movies: the hunger games

may the odds be ever in your favorBeyond reading the first chapter they were giving away free in the lead up to the movie, I haven't read any of The Hunger Games, so while I knew the general premise, I wasn't aware of many of the specific details.

But knowing and watching are two different things, and I just had trouble with the central premise... pitting 24 teenagers against each other in a fight to the death.

And because you know going in that Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is going to make it out alive (especially since there are two other novels after the first one), you're pretty sure that every other young character you meet is going to die.

It kinda left a bad taste in my mouth.

I can see why a number of people have been comparing it to, or at least mentioning it in the same sentence as, Battle Royale. It's kind of the M rated version of that... albeit with a bunch of science fantasy elements laid over the top.

I also found that I didn't particularly care about the characters I was supposed to be invested in. And maybe this is me... because it's happened a number of times recently... most strongly with The Walking Dead, but also with a couple of other things I can't remember right now.

Like I said, whether that was because you "know" Katniss is going to walk out alive at the end... or whether it's because she was actually kind of bland as a character. We're not in Twilight territory... it's better than that, thankfully... and while the movie tries to lay out her motivation, it's pretty generic.

And while I'm a fan of Josh Hutcherson (definitely one from the "he grew up purdy" file), his character seems to be a little bit of a one trick pony too... he only has one defining characteristic that really means anything to the movie.

I'm not suggesting that the movie is dull... I just wasn't really compelled to care about the characters.

There are obvious parallels both to reality TV, the general public's desire to see everything that happens to manufactured celebrities, as well as that desire and amusement at watching people hurt themselves (think Funniest Home Videos, Jackass, etc) as well as a universal truth that's a combination of The Lord of the Flies and just about any school yard on the planet... teenagers, left to their own devices, will turn on each other and the strong will pray on the week.

The world of the movie (and probably to a greater extent, the books) is something you could dissect to the nth degree... how the people in power control the masses, how they stop rebellion by segmenting the population into areas of expertise so limit their ability to be independent or rebel. And the contrast between those who have almost nothing and are essentially starving, and those who appear to have everything.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if somebody somewhere devotes a whole university thesis to it at some point.

But as far as the movie is concerned, a lot of it is just glimpsed or seen as it relates to those particular characters... but it's still a fascinating concept.

Getting back to the movie...

I kinda wanted to slap whoever came up with the costumes... I know the things the wealthy wear are probably supposed to be really way out there and over the top compared to the simple stuff the outlying areas wear... but they just went with some "ugly" version of high couture that was all kinds of awful. It all just seemed to be trying too hard.

Also on my shitlist are the director and the cinematographer for once again using that annoying shaky camera thing. And although the director has said he did it because it "had a lot to do with the urgency of what's going on and to reflect Katniss's point of view", I still don't think it was necessary 95% of the time.

I'm not sure there are any particular stand-out performances from any of the younger actors... although, like Hutcherson, Alexander Ludwig gets a "grew up purdy" mention... it's just a shame the character is basically the lead bully of the piece.

And while I'm not sure how good an actor Liam Hemsworth really is since he doesn't have a whole lot to do during this movie... but he is definitely the "most pretty"... and I will give him some acting snaps for conveying a whole lot about where exactly his character is emotionally without saying anything.

Where the acting does shine is a number of the smaller adult roles...

Foremost would be Lenny Kravitz... who is a musician, not an actor... but who makes a very, very, very small role his own and gives a really strong sense of exactly who the character is in his limited screen time/lines.

And while I'm not really a fan of Woody Harrelson, I very much warmed to his character as the movie went on.

Overall it was entertaining but I just kind of felt like I've seen/read better versions of the same story before. Not bad, but not great either.

yani's rating: 2 mockingjays out of 5

standard saturday with movie

trolley depth of fieldAll in all, a pretty bog standard Saturday... well, mostly.

I'm so very thankful for the end of Daylight Savings tomorrow morning though... it's been too damn dark in the mornings.

And I'm not a big fan of having to put lights on in the morning... I much prefer to do things with ambient light.

But enough about light and lack of same.

Like I said, pretty much everything was standard this morning... I mean Saturday mornings aren't very often different, but today's stuck to the pattern. And weirdly, even though I did a relatively large shop last week, I still came back from today's trip with more than I'd expected to. The only problem is getting it all in my undersized fridge.

After I crammed everything away in the appropriate places we headed into the city to go and see The Hunger Games at Palace Nova. It's been two whole months since we last saw something at the movies!

