Friday 30 September 2016

___day Night's Dream - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

One delightful certainty during the Melbourne Fringe Festival is that there will be a number of performances being held in random and uncommon locations, and ____day Night's Dream is another great example of this. This immersive show explores the dreams of seven people, and it does so on a 16th floor apartment overlooking the city.

Interestingly, the dreams are all based on the performers' (
Iryna Byeylyayeva, James Christensen, Aram Geleris, Daniel Holmes, Madeleine Johnson, Sara Laurena and Freya McGrath) own dreams, and performing them within the confines of the apartment creates a literal intimacy as well as a metaphorical one, having been invited into this very personal space, to be privy to these personal dreams.

Jugg Life - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

There was a time when juggling was simply a person throwing a handful of balls in the air and keeping them there. While it is skillful, there is not much you can do with it to keep audiences entertained for a prolonged period. However, presented as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival, jugglers Byron Hutton and Joe Fisher breathe amazing life into the art form with a highly engaging circus show, aptly titled Jugg Life.

While the two use a variety of balls, juggling clubs and rings for their acts, it is the incorporation of music, percussion and their innovation in challenging what juggling is, that makes this show a definite crowd-pleaser. Their routines involve both some precision timing and the maintaining of impeccable hand-eye coordination not only with themselves but with the other, as objects are often passed back and forth while in mid-routine.

Give Up - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

Guillym Davenport has given up. His depression has finally got the better of him so he's spending the night alone, in his bedroom, eating pizza and drinking booze - with us. The show isn't ready, and he's not prepared, but come on in anyway... In Give Up, Presented as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival, Davenport looks at the issues of mental health and what happens when it all gets too much.

Davenport is charming, funny and very likeable on stage and there is some intelligent discussion generated around mental health. Unfortunately his attempts at pairing this with the deconstruction of theatre do not work well, creating a haphazard show that doesn’t quite seem to know where it’s headed.

The Woman In Black preview

I have been a huge fan of Susan Hills' novella The Woman In Black since I saw its adaptation for the West End for the first time in 2008. The production is the second longest running in London, currently in its 27th. This atmospheric ghost story is cleverly told and the build up of the horror and the suspense is palpable from beginning to end, which terrorises the audience.

Earlier this year, independent theatre company, RedFox 3 staged this production in Healesville and Warburton, and next month will be giving Melbourne the opportunity to experience the horrors of  The Woman In Black for themselves, during a limited season at the Alex Theatre in St Kilda. 

Wednesday 28 September 2016

Terror Australis - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

Admittedly, I did walk in to Terror Australis not knowing what to expect at all, and I am so glad I did because the delights it unearthed are so much richer if you have no idea what’s to come (so either go see it now, or read on at your own peril). Through a clever mix of cabaret, burlesque, live art, dance and comedy, the show looks at the dark culture of Australia with gobsmacking flair.

The set design is true Australiana with a hills-hoist used for makeshift pole-dancing, resulting in some pretty slick and sexy routines. Added set pieces such as goon bags, knives and dingo masks further enhance the strong feelings of ambiguous national pride, and while these items are enough to infer what performer Leah Shelton may be referencing, watching as these allusions comes to life takes it to a magnificent other level.

2.0 | Contact - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

Presented as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival, The Human Project's 2.0 | Contact, is an exploration on what touch can be and mean to humans and how life could be without it. A highly physical experimental piece, it incorporates martial arts, dancing and some wrestling moments as an "outsider" dissects and analyses the state of physical touching.

With injury befalling one of the performers, the show has had to be restructured to work around the three remaining cast (Rosie Osmond, Ashton Sly and Joseph Lai) and you wouldn't be able to tell as the performance is seamless and feels like it has been just the three of them rehearsing all this time. This is a highly demanding show - both physically and mentally - but the training and effort the three have put in in getting this piece together is evident. With its minimalist set, staging and costumes there is nothing for the performers to hide behind and their every move and word is what has all of our attention. 

