The Darker

The DarkerAdelaide Fringe. The Bakehouse Theatre. 17 Feb 2014

Men are bastards. They admit it

This is the revelation of ‘The Darker’, a one-hander written and directed by Martin Christmas and performed by David Daradan.

It depicts Dave, a man exploring the aspects of his maleness - and, perchance, maleness in general. It's a pretty rough business. The premise of the play is that within the man there is a dark streak, a demonic core. Dave explains this with a demonstration in which "demon" is the operative part of the word. He’s pretty literal about it, writhing and cursed, yelling and having tantrums. Music and lights emphasise his angst and stress, accompanying him on a journey to self-destruction. The lurking demon breaks through the civilized veneer. There is a gentle man, but not for long. He is easily usurped by nasty, brutal, lustful and violent.

Christmas seems to have conceived Dave as an unpleasant character from the outset. With boorish indifference, Dave throws everything he uses onto the floor. He does nothing to gain audience sympathy. He is offensive, self-justfying and self-centred.

David Daradan, playing this dark Dave in the dense intimacy of the Bakehouse Studio theatre, grabs command of his audience immediately, asserting the imposing presence of a teacher. But, as things progress, it's glasses off, glasses on, glasses off... His expressions contort so dramatically one could believe that there are, indeed, different beasts. The teacher is replaced by the bully, the masturbator et al.

Daradan, light on his feet and making good contact with his audience, shows textbook skills in mood change. He takes the audience on a harrowing voyage of a male only tenuously in control of civilized self.

The venue is very small. There is a lot of shouting. Very loud shouting. Yelling. It is what you'd call an in-your-face, intense piece of theatre - and not for the faint-hearted.

Samela Harris

When: 17 to 22 Feb
Where: Bakehouse Theatre Studio

Sound & Fury’s ‘Hitchcocked’

HitchcockedAdelaide Fringe. Presented by Sound & Fury. Gluttony – The Bally. 16 Feb 2014

‘Hitchcocked’ is one of the latest shows from Sound and Fury, and it is rather different.  It is much more structured compared to many of their other shows, and it relies much more on technical elements.  ‘Hitchcocked’ is a homage to the filmography of the great Alfred Hitchcock, but it is not about any of his films in particular, although there are humorous references to a number of them, such as Mt Rushmore in ‘North by Northwest’, and troupe member Richard Maritzer does try and channel Cary Grant quite a bit!

A highlight of the show was at the very start when a tightly edited sequence of video grabs of Hitchcock himself was projected onto the covered face of troupe member Ryan Adam Wells to create the illusion that the famous man himself was actually introducing the show.  It worked a treat and must have taken a veritable age to put together.  (Remember the Hitchcock Hour on TV?)

The rest of the show made significant use of additional video and other sound and lighting effects.  Some of it worked very well but it was a little ‘clunky’ and perhaps interrupted the flow of the show at times.  After all, Sound and Fury are at their very best when they voraciously feed off the audience and allow themselves the opportunity to improvise almost at will.  The tight script perhaps constrained them a little, and the ending of the show sort of fizzled out.

The audience participation was perhaps a little overdone as well, with a major component requiring an audience member to read out a part for several minutes.  The audience chump was very obliging and clearly enjoyed himself – perhaps a little too much – but mistakenly thought it was all about him!

That aside, the show was full of Sound & Fury’s usual tomfoolery and clever puns that produced the usual wails of laughter and good-humoured derisive groans of disbelief.  Patrick Hercamp was again excellent in his various drag roles.  He clearly wouldn’t win any prizes on Rupaul’s drag race, but he is just oh so funny, and his stage-craft is the ant’s-pants!

As one audience member loudly and appreciatively stated after the last curtain call, “Now, that was something different.”

Kym Clayton

When: 14 Feb to 2 Mar
Where: Gluttony – The Bally

Monski Mouse’s Baby Disco Dance Hall

Monski MouseAdelaide Fringe. The Paradiso Spiegeltent. 16 Feb 2014

DJ Monski Mouse is onto a winner.  This show is a fantastic 45 minutes of throwing civility to the wind and prancing around like a kid, meaning that unlike lots of children’s events, it’s fun for everyone.  Kids love to dance, parents love to dance, and parents love to watch their kids dance - let’s face it, it’s very, very cute!