Now, there are certain times when I don't "get" movie audiences... well, not whole audiences, but usually specific individuals in the cinema. And today was one of those days... a group of guys (either four or five of them, I'm not sure) in their mid 20's, and the type of guys you would expect to see at a gross out comedy movie or something where everything blows up every five seconds. I don't know what the hell they were doing at The Hunger Games. They weren't exactly disruptive, although there were a few times when they made some noise... but on two occasions it was more smell than sound... completely revolting!

Afterwards we wandered down the Mall, picked up some stuff at The Body Shop, then wandered back down Rundle Street and stopped at Dumplings R Us for something to eat.

And I proceeded to splash soy sauce on my Kidrobot watch... and my shirt... and a large portion of the table. But I only really care about my watch... I realised afterwards that the soy sauce had gone down the sides of the face and were showing up around the plastic rim. Arggghhhh! So currently it's in a zip lock bag with some rice, and hopefully that will fix it!

Annoyingly, I almost didn't wear it into the city... I actually went back in the house and got it... that'll teach me.

And for anyone keeping score, the less wrathful thing was still working today (not so much right this second due to annoying neighbour children screaming at the top of their lungs... but overall)... we'll have to see how it works out at the end of next week. I'm not saying I'm going to stop being cynical/realistic... but it's a work in progress.

Current Mood:


#marchphotoadaySo after January and February comes March!

This month features more Lego than previous months... in fact Day 5 became my most popular image within about 12 hours! Granted we're not talking huge numbers, but people seemed to like it.

And even though a large chunk of this month was taken up by Fringe activities, none of the photos really feature Fringe things... Days 8, 13 and 15 are all indirectly related to Fringe activities... but that's about it.
  • Day 1: Up
  • Day 2: Fruit
  • Day 3: My neighbourhood
  • Day 4: Bedside
  • Day 5: A smile (who knew this would be so popular!)
  • Day 6: 5pm
  • Day 7: Something I wore
  • Day 8: Window (store window on Rundle Street)
  • Day 9: Red
  • Day 10: Loud
  • Day 11: Someone I talked to today (I didn't really talk to anybody that day, just watched movies and played with Lego)
  • Day 12: Fork
  • Day 13: A sign (the table number sign from my pub burger before a Fringe show across the road)
  • Day 14: Clouds (My birthday!)
  • Day 15: Car (my car waiting for me in the Frome Street carpark after some Fringe shows)
  • Day 16: Sunglasses
  • Day 17: Green
  • Day 18: A corner of my home
  • Day 19: Funny
  • Day 20: Before/After
  • Day 21: Delicious (Burger Theory... food of the gods!)
  • Day 22: Kitchen sink (at work)
  • Day 23: Moon
  • Day 24: An animal (at Bowerbird Bazaar)
  • Day 25: Breakfast
  • Day 26: Key
  • Day 27: My name
  • Day 28: Trash
  • Day 29: Feet
  • Day 30: Toy (so that's five photos this month featuring Lego)
  • Day 31: Where I relax
You can find April's list right here...

Current Mood:

photo friday: bricked pasteups

introverted greasy bike
I'm trying to work out whether I'm particularly wrathful because it's Friday... or if I'm actually always this wrathful but I just notice it more on Fridays.

I like the word "wrath"... noun, "strong, stern, or fierce anger; deeply resentful indignation". I don't necessarily like feeling wrathful most of the time... but it just seems to be the way I'm wired.

Not that I can't have other emotions, but wrath often feels like my default state. It powers my turbines if you will.

But weirdly, when I got off the bus at the shops after work, I just let it all wash off me. I could actually feel the tension release out of my shoulders.

And things that may have normally bothered me I didn't get worked up over.

Will it last? Probably not... but I'd like it to be a change for the better.

In news that doesn't concern my twisted mental state...

It's been a very busy, yet very mixed bag of a week. I've been to a bucketload of meetings and things, but at the same time, I haven't had a ton of other stuff to do at work which kinda makes the day drag.

And even though I commented earlier in the week about my "second childhood", it's also been something of a grown-up week...

I took myself to breakfast at The Royal Oak on Sunday morning, which I don't do very often, but always enjoy when I do. And I've been to copyright seminars (Monday afternoon), social media/university presentations (Tuesday evening) and doing a thankfully 30 minute meeting at a venue 90 minutes return drive away far too early in the morning (Thursday). Seriously, who schedules a meeting at 8:15am that far away from the city.