Nothing Special - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

We all want to be something special. As children, we are led to believe we can be by our parents and teachers, and while it can be a positive thing, it can also be quite detrimental. Presented as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival, Hotel Now's Nothing Special, looks at what happens when people live their lives based on the belief that they are extraordinary, and more talented and important than the average man.

We follow a young girl, Chlorine (Simone French), literally from from the moment she is born. Her mother informs us that she was not supposed to live beyond the age of five, but that's a defeatist attitude so she was forbidden to die. Chlorine's dreams to be different and unique and to leave her mark on the world as an innovator in the arts are explored through various periods of her life, but when this seems unlikely, it is the harsh realities that Chlorine must then contend with.

Tuesday 27 September 2016

Onstage Dating - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

The dating game is a hard one to keep up with, let alone win. With online dating apps more or less becoming the most common way in meeting someone, going on a first date and getting to know someone from scratch by face-to-face is a distant memory. In her Melbourne Fringe Festival show, OnStage Dating, Bron Batten is determined to change things, by having a first date with a member of the audience on stage - and the results are priceless.

The show opens in a colourful and attention grabbing way and from then on, we are all putty in Batten’s hands as she recalls memories of bad dates and describes the science behind dating and human interactions. Eventually she pulls out the pre-filled questionnaires from all the participants willing to be her date, and I am surprised by how many there are.

Monday 26 September 2016

Mortal Sins - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

Contemporary circus company, Vertical Insanity Circus are performing their first inter-state season as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival. Their show, Mortal Sins , uses circus and contemporary dance to explore the seven deadly sins. Unfortunately, the performance, while sound in skill, needs more work in developing these themes and the show.

Alex Charman and Persia Janzen possess a solid level of skill and technique with their show, completing some impressive acrobatics and a nice turn on the trapeze. However, there does not appear to be a story evident and any potential meaning that can be inferred is subsequently lost. Mortal Sins feels like we are simply watching people perform without purpose or intention. Similarly, the dance routine by a male performer, again talented in his own right, seems quite repetitive and lacks the passion that dance requires.

Apologue - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

For those who enjoy the thrill of watching Wheel of Fortune, Family Feud and The Price is Right, you will definitely not want to miss Apologue. Then again, maybe you will, as the game show within the show is not exactly a contestant friendly game show. It is however, a quirky and fun look at how the mass media is used to manipulate and control our thoughts and beliefs.

A hapless contestant is pulled on stage and must answer a series of questions in order to win some inane prizes that are presented as essential and luxurious by the hosts. With each round, the contestant’s comments are taken out of context and opinions and beliefs are pushed down upon her.

Awesome Ocean Party - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

We’ve all been invited to a party - an ocean party for our half-human half-octopus friend. Created and performed by Giema Contini, Awesome Ocean Party is a 60-minute cabaret-comedy-performance piece that explores loneliness and acceptance through the eyes (and three hearts) of this hybrid creature. 

Contini has great physicality on stage and fully conveys the awkwardness of her character that later reveals to us that it is her birthday and the human side to her begins to surface. Her interactions with the audience are sweet and genuine and convey her longing to belong and be accepted.

Sunday 25 September 2016

4 + 4 = 4 - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

Presented by The Flying Xamels as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival, 4 + 4 = 4 is a surrealist circus experience looking at four different lives, how the co-exist together and individually and who they are finding their way around. Four circus artists with four ropes perform as individuals and as an ensemble as a poignant metaphor on trying to fit in with life and following the right path. 

There is much to take in and analyse in 4 + 4 = 4, as the way these themes are explored can take on different and personal meanings for everyone in the audience. Fortunately the cast are all too aware of this and ensure that the tricks we see on stage are performed in a meditative and dream-like state. When you consider the technical aspects to some of the tricks, to be able to appear that calm actually requires great skill and confidence, which these artists possess to a high degree

Saturday 24 September 2016

COSMOnaut - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

What becomes of the broken-hearted? In US comedian Ryan Good's experience, it becomes a journey of self-discovery through masturbation. This subsequently lead to a comedy show about the ten worst sex tips ever provided by Cosmopolitan magazine and the birth of his highly-acclaimed show COSMOnaut. 

