February 19, 2015

Companies willing to take risks put vibrant creativity centrestage

Filed under: 2015,Archive,Fringe

Adelaide Fringe 2015

by Duncan Graham
Presented by Hannah Norris
Holden Street Theatres. Until March 14.

Mush and Me
by Karla Crome
Lip Sink Theatre
Holden Street Theatres. Until March 15.

Destroyer of Worlds
by Caleb Lewis
Rock Surfers Theatre Company
Tuxedo Cat, 54 Hyde Street.
Until February 28.
Bookings :
Fringetix phone : 1300 621 255.

The Fringe in Adelaide is misnamed. It doesn’t skirt the edges of the city, it envelopes it. For four weeks the CBD is buzzing and everyone is off to see something. The program bulges progressively bigger – last year 970 events, this year 1,058. Venues get ever busier – The Garden of Unearthly Delights at Rymill Park and the enlarged Royal Croquet Club in Victoria Square – and long queues gather to see stand-up comics and grunge burlesque.

Theatre in the Adelaide Fringe is a high risk venture and, in the Darwinian struggle to find audiences, talented companies can sometimes be left demoralised and out of pocket. All the more reason, then, to salute and celebrate the vibrant creativity that so many bring to this festival.

At Holden Street Theatres, the enterprising Martha Lott has again assembled a program of local, interstate and international shows.  Adelaide playwright  Duncan Graham’s Cut, a Hitchcockian thriller, featuring the excellent Hannah Norris, with nifty design by Elizabeth Gadsby, plays in a small room to a full house of eighteen. A young flight attendant looking into a mirror has a premonition of danger before a flight. For sixty brisk minutes we sit through sensory deprivation blackouts, sound immersion and aircraft safety drills until, tautly directed by Graham, her story – of the man with eyes like ashes – cuts to the intriguingly ambiguous chase.

Mush and Me, a recent success from the Edinburgh Fringe, is one of several productions sponsored by Martha Lott to perform in Adelaide. Directed by Rosy Banham, this UK two-hander, deftly written by Karla Crome, features Jaz Deol as Mush and Danielle Isaacs as Gabby, two young telemarketers who start to fancy each other. Their desks are adjacent, but they are bridging a large divide: he’s Muslim, she’s Jewish – and each, in their way, is devout and dutiful.

Described by the company as “a tale of faith, family and bacon butties”, Mush and Me is richly observed and warmly acted. It is funny and tender, but also about cultural barricades and very inconvenient truths. At a time when historical enmities have deepened and rhetoric has sharpened, this bright, splendidly performed play plausibly imagines new possibilities.

In a different key, Destroyer of Worlds, from inventive Caleb Lewis and Rock Surfers Theatre Company, is about Lewis’s breakup with his Drama School girlfriend, Lauren. No first names are changed to protect the innocent and even the author’s mum is interviewed on video for her p.o.v.

Many worlds collide here – Godzilla actor Haruo Nakajima appears as a character, as does Robert Oppenheimer, father of the atomic bomb. It’s a long bow to the detonation of an Adelaide romance but, as Lewis candidly (and poignantly) reminds us, that’s how it feels when the earth stops moving. With lively performances from Rebecca Mayo and Phil Spencer, and some gruff authorial intrusions from the playwright, Destroyer of Worlds is a brand-new Fringe treasure.

Murray Bramwell

“Companies willing to take risks put vibrant creativity centrestage” The Australian, February 19, 2015, p.16.

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