for a number of select items, including a washing machine, a bundle of black balloons, a megaphone and a plinth. The two performers – Matthew Adey and Natalie Abbott - are dressed in black and the only time they speak is when they ask audience members for assistance with the props.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

I'm Not Alright review - Melbourne Fringe

Daley King has been living with depression for over a decade, and longer, if you consider the fact his father has also lived with it. In his 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival show debut, I’m Not Alright, King takes us on a poetic journey on mental illness via physical theatre, jazz soundtrack and puppets.

Apart from using his own experience, King has interviewed a variety of people with mental illness to create this story. King has a great ability to engage us with the poetic flow of his words as they paint a picture of a person who is struggling with his sadness and loneliness. The jazz music creates a contrasting image of laughter and chatter that signifies the mind-set that people with depression can have without King needing to explicitly state.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

The Reality Event review - Melbourne Fringe

Led by Daniel Gough, The SuicideEnsemble presented an evening of 'fun and death' for the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival. The Reality Event is divided up in two halves, GAME and SUICIDE. GAME puts its audience in the driver seats of theatre creation whereas in SUICIDE, we are forced to confront the idea of 'safe' theatre and its boundaries between art and life.

In GAME, we are divided into five teams with one of The Suicide Ensemble (Pavle Banovic, Esther Dougherty, Finley Kube, Remi Roehrs and Sampson Smith) as the team captain. If the team loses a challenge, the team captain is publicly "shamed" and sent away. The "shamings" range from a public "dacking" to eating a tablespoon of wasabi. There is a pack mentality to the proceedings as we are encouraged to laugh and cheer while this is happening and despite its title, there is still a deliberately and grimly dark element to GAME.

Monday, 28 September 2015

His Ghostly Heart review - Melbourne Fringe

Performed at this year's Melbourne Fringe Festival, His Ghostly Heart is an intimate 30-minute two-hander with a couple lying in bed just after having sex. Written by Ben Schiffer, best known for his work on TV series Skins, and directed by Richard Edge, its exploration of love and what it means to be loved is designed to be performed entirely in the dark.

Unfortunately, due to the necessity of the exit sign inside the performance space, the venue was not in pitch blackness, which was ultimately integral to the show’s overall effect. While you could not see facial expressions, the body outlines and movement were still quite visible. In order to experience this the way it was intended, I did have my eyes closed during the performance.


Bodies Over Bitumen review - Melbourne Fringe

This year's Melbourne Fringe Festival has seen a variety of circus performances using the art form to create some highly unique shows. There's been glow in the dark circus and circus that is inspired by climate change, and now with Bodies Over Bitumen, there is outdoor circus that takes us out to the streets of North Melbourne.

We follow the three performers, Skye Gellmann, Alexander Gellmann and Naomi Francis, down side streets and main roads as they perform various tricks and acrobatics. Similar to other Fringe Festival shows, Suburbia and CitydashBodies Over Bitumen invites its audience to look at their surroundings in a new light and to take notice of what is there. 

Become a Functional Adult in 45 Minutes review - Melbourne Fringe

Sophie Joske wants to become an adult. She wants to be accomplished and respected as a person, but she's not quite there yet. Presented as part of the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival, Become a Functional Adult in 45 Minutes is a cautionary tale in which Joske explores what life must be like to be a successful adult.

Joske sets her sights on graduating from the Mature Learning Academy as an 'adult' so she can finally go out and live her life. What follows, is a series of satirical 'self-help' tests in a variety of categories, such as work, social skills, relationships and sex, to assess just how prepared Joske is at handling these situations as a fully-fledged adult. Sadly, she fails at each, but not without some laughs along the way.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

A Star Is Bored review - Melbourne Fringe

Nick Eynaud doesn't just want to be famous. He wants to be rich, famous and powerful, the triple threat. His 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival cabaret show, A Star Is Bored, reveals the lengths he will go to in order to make his dream come true - so long as he doesn't actually have to do anything to earn it. Thanks to reality TV, he might be able to make that happen.