While some of the "tips" are pretty tame, there are some that are downright weird and I'm confessedly not sure how are even remotely sexual but I guess to each their own. However, this show isn't a theatrical list-icle, but a witty commentary on relationships, feminism and the pressure around society to be attractive and successful. A bit more clarity on the story Good is trying to tell would work wonders for this show, as his purpose can get lost with the numerous stories and points being raised. 

Undertone - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

Produced by Black Carnation Productions, Undertone is a circus show that - while presenting some impressive tricks and laughs - also explores the relationship between the body and sound. With a live electronic score, it pushes the boundaries of what circus can be, creating a different show at every performance.

There is a strong physical demand throughout Undertone, which the four performers make seem effortless as they jump through the air, climb on each other and fling their bodies across and under tables. Due to the concentration and focus of these tricks, the performers have also included a good dose of clowning throughout. Under the direction of Avan Whaite, this allows them to break the tension so the audience can breathe calmly and invite us to create a bond with them

BlaaQ Catt - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

Returning for an encore season during the Melbourne Fringe Festival, BlaaQ Catt is a show that you simply cannot afford to miss. Produced, written and performed by Maurial Spearim, it is a powerful performance and story about how far modern Australia has got to go to make right the wrongs it has committed against the original inhabitants of this land.

Spearim plays Ruby, a First Nations woman, who takes us through the history of her people, predominantly around the white invasion of their land up until the present day. Referring to events such as the Waterloo Creek Massacre between mounted police and indigenous Australians in January 1838 as well as other significant Indigenous historic moments including their recognition in having the right to vote and the Mabo case, Spearim paints a picture that many refuse to acknowledge or accept.

Friday 23 September 2016

Andre Tonight! - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

It's unfortunate when you attend a show only to be told that it has to be cancelled because the band has called in sick, but that is what happens with Melbourne Fringe Festival's Andre Tonight! - or so we are led to believe. However, an audience member drunkenly volunteers her services and once she plays some music for our host, Andre DiVenuto, he decides the show must go on - and so it does. 

Created by Chris Ryan and Mark Winter and performed by music theatre star Ryan, Andre Tonight! is an hour of laughs that just don't seem to end. Ryan encapsulates the late-night variety show, and the European 20-something from Epping (my hometown) perfectly. I'm not sure where Ryan grew up, but he has certainly done his homework as the language, mannerism and style - including the hideous comb-over - scream Epping.

Thursday 22 September 2016

The Thick Of It - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

Emily Taylor is one of those performers you can watch on stage for hours. Her skillful storytelling and authentic characters are captivating to say the least and ensure her shows will leave you feeling more connected to yourself and questioning what you value in life in ways you wouldn’t expect. Performed as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival, The Thick Of It, is Taylor’s newest show and it is one not to be missed.

We begin with Taylor - acting as more herself than one of her overt “characters” - having recently moved into a new apartment on her own and being excited over the prospects this brings. She has choices and options now: she can watch Netflix all day or go play with puppies, so many choices indeed.

And Then There Were Not As Many - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

For fans of Agatha Christie or Cluedo, And Then There Were Not As Many is the Melbourne Fringe Festival show for you. Using as many as possible of the murder-mystery tropes at its disposal, the show revolves around a group of strangers invited to a secluded, large, dark manor for a party that they will be dying to leave. 

And Then There Were Not As Many does not take itself seriously at all; in fact, I would put it under the "it's so bad, it's good" category. Actors stumble through lines and break character quite a few times but it's clear they are having a good time on stage and enjoying playing their characters and with each other, so we in turn enjoying watching them crack a smile when they should be shocked.

