Friday 30 August 2019

Oh No! Satan Stole My Pineal Gland! - Melbourne Fringe Festival preview

Oh No! Satan Stole My Pineal Gland! would have to be one of the fringiest Melbourne Fringe Festival show names this year. Written by Kirby Medway, the twisted comedy is an ode to every awkward, hellish conversation you’ve ever endured to make a friend in an increasingly bewildering and segregated world. Directors Jean Tong and Lou Wall have pulled together a devilish cast consisting of Sarah Fitzgerald, Cheryl Ho, Liam Maguire, Natesha Somasundaram and Wall that brings reality and Satan into the one world.

Medway's creative process for writing this show required much research and investigation, predominantly in his dreams. "The show came from me trying to write in a more irrational and impulsive way by throwing a lot of different ideas together to see what happened. I wanted to write something to do with reality as something unstable and fluid but present it in a fun and gentle way," he explains. "I was thinking about a number of things that might not typically be considered part of reality that still impact on my life in very real ways. Dreams, as individual as they are, are an experience I thought people would find easy to relate to. I kept a dream journal which I used to inspire a lot of the first draft and generally tried to stay open to anything going on in my life that was impacting on my reality and allowed them into my writing.

Thursday 29 August 2019

My Wife Peggy review

Everybody loves a good party, especially George. He's got a wife, two kids and a boiled chocolate cake. Life is perfect. Until the moment tragedy strikes. In Gavin Roach's My Wife Peggy, we follow George as he deals with the immediate aftermath of the worst moment in his life and begins to question what the future holds for him and his family.

Dallas Palmer delivers a restrained performance as George as he refers to his happy past, bleak present and unknown future. Throughout the show you see glimmers of the shock and rage that is building inside him but it's a shame Palmer isn't given the chance to explore some of this raw emotion when you consider the issues being dealt with.

Tuesday 27 August 2019

Game Boys Cinematic Universe - Melbourne Fringe Festival preview

Most of us have fond memories of trips to theme parks such as Warner Bros. Movie World, Universal Studies, Dreamworld and even Gumbuya Park (now Gumbuya World). As part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival, audiences can not only relive these moments but also experience a new and exciting park with Game Boys Cinematic Universe. Our personal guides, brothers Eden and Josh Porter take us on the famous Game Boys Studios Backlot Tour, to be dazzled by all the behind-the-scenes magic and getting a unique look into how the movie industry operates.

The Porters have numerous memories related to theme parks, where even the not-so-great ones are still entertaining. “We went to Movie World up in Queensland one holidays as a family and on the back-lot tour they tried to get our Mum up on stage for a green screen performance. They did not know our Mum. She initially pretending not to notice them pointing at her, followed by the head shake, then the "no", then the "no thank you", then the "no, not interested",” the brothers tell me. “Then the guide tried to do the old trick where they ask the audience to cheer for the lady in the floral dress to come up on stage which works 99% of the time. Mum was the 1%. After about 6 minutes of trying to get her up, he finally gave up and the tour continued with a much more fun volunteer.”

Sunday 25 August 2019

Railed - Melbourne Fringe Festival preview

They brought us zombies earlier this year, and now circus troupe Head First Acrobats is bringing us a new cowboy inspired show that is bound to keep our eyes glued to the stage. Presented as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival, Railed, we follow four train robbing cowboys who hole themselves up in a bar to avoid the authorities, and it's this narrative driven circus that makes this company one of the more exciting ones to experience.

After the success of Elixir at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Head First Acrobats director, Thomas Gorham is eagerly anticipating the opportunity to get his cowboy boots on with Railed. "We wanted to create a fresher, bigger show that had our trademark style. We were looking for a theme with a lot of flexibility in the characters, something that was very well entrenched in popular culture," he explains. "In the end we decided on a western and it’s been incredibly popular with audiences. The success of the show relies not just on the skill of the performers, but on their charm and ability to engage with the audience. Railed is hilarious, spontaneous and at the same time highly polished and surprising."

Friday 23 August 2019

Thy Thus ‘Twas - Melbourne Fringe Festival preview

Comedy trio The Travelling Sisters are returning to the Melbourne Fringe Festival as the travelling blokes in their new show Thy Thus 'Twas. With their unique sense of humour and absurd comedy that is grounded in the banal, their upcoming show focuses on three mates, Darryl, Vinnie and Berrick, who are out to make their thespian dreams come true.