But now that all of that's over I can start thinking about/stressing about my weekend trip to Sydney in two weeks.

La Ninj had had a bad day with some family drama and between them Rockchick and new boy Banger suggested buying her some flowers... which they did. And they got me to write the card (because I have the nicest handwriting). La Ninj was suitably touched... and it was nice to do something nice like that.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to find the consciousness of a homicidal supercomputer attached to a potato...

Er... that's a Portal 2 reference...

Current Mood:

random daguerreotype hotness

Some very, very, very retro Random Hotness this week...

These photos are from My Dageurreotype Boyfriend (where early photography meets extreme hotness)... and it's surprising how timeless some of the faces are.

These boyfriends are...

les darcy, c. 1909-1917 cowboy, c. 1890.
alexander horsburgh turnbull, age 23, c. 1891 unknown aussie soldier, wwi
benjamin piatt runkle, age 21, c. 1857 johannes brahms, age 20, c. 1853
Current Mood:

confessions of a returned gaming noob

video gamesSo I spent large chunks of the weekend playing video games, putting Lego together (and then taking it apart again... and rearranging my minifigs) and watching cartoons (Futurama).

And I turn 40 in 2014...

But just getting back to video games for a second...

It's not really surprising, given my purchase on Friday, that I've kind of had video games on the brain a little bit over the last week or so. And it made me think about my general video game history.

This is the first time I've played a proper video game consol in a LOOOOONG time.

But I've had a few over the years:
  • my gaming historySuper Nintento Entertainment System
    My favourite game from that, The Secret of Mana, is now available for iPhone which is a little scary
  • Sega Game Gear
    For some reason I remember playing a Jurassic Park game amongst other things
  • PlayStation
    BlueDragon bought me that along with Final Fantasy VII when he was here
  • Game Boy Color
    Which was purple, was also bought by BlueDragon after he was back in the states and I only ever had Pokemon Yellow for it.
  • Pokemon themed Nintendo 64
    It's blue and yellow and has Pokemon on it... and the only game I owned for it was Pokemon Stadium
Of course, it you count the iPhone as a gaming device, I've been using that for the last couple of years. And then in February I downloaded Steam so I could play/experience Dear Esther... which I actually really liked.

I've never been particularly good at finishing any of the games I've had though...

I did finish The Secret of Mana back in the day, but Final Fantasy VII, The Legenda of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Pokemon: Yellow are all on my Pile Of Shame. With the former two I got right up to the final battles, but just couldn't make it through them... and my interest in Pokemon waned eventually and by the time I came back to it I couldn't remember where I was up to and couldn't be bothered starting over.

And now I have a PS3... which is so much prettier than all of them! And it sits so nicely on the shelf next to my DVD player.

Weirdly, my hands/brain remember the feel of the controller though... especially with that vibrating dual shock thing. The whole wireless controller thing is really nice too... especially when it comes to getting up mid-game to do something... I like that.

I swear there used to be something you could do on the old PlayStation that would take you back to the menu/reset the game... but I can't seem to work it out on the new one... was it Start + Select + R1 + L1?

And I also remembered really quickly that I kinda suck at the majority of action games... I'm much more of a RPG/Fighting/Puzzle kinda game person.

assassins creed brotherhoodI don't know if it's because it's the third game in the series, but I really do suck at Assassins Creed... or at least the single player campaign... I still haven't made it through the first section following the old dude through the streets... I keep getting turned around or running up walls by accident and... yeah, I suck so very hard.

Oddly, I'm doing better at the multiplayer campaign... True, I've been slaughtered a lot, and I still can't get the circle button/stun thing to do anything useful... but I enjoy the sneaking around thing and I'm starting to get the hang of other bits and pieces.

The other game that came free with the PS3, the Sonic racing game, is beyond horrible, so I don't know that I'll bother playing that ever again.

journeyOn the flip side, Journey really is an amazing game.

Not only is it exquisitely beautiful (light, design, sound, music... everything is amazing), but it's genuinely moving.

I had two "moments" the first time I played it. The first was riding on the head of a "fabric whale" around the Arabian Knights inspired chamber... I was just struck with this incredible sense of awe at what I was seeing, and doing, on screen.

And the second time was right at the very end of the game as everything started to fade to white.

But I have to say that I enjoyed my second time more than the first. Partly because I knew where I had to go and what I had to do (and the fact that I lost all of my flying ability the first time through and had to restart that level), but I also had better companions the second time around... two of whom were with me for a whole level each essentially.