Wednesday 21 September 2016

Breathing Corpses - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

Breathing Corpses is an award winning 2005 play by the British playwright Laura Wade, and the current production presented by One Little Room as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival. The play begins with death and ends in death: a circle of death that no one can escape from, and it makes for a very interesting premise.

The show revolves around seven characters, who are all linked by a series of deaths and murders. How they are linked and who dies is cleverly explored in Wade's play and once the penny drops as to what is actually going on, you begin to see the work as an extremely intelligent and sophisticated offering by Wade. 

The Maze - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

As a young white man, I have never had to worry about walking home alone at night. In fact, I have done it often, in the early hours of the morning and sometimes after a few too many drinks. Unlike most women, I've never had to worry if someone is following me, if someone has looked at me for a moment too long or being careful how I react when a stranger approaches me to tell me I am beautiful. Made for one audience member at a time, the immersive theatre piece presented by The Honeytrap for Melbourne Fringe Festival, The Maze, allows me to experience this for the first time through the thoughts of a woman walking alone - and it left me significantly troubled and concerned.

Monday 19 September 2016

How Can You Sleep At Night? - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

In How Can You Sleep At Night?, Christian Taylor delves into the world of climate change, death and insomnia. While I was initially uncertain on how one could cover these three topics in detail and with clarity in a 60 minute show, Taylor easily accomplishes this and much more with his debut solo performance for the Melbourne Fringe Festival.

Taylor is having somewhat of an existential crisis about the world while also dealing with what happened to Andy. He can't sleep at night and the only one that he seems to be able to talk about this to is to a sentient jellyfish, voiced by a different actor every night. On the performance I attended, Hayden Burke had the honour and his sassy banter with Taylor was full of laughs and deep thoughts. If there were an award for best non-human performance in a Fringe show, it would go to the jellyfish.

A Heard of Elephants - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

Presented as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival, Heard of Elephants is a musical on elephant conservation that follows a herd of elephants over a year as they face daily threats from nature and man. Further to that, the play explores the intricate relationships these animals share with each other by exploring their strong links to family, mating rituals and traditions within their species.

The way writer and director Katherine Phelps has humanized elephants with her cast (Alanna Baschera, Victoria Haslam, Karanvir Malhorta, Suhasini Seelin and Harlene Hercules) is surprisingly clever and charming. Their basic movements and simple costumes easily convince you that they are indeed elephants - provided you allow the magic of theatre to do its work.

Dion - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

Dion. Oh Dion. Why'd you go and break my heart? That's what writer/director Davina Wright explores in the new immersive piece by Gold Satino for Melbourne Fringe Festival, aptly titled Dion. It's business as usual here, as three audience members jump in the back of the Honda Jazz and are driven around the outskirts of North Melbourne in what can be called an epic "fuck off" homage to exes. 

What I really enjoyed throughout Dion is the juxtaposition of being connected with the show yet witnessing distant and detached vignettes. The performers (Tamiah Bantum, Ross de Winter, Lachlan McColl, Cazz Bainbridge, Xavier O'Shanessy and Wright) all exude this feeling that they are living in their own world and generally void of any emotion but the connectivity felt with the subject and the scenes that play out paint a completely different picture. The exploration of first kisses, last kisses, fleeting moments, broken hearts and heartache; they are all experiences we've had and something we can all relate to.

The Curiosity Experiment - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

Performed at this year's Melbourne Fringe Festival, The Curiosity Experiment is a ghost story revolving around a supernatural experience that occurred at the Delamere family home many years ago. The twist however, is that for the majority of the performance, the audience are instructed to wear blindfolds so as the story unravels, they can only rely on their hearing, allowing their imagination to create the haunting visuals for them.

Created and produced by Nathan Schulz and Audrey Cadzow, the show is capped to 13 audience members, which allows for a large enough audience wherein a certain level of intimacy can still be reached. And of course the bad luck that is associated with the number subconsciously helps build the intensity of the performance.

