It's been over a week since I went to my last show and I've watched, somewhat sadly, from the bus each morning as both the Garden and Gluttony are dismantled and returned to regular and slightly dull parks (albeit with a little bit more albino grass than before).
Weirdly, while I don't feel like it's been the busiest Fringe, I did equal my previous record of 24 shows (although this was 22 Fringe and 2 Festival)... but I think that was more about sensible planning. And with having to shuttle back and forth picking Ma up and dropping her home a number of times plus staying up late writing show reviews, I did end up a little sleep deprived by the end of the month.
The German Club, Live on 5 at Adelaide Oval and Brick+Mortar where all new venues for me this year. I'd never actually set foot in either the German Club (I saw 3 different shows there) or Adelaide Oval (sadly just the a single show).
The Peacock at Gluttony also had 3 visits, but we only managed 1 trip to the Royal Croquet Club, but given the new location for RCC, I was okay with that... it's a little less convenient now than it would have been if I was still living in North Adelaide.
I very much invoked Rule 3 during this Fringe... on about 5 separate occasions (7 if you count the Festival shows), I was able to give feedback directly to the performers and tell them how much I appreciated or loved the show or just their performance. I'll be honest, Rule 3 is my favourite of the Fringe rules... especially because you get to see them light up knowing that you appreciated what they did.
Once again I forgot to put star ratings on my reviews... I've left myself a reminder where I'll see it this time, so that should help. I also need to look at the way I tweet out my reviews if the Fringe Twitter account continues to retweet a massive amount of content like they did this year.
As far as shows go, while there were some low spots, it was a remarkably good year overall, and even the ones that fell to the bottom of the list had moments that I enjoyed.
The first 5 shows on the list are exceptional this year... each of them was brilliant. In a lesser year, any of them could have been number 1. And I would stack these top 2 against my top pick for any of the other years. They're essentially as close as close can be.
It's only at about the three quarter mark that they they really start to dip into shows that I didn't necessarily connect with.
- Night Creature
"I feel like to say any more would spoil the experience, but I cannot recommend seeing this show highly enough, it is a perfect little gem that was washed up at my feet."
I certainly hope that I saw this on a slow night and that they had bigger crowds at other points in their run... but if not, I was lucky enough to witness something rare, and so unique and special that only a select group of people saw. This show touched me emotionally (although I still don't know completely why, and I'm okay with that) and was the first thing that I mentioned to everyone who asked me what I'd seen that was amazing (even though it was only on during the first part of the Fringe).
- The Chemsex Monologues
"I laughed, I welled up, I got mad both at and for the characters and most of all I felt for these four people."
Like Night Creature, this was something that I just wasn't prepared for... it was brilliantly acted, wonderfully written and I had no idea it was going to be something I loved as much as I did.
- Signifying Nothing
"And, you know what, it works... it works to perfection. It really shouldn't... but it does."
It's not pure Shakespeare, and I think that's what makes it work as brilliantly as it does... and Nicola Bartlett steals every scene that she's in with her amazing, nuanced performance.
- Stories in the Dark
"But mostly it's amazing and sweet and just filled with such rich and wondrous words by authors throughout time."
I love Fringe experiences like this... even understanding what was about to happen, the reality of being told stories in pitch blackness was one of those experiences I'll hang onto.
"There really aren't enough words to do Barbu justice... it has to be seen."
It's beards, it's Canada, it's sexy men (and women), it's crazy circus done just right.
- Altar Girl
"The language is modern, with the occasional Shakespearean phrase thrown in. And setting the play in what feels like the latter half of a party means that everybody is primed for drama when it begins."
I think I can safely say that without Jeni Bezuidenhout as Lara, this show may have ended up further down the list. She drew me in, captured my attention and was the shining star of this production.
"Elixir is what happens when you put three incredibly talented showmen together under one roof."
Harris, Gorham and Thomas have created a show with a simple premise but one that is hilarious and engaging from beginning to end. Plus, they show you their underwear.
- Blanc de Blanc
"It is, in equal parts, a chic 1920's Parisian hotel staffed by the insane and a debauched cabaret of flesh and champagne."
This was another instance where I didn't completely know what I was walking into, but discovered that it was the kind of place where I felt right at home.
