March 06, 2012

Multiple perspectives on feeling and falling

Filed under: 2012,Archive,Fringe

March 3, 2012

Adelaide Fringe 2012

Adelaide Fringe
Bookings : FringeTix, 1300 FRINGE
February 24 – March 18

It is an understatement to say the Adelaide Fringe is thriving, its continued expansion is simply extraordinary. Last year’s program set new records with 729 listed events, and now, in 2012, it has ramped up to 923. In these cautious, even gloomy times, nothing, it seems, is deterring artists – aspiring and established – from putting on a show.

Celebrating ten years of operation, the Garden of Unearthly Delights , in Rundle Park close to Adelaide’s popular East End eateries, is a favourite focal point for a cluster of venues featuring comedy, cabaret, circus and music. In the first sweltering Adelaide nights of their short season intrepid performance troupe Cantina packed out the Vagabond stage with their gamey stew of acrobatics, contortion and tightwire acts. Led by the dexterous Chelsea McGuffin and saturnine rope artist Mozes, the group artfully blends music hall crooning, eye popping physical precision and a dark subtext of sex and danger.

Bubbling with energy and virtuosity is Soap: the Show – seven performers, including operatic diva Patricia Holtzman, emerge from a bevy of bathtubs for a non-stop spectacle of juggling, bodyflips, aerial spins, water jokes, operatic solos and, using lyrics from Bobby Darin’s Splish Splash, musical parodies of Handel, Beethoven and Zorba’s Dance. Directed by Markus Pabst and Maximilian Rambaek, Soap is good clean burlesque.

Also at the Garden for the Fringe season is the sharp-witted eccentric Sam Simmonds with About the Weather, his cleverly constructed free-associating monologue about being incapable of small talk and having an obsessive compulsion for remembering seventies jingles. It is status anxiety for slackers, and, when he bursts into his version of the Gillette commercial, neurotically funny.

Holden Street Theatres, located near Hindmarsh Stadium, are again presenting a raft of events. UK group The Terrible Infants use puppetry and music to tell guignol tales of little Beatrice whose hair becomes a beehive and Thingummyboy who is so overlooked he disappears from view. It is stylish clever comedy, musically droll, and genuinely plays to all ages.

And chosen by Holden Street’s Martha Lott as the best of Edinburgh Fringe 2011 is Scottish company Tumult in the Clouds with two shows, Fleeto and Wee Andy. Fleeto, Glasgow slang for street gang, is a turbulent account of a knife crime committed by Mackie (Jordan McCurragh), a young kid drawn into the comradeship of a crew by the vengeful Kenzie (Neil Leiper).

Written by Paddy Cunneen (and crisply directed by Andy Clark) it is verbally ferocious but with an almost classical cadence, as it echoes Homeric situations – such as when Mackie contrives to meet the mother of his victim, which the playwright compares to Priam recovering the body of Hector. In fine Brechtian fashion, this outstanding play tells its story from multiple perspectives and offers powerful insight into what often seems like unfathomable cruelty.

XXXO, at the XSpace, Adelaide College of the Arts, is not too deep for tears – in fact it’s about crying out loud. Using laptops and projection screens, Belgian actors Nathalie Marie Verbeke and Charlotte De Bruyne , tearfully recreate scenes from Titanic and Boyz in the Hood, Bambi and Sex in the City. They rub onion on their eyes and watch the saddest puppy on YouTube. But this is not just a crying game, as they astutely examine whether we really know any more the difference between mawkish sentiment and real feeling.

Murray Bramwell

Published in slightly abridged form as “Multiple perspectives on feeling and falling” The Australian, March 5, 2012, p.15.

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