Saving Spiders - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

In Saving Spiders, presented by Darebin Arts Speakeasy and GRANITE for the 2016 Melbourne Fringe Festival,  Tina is a young woman who is living her life as if it is one big party. Between her boyfriend Grant and best friend Gracie, their shared existence consists solely of sex, drugs and good times. There is little responsibility in any of their lives, just a lot of fun - until the moment the fun stops, and things can never be the same again.

Saving Spiders relies on its cast to ensure its success, as it is very much a character driven piece. Fortunately, Zoe Boesen, Paul Blenheim, Ryan Jones and Leila Rodgers (who also wrote the show) all embrace their characters wholeheartedly and their resonant interactions with each other feel as If they have known each other for years.

Sunday 18 September 2016

Blind Spot - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

In 1972, Edwin John Eastwood and Robert Clyde Boland, kidnapped six female pupils and their teacher in the rural town of Faraday. They demanded a million-dollar ransom but were later captured when the hostages  escaped. Fast forward 34 years later, and Daniel Santangeli's immersive theatre performance Blind Spot offers a fresh look at this crime and its related events for Melbourne Fringe Festival.

Blind Spot is a show for two people at a time (so bookings are absolutely essential) and begins at the end of the story as we work our back to the start. As we play the role of the two men, we are taken through various moments surrounding this event, located in prisons, courtrooms and homes. The less said about the story and the process of the show the better, as the element of surprise and the unknown works best here.

Notorious Strumpet and Dangerous Girl - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

Greeted with offerings of tea and coffee, we are welcomed into our Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. We all have stories we want to share in this meeting (whether we know it or not), but before we begin, Jess Love has something she would like to share, and that is how performance piece Notorious Strumpet and Dangerous Girl begins.

Throughout this deeply personal show, Love explores her struggles with alcoholism and drug addiction, and the effects it has had on her personal life and the disconnect she feels with her family. With a Christmas family photo projected on the screen - one that does not include Love - she informs us that while she is a queer carnie who drinks too much, the rest of her family are involved in the teaching profession and have also been Christian missionaries.

Friday 16 September 2016

Pinocchio Restrung - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

We all know the “traditional” tale of Pinocchio: the wooden puppet who just wanted to be a real boy. Created as a grim Italian children’s novel by Collodi, and sanitised for the Disney movie, emerging theatre company A_tistic have cleverly re-imagined this story as part of the 2016 Melbourne Fringe Festival in quite a different way and with some brilliant results.

A_tistic aim to tell stories that highlight the experiences and create an understanding of autism spectrum disorders, so writer and director Tom Middleditch has adapted Pinocchio’s tale as an allegory for a boy with autism who is attempting to become a "real boy". Middleditch, himself on the autism spectrum, has created a thoughtful story that not only looks at the anxieties and difficulties people with autism can experience but also those of their parents attempting to understand and accept their child as they are. 

Wednesday 14 September 2016

Room Service: a live puzzle solving immersive horror experience

There's been a craze of escape rooms hitting Melbourne recently that is getting bigger and bigger. To the uninitiated, an escape room is a themed room (prison, vampire lair, science lab, etc, etc) where must solve puzzles and find clues to get to freedom before your time is up. Having completed 24 rooms, it's fair to say that I am a bit of a fan. However just to keep things even more interesting, the creative folks at Pop Up Playground have created an experience in which you want to remain inside the room and away from the danger that is lurking outside.

Room Service takes place in Halloween 1976 at the fancy Winterview Manor. They are holding their annual party for a secret society of wealthy people...who also happen to be cannibals, and you're on the menu. Players have thirty minutes to find codes, solve puzzles and work as a team (2-4 players) to ensure that they stay off the menu and the guests do not make their way into their kitchen.

Monday 12 September 2016

ménage - Melbourne Fringe Festival preview

I recently spoke to Ryan Good about two shows he will be performing during the Melbourne Fringe Festival: COSMOnaut and Stupid and Contagious. Well Good is also presenting a third show called ménage, which is an intimate look at the world of sex workers. The show is performed for only two people at a time and was written based on dialogue from interviews he had with sex workers in Edinburgh, London and Australia.