Eynaud takes us on a journey of his life that begins with his wide-eyed WAAPA school days through to the harsh reality of living back home with his parents in Reservoir. Along the way, he informs us of his obsession with Netflix and more specifically, reality TV shows; including Masterchef, Real Housewives and Toddlers and Tiara  - the latter resulting in an incredibly hilarious audition tape that needs to be seen. 

Saturday, 26 September 2015

and now we wait. review - Melbourne Fringe

Playing at the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival, Stephanie Clark's and now we wait. plays out like a grim re-imagining of The Breakfast Club for, in this case, there is a shooter loose in the school and the five teenagers find shelter in an unused theatre. While they nervously remain hidden not knowing where the shooter is and waiting for the nightmare to end, the group gradually faces some truths about themselves and what is ultimately important to them.

Based in Warragul, Impact Theatre is an enterprising company that focuses on young people writing and creating original theatre productions. The cast ranges from 18-21 years of age, is a combination of first-time and regular performers with the company. While the difference in skill levels and ability to play more nuanced characters between them is evident, the entire cast (Emily Legg, Sarah Hartnell, Kyle Wright, Daniel Warenycia and Clark herself) remains dedicated to their characters and the situation they find themselves in. However, Hartnell as uptight smart girl Emily, and Wright as the jokester Nick, provide the most convincing performances of the night.

Dirrty review - Melbourne Fringe

From the opening act of the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival late-night variety show, Dirrty, it is very clear that this is not going to be a regular type of variety show. To say anymore about what transpires would be to ruin the surprise that show curator Elena Gabrielle has planned. The night itself, involves a variety of performance artists invited by Gabrielle to celebrate all things sex and taboo in their own unique way.

The condoms and lube are freely available and there is a lot of flesh – both male and female – on display. There are songs about the joys of protected sex and the answer to where exactly JonBenét Ramsey has been is revealed. It is indeed, a hedonistic night for all.

I Don't Like You review - Melbourne Fringe


Andrew Milne and Patch Blank have brought their unique clowning and performance art production I Don’t Like You to audiences as part of the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival. Their debut show initially explores the relationship and emotions between two friends who actually don’t really like each other.

I Don’t Like You starts off strongly and with a seemingly clear aim of where it is headed. The duo are very skilled at finding humour in a range of situations and reminded me a little of the physical comedy popularised by Mr. Bean with their highly expressive faces and exaggerated movements. Milne and Blank play well together and their best work is when they are interacting with each other.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Seen & Heard review - Melbourne Fringe

Earlier this year, Becky Lou dazzled audiences with her debut solo show Shake, in which she recalled moments of her life that in some way, shape or form led her to a career in burlesque. It was a unique opportunity to hear her speak, as well as entertain us with a number of memorable burlesque acts. Presented as part of the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival, Lou’s Seen & Heard, brings together a number of her favourite performers on stage to share with the audience some highly personal moments of their lives.

There is a rotation of six guest artists from a variety of performance backgrounds for Seen & Heard’s run and tonight’s line-up consists of drag queen Karen from Finance, stripper Perri Hunter, burlesque performer Honey B. Goode and vaudevillian Clara Cupcakes. Tonight’s guests put on quite a show including Karen from Finance’s rendition of “I Will Always Love You”, which had me in stitches and Hunter’s humourous depiction of what a stripper is actually thinking about when giving a lap dance.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Barbaroi review - Melbourne Fringe

Traditionally, circus is about fun, bright colours and laughter. However in the 2015 Melbourne Fringe circus show, Barbaroi, circus is transformed into a dark, gritty and dirty art form. Coming out of the darkness, there are shady characters and misfits of society. It’s an enthralling hour of entertainment from the seedy underbelly of the arts.

The strong opening sequence sets the mood for the show with The Barbaroi (Avan Whaite, Stan Ricketson, Will Meager, Phoebe Carlson, Caz Walsh and Hazel Bock) entering and exiting the stage, completing various flips and tricks as they do. The lighting work during this is highly effective with six square spotlights on stage shaping the darkness, subsequently allowing the performers to be coming in and out of the shadows. The fast movements of the performers combined with the erratic but perfectly timed lighting choreography is a captivating sight.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

FAG/STAG review - Melbourne Fringe

After rave reviews and an extended season at Perth's Fringe World Festival in 2015, Perth based theatre company, The LastGreat Hunt, have brought FAG/STAG to the Melbourne Fringe Festival. Written and performed by Jeffrey Jay Fowler and Chris Isaacs, it is the simple story of two best friends, one gay and one straight, who are going through some pretty challenging times in their lives. 

