February 18, 2018

Adelaide Fringe 2018


Next Stop Romance as Edinburgh imports cut straight to the heart

Love Letters to the Public Transport System
by Molly Taylor
February 14.
Holden Street Theatres until March 1.

by Henry Naylor
Gilded Balloon and Redbeard Theatre
February 14.
Holden Street Theatres until March 18.

Company 2
February 17.
Empire Theatre, Royal Croquet Club
Until February 25.

Bookings : or phone 1300 621 255.
Duration: each show 60 minutes.

The Adelaide Fringe has switched on. With the opening night Parade of Light, a series of installations illuminating North Terrace for the duration of the festival, the program of more than 1200 events has begun. The largest arts event in the Southern Hemisphere, and second only to Edinburgh, the Adelaide Fringe is an un-curated colossus which transforms the city.

The theatre program alone lists some 130 events and, again this year, Holden Street Theatres, are among the first out of the blocks with a selection of critical successes direct from Edinburgh.

Many commuters might think Love Letters to the Public Transport System is a cruel oxymoron. But Molly Taylor’s monologue, an artful panegyric to tubes and trains and buses, is a disarmingly tender account of a private life acted out in public space. It is about love gone bung, and love – in a chance meeting at the White Horse pub – reawakened.

The course of events never does run smooth but that doesn’t stop Taylor wanting to write and thank the drivers at Virgin Rail and London Transport, especially Barry Henshaw, for connecting her, Tam, Margaret and other travelling souls in the Greater London area, with the chances, coincidences, destinies and destinations that make up all our serendipitous lives. Love Letters is a wryly-pitched reminder that the transports of the heart can surprise us, especially when they don’t run to schedule.

Borders is the fourth play in UK writer Henry Naylor’s outstanding Arabian Nightmares series. Echoes and Angel have already performed at Holden Street in recent Fringes and this newest work deserves the acclaim it brings with it from the Edinburgh season.

Crisply directed by Michael Cabot and Louise Skaaning, Borders charts the progress of Sebastian (Graham O’Mara) an ambitious photojournalist who, after gaining accidental fame meeting and photographing Osama Bin Laden, abandons news for lucrative celebrity portraiture. It also presents the utterly different life of an unnamed young Syrian woman (the excellent Avital Lvova) besieged in Homs and taking revenge on her father’s death by defacing images of the Assad regime with graffiti.

Naylor’s alternating monologues are exhilarating in their pace and vivid detail. The description of the eventual crossing of paths – as Sebastian documents the perils of the nameless young artist’s refugee boat in the Mediterranean – is both timely and thrillingly dramatised.

Unless you are a cardiologist you may not know that Tetralogy of Fallot is a congenital heart defect. Circus performer Marianna Joslin was diagnosed at the age of six and has had two major surgeries with a third still to come. Fallot is her story, told partly by Joslin as factual narrative but mostly using circus routines and gymnastics featuring Olivia Porter, Phoebe Armstrong, Jake Silvester and Casey Douglas.

There is a pulsing soundtrack, Porter shimmies up a scarlet drape into a wire frame shaped like an anatomical heart. The trauma of surgery and then the fragility of recovery is expressed with pathos and verve. Fallot is not yet fully dramatically resolved but is an intriguing idea bravely ventured – in true Fringe fashion.

Murray Bramwell

“Next stop romance as Edinburgh imports cut straight to the heart”, The Australian, February 20, 2018, p.11.

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