"The idea came to me while I was performing in Edinburgh in 2013.  I was in two shows with a tight turnaround so I used to cut through a back alley to save time and in that alley was a little door and a sign that said 'Sauna No. 61'," Good recalls. "I thought it would be interesting to set a show there, so I returned a few months later to begin the project and discovered that business and a lot of other sex work locations had been shut down due to new enforcement of laws cracking down on brothels.  That drove me to read more on what was happening there and I discovered lots of concern about the safety of the people in the industry, many of whom were now working on the streets or alone in flats.  Getting their issue heard was the initial driving force of the show."

Sunday 11 September 2016

COSMOnaut - Melbourne Fringe Festival preview

American comedian Ryan Good is donning his silver spacesuit once again, as he presents his highly acclaimed show COSMOnaut at this year's Melbourne Fringe Festival. In this 60-minute show, Good reports on the extensive research he undertook in order to find the ten worst sex tips ever written by Cosmopolitan magazine.

"I read every issue of the magazine to date and catalogued the tips initially as a way to distract myself from a broken heart after a breakup. But it quickly spiraled into an insane examination of feminism, pop culture, and really weird uses for food in the bedroom. While being vulnerable on stage isn't an easy thing to do, I think it’s important to put myself out there for the kind of work I’m doing. If I’m going to ask you to come on a journey with me in my show, the least I can do is be real with you."

Saturday 10 September 2016

The Curiosity Experiment - Melbourne Fringe Festival preview

If you prefer your theatrical experiences to be a bit on the creepy side, then you won't want to miss The Curiosity Experiment during this year's Melbourne Fringe Festival. The intimate audience of 13 - not a coincidence - are told a ghost story on Christmas Eve about a supernatural experience had by the Delamere family. The twist is, the entirety of the performance requires the entire audience be blindfolded. 

"The show draws on the inspiration of old fashion radio plays, using the power of storytelling to invite the audience to listen without the distraction of constant moving imagery and creating an almost visceral atmosphere via the auditory route of voice and sound," producer Nathan Schulz tells me. "Although imagery will be used it will be minimal and designed to enhance the story and hopefully impact the audience in such a way that their preconceptions of reality are suspended in a fun but emotionally provocative way." 

Friday 9 September 2016

Imagined Touch review

It's taken over four years and a collaboration with over twenty people for director Jodee Mundy and Deafblind artists Heather Lawson and Michelle Stevens to bring their live art performance Imagined Touch to audiences. It’s a tactile and sensory experience that explores the importance of the human touch and communication.

The show begins with Lawson - who was born Deaf and lost her sight - and Stevens - who was born Blind and lost her hearing - introducing themselves to the audience and recalling how they met. As they share a few stories with us, you can’t help but start to wonder how they lead their day-to-day lives. But then the imagination becomes reality as we are suddenly immersed into their world. We remove our shoes and put on a pair of headphones and goggles. The soundscape in the headphones created by Madeleine Flynn & Tim Humphrey remove much of the sound in the room and the goggles obscure our vision, so all that we can see are bright lights and blurry shadows. 

Not Another Indie Cabaret - Melbourne Fringe Festival preview

Do you even indie? That's the question cabaret and burlesque performer Jessamae St. James will be asking during her Melbourne Fringe Festival show, Not Another Indie Cabaret. The comedy cabaret takes a nostalgic look at the drunken purchases we make while on eBay.  

"The show is a brand new musical comedy that is part self deprecating reflection, part ode to questionable adult-ing skills and part love letter to making excellent life choices whilst drunk on eBay," St James explains. "It will also be featuring original songs, all written by me, and will be played on ridiculous instruments, including an omnichord."

