Monday, March 10, 2014
Normally we would have been doing things right up until the end, however due to other plans, we decided to leave the last week completely clear.
All in all it's been a very, very good, if slightly different Fringe this year... it's the first time I've done the Fringe while not working, so there have been a lot of late nights and subsequent late mornings, and I don't know if it's just because my stress levels are down all across the board, but for the most part it's been a fairly low stress Fringe.
It's also the first time in a while were I haven't been hitting around 20 shows... this year's plan was for 16, but that crept up to 17 when I realised that Jinkx Monsoon was bringing The Vaudevillians to Adelaide, and absolutely had to go and see it.
But I think that was probably a positive thing... there were less shows on this list that we decided to go and see "just because they could be good"... so those few that might have been a little bit rubbish got culled from the list before I bought the tickets.
And I feel like I've gone back to see performers I've seen before... Sound and Fury, The Kransky Sisters, Dirk Darrow, Adam Richard, Joshua Kapitza's improv troupe, circus performer Cal Harris and even Jethro Compton wearing his director hat rather than his actor hat were all welcome returns.
It's interesting how each year there seems to be a venue that we return to over and over and over... this year it was definitely Gluttony, but it's a little bit of a shame that we never got to spend more time in the Royal Croquet Club in Victoria Square. And the fact that on only set foot in The Garden of Unearthly Delights for The Vaudevillians says quite a bit (as does the fact that it felt a hell of a lot smaller this year for some reason).
I can honestly say that there were only about four shows that fell below my expectations... the first seven (possibly eight) shows on my list don't have much between them in regards to how good they were, and the following five shows don't fall too far behind those.
I very nearly lumped The Bunker Trilogy into one to be honest, it's kind of hard to view it as anything other than three parts of a whole. And I think it would have been even harder if we'd actually seen all three plays on the same night the way we originally intended to do.
But it was the major stand-out for this year... brilliant writing/adaptation, great direction, four amazing actors who managed to transform themselves from play to play and a set that you didn't look at, you experienced.
As I mentioned to someone the other day, even the shows that weren't necessarily as good as other things we saw or could just have been written off as somewhat average had their own unique something... whether that was charismatic performers, full frontal male nudity or acrobatics performed under blacklight... there was something good.
- The Bunker Trilogy - Macbeth
"It's easy enough with Shakespeare to merely recite the words, but it's quite another thing to be able to give them the raw emotion they need or to invent new moments of emotion on otherwise familiar lines and the both manage that very well."
I've seen a lot of Macbeth, but this was the Scottish play stripped back to it's bare essentials and just telling that story works brilliantly well.
- The Bunker Trilogy - Agamemnon
"There are large chunks of this play that really feel like they're Sanders'... and she manages to go from loving wife to a steely eyed apparition and back again throughout the play."
Watching the actors transform from the characters in Morgana to Agememnon was amazing... they were completely different people and left no trace of the former personalities behind.
- The Bunker Trilogy - Morgana
"Wood just has this commanding and appropriately dignified presence... Donnelly is as handsome as you would want a Lancelot to be and as rakish, if a little bit of a bully... and Marlow is bumbling and loquacious as Gawain, simple but sweet."
A beautiful introduction to the trilogy... the lightest of the three plays, but still powerful in it's own way.
- The Vaudevillians
"Fans of Jinkx from Drag Race will know that she was no stranger to comedy... but she honestly had me on the edge of crying with laughter at various points throughout the show, especially with her vocal gymnastics and deliciously over the top physical comedy during 'I Will Survive'."
I can't believe I never saw this in the Fringe guide originally... and I'm so glad that I went off to see it, I would have been kicking myself otherwise.
- Sound and Fury's Hitchcocked
"I honestly cannot recommend this one enough, especially if you're a Hitchcock fan... there's enough references to keep you entertained, and the rest of the show is a hell of a good laugh."
I love these boys... they're funny and filthy and friendly and I'll be coming back to see them again and again.