It's amazing to me how quickly the single method of communication available to you becomes a language all of its own. A set of quick chirps meaning "come this way", or a set of spaced out chirps meaning "wait for me"... or just the single chirp to check in with the other player.

And dealing with other people's play styles... the first time through the snow I was with someone who didn't seem to want to collaborate and just rushed off on their own at a certain point, but the second time (partly because I knew what I was doing I guess) we stayed together much more and were both better for it.

It was funny actually... we made it all the way through that level together and started the final level together... and somehow got separated... but at a certain point I stopped at I point I knew they'd have to appear at and waited for them, chirping loudly so they might hear/see me... and I had the best sense of relief when I saw/heard a returning chirp headed in my direction.

That all ties in for how much you feel for this robed and hooded character that you play as... it has no features beyond eyes, no speech beyond the chirps... it doesn't even have any arms. But very quickly I became incredibly fond of it.

I can see myself going back again though... partially because there's one of the special symbols I still haven't been able to reach (which is either going to take cooperation with another player or some precise timing to get to)... plus there are a bunch of trophies I want to get.

portal 2Then on Monday I picked up Portal 2 (I need to check and see what other games Good Game have given 10/10 to)... and started playing it a little on Monday night, then some more last night and I'm up to Chapter 4.

Bits of it are kind of frustrating, especially when you know what you have to do but can't quite work out how to do it. Plus I hate the fucking turrets. But I will admit to a bit of a crush on GLaDOS... she's so sarcastic and insane!

Essentially, she's me if I was a homicidal computer... or possibly just if I was a computer...

Current Mood:

unconscious mutterings 478

Let's see... what did I do today... I forgot to shave this morning, bought Portal 2 at lunch, went to a copyright seminar on websites, blogs and social media this afternoon and Adam Savage from Mythbusters retweeted something I sent him on Twitter AND tweeted me a thank you.

So now I'm grinning for no real reason.

Unconscious Mutterings...
  1. Flake :: Cadbury
  2. Like :: Facebook (which I don't...)
  3. Rash :: Rashomon
  4. Humor :: Black/Dark
  5. Splash :: Mermaid
  6. Blind :: Mr Magoo
  7. Noisy :: Neighbours
  8. Ornate :: Design
  9. Rain :: Love
  10. Intensify :: Feeling
Current Mood:

solid bowerbird saturday

bowerbird bazaar 2012 - a much bigger venue bowerbird bazaar 2012 - red door bakery was very popular
Bowerbird in it's new home and Red Door proving very popular

Ahhhh... the routine of going places and doing things returns with a bang this week.

I have to say though that I really, really hate the last couple of weeks of the extended daylight savings... dawn is happening later and later and coupled with the colder/rainy weather we've had this week it just feels like it's Winter already in the mornings... this morning especially, it was completely dark when I got up and I actually had to put lights on. Me no like!

Everything else about the Saturday Morning Routine was pretty average... if you count the fact that this is probably the first time in about a month I've done a proper shopping trip after a month of only having to worry about a couple of meals a week. So it was a little higher than average. But at least this week I won't get to Wednesday and be completely out of 90% of appropriate food options.

Once we were done with the supermarket portion of the morning and after we'd waited for Ma's iPhone to update itself (which doesn't seem to take long unless you really want to be leaving and then it takes forever) we headed off to Bowerbird Bazaar in it's new home in the Adelaide Showgrounds.

This is our fifth trip to Bowerbird (funny, it really does seem like more), and the first in their new venue.... in a word... WOW. I thought they could pack people into the previous venue, which was kinda tiny... this was a whole new scale of magnitude! Not just the size of the place, or the number of stalls, but the number of people... it felt about as full as the Queens Theatre, but it's about three or four times the size.

There were a lot of old favourites there but a lot of new faces too.

bowerbird 2012 - pretty lamps bowerbird 2012 - laura wills sketch
Some pretty lamps and a Laura Wills sketch I bought

We never really go crazy with buying things... there is a lot of really nice stuff, but some of it is very expensive or neither of us really has the room/the need for it.

But I picked up sketch by Laura Wills that just appealed to me... I'm not really sure why, but there's just something about it.... and a couple of the giant glass marbles from Marble Merchants... one for me and one for Ma's birthday... and some cards from One Hectare...

Ma bought a couple of other bits and pieces... some jewellery for gifts for Christmas, and some cards from a couple of different places that escape me right now.