Thursday 8 September 2016

Black Is The Colour - Melbourne Fringe Festival preview

Deafferrent Theatre is another emerging theatre company that is making their debut at the Melbourne Fringe Festival with Australian playwright Daniel Keene's Black Is The Colour. The difference here, and as the name might suggest, is that the performance is presented entirely in Auslan, and captioned in English. Deafferrent Theatre aims to create theatre that is accessible to hearing and deaf audiences and to attract new audiences to the world of theatre.

Usually, there are enough nerves from just performing a show, let alone performing your inaugural show during one of Melbourne's biggest festivals. "It's simultaneously thrilling and completely nerve-wracking!" says Ilana Charnelle Gelbart, one half of the team at Deafferent Theatre. "Jess and I have been planning this company for nearly two years so it's very exciting to finally see our theatre 'baby' taking its first steps out in to the world!"

Wednesday 7 September 2016

Onstage Dating - Melbourne Fringe Festival preview

First dates can be pretty nerve-wracking. Have you dressed appropriately, are you going to a suitable restaurant, do you smell good, is your hair okay, will they be a good kisser, am I a good kisser? The questions and self doubt are endless. So what better way to kill the nerves than by going on a first date in front of a room full of strangers? Well that's exactly what Bron Batten is doing with her show Onstage Dating, performed as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival.

The show features a different volunteer each night as they and Batten go through the awkward phases of small talk, flirtation and trying not embarrassing themselves. "I started 'research' for this show whilst on residence in Paris last year by going on dates with strangers. Over the course of the year I went on over 50 dates abroad and in Australia and was struck by the vulnerability and hope that accompanied each encounter," she explains. "Everyone I met was searching for some kind of intimacy, if only for an evening. And I began to realise there were some parallels to a night at the theatre, as an audience member I'm searching for that moment of connection to the art or the performers, just like the people I met 'in real life'. The audience witness the entire course of a relationship over an hour."

Tuesday 6 September 2016

Awesome Ocean Party - Melbourne Fringe Festival preview

One of the myriad of shows being performed at The Butterfly Club this Melbourne Fringe Festival, Awesome Ocean Party is one show you would be mad to miss. Created and performed by Giema Contini, it incorporates song, storytelling and an ocean themed birthday party that won over audiences at The Anywhere Theatre Festival in Brisbane last year. Now it's Melbourne turn to witness the magic and charm.

"The concept for Awesome Ocean Party was originally something completely different. In 2012 I had an idea for a solo show called: Broken Heart Syndrome. I was fascinated by the fact that Broken Heart Syndrome is an actual scientific condition where people can literally die from a broken heart," Contini explains. "I quickly discovered that the medical name for BHS is: takotsubo cardiomyopathy, which translates to: octopus-trap heart disease. The condition was first discovered by a Japanese cardiovascular specialist and it was called takostubo cardiomyopathy because there is a reflex in the heart that balloons out to the shape of an octopus trap when Broken Heart Syndrome occurs. This piece of information lead me down an amazing path involving octopuses (did you know they have three hearts??), Hawaiian creation myths, broken hearts and birthdays."

Monday 5 September 2016

Pinocchio Restrung - Melbourne Fringe Festival preview

We all know the story of Pinocchio, about a puppet who wanted to be a real boy. For this year's Melbourne Fringe Festival, emerging theatre company, A_tistic Theatre present Pinocchio Restrung, a re-imagined tale with Pinocchio's story used as an allegory of the life of an Autistic boy. Formed through Monash Uni Student Theatre (MUST) in 2014, the company aims to integrate the experience and understanding of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) into contemporary "spectrum theatre".

"Spectrum theatre, came from a number of different influences, building one on top of the other," explains writer/director of the show, Tom Middleditch. "I was getting to the end of my Arts Degree, and wanted to put the knowledge I had gained through my study of philosophy and theatre to good and effective use. I was looking for a project to put on at MUST, and Artistic Director Yvonne Virsik suggested I look at devising something around Autism, of which I had expressed interest in the past, due to my own diagnosis on the spectrum."