- Panti Bliss: High heels in low places
"Panti is without doubt a queen well worth your time."
She is, in fact, an Irish National Fucking Treasure™... and a hell of a storyteller.
"That's kind of the point of Fauna I think... it's not big, over the top, dramatic tricks for the most part, but everything that they do, they do with an immense amount of power, strength and control which is even better as far as I'm concerned."
It comes as no surprise to me that Fauna won both the Best Circus/Physical Theatre award in Week 1 and the overall Emerging Artist award for this year's Fringe. The company has an amazing pedigree (pun optional given the theme of the show) and the show feels incredibly polished.
- Half Hour Hamlet
"To keep the level of performance at around 11 for the whole half hour show really shows how skilled he is as a performer and an improviser."
This year I was Hamlet, so it was something of an atypical experience having the play directed mostly at me... and I can never fault Patrick on his energy.
- Shakespeare's Menage a Trois
"Where they all really shone were as the players... White was pompous and hammy... Drury radically transformed... Anderson manages a very meek lion but the standout was Shaw... she was hilarious, rolling her eyes at Bottom and making Wall more than a little naughty."
A sweet little sampler of Shakespeare with some genuinely hilarious moments.
- Sound and Fury's Sherlock Holmes
"If you've never been to a Sound and Fury show, what have you been doing with your life?"
I'm still hoping that one day they bring back either the Dirty Fairy Tales (my first ever experience) or Testaclese and Ye Sack of Rome (which I've seen the video for but never in the flesh) or both... but for now, all Sound and Fury is good Sound and Fury.
- Puppetry of the Penis
"There is just something odd about watching guys contort their penises into all manner of shapes and configuration."
I'm glad that I waited until now to see this show, Barry Bisco and Rich Binning were worth waiting for, and it's not often you get to just watch two guys play with their junk for an hour... well, not with that many women in the room anyway.
- Unplotted Potter
"It was still a very funny show, and one I would recommend to any Harry Potter fan."
These shows are always very hard to review as you never know exactly the version you're going to get on any given day... but this cast gave what they were presented with their all, and you can't ask for much more than that.
- Shakespeare's Waiting Room
"The gold star has to go to the waiting room receptionist though... not just for her amazing facial expressions throughout each and every audition, but also when she gets a chance to really cut loose, she's amazing."
Thinking back on this show, I feel like the location hurt rather than helped and this would have been better suited to a small room somewhere. Also the fact that this was advertised as 90 minutes but barely ran for an hour didn't make for the best impression. It's a shame because the performances were strong.
"It was an interesting take on the Danish play though."
I was most impressed with Aarod Vawser's various performances here, but also the choice to cast Hamlet as a woman and portray a "lesbian" relationship with Ophelia is worthy of both mention and kudos.
- Coral Browne: This F***ing Lady!
"Browne sounds like she was a witty old broad who had one hell of a life and Mooy portrays all of that with a twinkle in her eye and many a wry smile to the audience."
I hope the issues with Mooy forgetting/calling for lines was resolved later in the run, because it marred an otherwise good show.
- The Package
"While I enjoyed the story, I wouldn't say that it'll be one that stays with me (comedy genitals notwithstanding)."
There wasn't really anything wrong with this show, it was just that it was never exceptional.
"If the word adorkable was ever going to apply to a Fringe performer, then Razi would be it."
Having seen some of the more impressive Fringe magicians in past years, unfortunately Razi fell a little bit short... but he was very sweet and his contact juggling was amazing.
"I fully acknowledge that I have very high expectations for this kind of show, but sadly this one just didn't get there."
The performers are highly skilled (and I discovered later that one of them was involved with or filling in on Elixir, which says a lot), but I just feel that the show would have benefited from a more experienced director/choreographer to tie everything together.
- The Baby Farmer
"I just couldn't connect with the material as much as I would have liked, it just felt like there were just too many layers of artifice in the way between me and it."
This wasn't a bad show, by any means... like I said in the initial review, I just was never able to find my way into it like it needed. I did wonder after the fact about the folk from the Baby Farmer and the folk from The Package getting together and reworking this show using the somewhat creepy puppets... now THAT I could get behind.