Then, once we'd pretty much walked our feet off (note to self, next time wear the COMFORTABLE shoes, not the STYLISH shoes), I went to one end of the building to get us some drinks from Juice Junkies and Ma went to the other end to get us some very nummy noshables from Red Door Bakery.

For the record... their Berkshire Free range Pork and Sage Sausage Roll, greasy but fabulous... their salted caramel brick thing, so wrong but so right.

Once we'd finished that we did what was possibly our sixth or seventh lap of the building and called it quits.

Then we went down the road to the Haighs factory to do our Easter shopping... well, Ma did her Easter shopping for me... they were sold out of what I wanted for her, so I'll have to try one or both of the stores in town this week.

And that's pretty much that... a good, solid Saturday really...

Current Mood:

photo friday: lego now and then

lego lumberjack - then and now lego spaceman - now and then
It appears that the closer I get to my 40th birthday the more I am moving to an uber nerd style existance/behaviour...

My obsession with Lego, specifically the minifigs, continues unabated (as per today's photos)...

And today I went to JB HiFi and bought a Playstation 3. This was mostly a whim... well, a three day old whim, but definitely on the side of whim.

Mostly it's because of the review of the game Journey that ABC's Good Game did on Tuesday. I don't think I've ever had as much of the reaction of "I want to play that!" to one of the games they've featured.

Plus JB had a deal where it came with Assassins Creed Brotherhood and another slightly crappier game and a HDMI cable. And it's a Blu-ray player on top of all that. So I figured why the hell not.

Now all I have to do it plug it all in and work out how the hell it all works.

I also assisted H-San to sign up for Twitter this morning... not that he's a technoluddite or anything... and I was flying a little bit blind since Twitter's whole sign up process has changed since I did it a couple of years ago.

But that was a thing that happened.

It was actually a little bit weird being home every night this week after all the Fringe stuff over the last month. Not really dull... just slightly strange.

On the plus side of things this week, I also made a trek off to the Burger Theory truck on Wednesday and afterwards I got the sweetest message from them on Twitter...
"Thanks for your patronage as always Yani! From that massive cookie on you have always been there for us, much appreciated"
Awwwwwww.... so very sweet! But if their burgers weren't all kinda of awesome I wouldn't trek for 20 minutes there and back on my lunch break just to have one!

I watched the last of the David Tennant Doctor Who episodes last night, and just like the first time, I went into the ugly cry at the end... not as much as I did the first time around perhaps, but it still wasn't pretty.

I am trying to keep an open mind about the Matt Smith era but I can't summon up very much positive emotion or enthusiasm about them sadly. Even the news I read this week announcing the new Companion for the next series didn't thrill me overly, doubly so since we're going to have to wait until next year to see her and get rid of the Ponds.

Oh and I very nearly got into a punch up in the middle of North Adelaide because the stupid couple on the bus couldn't operate the door. And really, me telling them "push the door"... how hard of a concept do you think that is... so I had to reach past them and push the door... and yeah... then there was some verbal between us, I pushed past them and then suddenly the woman went psycho. Could I have been more tactful, yes... was she a fucking card carrying psychopathic bitch, oh hell yes.

So that's another thing that happened.

And now I'm all wound up and annoyed and just want to find her and punch her in the face. AARRRRGGGGGHHHHHH. Plus you know all those things you think of to say afterwards... things that wouldn't have calmed the situation down at all, but they would have felt good... yeah, my head is full of them.

God I fucking hate stupid people.

But I'm going to have to try some deep breathing and calm the hell down so I can put together my Playstation.

Current Mood:

random lasse hotness

The only thing I missed out of the special Favourite Things birthday edition of Random Hotness was a pale redhead...

I think that Lasse Pedersen fits the bill nicely in these photos for Neil Barrett menswear back in 2009.

My favourite shot is the top right one... where you can't actually even tell whether he's wearing anything or not... but the lighting is just perfect!

lasse pedersen for neil barrett lasse pedersen for neil barrett
lasse pedersen for neil barrett lasse pedersen for neil barrett
Current Mood:

gay lego lovestory

Once upon a time there were two boys in love...

lego gay lovestory - coupleThey were introduced by friends...

lego gay lovestory - introductionThey started dating...

lego gay lovestory - holding handsWent horseback riding...

lego gay lovestory - horseback ridingFound buried treasure at the beach...

lego gay lovestory - buried treasureTold each other all their secrets...

lego gay lovestory - secretsAnd had lots...

lego gay lovestory - missionaryAnd lots...

lego gay lovestory - soixante-neufAnd lots of sex...

lego gay lovestory - bonkingAnd this is what happens when I have too much free time on my hands, have created a miniature infinite cyclorama out of white paper and am playing around with Lego minifigures...

