Saturday, February 28, 2015

Theatre: Ubu and the Truth Commission (★★★)

Handspring Puppet Company
Conceived and directed by William Kentridge
Written by Jane Taylor
Puppets and sets designed by Adrian Kohler
Cast: Dawid Minnaar and Busi Zokufa
Puppeteers: Gabriel Marchand, Mandiseli Maseti and Mongi Mthombeni

Heath Ledger Theatre
24 – 28 February

Ubu and the Truth Commission was an important marker in both South Africa’s theatre and its wider history.
It was a cry of outrage at the ease with which many of the perpetrators of the worst crimes of Apartheid were allowed to use edited versions of the truth and smooth, practiced contrition to sidestep the consequences of their vile activities.
It reminded us that generals fight from behind; that, more often than not, the hand that signs the paper escapes the manacles that ultimately shackle those of the instruments of its policies. 
The difficulty in approaching Ubu now, almost two decades later, is that its historical context theatrically, Alfred Jarry’s nineteenth century proto-absurdist Ubu plays, honed by their surrealist and Brechtian successors, now blurs its actual historical context, making it hard to know exactly what we are watching, and to what purpose.

Theatre: The Paper Architect ★★★★

Created by Davy and Kristin McGuire
Performed by John Cording
CIA Studios
Until March 7

Two of PIAF’s biggest hits tell of a man and a girl searching for each other. One attracted a huge audience, the other sold out instantly after a frenzied demand for tickets.
The main difference between The Giants and The Paper Architect is the little matter of their characters’ scale – 11m tall on the one hand, 8cm on the other.
And, like Circa’s Paul O’Keeffe, spinning a cigarette paper propeller on his finger last week, The Paper Architect shows that the very best things in a festival can come in its tiniest packages.


Link here to the complete review in The West Australian.   


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Theatre: I Wish I Was Lonely (★★★)

Written and performed by Hannah Jane Walker and Chris Thorpe
STC Rehearsal Room
Until February 28

Whether you’re amazed by the sea of pedestrians glued to their tiny screens as they walk down a street in Hong Kong, or find yourself fuming at an intersection in Perth as the person in the car ahead of you texts away, oblivious to the green light they’re wasting, there’s no escaping the mobile phone.
It’s hard to believe that they took hold only twenty years or so ago, and that smart phones have been with us for less than a decade, such is their impact on our lives.
In their I Wish I Was Lonely, the British writers and performers Hannah Jane Walker and Chris Thorpe ask us to contemplate that impact, and the way our human interactions have been channeled and changed by them.


Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Fringe World 2015 wrap

So many shows, so little time!

Turnstiles managed 51 Fringe World shows (one twice) this time around, reviewing 33 of them for The West Australian (plus one I’d reviewed previously).
Of them, I rated exactly a third at four stars or better (the “betters”, for the record, were Venus in Fur, The Bookbinder and Sex Idiot). That’s a terrific return on investment, perhaps twice what you would usually expect, and testament to the quality on show. 

Those fifty shows represent less than ten per cent of the Fringe World programme, which demonstrates what a mighty undertaking it has become. 
Artrage, the festival director Amber Hasler, and her crew, deserve congratulations for what has been achieved in such a short time by Fringe World.
I was also able to attend a number of productions that I wasn’t reviewing for The West (for which I thank the Fringe and show producers and publicists). Far too briefly, they were:

Friday, February 20, 2015

Theatre: A Circle of Buzzards (★★★)

Written by Nathaniel Moncrieff
Directed by Joe Lui
Performed by Austin Castiglione, Jeremy Mitchell and Ella Hetherington
PICA
Until 21 Feb

In Steve Earle’s song, A Gringo’s Tale, two American men strike up a conversation at a bar in an out-of-the-way Mexican town. One is a tourist; the other is a fugitive, hiding from some shadowy CIA operatives.
Substitute Australians for Americans, Spain for Mexico and an Australian mining company called The Saetón Group for the CIA and you’ve got the set-up for Nathaniel Moncrieff’s tidy little thriller, A Circle of Buzzards.
What Earle neglected, and Moncrieff has made the engine of his narrative, is the identity of the tourist, and his reasons for being in the bar plying his companion with drinks.


Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Theatre: Moving On Inc. (★ ★ ★ ★)

Written and directed by Mikala Westall
Lighting and sound designer Joe Lui
Performed by Nicola Bartlett, Harriet Gordon-Anderson and Barnaby Pollock
Until February 21

The actor Mikala Westall impressed in her recent performances in Will O’Mahoney’s Great White and Joe Lui’s The Tribe. Now she has a play of her own, Moving On Inc., and has come up trumps first time.
Westall’s jumping off point is the little known profession of cleaning up the effects of the deceased. What interested her in particular is the idea of tidying up all those memories, allowing everything that people were to move on into their eternity.
Abby (Harriet Gordon-Anderson) and her boyfriend Sam (Barnaby Pollock) are taking her late dad’s effects into the bush to burn them. There’s something – or someone – on the road, and Sam can’t get the car started again after he swerves to avoid a collision.
An older woman, Ruth (Nicola Bartlett) appears, and seems to be more interested in what the couple are planning, and know more about the effects they plan to do it to, than makes for a relaxing evening.

Theatre: The Defence

Baste the Bagel
Written and directed by Chris Dunstan
AV designer Alex Perritt
Sound designer Kirby Medway
Performed by Catherine McNamara, Brett Johnson and Douglas Niebling
Until February 21


(★ ★ ★ ★)

The bizarre, sometimes shocking, aspects of Chris Dunstan’s The Defence, shouldn’t obscure that it is an extremely well made, disciplined play with an impressive degree of cultural literacy and some important points about gender, power, and the theatre, to make.
In it, the boy’s club mentality of the rehearsal room is paralleled with wider issues of gender indignities and the pervasive undertow of sexual violence. Dunstan manages to make his play both pornographic and hilarious (though, I must warn you, not everyone in the audience saw the humour, and I can’t criticise them for that).
I got an urgent text from someone telling me not to miss this “surprise Fringe hit” after its opening night. It was good advice – you should take it too.




Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Circus: Beyond

Circa
Created and directed by Yaron Lifschitz
Lighting designer Jason Organ
Performed by Robbie Curtis, Rowan Heydon-White, Bridie Hooper, Kathryn O’Keeffe, Paul O’Keeffe, Skip Walker-Milne and Billie Wilson-Coffey

(★★★★)

Regal Theatre
Until January 21
 

As the primary colours combine to produce the whole palette, everything a circus acrobat does is made up of combinations of Catch, Hold, Lift, Balance and Spin; Beyond is a pure expression of those elements.
We quickly learn that gender is there to be inverted. Beyond’s strong man is a woman, and its men are putty in her hands.
There’s beauty too. Hooper takes to the air on straps as Amanda Palmer sings Radiohead’s Fake Plastic Trees; Billie Wilson-Coffey climbs the tissu to Camille O’Sullivan’s lovely take on The Ship Song.
Paul O’Keeffe provides the highlight of the show. He folds a cigarette paper into a tiny shape and spins it on the tip of his finger like a miniscule propeller. Spectacle and span dissolve into a moment of infinitesimal wonder.

It’s an ensemble full of circus stars, and a gasp-eliciting night of circus art.


Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Theatre: F*@k Decaf

by Tyler Jacob Jones
The Cutting Room Floor
Directed by Scott Corbett
Designed by Timothy Green
Performed by Amanda Watson, Ann-
Marie Biagioni and Jack Walker.
The Mary Street Bakery
28 May – 14 June 2014



(★ ★ ½)
  
I first saw this snazzy little play in June last year, and was delighted to see it having a Fringe World run. There are a couple of changes: the Fringe season is at the Frisk Bar in Francis St, Northbridge, and the actor playing the barista is now Monty Sallur, but, after a second look, everything I wrote then still applies. F*@k Decaf travels next to Adelaide for their Fringe, at the Nano Café from Feb 25 - Mar 1, and if you are reading this in that fair, distant city, I heartily recommend it to you.