The brains behind the men, Lucy Fox, Laura Trenerry and Ell Sachs, spent a good part of the last 12 months touring their side-splitting hilarious show Toupe but are now looking forward to hitting the stage with their new baby. "It's like when you're shaking a bottle of bubbly, just before you pop the's the feeling on the underside of the cork," Trenerry tells me. "This show has been brewing in our collective fantasy world for over a year. It's always exciting when you're birthing a new one. How will it be received, what will it become, what is this new beautiful beast?! Who knows!"

As is evident by their promo picture,
the three will be donning some wigs, facial hair and traditional thespian attire in order to portray Darryl, Vinnie and Berrick. But who are these three Aussie dreamers? "They come
from the red dust of the Queensland plains and they're all equal parts passionate and dense. They are lifelong friends who are dead-set fixed on making a serious and moving theatre show, yet they are of course derailed at every turn," she explains. "It's always fun to play what you're not, to try to enter the rehearsal space in full disguise. That game never gets old."

Thursday 22 August 2019

Seduction - Melbourne Fringe Festival preview

Get ready for a sweet sweet seduction 
with Gold Satino's new site-specific immersive show, aptly titled, Seduction. Presented as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival, this critically acclaimed theatre collective returns with another intimate offering that allows audiences to unearth the secrets that are in our streets and observe life from the perspectives of people we've never met before, whose stories are as much a mystery to us as they are to themselves.

In Seduction, two women navigate the world, the violence of making performance and the seduction of art, friendship, and how their feminisms are different and yet the same. This show for nine audience members at a time is described as a 'drive-in/drive by performance of excruciating intimacy set in a landscape of bleak urban grandeur', and can easily be considered as a nightmarish dream of contradictions and confirmations. "You will be seduced. No, not really, well maybe," Gold Satino's creative director and Seduction co-writer and director Davina Wright tells me. "A lot of things happen. Most of it is in the back of a car. But there's no participation. The audience is safe to watch, see, experience and dream with us. God that got corny quickly."

Wednesday 21 August 2019

Batmania - Melbourne Fringe Festival preview

It's the newest and most popular holiday destination that everyone is scrambling to get to and during the Melbourne Fringe Festival, tickets to Batmania are bound to be the equivalent of a golden ticket to visit a certain chocolate factory. Created by The Very Good Looking Initiative (Elliott Gee, Honor Wolff and Patrick Durnan Silva), visitors will discover just how lucky a country we are through the exploration of Batmania's history, culture and politics with two immersive shows, Batmania, The Bus Tour and Batmania, Expo '19.

"We've created two very exciting and unforgettable ways to experience Batmania. You can hop on board a fully guided bus tour and journey through the heat of Batmania or become a citizen at the extravagant Batmania Expo 19’ for a once in a life time celebration," Gee tells me. "Tourists visiting Batmania can expect a surreal, twisted, horror comedy where they’ll be confronted with all that this great, southern land has to offer. Boths shows are a direct response to this country’s current contemporary moment as we question our Australian identity. What is this so called “Australian way of life” we often cling to? Is this really the lucky country? And for who?” Batmania is as unstable and fictitious as Australian history itself."

Let Men Tremble review

Inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1850 novel The Scarlet Letter, experimental theatre company The Danger Ensemble's Let Men Tremble is a passionate exploration of just how much men have controlled, and continue to control, the minds, bodies and souls of women, and how women have had enough.

The cast of ten work extremely well together in keeping their energy up with some very difficult text and their impressive ability to slip in and out of characters. Alexandra Hines, Eidann Glover and Jane Cameron show masterful nuance in their roles, convincingly finding the comedy, the horror, and the something in between with the characters they portray. Danny Carroll and Leo Thompson display great physicality and expression with brilliant restraint throughout the production.

Monday 19 August 2019

Creatures Lost - Melbourne Fringe Festival preview

Winners of Best Cabaret at the 2018 Melbourne Fringe Festival, Picked Last For Sport are back with a brand new show on animals and the environment. Moving away from the ocean theme of their original show, Creatures of the Deep, Creatures Lost focuses on highlighting the impact that humans have had on extinct animals and the need to look after and respect them as much as we do each other. 

Founded by Ryan Smith and Sarah Wall, Picked Last For Sport's exploration of sustainability and environmental issues extends beyond their content. The company only sources their costumes and props from recyclables and up-cycled materials, which has given them more freedom and creativity with their productions. "We pride ourselves on producing sustainable theatre so all our props and costumes come from recyclables and upcycled materials. It can be challenging at times when it would be easier to head to Kmart, but problem solving and figuring out how to make something out of what you’ve got is half the fun," they tell me. "It forces us to think outside the box and be more inventive in the way we represent the animals. In a lot of ways the restrictions make the show so much better by forcing you to consider things you never would have thought of. A director once told me that if you could have everything you wanted for your show with no compromises it would probably not be very good, and there’s a lot of truth in that. Also, Savers is a life saver!"

