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February 22, 2017

Light and heat in Adelaide Fringe

Filed under: Archive,Current,Fringe

Adelaide Fringe
Theatre

Scorch
by Stacey Gregg
Prime Cut Productions
February 15.
Holden Street Theatres until March 19

Angel
by Henry Naylor
Redbeard Productions
February 15.
Holden Street Theatres until March 19

We Live by the Sea
by Alex Howarth and Cast
Patch of Blue
February 17.
The Black Forest, Royal Croquet Club
Until March 19.

Bookings : adelaidefringe.com.au or phone 1300 621 255.

The Fringe has once again inundated Adelaide’s  inner city and environs and, after Saturday night’s luminous parade, is open for strolling business. The Garden of Unearthly Delights and Gluttony return to familiar sites at the East End and the Royal Croquet Club has now set up its tents by the River Torrens.

The Fringe program lists 1357 events and, second only to Edinburgh in its scale, offers an uncurated smorgasbord ranging, as ever, from the sublimely extraordinary to the potentially horrendous. In theatre alone there are 149 listings in locations including The Bakehouse, GC at the German Club, and Tandanya.

Holden Street Theatres, guided by Martha Lott, have again scheduled excellent productions, including sponsoring recent Fringe award winners from Edinburgh. Scorch, by Belfast writer Stacey Gregg, and vibrantly performed in the round by Amy McAllister, is a revealing, sometimes confronting, depiction of Kes, a teenage girl gender-transitioning to the boy world.

Gregg’s narrative swirls with hip hop cadences, social media namechecks and Irish patois, as Kes (named for the Ken Loach film about a boy and a kestrel) finds a soulmate  and falls disastrously into legal peril in the innocent pursuit of love.” I flew too close to a star,” Kes says, and the audience feels the heat. Scorch is splendidly poised, and McAllister is outstanding.

Following last year’s Echoes, Holden Street is presenting another play from the trilogy Arabian Nightmares by UK writer Henry Naylor.  Angel also is topical and gives a human voice to the Syrian crisis as Rehana, a young woman from Kobane in Northern Syria abandons her studies in law to join a women’s militia and rescue her father who has remained to repel ISIS attacks on their  besieged  town. Based on actual events, Angel describes how Rehana became a lethal sniper and a mythic hero of the resistance to Islamic State.

Tautly directed by Michael Cabot, this monologue is fresh, sometimes funny, suspenseful, and compellingly presented by Avital Lvova, as she describes the catastrophic events which changed Rehana’s situation from ordinary, secular Westernised life as a student to the killing fields of cruel and barbaric invasion. Angel is another early Fringe four star highlight.

We Live by the Sea, researched and written by Alex Howarth, in collaboration with the cast of Yorkshire company, Patch of Blue, is a richly detailed, gently presented study of autism as experienced by Katie (memorably played by Alex Brain) a high school student parented by her loving , often exasperated,  sister Hannah (Alexandra Simonet). Katie has an invisible friend (made visible by Lizzie Grace) and meets Ryan (Tom Coliandris ) who has demons of his own.

While candidly portraying the difficulties and isolating effects of autism, this play captures the intensity and originality of Katie’s experiences and the warmth and insight she brings to others. Tender, but never mawkish, with a lyrical musical score, We Live by the Sea is an excursion well worth taking.

Murray Bramwell

“Light and heat in the Adelaide Fringe” The Australian, February 22, 2017, p.15.

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