When T.S. Eliot said “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons”, he knew what he was talking about. So does Tyler Jacob Jones.
His F*@k Decaf, which has just finished its run at the Mary Street Bakery in Highgate, is a zuzzed up little triumph of sharp observation and café society comedy, made even more so by piping-hot performances by Amanda Watson and Ann-Marie Biagioni.
Jones is the real deal, I think. Like many others, I heard about Point & Shoot, his Martin Sims Award-winning hit at the Perth Fringe this year, too late, but the terrific F*@k Decaf sees him join talents like Jeffrey Jay Fowler and Will O’Mahoney in the first rank of Perth’s exciting young playwrights.


Link here to the original review in The West Australian

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Theatre: Undermined

By Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi and Luke Brown
KBT Productions/ Here Manje
Adapted and directed by Tara Notcutt
Songs and choreography by Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi
Performed by Stefan Erasmus, Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi and Luke Brown
Teatro 2 until February 19


(★★★★)

Young Madlebe has reached manhood in his village of Hluvuko in Mozambique. It’s a bone dry, harsh place, and his warrior father, Nkosi, only manages to sustain the family because of his hunting skills.
Madlebe is determined to earn money to help support his family and to marry his sweetheart, Yemala. For Madlebe, and many thousands of other Mozambicans, this means South Africa, and for many of them, that means the mines.
The production, directed by Tara Notcutt – who has become as driving a force at the Perth Fringe (she has brought four quality shows to this year’s festival) as she is in independent theatre in South Africa – accentuates the strength and energy of its hero. Its episodic, comic strip form briskly propels the narrative and provides plenty of action and humour along the way.


Stefan Erasmus, Luke Brown and Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi
The three performers, who each play Madlebe at different times in his story, combine wonderfully in the stirring songs and dances created by Mkhwanazi through which, along with some inventive physical theatre, most of the story is told.
They represent the different ethnicities of the new South Africa, with all its dark legacy and vast human potential. Its theatre, in the hands of Notcutt and others of like mind and talent, is a window into that world, so like ours yet so distinct, in its past and uncertain future, from us.


Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Undermined runs until Feb 19, and Notcutt’s other remaining Fringe production, Last Rounds, until Feb 21. Fellow South Africans Jemma Kahn and Glen Biderman Pam’s The Epicene Butcher and Amateur Hour both run until Feb 22. I strongly recommend them all.               

Theatre: Not I, Footfalls, Rockaby

by Samuel Beckett
Royal Court Theatre
Directed by Walter Asmus
Designed by Alex Eales
Lighting designer James Farncombe
Sound designer David McSeveney
Performed by Lisa Dwan
STC Studio
Until February 20

(★★★★½) 


Not I, Footfalls, Rockaby consists of three short pieces performed by the Irish actor, Lisa Dwan. It is exemplary theatre art, and an intense sensory experience.
Not for everyone, perhaps. Certainly not for the woman behind me who celebrated its conclusion with a hissed “Thank God for that” (she had been whispering, not always quietly, to her companion throughout, mind you, and needs to take a good, hard look at herself).
Not I, Footfalls, Rockaby is a dark diamond in the heart of our festival season. Its stillness and silence are eloquent among the bells and whistles.


Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Cabaret: Gillian Cosgriff is Whelmed

Written and performed by Gillian Cosgriff
PICA
Until 21 Feb

(★★★½)

What’s not to like about Gillian Cosgriff? She’s smart – seriously smart – spunky (both meanings), funny, sweet, sings well, plays at least okay, and has arms that go all the way up to her shoulders. All of it at 27, a baby in this game.
The performers she gets compared to, Tim Minchin, Kate Miller-Heidke, Claire Bowditch, read like a who’s who of something or other, but you get the picture. An hour with Ms Cosgriff is not one you’re likely to want back.
For all that, Whelmed is an odd little show. It’s a grab bag of stories and songs with a loose unifying theme something along the lines of “Gillian Cosgriff is a smarty-pants”.
Perhaps Whelmed is a breather between more substantial, revealing work, or an example of the time it takes an artist to fashion talent into vision.
Either way, it's a show you genuinely can enjoy while you wait for Gillian Cosgriff’s real thing to come along.



Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Theatre: Last Rounds

The Pink Couch
Written and directed by Tara Notcutt
Performed by Rebecca Makin-Taylor
Blue Room and PICA until 21 Feb

(★ ★ ★ ½)

Recent Fringes have been elevated by some remarkable South Africa theatre, much of which comes courtesy of the writer/director Tara Notcutt, and it’s been impossible to ignore the number and quality of one-handers written and performed by women this year.
Last Rounds, Notcutt’s story of a young woman’s hopes and their destruction, performed by the arresting Rebecca Makin-Taylor, ticks both of these boxes.
Even though it may not have quite the excoriating power of her own …miskien or the depth of insight of Claire Lovering’s River, Last Rounds is an engrossing character study and a wonderful opportunity for an actor with the range and chutzpah to take it on.



Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Theatre: Thread

Written and directed by Elena Zucker
Little y Theatre Company
Performed by Mischa Ipp
The Velvet Lounge
Until Feb 18

(★ ★ ★)

Mischa Ipp returns to Perth with Thread, a taut, intense cyber-thriller written for her by New York playwright Elena Zucker, in whose work Ipp has appeared several times. There’s no doubt that the playwright and actor have a deep understanding of the other’s talents and motivations.
Zucker’s writing is dense, sometimes almost hallucinatory, and Ipp is a fine vehicle for it. There’s too much to take in, let alone think about, to make Thread entirely successful, though. While some of the points Zucker makes, either directly or indirectly, are deeply insightful, they still need to be ordered and given more space for an audience to take in and respond to.
When she does, she’ll have a very interesting, thought-provoking play. She already has the actor it needs.


Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Theatre: Waves

Alice Mary Cooper
The Stables
Until February 12

 (★★★★)

The extraordinary story of Elizabeth Moncello, the Australian girl who invented the butterfly stroke and took it to triumph at the 1938 Berlin Olympics, had completely eluded me until I heard it told by Alice Mary Cooper in her beautiful monologue, Waves.

Cooper met Elizabeth last year, in the final months of her long life, in a nursing home in Edinburgh, where they both lived. The 95-year-old lady was still sharp, still swimming, and little by little Alice learned about her, and her incredible life.
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Oh, like most great stories, in fact as much as fiction, there’s a twist. This one, uniquely, comes after the show is over, and makes what has gone before even more impressive.
Ask Cooper what it is on your way out.


Link here to the complete review in The West Australian



Saturday, February 14, 2015

Opera: The Rabbits

Barking Gecko and Opera Australia
Book by John Marsden and Shaun Tan
Adapted and directed by John Sheedy
Composed by Kate Miller-Heidke
Libretto by Lally Katz
Musical director and arranger Iain Grandage
Designed by Gabriela Tylesova
Lighting designer Trent Suidgeest
Sound designer Michael Waters

Performed by Kate Miller-Heidke, Hollie Andrew, Jessica Hitchcock, Lisa Maza, Marcus Corowa, David Leha, Kanen Breen, Nicholas Jones, Christopher Hillier, Simon Meadow and Robert Mitchell
Music by Iain Grandage, Callum G’Froerer, Kier Nuttall, Veronique Serrett and Dan Witton

Heath Ledger Theatre
Until February 16

(★ ★ ★ ½)

We’ve recently seen major stage treatments of the pivotal event in the history of our continent, the collision of its indigenous inhabitants with European colonisers. Now we have The Rabbits.
In the book upon which it is based, John Marsden and Shaun Tan parallel the overrunning of native animals by introduced species with the inexorable spread of colonising humans across the continent.
Perth’s Barking Gecko and Opera Australia are a natural combination to bring The Rabbits to the stage, and the result is very largely successful.
For all of us, the terrible story buried before and beneath our entitled lives needs telling and retelling, and The Rabbits, despite some flaws, is a significant contributor to that process.


Link here to the complete review in The West Australian
  

Circus: ZWÄI

Performed by Jonas and Esther Slanzi
Big Top
11 – 19 Feb

(★★★★)

ZWÄI, the circus of Jonas and Esther Slanzi, is dedicated to their artform’s aesthetic, rather than its spectacle. 

