Fringe in a flash

Feb 15, 2019

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BRIEFS: Close Encounters

Adelaide Fringe 2019 – RCC, Bonython Hall at University of Adelaide, 12-16 March

REVIEW – by Lucy Lokan

I must confess first and foremost that I am a Briefs fan already, but for a good reason. Their spectacle never disappoints, and Close Encounters was no exception. As Adelaide Fringe favourites, the Briefs boys were set up for a party, and a full house at Bonython Hall ensued. The loyal Briefs following, and some nervous newbies, waited with baited breath for what was to be an outrageously excellent performance.

If you’re a fan of circus, dance, cabaret, burlesque, glitter, party music and most importantly, drag, then this show is for you. But you know what, even if these don’t float your boat, you will have a guaranteed enjoyable night out.

Exceptional acrobatic, dance, and comedy routines all follow the killer opening sequence, and we are treated to themes of a futuristic world. Charismatic and fabulous host Shivannah is a true Queen, and reminds us that there are many political aspects in play during the show, such as diversity and inclusivity. Shivannah – the one and only flirty Fez Fa’anana – truly shows that having one hell of a party time is really what we’re all on this Earth to do.

You may smirk at the thought of ‘Boylesque’ (yes that’s a word these days), but go and see it while you still can – it’s so decadently trashy that it’s just brilliant.

5 stars.

*

Shit-Faced Shakespeare

I told a mate of mine about Shit-Faced Shakespeare and he scoffed at the idea. He’s an English literature teacher, and a bit of a Shakespeare snob. “Sounds awful” he said. “William Shakespeare would be rolling in his grave” was the precise cliché he blurted out. The mental image I got of what zombie-William Shakespeare would be doing from beyond the grave could not have been more opposite. I reckon he would have been rolling on the floor laughing, probably with a mug of ale in his hand, to get in the spirit of things. 

I am sure in his wildest dreams (and they were wild alright), William Shakespeare could not have imagined one of his most famous works, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, being re-imagined in the way it was at Gluttony by the cast of Shit-Faced Shakespeare. The gist is this: five classically trained Shakespearean actors perform the play, and one of them is paroletic. And having compared notes with a friend who saw the show on a different night, it sounds like we got an especially paroletic one at that. 

The four actors who still have their wits about them try their best to keep a straight face, while one of their colleagues stumbles through the lines and stumbles across the stage. The actors do a better job than anyone in the audience of keeping a straight face as frankly, the show is hilarious. The drunk character adds so much to the play; impromptu audience interaction, foul language and sudden breaks from the iambic pentameter format of a Shakespeare to a more, well, drunken rambling type of speech.

This show could be watched over and over again, as while the play is timeless, the storytelling will change every time. It is also accessible to non-Shakespeare purists, who will be able to follow along everything that is happening, and where it gets too confusing, the American actor who plays Puck (who was utterly exceptional) will help you join the dots.

A total fringe must-see.

The May Wirth at Gluttony

*

John Safran – Jew Detective: Sarcasm is not a Crime

I have followed John Safran’s career pretty religiously, no pun intended. I have watched and re-watched just about all of his brilliant television doco-series like John Safran vs. God and Race Relations and find him to be one of the funniest personalities and documentary filmmakers on Australian TV. But to be honest, I was a bit concerned about how his act would translate to the world of stand-up comedy. He has attracted his praise (and notoriety) for larger-than-life stunts and visual storytelling, not intimate shows in tiny venues. But it all translates brilliantly well.

John Safran’s awkward navigation from TV documentaries to stand-up Fringe show in Jew Detective is what really makes this show great. The show is a one-hour long precis of Safran’s different points-of-interest from throughout his career; religion, extremism, race and politics. He frames this all through the lens of a life-long war he has been part of between artists and ideologues. For people who have followed Safran’s work, the show is an excellent highlights package of the things you love, only with the added bonus of longer anecdotes in a more in-your-face setting. For people not au fait with him, Jew Detective is a totally accessible insight into the mind of his contrarian ways.

His awkward charm is what carries the show. Unlike most stand-up acts, he follows a script and has sparknotes on the direction of his show to keep him on track, which don’t always work as he often caught himself off on amusing tangents. My faith (no pun intended) in Safran as one of Australia’s most daring and thoughtful comedians was only further emboldened after seeing his show.

