I'm not going to lie, going past The Garden on the bus every morning this week as they slowly pull it all down has made me a little misty.
Clearly I'm both very sad about the 2016 Adelaide Fringe coming to an end but at the same time I'm very glad to be able to just do nothing with my evenings again.
Seeing 25 shows (originally it was 24 but there was a late addition) in four weeks wasn't actually as traumatic as I feared it might be... I'd spaced things out enough to give me some breathing room, even if I did double and sometimes triple book myself on certain evenings. I could probably have seen another couple of shows a week to be honest, it was more dealing with the general public that wore me down (as always).
The end of this year brings me to a total of 120 shows since 2009, which is pretty impressive given that it started as a whim, turned into a leap of faith and is now something that I couldn't imagine NOT doing... and, to be honest, kind of judge the "oh, I should see something before it's all over" people.
Like the last couple of years, this year has been a mixture of brand new acts and returns of old favourites. There are some folks it would seem unthinkable NOT to go and see (Gravity and Other Myths, Le Gateau Chocolat, Sound and Fury, anything that Jethro Compton is involved with), whether they're returning with variations on the same show or bringing brand new pieces to town.
But there have also been a number of acts this time around that may find their way onto that list if they come back again, especially if they had other shows we never saw this time around like Trick of the Light who brought The Bookbinder and The Road That Wasn't There, Casus Circus with Tolu and Knee Deep.
I think this has been one of the best years for overall show quality... There's shows that I highly recommended to people sitting around the half way point on the list. And some of the shows aren't so much arranged the way they are because they were better, but because it's too hard to put things all at the same level.
During this year I did consider adding a five star rating system much like I use for movies... I'm not sure how much it will help me come this time of the year, but it may be a useful addition. So this is more of a note to future self.
So after all the rearranging and juggling all my reviews... this was my 2016 Fringe experience...
"Let's get this out in the open right away... Fag/Stag from The Last Great Hunt is a brilliant piece of theatre."
And to think, this is a show I very nearly didn't see... it was without doubt the highlight of the festival.
- The Bookbinder
"There isn't really a lot else to say without ruining the story... except to say that if you love stories... or books... or stories about books, then it's a show that you should go and see."
This was such a perfect little show, if they bring their other show back next year, I'll be first in line for tickets.
- A Simple Space
"One of the things that sets Gravity and Other Myths apart from almost every other physical theatre group we've seen is their showmanship... they always make the audience feel like they're part of each trick."
How many possibly ways are there to say sublime?
"What really set this show in its own unique category was the sweetness and gentleness of the performers and the way that made them approach those tricks."
Acrobatics and circus tricks meet school yard play... granted I would have liked to see the all guy version, but this was so beautiful.
"Everybody is at the top of their respective games and they make you WANT to hoot and holler and cheer and clap until your hands are still tingly over two hours after the show has finished."
One of these days I'll win that raffle... I wonder how much it would cost to buy a whole book of tickets? But I'll keep going back for the sheer joy of it.
- Aaaand Now For Something Completely Improvised
"They were all very happy to let the story go where it wanted to, were more than happy to ambush each other, throw in random one-liners and go out of their collective way to make the show fantastically funny."
I've seen a number of improv shows over my time going to the Fringe, but I don't think I've laughed as hard or as much as I did at this show.
"Bicycle is high Victorian gothic, female empowerment (and disempowerment) and pedal power all rolled into one intriguing bundle."
A fantastic story, a brilliant location and a talented actress plus one bike made for a very memorable show.
"Because for any of us who were ever just an ugly duckling and never got to be a swan, finding other ducklings to share that with and knowing that sometimes it's okay just to be a duckling, is very important."
I love Le Gateau Chocolat at the best of times, but this show has such an important message and it's told in just the right way for just the right age group, it's something that could very well change the world.
"And it has a little of everything... comedy, action, romance, drama, science fiction and even a musical number, all while being thoroughly entertaining and engaging."
Who knew that a sponge could be so watchable? But then with brilliant puppeteers, anything is possible.
- The Bunker Trilogy (Morgana, Agememnon and Macbeth)
Morgana - "This really is the story of the relationship between Wood, Donnelly and Mathews, in a lot of ways the characters that Sanders plays are merely accessories to that relationship. "
Agememnon - "To me though, it's Mathews who really dominates this whole piece, flicking between the clear agony of a fatally wounded Agamemnon on the battlefield to the man that wooed Clytemnestra in the flashbacks which make up the other half of the play."
Macbeth - "I still believe that the way that Compton and Wilkes have streamlined Shakespeare's original story down to the pure elements of the relationship of Lord and Lady Macbeth and Banquo is one that the Bard himself would have heartily approved."
I'm grouping these three together under one, since seeing them one after the other makes for one amazing night of theatre. I can't wait until Jethro brings one of the other three part shows to a future Fringe.
- Scotch and Soda
"Then one of the down and dirtiest, quirkiest, most Lord of the Flies and yet well put together circus acts I've seen started in earnest."
I'd heard good things about this show going in, and I wasn't disappointed in the slightest.
- A Night at the Musicals
"And together they bring songs from the musical genre to the sacrificial alter and perform what can only be called a "drag-ectomy", injecting wonderful camp and drag sensibility into songs that you probably didn't even know you knew all the words to."
Le Gateau can bring any of his friends to visit any time he likes! One drag queen singing show tunes is good, two are amazing!
- Adam Richard's Splitsecondism
"As with all the previous shows, and any of the podcasts I've heard him on, it's when he gets to the storytelling that it really takes off. And also where I laughed the hardest."
Adam is one of my favourite Australian comedians, and while the show made me laugh my ass off, the very thoughtful and classy comment he left on my review post convinces me that, inappropriate jokes aside, he's a class act.
- UnPlotted Potter
"Actually there weren't any dud performances... everyone was definitely on top of their game."
Every time I see various actors in this troupe in different things they're always better than they were the last time.
- Half Hour Hamlet
"At only thirty minutes it's a tight show but never feels overly rushed, but rather is carried along by Hercamp's boundless enthusiasm and energy. "
Always my favourite Sound and Furian (don't tell the others), Patrick really did a brilliant job in his first solo show.
- Sound and Fury's Lord of the Thrones
"The show itself lived up to the level of insanity that we've come to expect from Sound and Fury, and I genuinely walked out of the venue with a face that hurt from laughing too much."
I always love seeing a new show from the Sound and Fury boys, they never disappoint.
"There are some lovely moments of personality, and not just in the table tennis sequences... the juggling sequence springs to mind."
Looking back on it, this was a little bit of a slow start, but once it got going I really enjoyed myself.
- William the Great
"Rickus and Solesse are pretty much worth the price of admission."
Seriously, if those two guys just did a double act show as the same two characters, I would definitely go and see them again.
- Three Birds One Cock
"The scenes where the three woman are interacting can best be described as "scenery chewing"... not in a bad way, but they do ramp up both the comedy and the crazy to about 11 in those scenes, Nunn and Miles especially."
There was a lot to like here... the ending was slightly uneven, but it wasn't bad.
- Total Nonstop Tricks
"They're not quite at the cookie dough stage yet, let alone cookies, but all of the required elements are there, the recipe is solid, they just haven't gotten to where they need to be."
The fact that these guys won the Emerging Artist award from the Fringe pretty much reinforces everything I said and thought about this show. They'll be a force to be reckoned with in the future.
- Down Down Lucifer
"There were some interesting moments, it just wasn't as much in my wheelhouse as I would have liked."
It wasn't a bad note to end the Fringe on, but it wasn't what I was expecting it to be.
- Exposing Edith
"In any event Burger walked the line quite well... her Piaf impression felt very authentic... or it channelled an older French woman perfectly, I don't really know enough about Piaf but I'm guessing it was a fairly accurate impression."
Part of the problem was that we missed the first half of the show... the other is that it didn't really grab me in the half that we did see. It was fine, but not great.
- My Life As A Gay Bum
"It's not the worst Fringe show I've ever seen, but it's definitely close."
I wish I'd taken the advice of all the other reviews of this that I read and just skipped it completely... it was a complete train wreck.