Adelaide Fringe. The Roundhouse, Garden of Unearthly Delights. 21 Feb 2024
If you think this is just some guy lurching around off his face while the others get on with the serious work of presenting a play, you’re way off base. Sure, this is MacBeth, but not as we know it.
Right from the start it’s made clear what we’re up for. Matt introduces himself as our host and compere, but as it turns out, he’s more a wrangler come nanny, with the assistance of a few audience members.
Matt proffers the evidence before the show begins; a drinks tray bearing the detritus of a pre-show binge; beers, apple cider and the remains of a bottle of Tanqueray (no craft gin here!). And just in case there’s a sobering moment – more beer! There’s a bit of audience required here, and oddly enough it’s all too willingly offered, vom bucket and all.
Banquo is the hapless recipient of this evening’s liquor largesse, and from the opening scene he makes clear that this Banquo is not the character we’ve come to expect. Not his fault. Stabbing all the witches was a good hint, and the Ed Sheeran resemblance doesn’t help.
This is a mixture of adherence to the plot and improv, with probably more of the latter by other players than expected. There is, of course, a fart joke in the first minute, and it all goes wayward from there. Matt has to warn Banquo to stop stabbing people, or there’ll be no cast left, and it does come perilously close.
While not riffing off the jokes, the cast make a reasonable fist of the highly edited script, and shades of the ‘tragedy’ attempt to filter through. They’re rapidly trounced however, and when Sweet Caroline is summoned forth, it’s all over. By the time audience member Adam, who has been co-opted as an assassin, finally gets his man, the audience no longer cares who wrote the bloody thing, or what all that strutting and fretting is meant to signify, but is instead whooping and hollering for Macbeth’s demise.
This is an entertaining night, but in reality, no-one needed to be trashed; the cast was quite happy to trash the play itself without the added impetus of alcohol. Still, who doesn’t like a good gin, eh?
When: 21 Feb to 17 Mar
Where: The Roundhouse, Garden of Unearthly Delights
Adelaide Fringe. Head First Acrobats. The Vault / Fools Paradise. 20 Feb 2024
One simple Fringe show and this is as good as it gets. An idea, great storyline riffing off Greek mythology and four supremely talented gymnasts. This is Godz.
Hercules, son of Zeus, joins his cousins Apollo, Dionysus and Cupid (presumably from the Roman branch of the family) at play, and the boys play up. The cousins are feeling frisky, wanting to tryst; Hercules is a little slower to respond. Gradually he seems to warm to the idea, but he takes his time and the others are less than impressed and begin teasing him.
And those Gods, they can be capricious. To a backdrop of handstands and handsprings, tumbles and acrobatic work, and feats of enormous strength, the story unfolds. Hercules is teased, cajoled, and felt up, his sexuality tested and probed, and he is seduced. His father, Zeus, is unimpressed and accompanied by the pulsating industrial score of Rammstein’s Du Hast Hercules is banished to Hell.
And yet Hell is the preserve of Hades, another of the Greek Gods, and Hercules has a great time and is lured into drug use. Poor Hercules, sent to a 1990s nightclub, given drugs, and seduced by statuesque figures clad only in linen shifts… This is all sounding suspiciously like an extended metaphor, isn’t it, kids?
Hercules is then sent to the Christian Hell as punishment: the soothing ministrations of Ave Maria ushered in three nuns and a chastised Hercules (Zeus had popped down to sort things out a bit) and a bit of aerial hanky panky on the slings. Around the time of the flying nuns it seemed things were losing their shit. It was all becoming a bit unwound; the narrative was no longer making sense and if a soundtrack featuring The Chills and Straitjacket Fits had turned up I’d have been no more surprised.
As a storyline it makes a great deal more sense, and thank goodness it does, because Godz is a superb showcase for what the Fringe could and should be. It challenges. It takes chances. It titillates and it does not take its audience for granted. This is real Fringe, real skill, beautifully honed and superbly presented.
When: 20 Feb to 17 Mar
Where: The Vault / Fools Paradise
Adelaide Fringe. Showmen Productions. The Moa, Gluttony. 19 Feb 2024
The Moa is a fabulous space; a huge tent with stage and runway, and thankfully air-conditioned. And the chairs are comfortable! The venue suits Circus The Show and sightlines are good for the smaller people in the audience.
The traditional clown opens the entertainment, albeit in a low-key manner, before the show ‘officially’ begins. Quietly but firmly, the audience is drawn to the clown's hapless cleaning skills and valiant attempts at performing tricks for the show.