The Factory at the Garden of Unearthly Delights, until Mar 3

*

JUDITH LUCY vs MEN

Adelaide Fringe 2019 – The Vagabond, Garden of Unearthly Delights, until Mar 3

REVIEW – by Lucy Lokan

The brutally honest Judith Lucy we all know and love is back for another Fringe, and boy, I was not disappointed. She is single…and 50…and does not hesitate to make it clear that this is the hilarious premise of the entire show. Lucy is so happy being fifty, and loves the fact that the “joys of ageing are either looking old or looking weird”. Good luck to us all.

She has reached the age-old question of whether, as a 50 year old, it’s time to hang up the dating boots or not. This of course calls for immediate and continuous audience participation, with a selected ‘love jury’. Lucy’s range of men is impressive, and her story-telling ability is even more so. We – being the audience, mostly made up of females and gay men – felt like we were gossiping with an old friend over a skinny latte.

In recounting her full history with straight men, Lucy even graced us with references to 3-hour crying sessions on top of her yoga mat (yes, this does count as yoga), and the potentially better option of taking up crochet instead of dating - such wisdom.

Whilst a somewhat tumultuous dating and relationship history was indeed convincingly presented to the love jury, the answer is a big NO to you Judith Lucy, do not hang up the dating boots. In 10 years’ time, we want to hear more hysterical stories, please.

Four and a half stars.

*

Quality Novelty

When the first performer is lifted by the hair (yes, the hair!) for a flying routine above the stage, you know this show is already living up to its name in delivering "novelty". What follows is a series of quirky, fun and, at times, bizarre acts by this all-female cast, including a command hula hoop performance with attitude, glam roller skaters, and even a crowd-pleasing Prince tribute. I wonder what the builders of Adelaide Uni's now-historic Bonython Hall would think of the musical interlude involving only whoopee cushions? Like a novelty gift, Quality Novelty is a bit of fun while it lasts.

RCC Fringe, Bonython Hall, Uni of Adelaide

Feb 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28

March 1, 2, 3

Full Price: $55.00

Concession: $15.00 to $45.00

Duration: 60 mins

*

Charlie Caper – Robotricks

Everything about Charlie Caper – Robotricks totally encapsulates what everyone loves about the Fringe. It dawned on me as I was sitting watching his brilliant show at the Masonic Hall arm of Gluttony; everything was just so randomly surreal about the experience that it could only happen in Adelaide once a year.

You won’t find a more wonderfully clever show at the Fringe this year. Charlie Caper, with the help of his mechanical sidekicks, dazzles the audience with an hour magic, misdirection and mechatronics. While it might seem from the poster like a run-of-the-mill magic show with the added gimmick of robots, nothing could be further from the truth as the true craft of this show is how Charlie’s weaves his tricks and his gang of robots to form part of a captivating narrative.

There is true light and shade in this show. At times, it’s filled with whimsical novelty, with TV remotes setting off toasters inadvertently and Charlie doing the old trick where a deck of cards falls out of his mouth, and then at others, there is a more serious tone to the show with Charlie besieging the audience not to let artificial intelligence take over the world. The host navigates all themes well shifting effortlessly between his frenetic and light-hearted tone and his ominous doomsday messages.

I think it’d be fair to say that with every passing year, the number of magic acts at the Fringe has grown and grown. Charlie Caper stands out from the evermore crowded field, and will give you an experience that leaves you thoroughly amazed, even if you think you’ve seen it all.

9/10.

Charlie Caper – Robotricks

Masonic - Owl Room at Gluttony - Masonic Lodge

$19.00 to $26.00        

*

PETER HELLIAR: The Complete History of Better Books

Adelaide Fringe 2019 – Umbrella Revolution, Garden of Unearthly Delights, Feb 15-17

REVIEW – by Lucy Lokan

Peter Helliar is a man of ideas. There is no shortage to his ideas for television shows, stand-up comedy routines, and stories. I love that these ideas started in the mid 1980’s when 8-year-old Helliar became an author and publisher of sorts, and decided to keep such stories, only to share 35 years on.

Whilst the much-loved confidently rude jokes were left out of this family-friendly show, it was still a privilege to watch Helliar’s show, The Complete History of Better Books. What a wonderful way to celebrate his 21 years of attending the Adelaide Fringe.

An opening viewing of the Cottee’s television commercial from the 1980’s truly set the scene, and so began the nostalgia that reigned throughout the duration of the show.

His vivid imagination in stories such as ‘Racquas of the Lost Park’, and ‘Me, the Sports Star’ proved to be charming, presented in a way that only Helliar knows how: hilarious. They were as popular today as they were back in class 4C.

Helliar has indeed become a best-selling comedian, and a (much improved) author. I can only hope that one day, another of his animated alter-egos, Indiana Helliar, makes a comeback, and writes another critically-acclaimed thriller.

Four stars.

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