Jimmy (Fowler) and Corgan (Isaacs) each take a seat on opposite ends of the stage. At their disposal, they each have a mobile phone (to check their dating apps, grindr for Jimmy and tinder for Corgan) and a PlayStation controller. Using these two items, they recall the moments of their lives leading up to their friend Tamara's wedding. Tamara also happens to be Corgan's ex-girlfriend. Corgan is still not completely over their break up and Jimmy has just broken up with his boyfriend. Life is great.

Suburbia review - Melbourne Fringe

Most people dream of having their own little slice of a suburban dream; a loving family, a dog and a place to call home. What could be better than that? However, if you look under the surface, you'll find that things are not always what they seem. Playing as part of the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival, Suburbia offers a glimpse into the lives we know little about.
 
My fellow two passengers and I meet at the steps of the North Melbourne Town Hall and are led to a parked car and the driver takes us through the streets of North Melbourne stopping intermittently at various locations where we get to witness our neighbourhood in a very different light. We don't stay at any location more than a couple of minutes and there is barely any dialogue exchanged. The soundtrack composition by Simone Gustafsson that plays in the car is perfectly suited to the theme of the night, provoking feelings of uncertainty and curiosity.

Alpha review - Melbourne Fringe

In this day and age, queer identity is more important than ever. Or is it? In Sebastian Robinson and Tamara Natt’s Alpha, the two explore the idea of what modern day queer identity looks like - and if it actually exists. Through poetry, movement, music and sound, the two create a world where the roles we choose to take on in life are revealed and questioned.
 
Robinson and Natt appear on an empty stage, dressed in matching white shoes and black tracksuit outfits. They spend the next 50 minutes creating some beautiful visuals for us not only through their soft and fluid movements and exploration of the space but also through their words. From a Britney Spears song to an Auslan interpretation of a Delta Goodrem song to one of their original works of poetry, Alpha shows how words can do so much to an environment even when you are staring at an empty stage.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Bock Kills Her Father review - Melbourne Fringe

My second play by writer Adam J. Cass during this Melbourne Fringe festival continues with his running critique of society and the treatment of its people. However, unlike the refugee theme of Fractured, Bock Kills Her Father deals with the long lasting effects a group of women must deal with at the hands of one man.

Penny Harpham's strong direction never allows the action on the small La Mama stage to become overwhelming or cramped, especially with five aggressive and angry characters on stage. The choreography for the fight scenes is executed well with some very convincingly painful moments. There is only one time where the fight scenes disappoint and that is when Sarah (powerfully played by Annie Lumsden) is attacked. Due to the hardness of the adult women we had previously seen, it felt more like something young children would do to each other and as such, its intensity was lost.

Plunge review - Melbourne Fringe

Having seen Plunge when it was in its early stages of development last year during La Mama's Explorations season (then known as Blending), I was very interested to see how the work had progressed. Being performed at Melbourne Fringe, the work explores the infinite number of outcomes that can result form a single touch. Some are good and some are bad and some are absolutely crushing.

Choreographer and director, Darren Vizer, continues to push his two performers, dancer Joel Fenton and actor Jean Goodwin, to their extremes relentlessly. They share a good chemistry and have clearly worked hard at driving through the more challenging moments of Plunge and allowing the piece to evolve.

Rama Nicholas in Mary Weather's Monsters review - Melbourne Fringe

Rama Nicholas returns to Melbourne Fringe in fighting spirit with Mary Weather's Monsters. Set in 1890 in London, we are introduced to monster hunter, Lord Protector of London, Mary Weather. She has caught every single monster known to man; giant spiders, werewolves and swamp monsters to name but a few. However, she now she faces her greatest challenge yet, a challenge that will have her questioning her beliefs of what is a good and what is evil.

Nicholas plays all 11 characters in the show and her instant transformation from one to the other is testament to her consummate skill. Each person/monster in her story has a distinct voice and appearance and not once does she waver from her dedication to each character.