Current Mood:

unconscious mutterings 477

I'm so very tired today... granted I may not have been if I'd gone to bed when I'd intended to and not waited up so I could hook up with a random.

And if this is the second time you've hooked you've hooked up with them, are they officially still a random?

Speaking of random... at lunch today I bought "power gloves" for the gym and Season 6 of Futurama...

Unconscious Mutterings...
  1. Quit :: Programs
  2. Solace :: Quantum of
  3. Suggest :: Gullible
  4. Meteor :: Comet
  5. Zombies :: BRAINS!
  6. Birds :: Tippi Hedren
  7. Cancelled :: A number of Fringe shows
  8. Compatible :: Backwards
  9. Alarmed :: Be alert, not alarmed
  10. Word game :: Scrabble
Current Mood:

post fringe round-up 2012

i gots the post adelaide fringe festival 2012 blues!I was right last year... twenty one Adelaide Fringe shows over four weeks is pretty much my limit. Although possibly it was all the instances of going to two shows on the same night and all the late nights caused by writing reviews that really took it out of me.

I'm pretty much exhausted.

But it was all totally worth it, I've seen a lot of really, really excellent stuff, quite a bit of good stuff and not very much really bad stuff, which is always good. There have been a few things that I thought "what the fuck did I just see" afterwards though. Although that didn't necessarily make them bad.

One of the things I noticed was that I've seen a lot more "serious" stuff this year. There's still been some "comedy" shows and some comedy moments in other shows, but overall, it's a more serious vibe.

The other major thing that I noticed is how many of the shows are about language, about words... the way they're used, when they're not used, when people talk but never listen, how the different ways of speaking them completely changes their impact.

I don't know that I would have noticed, but there seemed to be a large number of shows that really did play with language in strange or unusual ways. And it's one of those things that once you notice it, you can't stop yourself seeing it.

And I've been to a lot more shows in a lot more places this year... The Old Queens Theatre, Adelaide College of the Arts, Immanuel College, Higher Ground, the Botanic Gardens, The Santos Conservation Centre at the Zoo, The Bakehouse Theatre, Gluttony... some I've been to before, others were completely new. And there's only been four shows in The Garden of Unearthly Delights.

I've also been in the very front row for all except the bottom three shows on the list. These two facts are not related in any way as far as I'm aware.

I do have to say that given the number of shows I've seen, ranking these shows in order was kind of difficult... It's exactly the same thing that I said last year... some of the shows are separated only by the minuetest degree.
  1. The Boy James
    "That, in a nutshell, was what was so astounding and magical and brilliant about Jethro Compton's performance. He's a grown man playing a little boy... but you forget that... everything about him is this little boy who wants to play and have adventures.... his blue and white striped pyjamas, his speech, his mannerisms, everything. And when he was in pain I just wanted to make it better."

    I think this could have claimed the top spot based purely on Jethro Compton's performance as The Boy (it really, really, really is exceptional), but it has been my ongoing reaction to it (specifically when telling other people about how incredible it was). The only thing I really wish now is that I could get a copy of the letter I read out, because I can't remember half of it.

  2. Shadows of Angels
    "It's not a show that's going to send you out into the night feeling elated and upbeat about life, but it is a compelling piece of theatre, and one I highly recommend."

    A piece of theatre has never hit me quite like this one did... and even The Boy James hit me in a different way. This was a beautifully understated production, brilliantly written and masterfully performed.

  3. Shakespeare's Queens: She-wolves and Serpents
    "That's part of what I truly love about this show (and it's predecessor), the way the two women can switch from Regan and Goneril to Fairy Queen Titania to Lady Macbeth to Anne Boleyn to Cleopatra and make them so distinct and unique with nothing more than their skill as actresses and an army of scarves plus the occasional bit of jewellery. Oh, and a couple of killer corsets."

    My reactions to both Shadows of Angels and The Boy James are the only thing stopping this from being my favourite show of the Fringe. Everything about it was exceptionally good and I hope Straylight return next year to give us another healthy dose of Shakespeare's ladies.

  4. La Soirée
    "La Soirée is the theatrical equivalent of a dégustation menu. Tiny portions of divine experiences are offered up for tasting, representing so many different flavours and the very best and most unusual items the performers have to offer."