The Monski Mouse’s Baby Disco Dance Hall is a wonderful experience that’s designed especially for the under-fives.  It’s been devised with the admirable aim of nurturing a love for music and dancing and encouraging playtime between children and their carers.  From her booth on the dance floor, DJ Monksi spins a great set of familiar songs and nursery rhymes that will keep you on your feet.

Accompanying the tunes are two dancers who mix with the crowd and provide both energy and cool dance moves to follow.  The pillowed areas around the edge of the dance floor provide a perfect place to take a break when you’ve gone a bit too hard.  Whilst aimed at the less mobile young ones, you’ll appreciate leaning on pillow or two for a breather because you’ll be on the dance floor shaking it with the best of them.  

One of the true joys of children is that through them, we are given opportunities to regress a little ourselves, and at this show you’ll be pushed to work out who’s having more fun – the kids or the adults!  

When: 23 Feb, 2, 9, 10, 16 Mar
Where: Paradiso Spiegeltent

Paul McDermott - The Dark Garden

Paul McDermott The Dark GardenAdelaide Fringe. Adelaide Town Hall. 15 Feb 2014

If asked to name the classic subject matter for a cabaret show, life, death and sex should be high up the list.  In ‘The Dark Garden’, Paul McDermott touches on all of these, but lingers on death, taking his audience through the five stages of grief:  Anger, Denial, Bargaining, Acceptance, and… cross-dressing?

This is a return season for the ‘The Dark Garden’, which made its debut in the 2013 Adelaide Cabaret Festival.  From it’s beginnings as an art installation in last year’s Fringe Festival, it’s only fitting that it is running in this more evolved form a year later.

McDermott has done well to translate the work from one-dimension to three.  Taking the music he wrote while producing the artwork (on show in the backdrop of the Adelaide Town Hall stage), he interweaves it with storytelling and his trademark aggressive humour to produce a show that is truly unique.

The music is introspective and emotionally charged; the sad and rueful ‘Her Agoraphobic Hands’ draws you in, while the turmoil conveyed by others is visceral.  Using art as a catharsis for mental distress is not exactly new, but it’s rare that you get a chance to have such insight into the inspiration behind artistic work.  

The audience is treated to many such insights as McDermott paints the stories behind the songs, and while he never strays far from the dark corners of his mind, the mix of emotion-drenched music and irreverent comedy balances the piece perfectly.    Even when obviously moved by reliving difficult memories through his songs, McDermott’s cheeky humour raises the mood and is clearly part of his coping mechanism.  

Swearing his way through a hilarious array of anecdotes, he showcases his ability to spin a yarn and invites as much audience reaction and interaction as possible.  You won’t struggle to join in.

Nicole Russo

When: Closed
Where: Adelaide Town Hall
Bookings: Closed

Sound & Fury’s ‘Hamlet & Juliet’

Sound  Furys Hamlet  JulietAdelaide Fringe. Gluttony – The Bally. 16 Feb 2014

Warning:  If you ARE NOT into Shakespeare, this show is just perfect for you.  For the price of a single ticket you get a very funny introduction to iambic pentameter and to no less that two of the Bard’s classic tragedies and it’s all mixed together into a highly improbable but oh so funny vaudevillian performance par excellence.  They enjoy bantering with the audience and ‘surprising’ each other with unrehearsed lines and antics.

Another warning:  If you ARE into Shakespeare, this show is even MORE perfect for you!  Test your wits and try to disentangle intertwining Shakespearean quotations from the two plays, from contemporary references to the sci-fi classic Total Recall and the never-ending TV series Game of Thrones.  Be delighted by the deliciousness of their very bad puns – they’re really very good.  (For you science geeks out there, the ‘Coriolanus Effect’ was my favourite!)

And one more:  There is NO gratuitous bad language to offend, so be warned.  This is intelligent comedy!

The perpetrators of all this nonsense are Sound & Fury.  They are three super bright, well-read and consummate comedians who hail from LA, and they have come up trumps with this latest mash-up of classic literature.  As usual they blend in local references to great effect and dish up a never-ending barrage of high and low humour, but it always stops short of crossing the line (despite what they might say!)

By the way, all performances of this fantastically inventive and absurdly funny production are at 11am, so make whatever arrangements you need to get to see this one.  You will not regret it.

Kym Clayton

When: 15 Feb to 2 Mar
Where: Gluttony – The Bally

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