Hans: Like a German

Hans Like A germanAdelaide Fringe. The Garden of Unearthly Delights - Paradiso Spiegeltent.

Hans like a pop star is more like it, these days.

Matt Gilbertson packed the Spielgeltent to its rafters for his first show in the Garden of Unearthly Delights. The queue snaked on for ever around the tent and on the whiffy grass. Everyone was terribly excited; most of them already seasoned Hans fans.

Once people have seen Hans, they want to see him again. And again.

What is it about him? Is it being smothered by those terms of affection, all those "darlings" and "honeys"? Is it the self-deprecatory humour? Is it the idiosyncratic hotpants and bling costumes, all lovingly made by his mum? Is it the agility to hoof in boots? Is it the gags? Is it the sheer bravado?

It is the full package and then some.

Hans can throw out double-entendres, Mars Bar asides, and waspish vanities and still be the darling of straight men, old ladies and girls tottering on mega wedgies and riding the Soundcloud.

When not in off-the-shoulder spangles, Matt Gilbertson also travels the stations of YouTube and Vimeo. As the city's gossip writer, he depends on the zeitgeist. Which explains why he did not do ‘Gangnam Style’ in this show. It has had its day - in which time no one did it better than Hans and those stunning dancers of his, The Lucky Bitches.

The viral phenomena move on and this is a new show; new moves; new songs; new gags; new frocks. There's even an improved calibre to the voice, albeit Hans can casually throw in a few stray notes when he is out of breath. And there's wonderment. He is a toweringly big boy but he moves with such swift precision and hyper-kinetic skill that belies his size.

Backed by his mischievously-named band, the Ungrateful Bastards, he does a snazzy little tap routine in this show and you can hear the blokes in the audience muttering their admiration.

He picks on a few people, one in particular. On the first night this turned out to be a lawyer who took Hans's cheeky assaults in very good spirit. Hans takes this shtick right to the edge of acceptability and, although he knows when to stop, it adds a thrill of danger for the audience.

The longer he does it, the better our Hans gets. And the more beloved.

He is local boy made gloriously good. It's done with mirrors and hard work - talking of which, Hans noted, as he performed ‘Simply the Best’, that he was thrilled to work the mirrored venue of the Spiegeltent where, for the first time, his could enjoy a view of himself.

Hip grinding, singing in Spanish and German, strutting his enviable legs in fishnets, playing piano and accordion and belting out Beyonce, Matt had the audience eating out of his Hans. Again.

Samela Harris

When: 10 Mar
Where: Paradiso Spiegeltent
Bookings: adelaidefringe.com.au


Fugitive Windmill theatreWindmill Theatre. Space Theatre. 2 Mar 2014.

Fugitive is the first work created in Windmill's trilogy of plays concerning the awkwardness and fascination to be found betwixt childhood and adulthood.  While mainly playwright Matthew Whittet's take on things, director Rosemary Myers explains in the notes that the productions result from a multi-year collaboration of a group of artists.  

Fugitive was produced first, School Dance second and Girl Asleep third.  I saw the acclaimed School Dance in the 2012 Festival and thought it was a wonderful piece of work; it is reprised in this Festival.  I have yet to pass judgment on Girl Asleep, but Fugitive seems an immature first go compared to the more accomplished School Dance.

The healthy bones of creativity and surprise, the fast paced action, the vignettes of teenage angst and ecstasy are all there but they are more jumbled and disconnected within a fantasy plot leaving a lot of unanswered questions that even all the theatrical technical magic can't patch over.  What was in our hero's, Robin's, back pack that stunned the Sherriff's moth-ridden Star Wars-like storm troopers?  The only thing I had in my back pack in high school was last week's lunch, so maybe that was it.  Why wasn't a single other character curious enough to ask?  Why did Robin disappear and why did he come back?  At least somebody asked the latter question.  Why did Robin have such a rage that his Robin Hood-like good deeds were offset by his violence, bullying and thuggery?  What was the purpose of the white knight?  Do plays with heroes and nerds perpetuate this type-casting in the school yard?

The performances were highly energetic, almost frenetic.  Patrick Graham has a mischievous comic style with huge stage presence.  There are marvelous surprising production moments generated by a host of creative contributors; but if you ask me, skip this show and see School Dance if you haven't done so already.         

David Grybowski


When: 3 to 9 Mar
Where: Space Theatre
Bookings: adelaidefestival.com.au

[Disordered] Action of the Heart

Disordered action of the heartAdelaide Fringe. Migration Museum. 2 Mar 2014.

It's not light entertainment, this little production from Brisbane. It is very serious and sad. It is profoundly well-intended and well-researched.

It is about post-traumatic stress disorder and the way in which it was perceived in the past. The play is set in Egypt and centres around a soldier with shell-shock and the nurse taking care of him during World War One. Private Dylan Moxley can't get past the horror of the gruesome death of his close mate in explosive combat. Small triggers set off nightmare visions and flashbacks.

Nurse Nellie Morrice patiently tends to him and tries to keep him connected to the here and now. She is not optimistic about his prognosis but keeps up the professional front. From time to time he has dream visitations from his young wife in Australia. It is Christmas, his second away from his wife. There are letters, the most precious treasures. And a lock of her hair.

