Naomi

naomi adelaide fringe 2022★★

Patrick Livesey. Holden Street Theatres. 11 Mar 2022

 

Patrick Livesey returns to Holden Street with another world premiere season having previously written and performed in The Boy, George and Gone Girls, and appearing in last year’s DIRT with his partner Wil King (who’s busy with Venus in Fur also at Holden Street this Fringe). These were all fantastic hit productions.

 

Nobody saw it coming yet it was there for all to see. The husband, friend, sister, stepdaughter, and others recall the life and last days of Naomi. They are in a row downstage, and each is lit by a single footlight (set design – Xandra Roberts & lighting design – Matt Ralph). Taking turns, they contribute pieces to the puzzle of Naomi. They are each stuck in one place like a statue, and they don’t interact with one another because they can’t - they are all Patrick Livesey. In his one-person show, Livesey delivers the verbatim testimony of family and friends with distinguished individuation yet frequent overemphasis. Some of the women characters have the affectations of a man playing a woman rather than a genuine woman. The husband is an exceptionally powerful rendering that takes one aback. There is a panoply of opinions and observations. The fragmented vignettes come together as the puzzle pieces begin to fit – some sad or angry, others wistful and grateful. In between some monologues, paraphernalia of Naomi’s life are hung for display like in Orhan Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence which pathetically evokes the deceased.

 

The creative team under the direction of Bronwen Coleman have chosen a very straightforward presentation of the remembrances that depends entirely on Livesey’s characterisations. It is a poignant tribute by a son to his Mum, a Mum who felt the only way out was to end her life. R U Ok? is the question we are asked to ask. Of course, there are missing pieces that will never be found but always searched for.

 

David Grybowski

 

When: 1 to 20 Mar

Where: Holden Street Theatres

Bookings: adelaidefringe.com.au

An Unseasonable Fall of Snow

An Unseasonable Fall of Snow adelaide fringe

Adelaide Fringe. The Arch at Holden Street Theatres. 12 Mar 2022

 

An Unseasonable Fall of Snow is a problematic script. It initially purports to be a detective story with a young man accused of a heinous crime being harshly questioned by an interrogator who does not appear to be entirely expert at his job in what is essentially a game of cat and mouse. Then the storyline ‘turns on a dime’ and whatever we thought that was going on no longer appears to be the case: the power dynamics between the interrogator and the accused are suddenly reversed. The story then ends in quite an unexpected way, and we appear to be locked in an ever repeating loop. It’s almost a case of make up your own ending, and while your about it, invent your own theory about what it’s all about, although there is nothing wrong with that.

 

Playwright Gary Henderson is coy about what his play is about, and in interviews has never really given anything away, but he is quoted as saying he became interested in experimenting with “…How long could I tease [the audience] along and keep them guessing without annoying them.” Unfortunately, Henderson annoyed this reviewer but the clearly partisan large audience who saw the show with me were not. They lapped it up and their final applause was loud, sustained, and heartfelt. I guess that’s the joy of theatre – we all respond to the same thing in different ways, so go along and make up your own mind.

 

The performance is staged on an almost bare stage: a table and a few chairs, a whiteboard, a coffee station, and some doors. The lighting is a basic uniform wash of interior light. There is no soundscape. The cast (Gavin Cianci and Jacob Houston) are dressed in civvies. There is nothing really to suggest mystery or menace, and the play’s momentum therefore needs to come from the text – the play’s the thing, spake Hamlet! – as well as the skill of the director and the actors. However, Henderson’s script doesn’t reach any significant dramatic height, and it noticeably lacks ebb and flow of tension, and, in the emotionally heightened sections of the script, director Darrin Redgate has his cast shouting and shoving more than anything else, and it becomes a bit ….well, annoying.

 

Redgate, Cianci and Houston work hard to try and overcome the limitations of what is arguably an overwrought and overwritten script.

 

Kym Clayton

 

When: 13 to 20 Mar

Where: The Arch at Holden Street Theatres

Bookings: adelaidefringe.com.au

Karen From Finance

Karen from fianance adelaide fringe 2022★★

Adelaide Fringe. The Peacock at Gluttony. 12 Mar 2022

 

‘Out of Office’ is Karen from Finance’s award-winning one-woman debut show, and it is voluptuous!

 

Karen from Finance, aka Richard Chadwick –but only when not out-and-about strutting her stuff and ruffling feathers in the dizzying world of high finance – is a Melbourne-based drag queen who rose to national prominence when she made it to the final four of the inaugural RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under. Of course, Karen was a force of nature before that, especially in the corporate world, but now she’s a household name! And…the engaging video footage shown during her performance demonstrates just how well-known and popular she is: there’s not one sleezy bar or back alley or shop front that she doesn’t know. She has downed lines of shots (and other substances) in all of ‘em! Even though she’s a glamorous icon who wears the best labels and whose make-up is impeccable, that doesn’t stop her from getting ‘down and dirty’ and beating you around the head with her designer handbag if you get in her way or try to muscle her out of her limelight!