- Sound and Fury's Hamlet and Juliet
"It also often has that edge of both frenetic energy with a slight edge of panic (which is actually amusing in its own right), but you can tell when they're making it up as they go and making themselves laugh as they do it."
The energy they managed to summon up on a Saturday morning just proves what professionals they are.
- Paul Dabek's Stand up and be Conjured
"I cannot recommend Paul Dabek strongly enough... go, laugh your ass off, thank me later! Just don't show up late."
Seriously... go and see him!
"Decadence is two actors, one couch, four characters from the wicked excesses of 80's England and dense, thick, oozing language... words soaked in alcohol, slathered in butter and devoured by Katherine Shearer and Rowan McDonald only to have the visceral, vulgar prose seep from their pores."
This is amongst the favourite reviews I've ever written for a Fringe show... I was inspired by the language of the play to try and get some of the same feel into my review... whether or not I succeeded, I'll leave up to the reader.
- Trash Test Dummies
"Their tricks are often simple enough, but the addition of the bins does add a unique aspect, especially to the club juggling routine at the end... and the occasion bout of real-time slow-mo also works really well."
In circus/physical theatre it's always good to have a gimmick that works for you... and these boys have that in abundance.
- The Kransky Sisters Piece of Cake
"Their renditions of famous songs are always wonderful... with their often deadpan delivery and their collection of odd instruments (an old 60’s reed keyboard, guitar, musical-saw, tuba, and a cooking pot), not to mention that these ladies can sing up a storm."
A beautiful, musical way to end our Fringe adventure for this year... and the quirky sisters from Esk in Queensland are always worth seeing.
- A Dirk Darrow Investigation - 2 Ruby Knockers, 1 Jaded Dick
"Dirk Darrow loves a good pun... no, that's not right... what he actually really likes are the god awful, groan inducing kind of pun... but then, as he told the audience on more than once occasion, our groans only make him stronger."
Turns out that I had just as much fun not being a major part of the show... and I look forward to Dirk's next case.
"Harris and Gorham have quite the arsenal in their bag of circus tricks... from ladder tricks to an (unfortunately brief) trapeze routine, acrobatics of every description, some totally unexpected sand (or, in this case, flour) painting, beautiful singing/guitar playing from Harris, and a finale using the seesaw I don't think anyone in the audience will forget in a hurry."
I won't lie... my crush on Cal Harris from last year got me in the door, but it was a really good show.
- Improvise To Go
"I also find it amusing to watch director/actor wrangler/score keeper and, for the purposes of this show, banker, Joshua and his reaction to the actors as they try and wrestle the runaway story to the ground... it's a little bit like a live directors commentary, communicated entirely through expressions... and often made me laugh as much as everything else that was going on."
An improv show lives or dies on the performance of the night, and although I might have liked to revisit on a different night (based on the show summaries being posted to their Facebook page), I can't complain about the laughs.
- Adam Richard's Gaypocalypse
"It's early days for the show and there were sections that were incredibly funny. It's also just possible that this isn't the Adam Richard show that's up my particular alley... and that's okay too."
I'm pretty sure I know what Adam is trying to do with this particular show and I hope it all comes together for him.
- A Nightmare On Love Street
"And while it all feels like it's going to go pear-shaped any second and the stage is covered with the detritus of more and more props, Christine and Phelan are excellent."
A show that I could have chalked up as a Late Night Fringe Disaster was saved by the performers energy and personalities.
- The Sheds
"What the play feels like it fails to do is really dig into the meat of what it would be like as the first out gay AFL player... it feels like it skirts the entire issue for the most part, other than using it as the set up at the beginning and uses it for the basis of the denouement at the end of the play."
Technically this should have been on the bottom of the list... but there was male nudity, so it gets an extra point. It could still do with a major rewrite/reworking though.
"As far as pure circus acts go, given that we've seen a large number of them over the past few years, this one would be kind of average... some interesting moments, but nothing spectacular... however the blacklight was definitely something unique, but it perhaps wasn't as amazing as I was hoping."
I have a feeling that this may not have been able to meet the expectations that I had for it... but it had an interesting concept that just could have done with a slightly better show to support it.