Sunday 18 August 2019

Gone Girls - Melbourne Fringe Festival preview

In the three years that she was Prime Minister, Julia Gillard successfully passed 561 legislative bills, a ratio that is unmatched by any other Prime Minister. For 11 years, Julie Bishop served as the deputy leader of the Liberal Party. They are both smart, successful women that have since left politics but that doesn't mean they've gone away with the two joining forces for a special Melbourne Fringe Festival show where they take down the patriarchy and tell Australia what it's really like to be women in politics.

Created by Patrick Livesey and Esther Myles, Gone Girls is inspired by the relentless abuse and attacks endured by these two women from both political parties and the media. "Julia became Prime Minister right when I was deep into high school debating and totally obsessed with my social studies teacher and debating coach, Ms Guilfoyle. She had a deep love for Julia and we spoke about her often so I realised pretty quickly where I stood politically," Livesey tells me. "We spent many a lesson baffled at the treatment she received by our media and it was the first time I remember thinking that maybe there was an alternative agenda going on there. Julia was my political awakening in the same way the Rio undies man had me realise I was gay."

Saturday 17 August 2019

Happy-Go-Wrong - Melbourne Fringe Festival preview

It's true, life is what happens to your while you're busy making other plans. Melbourne performer, Andi Snelling, was living an active life with numerous acting projects constantly on the go. However, her life changed drastically in 2014 when she was bitten by a tick. Her return season of Happy-Go-Wrong for this year's Melbourne Fringe Festival is a comical yet candid look at her subsequent diagnosis of Lyme disease and what it's like to be battling with a chronic invisible illness.

Opening up about something as personal and contentious as Lyme disease has involved dealing with a number of obstacles along the way for Snelling. "The most difficult aspect of making Happy-Go-Wrong content-wise has been deciding how much of the specifics around my chronic illness to share. It’s an extremely controversial disease in Australia and I’m conscious of protecting both my own and my family’s safety and privacy around some of the more political elements," she says. "This is why the show only really references Lyme in abstract, indirect ways, which also means it becomes more about the human experience of fate and mortality."

Wednesday 14 August 2019

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Cooking For - Melbourne Fringe Festival preview

Australia has always had a love for cooking shows including, Ready Steady Cook, The Great Australian Bake Off, Masterchef and Jamie's Kitchen. The latter, hosted by chef Jamie Oliver, eventually led to Oliver's 30 Minute Meals, where a healthy, instagram worthy meal could be prepared in 30 minutes. As part of the 2019 Melbourne Fringe Festival, theatre company Stage Mom (Alberto Di Troia and Hannah Fallowfield) have taken this idea and brought it to the stage with their show, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Cooking For.

A live art culinary event held in an inner north Melbourne home, the evening consists of a Fringe Festival artist cooking one of Oliver's 30 Minute Meals live in front of an audience. "It's interesting how easily cooking translates into a performance setting. Cooking is already highly performative and we're simply pointing it out!" Di Troia and Fallowfield tell me. "The show is an intimate and site-specific experience for audiences, with some very tasty treats and surprising participatory elements that we promise aren't at all scary! We have a number of extraordinary Fringe Artists being taken out of their comfort zone and will hopefully have everyone seeing Jamie Oliver in a completely different light."

Friday 9 August 2019

A Midnight Visit review

It’s may be almost 170 years since Gothic literature writer Edgar Allan Poe died under mysterious circumstances but in Broad Encounters immersive theatre production A Midnight Visit, he is brought back to life and entice his audience to face their fears in an evening of macabre entertainment. Audiences are left to wander through the maze of 36 rooms as they come across various figures from Poe’s life, characters from his stories and even the writer himself. What happens next depends on the path you choose to take. 

We are initially greeted by an undertaker who prepares us for entry into an unpredictable and macabre dream world. With surgical masks over our faces to prevent us contracting any diseases (and to add to the unsettling anonymity of the evening) we begin our journey into the dark recesses of the mind. As many scenes play out simultaneously in this labyrinth, it is impossible to see everything unfold. This makes it difficult to piece together a structured narrative but choosing to see the evening as a series of vignettes taken from Poe's life and his writing, heightens the unease permeating throughout the production and allows you to focus solely on what is happening.