But he is very damaged. There are moments when it seems he is finding a functional norm but it only takes the chance for his mind to wander and he is back in the horrors. There are no real treatments for him, just recognition of the condition. He pulls himself out of the shuddering nightmares by sticking his head into a bucket of cold water.

The play, written by Craig Wood and James Trigg, is only an hour long, but it feels longer. It is torturous. It keeps inflicting poor Dylan's world upon one and it becomes one's own hopeless world.
It is made interesting and endurable only because of the high quality of the acting. Peter Norton and Sasha Dyer are skilled and focused performers and, in the quaint little space at the Migration Museum, performing in the round with just a chair, white sheets on a camp bed and a few tin buckets, they hold the mood and tension of the work and draw the audience into their world.

It noted that this play, directed by John Boyce, also pays tribute to the sacrifice and expertise of the nurses who served through World War One. The Red Cross was created after the outbreak of that war and this year celebrates its centenary. In acknowledgment, the production company, which has the very odd name of ‘One of a Pair and 3d Room Theatrical’, is giving a dollar from every ticket sale to the Red Cross.

Samela Harris

When: 3 to 8 Mar
Where:  Migration Museum
Bookings: adelaidefringe.com.au

One Man Show

Andrew Hansen Chris TaylorAdelaide Fringe. Laughing Stock Productions. Garden of Unearthly Delights – Paradiso Spiegeltent. 1 Mar 2014

Chris Taylor and Andrew Hansen of ‘The Chaser’ fame have taken to the stage in their favourite old town… um… Adelaide? (in-joke) with a new live showcase.

In true ‘Chaser’ style, this live show takes its content from real life and then parodies it. With a good mix of themed stand up and song, the pair have great control of the room and really keep the pace of the show hopping along.

Crammed like sardines into the Paradiso Spiegeltent, the audience still loves every minute of the 1 hour show. Familiarity with the pair certainly works in their favour, as their own unique brand of humour cuts through the act.

There is a handy instructional section on how to be the most annoying person on Facebook, a song for every outraged old person to relate to, and some onstage romance between a pair of (recently un-closeted) cops, whose love for each other and the law – or “laws” – becomes a source of conflict.

Naturally nothing is safe – not even Rolf Harris – but rest assured the boys could still be clearly heard over the whirring sounds of the Clipsal 500, which seemed to be located just outside the tent!

Their run is a short one, but one well worth catching – so if you miss it this time, well to quote the publicity, “An unforgettable evening of songs and laughter is guaranteed, in a different theatre nearby…” so don’t sweat it!

Paul Rodda

When: Closed
Where: Garden of Unearthly Delights – Paradiso Spiegeltent
Bookings: Closed

The Luck Child

The Luck ChildAdelaie Fringe. A-List Entertainment. Royalty Theatre. 2 Mar 2014

Waiting outside the Royalty Theatre one could sense a palpable air of excitement... and thatʼs just from the adults that the children had brought along with them. The reason? David Collins (half of the duo, The Umbilical Brothers). The children might not have realised what they were in for, but their parents certainly would have.

The anticipation continued once inside the vast old worldly auditorium with its red velvet curtains and faded opulence. How would The Luck Child, a one man show, go down at 10am on a Sunday morning?

Very well indeed, going by the continuos giggles from the 4 to 10 year old target audience and the laughs from the adults. Collins maintained connection with his wide age ranging audience through most of the 45 minute show apart from a couple of lapses, but as he quipped during the bows at the end: Who gets up at 10am on a Sunday morning? And the storyline? Surprisingly complex for a childrenʼs show, but made very accessible by Collinʼs skill as a mime artist, beat boxer, physical and vocal gymnast.

Set in medieval times far far away... or nearer depending on your mode of travel. Very close if you are using a flying dragon. The good wizard divines that the evil king will search out and kill the seventh born of the seventh child now grown into a man with six children and a very pregnant wife. The wizard sets out to find the child (as does the king). Mix in a mysterious river boatman, a large monkey and an impoverished travelling circus owner, and you get the makings of a cleaver vehicle for Collinʼs suburb range of physical and vocal skills.

The set? What looked like a collection of grey cardboard boxes stuck together forming a sort of mini wall. As the show opened up, so did the set. It morphed into a castle, a cave, a door and courtyard, and a few other things besides. Skilfully used by Collins to support the storyʼs journey. Simple but effective lighting and just a small dollop of pre-recorded sound which never detracted from Collinʼs performance presence.

Even the bows were fun, as all of Collinʼs characters (and there were many), took their bows - including the three headed dog. At the end of the bows, Collins  explainied to the children in the audience that this is what live theatre was all about and that he would be available in the foyer to be photographed by them; to be in photographs with them... whatever.

A generous performer. An old fashioned story telling experience by an artist with singular vocal, physical, mime skills that appealed to a very young audience and to the inner child in the adults accompanying them.

Martin Christmas

When: 7 to 16 Mar
Where: Royalty Theatre
Bookings: adelaidefringe.com.au

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