    This was definitely a major highlight of my 2012 Fringe Adventures... two hours of amazing talents, some half naked gentlemen, plus a snog!

  5. Kaput
    "I would quite happily put this show alongside both of the shows by The Boy With Tape On His Face."

    Kaput set the overall positive vibe for my Fringe Adventures... it's a whimsical idea beautifully performed by a passionate, skilled and engaging performer who just happened to be a very attractive gentleman.

  6. Soap
    "I can't remember when I've ever been to a show where the finale left me quite so amazed and, frankly, slightly aroused."

    Wet. Half naked. Flexible. Beautiful. Men.

  7. Wilde Life
    "Using the work of Oscar Wilde as the basis for an ornithology lecture, and having the actors play the roles as birds in human form is one of the more unique approaches to a performance that I've seen this year."

    And just to think, if I hadn't been bored and spinning one of those poster covered triangular signs at the bus stop, I would never have discovered this!

  8. Dirk Darrow - NCSSI
    "But I will say that there's nothing quite like coming out to a room full of strangers, hooked up to a "lie detector" while being interrogated by a faux 1940's detective."

    I think this snuck slightly higher up the list purely because I ended up on stage taking part. However, a little like Kaput, this was a perfectly realised idea, performed by a very enthusiastic and attractive gentleman. Plus I'm now warming to the idea of audience participation.

  9. The Terrible Infants
    "And it's a beautiful show... full of whimsy, music, puppets, beautiful stories and great performances."

    They're creepy and they're kooky, mysterious and spooky, they're all together ooky, Les Enfants Terribles... actually I'm not sure they're spooky or ooky... and creepy is possibly up for debate... but they are very talented!

  10. Imperial Fizz
    "He (David Calvitto) mixes cocktails, She (Beth Fitzgerald) poses on the chaise longue... and then they start to verbally deconstruct their relationship... and each other."

    I do love some sharp, acerbic dialogue.

  11. L.O.V
    "What I did enjoy about the stylised parts of the show was the way they used the language. It sounds a little silly... but it felt rich and meaty as I was hearing it... you could roll it around once you'd heard it."

    Very different to what I was expecting, but beautifully performed!

  12. Carnally, Where Do We Go From Here
    "Like I said, it's not an easy show to explain, but it's something that I don't think I'll forget in a hurry."

    Evolution in fifty minutes, giant inflatable tentacles and a mesmerising lead.

  13. The Cagebirds
    "Fortunately though, with a couple of minor exceptions, this was a fairly strong production overall. I think this was aided by the fact that this was the final performance of an admittedly short run, but I think everybody was in their groove."

    I won't be surprised to see some of this cast's names pop up in future Fringe performances.

  14. Pratchett Pieces Three
    "Fortunately enthusiasm does count for a lot and often carry across some of the bumpier elements."

    I'll be keeping an eye out for the next Unseen Theatre Company production... especially if it happens to feature the Witches.

  15. No Such Thing As Normal
    "The Off The Wall Troupe are definitely a group to keep your eye on... because sooner or later they're going to be cookies... or possibly a diamond... and I'd very much like to see them again when that's the case. Until then, there's nothing wrong with raw cookie dough!"

    The only reason this ended up so far down the list is the overall high quality of everything else that I saw. It was good, and the performers have the potential to be great, they just need to push it all the way to 11. Oh, and get more guys involved.

  16. Ellipsis
    "Overall, I came out of it not being completely sure what the hell I'd just witnessed. And given that the rest of the audience also sat there in silence with their headphones still on after Hart had left the stage, I don't think I was the only one."

    This was definitely one of the "what the hell was that" performances. It wasn't bad, it was just perhaps a little too many experimental ideas crammed into one show and at the same time slightly less intense because of it.

  17. Crowned
    "I still can't quite put my finger on where their delivery was lacking though... they were enthusiastic enough... and they had plenty of passion and fire... and they weren't bad by any stretch of the imagination... there was just something a little bit lacking."

    It's often hard to the The Bard well... this was good, but up against something like Shakespeare's Queens it did come up a little short although I still can't put my finger on exactly why.

  18. Pegging Up The Sky
    "Griffin is a skilled puppeteer, Ciel moves, dances and emotes and you buy into it completely."

    This is another show that suffers from the fact I saw a lot of really good things this year. I may keep my eye out for Griffin's name next year, she was very good as what she does, it was just that other external things got in the way.