As the Ringmaster bursts onto the stage, the show begins! Our clown is relegated to stage hand.
And so the acts tumble onto the stage (sometimes literally), one after the other in short bursts, interspersed by the Ringmaster’s schtick, and our clown’s continual mismanagement. Glow-in-the-dark hula hoops spin around a lithe body, basketballs are sent spinning and juggling. Shawna the aerial artist stuns with a magnificent turn on the aerial ribbon, Jessie spins around on a giant hoop and Ricardo desperado, the ‘Mexican juggler’ throws his clubs around with gay abandon.
Sam (also appearing in Justin’s Big Balloon Show) makes an appearance and delights the audience by levitating young audience volunteer Ava!
It's an action packed show and the audience is involved all the way. Enough belly laughs and wonderment for the kids, and plenty of fun to be had for adults as well.
The finale is the clown doing the giant balloon trick. Having just seen it in a previous show, it was no great surprise, but it’s still pretty darn funny. Entertaining for all the family.
When: 19 Feb to 17 Mar
Where: The Moa, Gluttony
Adelaide Fringe. Interactive Theatre International. Ukiyo, Gluttony. 18 Feb 2024
The thing kids really love about theatre is being involved in it. Oh, and slapstick. This show has both in spades, and literally had kids rolling around on the floor.
Signor Figaro is the head chef, and today he has called in sick. Signor Baffo, currently the head (possibly only?) dishwasher takes the call to close the restaurant for the day, but at the urging of the audience, decides to realise his dreams and create the food on the menu. How hard can it be?
The thing is, no matter how much you rehearse a children’s show, the moment you invite them on stage it’s anyone’s game. That’s often the delight with this genre, and Signor Baffo did not disappoint. In attempting to prepare runner beans (cue sight gag here) and make a sausage roll (no guesses required here), Baffo involved everyone in his hapless attempts to get this right. There were a few flat moments, but once he got into the meat balls and spaghetti all was forgiven. Tennis will never be the same again!
But it was the pancake making exercise that shone for the little ones. As the uncontrollable pair of wacky brothers stole the scene, rolling around the flour dusted floor, Baffo improvised brilliantly, pulling everyone back into line, though not always for very long! Getting children to lay eggs, taking baby milk from the audience for the pancake mix and finally tossing them every which way, he had those short people in the palm of his rubber glove clad hand.
A most entertaining hour in the kitchen, enjoyed by kids and adults alike!
When: 18 Feb to 17 Mar
Where: Ukiyo, Gluttony
Adelaide Fringe. Presented by Showmen Productions. The May Wirth, Gluttony. 18 Feb 2024
As the lights go down in the May Wirth, a montage of shots from a television show shines from the stage. Fanciful creations made entirely from balloons have the audience gasping with delight. Turns out they are from Blow Up, a television competition which the excited Justin tells us he actually won! No one was more surprised than him!
Justin goes on to give us a potted history of his background in circus and magic, and how his newfound love of ballooning has led to the creation of his new show, which combines all three. And like all good shows, it starts off with a bit of fire action, and an assistant appearing seemingly out of nowhere.
There’s a lot of interaction with the kids in the audience, and they just love it. One is chosen to go inside the big balloon-filled glass box (which immediately reminds me of the kid who crawled inside one and had to be smashed out, but that’s another story) and according to a message inside one of these burst balloons it’s decided that Justin will make a poodle, apparently the first animal he ever made.
And so he does, a nice compact poodle, which he gives out to an audience member. But then he’s presented with bigger balloons, so makes a bigger poodle. And then again and again, until he’s making huge, man-size poodles which of course no one wants to take home with them because they cannot fit them in the car!
Sam, his partner and friend (who also features in Circus The Show) is introduced to assist with some of the act. Juggling, illusions, some magic and a bit of life philosophy; Justin had it all. Of course his wacky assistant (Imaginathan?) had to have his moment to shine – an enormous balloon went over his head, and his body, until he was jumping around the stage fully enclosed!
It’s great to see a new show for kids in the Fringe, and this is a winner. It’s interactive, it’s funny, it’s clever and it makes kids want to emulate what’s going on. Justin brings an energy and authenticity to the stage that kids immediately relate to, and the adults don’t think it’s half bad either!
When: 17 Feb to 17 Mar
Where: The May Wirth, Gluttony