 

‘Out of Office’ is a well put together drag show that instantly puts a wide smile on your face. There is a clear storyline, and Karen struts her stuff and confidently works the crowd with fluent and clever patter and antics. To help the narrative along, she belts out songs from the divas with lip sync perfection and struts choreography that goes beyond mere death-drops and other gymnastic jerks. She’s intelligent about it and ‘word paints’ almost every phrase with hilarious gesture and movement that leaves the audience in stitches. It’s clever, funny, tastefully titillating, and never relies on gratuitous smut for its laughs.

 

It's a shame that Karen from Finance’s season is so short, and that her shows are in the matinée timeslot, but the logistics of this Fringe have been a real drag to manage!

 

Karen, next time your ‘out of office’ message is on, please come back to Adelaide so that many more can enjoy your werk!

 

Kym Clayton

 

When: 12 to 14 Mar

Where: The Peacock at Gluttony

Bookings: adelaidefringe.com.au

Sex and Death_ and the Internet

sex death internet adelaide festival 2022Samara Hersch. Secret Location. 11 Mar 2022

This is an interactive and immersive theatre that can challenge you to the core, if you want. Pretty much as described in the program, you are invited to a one-on-one with an older perfect stranger via computer. Your conversation is structured by alternatively asking each other questions that appear from a digitised card draw. You don’t have to answer the questions. But if not, a question you might want to investigate with yourself if you wimp out is why not.

 

There are several parts to your 40-minute show but 30 minutes are devoted to question time. After an introduction via headphones of eight-to-eleven-year-olds answering questions about ageing, you are ushered down a dark corridor and confronted with the picture of you that you submitted beforehand and your elderly interlocutor stranger. I thought the questions asking me to articulate events or outlooks deserved my attention, and if not now, when? I was intrigued by my internet companion’s answers and each answer begat more questions. You can ask them, or stick to the format, or do whatever you like, you paid for the 30 minutes Q&A. It was like a session with a psychologist with the meter ticking. And what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

 

Creator Samara Hersch might be “based” in Melbourne, but she has been funded in Europe for a huge body of work that explores “the intersection of contemporary performance and community engagement.” Sex and Death… began life as an intimate encounter led by performers in their seventies and has been adapted to its current format thanks to Covid.

I came out of my session, refreshed, calmer, wiser through some thoughtful articulation about myself and from the ancient art of listening. A wonderfully intimate and fear-free experience.

 

David Grybowski

 

When: 9 to 20 Mar

Where: Secret Location

Bookings: adelaidefestival.com.au

Venus in Fur by David Ives

Venus In Fur by David Ives Fringe 2022★★

Wil King. Holden Street Theatres. 10 Mar 2022

Venus in Fur by David Ives has won Bank SA’s Week 3 Fringe award for Best Theatre, so don’t just take my word for it that this theatrical offering is a knock-out. Venus… is a showcase for a female and a male actor going head-to-head in performing psychological warfare in an increasingly escalating sexually charged environment of innuendo and intrigue.

 

Situation: New York City somewhere off Broadway. A playwright/director has been unsuccessfully auditioning for a female all day and is packing up when a whirlwind of manic energy barges in and demands an audition, even though she is late and not even actually on the list. The playwright’s play is an adaptation of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s 1870 novel, Venus in Furs. To give you some insight into the attendant theme, the word masochism was derived from Sacher-Masoch’s name.

 

The auditionee Wanda appears a bit air-headed yet mysteriously compelling, so much so that the director relents, and they role-play the script. He is beguiled and utterly captivated by her skill and flattery, and their reality is excruciatingly subsumed by the sexualism of the play.

 

The theatrical juice must be absolutely gushing in all respects to create 90 minutes of inexhaustible sensual tension. The script is loaded with razor-sharp changes in hierarchy and not just the switcheroo between the dictatorial director and female auditionee, but numerous quick changes into the play’s characters and the role reversal goes into dangerous and lascivious overdrive. This ain’t gonna work unless you have superb talent like Wil King and Bridget Gao-Hollitt. Director Daniel Lammin is a NIDA graduate of Directing and he is responsible for so suggestively coordinating their ample body language with the text. Lighting designer Matt Ralph and sound designer KAK use their skills so subtly you don’t realise the mood-altering effect until long after you are entrained. Rain, lightning and thunder are co-ordinated with explosive moments on stage. Designer Sam Hastings enhanced the experience of locking onto Gao-Hollitt’s characters with some sexy fancy dress and a fetching purple outfit with the eponymous fur.

 

Playwright David Ives is steeped in the New York performance scene and he serves up a masterpiece where he takes the director-auditionee relationship and hyperextends it into something even more slavish and sexually overt with Sacher-Masoch’s Venus….

 

Double Bravo!

 

David Grybowski

 

When: 1 to 20 Mar

Where: Holden Street Theatres

Bookings: adelaidefringe.com.au

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