February 21, 2014

Carnival transforms the city and there are plenty of Fringe benefits

Filed under: 2014,Archive,Fringe

Adelaide Fringe 2014
February 14 – March 16

The voluminous Adelaide Fringe opened last Friday. Defying recent torrential rain large crowds lined the streets for the night parade of performers and floats including a luminous disco cuttlefish. With a record 978 shows, including 473 Australian premieres, and box office at record levels, this vast, uncurated festival, second only to the Edinburgh extravaganza, transforms the Adelaide CBD into carnival.

New this year is the raffishly named Royal Croquet Club celebrating the re-opening of the newly landscaped Victoria Square. The Garden of Unearthly Delights, a familiar fixture at Rundle Park, continues to energise the East End café and pub scene attracting crowds to its big tops, little tops and spiegeltents. In the month long program in the Garden early favourites are emerging.

Canadian shadow puppeteer, Jeff Achtem’s whimsical Swamp Juice, presents a raggedy tale of critters and monsters energetically and wittily managed from a range of contraptions and all created in full view, much to the gurgling delight of family audiences. Accompanied by a stylish jazz trio, Achtem completes this swampy saga with some terrific low-fi 3D projections.

Debuting exactly a year ago, Limbo returns to the Garden, tweaked and sharpened into a first class show. While musical wizard, New Yorker Sxip Shirey delivers a mercurial live score with startling vocal effects and a miscellany of instruments, the dazzling Limbo performers merge seamlessly into non-stop spectacle. From hand balancer Danik Abishev to gravity-defying pole master Mikael Bres to fire-eating sword- swallowing vamp Heather Holliday, Limbo does everything but stand still.

In the extensive Fringe theatre program, the international companies are first out of the blocks. At Holden Street Theatres, Ana Graham and Antonio Vega founders of Mexican company Por Piedad Teatro use charmingly simple staging, with chalk illustrations on blackboards, for A Special Day, a short play, set in Mussolini’s Italy, about a brief encounter between a weary housewife and an unemployed radio announcer. Originally a 1977 film by Ettore Scola, A Special Day is touchingly recreated for the stage.

Sponsored by Holden Street from Edinburgh comes UK company Snuff Box with Bitch Boxer by Charlotte Josephine featuring Holly Augustine as Chloe a young hopeful for the London Olympics. After an over-eager opening this monologue settles into a poignantly detailed account of a girl grieving for her father and discovering that, as in the boxing ring, some battles are a waiting game.

And if you wondered whether you wanted to go a musical lecture on Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, the answer is absolutely yes. Dauntingly titled, Relativitively Speaking is a smart, funny exploration of Einstein, the man and his works. Written and performed at Holden Street by the energy-emitting John Hinton (with Jo Eagle on the Einsteinway piano), it is a theatrical chain reaction.

Murray Bramwell

Published in amended form as: “Carnival transforms the city and there are plenty of Fringe benefits” The Australian, February 21, 2014, p.12.

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment