April 02, 2013

Fringe serves up a mixed bag of delights

Filed under: 2013,Archive,Fringe

March 19

Adelaide Fringe 2013
February 15 – March 17

Second only to its Edinburgh counterpart, the annual Adelaide Fringe, now running over four weeks, has an uncurated program of over 900 events – gathering exponents of cabaret, circus, dance, music, and theatre, as well as hosting more than 360 comedy acts, many limbering up for the next leg to Melbourne.

Household names and talented newcomers alike, Fringe artists generate an energy, skill and enthusiasm which captivates audiences and galvanises the city.  This year attendances were up again by 10.9 percent with more than 400,000 tickets sold.  Director Greg Clarke cites a longer season, affordability and audience appeal for the increase.

With pop-up venues all over town, as well as the established Garden of Unearthly Delights in Rundle Park, the Fringe turned every nook and cranny into a show space.  In the Garden, at the Big Top, the hyper-acrobatic, hip-hop troupe Circolombia blended physical spectacle with a reminder of the chronic poverty that is Colombian street reality. Elsewhere at the Vagabond, German illusionist Leo, aka Tobias Wegner, climbed walls, moved objects and triumphantly defied  gravity,  using a real time video feed which, in a 90 degree swivel, transformed his strange  horizontal contortions into vertical amazement.

Each year, Holden Street Theatres sponsor recent hit shows from Edinburgh. This time it was UK company Second Shot Productions’  Glory Dazed, a gritty drama about the impact of  21st century warfare on returning veterans. Devised by writer Cat Jones, in consultation with ex-soldiers from an offenders unit in England, and featuring  Samuel Edward Coulson in the lead role, it was confronting theatre.

At The Tuxedo Cat, Melbourne collective ONFG’s  One for the Ugly Girls, by Tahli Corin and featuring Syd Brisbane, Lori Bell and Hannah Norris, provided  a shrewd take on the stereotypes of beauty and romantic love. This excellent  production has a season at Melbourne’s  Malthouse  in May.  At the Bakehouse, in the monologue I am My Own Wife, directed by Craig Behenna, Charles Mayer, deftly presented  the extraordinary, true story of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, a transvestite who survived both the Nazi and Stasi regimes in Berlin.

In other solo shows, Venezuelan born, Adelaide based, actor Alirio Zavarce  presented his energetic and absorbing  Book of Loco, a freewheeling exploration of life in two hemispheres, the ubiquity of  “rational madness” and the grief of family loss. And, in another  Fringe surprise, Emma Beech’s droll and quietly observed Homage to Uncertainty proved a sure thing.

Murray Bramwell

Published in slightly edited form as “Fringe serves up a mixed bag of delights” The Australian, March 19, 2013, p.17.

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