  19. Science of Fiction - Doctor Who
    "And I'm not completely sure even they knew who the show was aimed at... there was a lot of talking about theoretical scientific theory for a show featuring clips with really bad special effects... and sometimes a little simplistic for a room full of, presumably, science fiction geeks."

    The fact that this falls so far down the list is possibly more about me than it is about the show. I don't think I really realised exactly what show it was going to be (which I should have, since the first word in the title is "science"). But at the end of the day I saw a lot of things that were a great deal more entertaining than this.

  20. Eventyr - A Garden Story
    "The image that appears with this post is incredibly misleading... while three of the performers do get into either this shape or one very, very much like it, they're not in their underwear, and they're certainly not indoors. The image makes the show appear adult and maybe a little bit edgy, and is probably one of the reasons I wanted to go and see it. However it's very much a show for kids. There are some cute moments, but overall the story is incredibly simple and feels like it's aimed at the under 10 crowd."

    This turned out to be a lot less interesting than it possibly could have been. Add to that the fact that we were never notified about the change of location so we missed the first five or so minutes... plus the show ran 25 minutes shorter than advertised.

  21. LevelLess
    "This show doesn't seem to flow like the previous one did... things stop and start and feel very disjointed and segmented and the performers disappear for far too long."

    This was the most disappointing show I saw during the Fringe... Eventyr was fairly bland, but given how much I enjoyed the show from Theatergroep WAK last year, I fully expected to LOVE this year's show. But it was just a big mess and not a worthy successor in any way!
So that's it... bring down the tents, pack up the Garden, turn theatre venues back into empty spaces... and we'll see you all again in 2013!

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fringe: wilde life

front row theatre's wilde lifeFor me, this year's Fringe has been very much about the use of language... and that being the case, 3BProduction's production Wilde Life was truly a fitting end to my Fringe experience.

Using the work of Oscar Wilde as the basis for an ornithology lecture, and having the actors play the roles as birds in human form is one of the more unique approaches to a performance that I've seen this year.

But it totally works...

A large amount of Wilde's work concerned love, marriage, the differences between men and women and translates easily to the idea that you're watching creatures in their natural habitat going through elaborate mating rituals.

The whole thing is pulled together by the slightly Riff-Raffian Jack Daw, played with much delight and scenery chewing (in a good way) by Gary Kliger. He sets up the scenarios, drawing the analogies between Victorian England and the natural history lecture.

After a brief introduction he brings on the other plays... Ed Bone as an often somewhat creepy Mature Cock... Julie Bray as the very plump Ageing Hen... Ruth Lyons as the Breeding Hen... Laura Meldon in a "breeches role" (a term I hadn't come across before tonight) as the Juvenile Male (or Young Cock as I kept think of her)... and Rosanna Brennan as the pretty little Juvenile Female.

I really wanted to be disappointed by the fact that they didn't have a handsome young man in the role of Juvenile Male, but that only lasted a minute or so once Meldon stepped on stage. While the other actors would often switch between bird-like motions and more human gestures, the Young Cock was every inch a bird the whole time... Meldon breathed such life into him with little twitches, head tilts, birdlike poses and brilliant darting eyes.

She was so good that my eyes were constantly drawn back to her even when all she was doing was standing on the opposite side of the stage from where I was supposed to be looking.

Lyons also imbued her character with some great bird-like qualities, especially during the "Importance of Being Earnest dominance battle" with Brennan. And once Bray revved up with her clucking old hen, she was hilarious.

But there really wasn't a bad performance in it. Bone was a little weak at times later in the play as the Mature Cock, he did well with the early "father" role though.

The costumes are also brilliant... Jack in his glossy black suit with shiny feathers... the three hens in their slightly drab, tightly corseted dresses accented with feathers and little bits of shiny teal bling... and the two cocks in their highly colourful, peacock inspired frockcoats and cravats.

And the on-stage transformation of the juvenile hen from a very believable chick to a corseted hen was brilliantly done.

Writer/director Anne Grant and writer Julie Bray pick all the classic bon mots from Wilde's repertoire and group them into scenes as well as taking particular portions from Wilde's plays (the aforementioned Earnest as well as An Ideal Husband).

It reminded me a little of Shakespeare's Queens in that regard... using text away from it's original work to illustrate a point.

I didn't even mind the couple of songs thrown into the mix, and usually that's the kind of thing that would really bug me.

It just go to show that great writing is timeless and it doesn't really matter how you present it. Fortunately, in this case, the presentation more than lived up to Mr Wilde's prose.

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