ZWÄI means “two” in their native Swiss-German. In a series of simple, graceful routines, using the bare minimum of equipment, a rope between two suspended pulleys, a small table and ten green bottles (sitting on the floor), the Slanzis play out an even-tempered story of teasing and enchantment – anything you can do, I can do better – between a couple.
Esther is an angel on a rope, slim, delicate and composed; Jonas, too, is no ordinary acrobat/strongman, with his pale skin and high forehead, he looks like a Werner Herzog character.

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Friday, February 13, 2015

Music: Big Kids Night Out

Peter Combe
Circus Theatre
Friday 13 Feb

In her review of Peter Combe’s daytime show for ungrown-ups, our Kate Prendergast perfectly caught the irresistibly silly magic than brews when Combe and kids get together. In an inspired bit of programming, the Fringe had him back later – much later –when the tackers would definitely, absolutely be asleep (and not able to laugh at us), for another spin through his fantastic repertoire, this time for adults.
I realised, as I listened to Combe doing his only cover, George Harrison’s sweet, limpid Here Comes The Sun, that, like The Beatles, it’s a much stronger and deeper connection than mere nostalgia that brought these grown-ups back to hear these songs again. 
For them, Peter Combe and his music have never made way for other toys.





Link here to the complete review in The West Australian, and here for Kate Prendergast's review of Combe's kids' show.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Theatre: River

Written and performed by Claire Lovering
The Blue Room
February 10 - 12

(★ ★ ★ ★)

Claire Lovering emerged from WAAPA as the dux of her class in 2011, and made an immediate impact in four Black Swan productions. Then she vamoosed, to Sydney, as they do.
She’s back, with a little one-hander called River, and it’s a terrific, touching character piece that’s an early Fringe highlight.
Lovering’s writing (workshopped and dramaturged by Sarah Giles) is assured, balanced, observant and insightful. She controls its pace and temperature with great maturity, and brings it home with a sweet, beautiful performance. I can think of nothing to criticise.
 

There are going to be encore performances from February 10 – 12. Check the Fringe World website for details. 

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Theatre: CONCRETE: heartbeat and Yours the Face

Two solo shows visiting Perth for Fringe World come with strong pedigrees and big wraps, but neither set the house on fire.

 









CONCRETE: heartbeat (★★★)
kdmindustries
Created and performed by Mark Haslam
PICA Studio
Until 14 Feb

One of the great joys of my distant childhood was a View-Master stereoscope and the crude but magical 3D images on its reels.
Mark Haslam’s CONCRETE: heartbeat shares that enchantment, but when the visuals were absent, or static, Haslam’s words and performance lacked the intensity to make the piece truly compelling.

Yours the Face (★★½)
By Fleur Kilpatrick
Quiet Little Fox
Directed by Sarah Walker and Robert Reid
Performed by Roderick Cairns
The Blue Room
Until 7 Feb 

Yours the Face is the story of an affair between an Australian photographer and an American model in London, both played by WAAPA graduate Roderick Cairns.
It’s a disappointment, despite Cairns’s impressive talent and skilful direction by Sarah Walker, who also designed the photo-shoot set, and Robert Reid. The story meanders through hackneyed high-life scenarios to tedious sexual adventures and a fiery twist too soggy to ignite.


Link here to the complete review of both shows in The West Australian    

Friday, February 6, 2015

Theatre: Yoshi's Castle and Monroe and Associates

The indie stars at The Last Great Hunt have made a serious splash at this year’s Fringe, reviving two hits, Elephents and Bruce, and unveiling Fag/Stag, Yoshi’s Castle, and Monroe and Associates. They are all very tidy additions to the Perth based, internationally touring, company’s repertoire.

 






Yoshi’s Castle (★★★½)
Written and devised by Gita Bezard
Devised and performed by Arielle Grey and Adriane Daff
The Stables
Until 9 Feb

Yoshi’s Castle is a sweet confection with just enough tart in its centre. Tilly (Arielle Grey) and Yoshi (Adriane Daff) are half-sisters gathered at their deceased dad’s house to reveal the contents of his will.
Despite the fun and games of their reunion, there’s wariness between them, because Tilly can’t, or won’t, tell her sister the whole story of why she’s here.
Yoshi’s Castle is a Fringe hour very well spent.

Monroe and Associates
Created by Tim Watts
The Blue Room
Until 21 Feb (sold out)

Tim Watts, working with his dead clever dad Anthony, has created a devilish little crime noir world in a caravan parked outside the Blue Room.
You’ve woken up in Sunset City hospital, but you don’t know who you are. Over the next 45 minutes you’ve got to unscramble your past – and try to stay alive doing it. It’s the movie you always wanted to be in, superbly engineered by Watts.
The rest is what you make of it, including the star rating. I’m giving myself ★★★★. 


Link here to the complete reviews in The West Australian

Theatre: Tatterdemalion

Flabbergast Theatre
Written and performed by Henry Maynard
Deluxe Theatre
(★ ★ ★ ★)

Henry Maynard’s adventurous career includes a stint as the head of Tophorn in War Horse on the West End and heading up UK’s award-winning Flabbergast Theatre (who also brought Boris and Sergey's Vaudevillian Adventure to this year’s Fringe).
All of which is good training for his marvellous little Tatterdemalion, and especially for performing it to a young couple, two twenty-something girls, a guy with an artist’s pass and a passing reviewer, in the tiny Deluxe Theatre in the Fringe’s Pleasure Garden on a hot summer afternoon.



Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Theatre: Fag/ Stag

The Last Great Hunt
Written and performed by Jeffrey Jay Fowler and Chris Isaacs
PICA
Until 7 Feb
 

(★★★★)

Corgan and Jimmy are BFF. Or, more accurately, Corgan is Jimmy’s SBF and Jimmy is Corgan’s GBF.
Corgan and Jimmy are 28 and at a crossroads in their life, even though they don’t quite realise it and haven’t the faintest idea how to handle it.
At a loose end, Jimmy moves in with Corgan, and their two worlds collide with unintended consequences.


Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Theatre: Sex Idiot and Fake it ’til you Make it

Life is art for Bryony Kimmings, warts and all.
Whether it’s the search for the source of her STD in Sex Idiot, or her relationship with her clinically depressed fiancée in Fake it ’til you Make it, the art she makes from her life is courageous, outrageous, dangerous and, above all, free.
That freedom is the core quality of her art.







Sex Idiot (★★★★½)
Written and performed by Bryony Kimmings
Circus Theatre
Friday 6 Feb

 In Sex Idiot, Bryony discovers she has contracted an STD and resolves to find its source, starting, logically enough, at the beginning.
It's a dazzling cabaret of songs, dance, stunts and gags, one act for each of her lovers. Kimmings excoriates and self-excoriates, weeps and laughs – at us, herself, and the whole damn thing.
Kimmings is utterly fearless and completely herself. I can’t recall when I’ve seen an artist so comfortable in her own skin. 


Fake it ’til you Make it (★★★½)
Written and performed by Bryony Kimmings and Tim Grayburn
PICA
Until 7 Feb 
The same courage makes Fake it ’til you Make it tenderly affecting. Kimmings’ fiancée Tim Grayburn is on stage with her; his illness can cripple and endanger him, and it’s clear that Kimmings uses her creative skills to support and protect him. 

The love between the two of them is palpable, but so is Kimmings’ terror when Grayburn doesn’t reply to her texts, or she sees an open window and suddenly thinks the unthinkable but entirely possible. 
It’s been a revelation to see this remarkable artist at work in both her Fringe shows.

Link here for the complete review of both shows in The West Australian

Theatre: Venus in Fur


By David Ives
Black Swan State Theatre Company
Director and costume designer Lawrie Cullen-Tait
Set designer Patrick Howe
Lighting designer Joe Lui
Sound designer and composer Brett Smith
With Adam Booth and Felicity McKay
STC Studio
Until February 8


(★★½)

Felicity McKay (pic: Gary Marsh)
It’s the end of a long, dismal day for the director Thomas Novachek. He’s auditioning actresses for his adaptation of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s novella Venus in Furs, and no-one’s come close to nailing the part.
He’s packing up to leave when a girl called Vanda Jordan bursts in, overcoat and duffle bag, blonde hair dishevelled: “Am I too late? I’m too late, right? Fuck. Fuck!” (that last expletive somehow extended to three syllables).
It’s a fabulous entrance and a taste of what’s to come in David Ives’ delicious layer cake of a play-within-a-play-within-a-book, Venus in Fur.

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Theatre: 2 Ruby Knockers, 1 Jaded Dick

Written and performed by Tim Motley
Teatro 1
Until March 4

(★★★)

I’d completely forgotten that Tim Motley, the American/ Australian comedian, was also a magician, and that his faux noir character, Dirk Darrow, solves his comic cases by mindreading as well as more traditional gumshoe techniques.
It wasn’t because of the battering my increasingly marginal memory gets in the frenzy of Fringe, or that I last saw him, in Dirk Darrow NCSSI, was at the end of a particularly dud-filled evening a few years ago.
It’s because Dirk Darrow is such a great character, and Motley so good at playing him, that the magic tricks were superfluous and unmemorable. It’s a bit of a shame that the denouement is a bill-in-a-sealed-envelope trick – impressive though it is – rather than a bad guy with some extra holes in him and a grateful broad giving him an invitation he can’t refuse. 



Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Theatre: Promise and Promiscuity


Written and performed by Penny Ashton
With material from Jane Austen
Teatro 2, Pleasure Gardens
Until Feb 3

(★ ★ ★  ½)

One can only imagine what Jane Austen would have made of the Fringe, but I suspect she would have been pleased by Penny Ashton’s one-woman homage to her, even if a little taken aback at times.
She would have remembered some of the lines, though, because she wrote 33 of them, strategically sprinkled throughout seventy minutes of drawing rooms, carriages and, especially, balls.
Austen also would have also recognized the story. Lovely (but dangerously nerdish) Elspeth Slowtree battles against the marriage plans of their Mama for her and little sister Cordelia. Meanwhile, she is secretly earning a small income writing pirate stories for the local paper, The West Quiglian, the family having been left in genteel poverty by their late father.
Suitors come and go, but then — here comes love, in the form of the dashing Reginald Wrexham. Their minds meet, their hearts do too. Before you know it, Reggie is off to seek the blessing of Lady Wrexham for their nuptials. Uh oh…

Monday, February 2, 2015

Theatre: Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind

The Neo-Futurists
Created by Greg Allen
Written, directed and performed by Paige Saliba, Willie Caldwell, Olivia Kingsley, Ryan Good and Mike Puckett
Teatro 2 until February 4

(★★★★)


Just quickly, here’s how Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind works (the title, by the way, is of no particular significance). The cast undertake to perform 30 plays in 60 minutes, in an order selected by the audience from a “menu” in the programme. Each play ends when a cast member shouts “Curtain!”; the next begins when one of them shouts “Go!”. Each week between two and twelve of the plays are replaced with new pieces devised by the cast during the week.
So it’s not improvisation in the particular sense, but it feels like the best of that unpredictable genre. There are plenty of laughs, some pointed statements, an underlying sense of surrealism, and a beautiful synchronicity amongst the cast and between them and the audience.
Not to be missed.


Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Music: From a Small, Distant World

Written and performed by Rachael Dease
With Brian Kruger, Hayley-Jane Ayres, Aaron Wyatt, Tristan Parr and Jozef Grech
Art Gallery of Western Australia until 31 January

(★★★½)

There is something ethereal about Rachael Dease, the West Australian composer/performance artist who won the inaugural Martin Sims award for City of Shadows at the 2012 Fringe.
Her mesmeric aura and powerful mezzo-soprano voice give her a potent stage presence, and a high musical intelligence and cultural literacy inform all her work.
Dease takes her otherworldliness to a cosmic level with From a Small, Distant World, a suite of eleven songs inspired by the Voyager project that sent two satellites to Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus in 1977.


Link here to the complete review in The West Australian