Tag: 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival

REVIEW: Yana Alana is COVERED

Captivating as ever

By Bradley Storer

Cabaret provocateur Yana Alana, the alter-ego of performer Sarah Ward, emerged from behind a scrim after her opening number, fully clothed – which she noted was a rarity after touring her critically acclaimed show Between the Cracks for the last three years, where she appeared completely nude. Here she was for the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival cheekily taking her show title Covered in both the literal and figurative sense, with no nudity as she only sang the songs of other artists, backed up by the multi-talented members of her band The Piranas, Louise Goh and Bec Matthews.

Yana Alana is COVERED

Even when singing the words of others, Yana Alana remains a fiercely individualistic and ruthlessly entertaining performer, bringing her unique interpretations to the works of Tom Waits, James Shelton, Puccini and even Beyonce, her incredible voice scaling from a Bassey-sized belt to an operatic soprano. From trying (and spectacularly failing) to achieve complicated dance moves to running screaming offstage from one end of the venue to the other, Alana is utterly and wonderfully shameless in her pursuit to entertain.

If anything, Covered is light on Alana’s usual repertoire of political and cultural satire and self-loathing narcissism, choosing instead to use the out-of-context lyrics from various songs as segues between sections. This can feel a little toothless compared to the usual ferocity of her work, but the level of artistry and craft present means she is, as always, completely compelling and absolutely unmissable.

Dates: 29th September – 3rd October
Time: 8:30pm
Venue: Main Theatre, Lithuanian Club, 44 Errol St, North Melbourne.
Tickets: Full $35, Concession $25, Cheap Tuesday $15
Bookings: www.melbournefringe.com.au, (03) 9660 9666, at the door.

REVIEW: Daley King in I’M NOT ALRIGHT

Poetry, puppetry and poignancy in progress

By Myron My

Daley King has been living with depression for over a decade: longer, if you consider the fact his father has also lived with it. In his 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival show debut I’m Not Alright, King takes us on a poetic journey on mental illness via physical theatre, a jazz soundtrack, and puppets.

I'm Not Alright

Apart from using his own experience, King has interviewed a variety of people with mental illness to create this story. King has a great ability to engage us with the poetic flow of his words as they paint a picture of a person who is struggling with his intense sadness and loneliness. The jazz music creates a poignantly contrasting image of laughter and chatter that signifies the mind-set that people with depression can have without King needing to explicitly address it.

King uses a puppet look-a-like of himself as his inner voice, invoking some light humour into the dark territory that is depression and suicidal thoughts. The use of the puppet reminds me of my own childhood experiences, and that as children all we ever want it to be loved and to feel safe. It adds a real vulnerability to King without him having to fall into cliché or stereotype.

While King does well in sharing and performing this intimate story, the narrative itself could still do with some fine-tuning, in particular the build-up to the conclusion. The ending occurs quite abruptly and seems to falter somewhat in retaining the thoughtful momentum King has established. At the end of the show, he explains that I’m Not Alright is still a work in progress and the impact of this finale is probably where he most needs to focus his attention.

I’m Not Alright is a touching but unsentimental exploration of mental illness with a person suffering from depression. Despite its topic, the show ends with hope for a better future, and with further development and a stronger narrative, there is a distinct chance King’s show will have a promising one too.

Venue: The Tuxedo Cat, 293 – 299 La Trobe Street, Melbourne.

Season: Until 4 October | Thurs-Sun 9.45pm

Tickets:$25 Full | $20 Conc

Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival

REVIEW: Ben Schiffer’s HIS GHOSTLY HEART

Lights out for intimacy and intrigue

By Myron My

Performed at this year’s Melbourne Fringe Festival, His Ghostly Heart is an intimate 30-minute two-hander with a couple lying in bed just after having sex. Written by Ben Schiffer, best-known for his work on TV series Skins, and directed by Richard Edge, its exploration of love and what it means to be loved is designed to be performed entirely in the dark.
His Ghostly HeartUnfortunately, due to the necessity of the exit sign inside the performance space, the venue was not in pitch blackness which was ultimately integral to the show’s overall effect. While you could not see facial expressions, the body outlines and movement were still quite visible. In order to experience this the way I understand it was intended, I did have my eyes closed during the performance.

Riley Nottingham and Bundy Marston are well cast as the young couple in love, and with my eyes shut, I was able to listen to their voices, and their intimate emotional state is quite clear in the delivery of their lines and the pauses and silences between words. We hear the sense of achievement in Tom’s voice when he exclaims that they lasted three songs, while the self-loathing in Daisy’s voice when she announces “I’m disgusting” is easily felt. When Tom is naming all the areas of Daisy’s body that he loves, you can clearly picture his loving and cheeky face as his lips touch those aforementioned parts.

The build-up to the twist ending is cleverly constructed and highly effective, however, towards the end of His Ghostly Heart, the music and sounds being played are so loud that is it hard to hear what is being said. This ultimately makes it difficult to remain invested in the story and keep connected with the characters. Marston also seemed to struggle with the demands of the character in the final third, as the emotion that she has been working with earlier in the piece is not as focused and her lines begin to simply feel shouted.

Despite these closing shortcomings, His Ghostly Heart provides a very unique Fringe experience in its premise and light-starved performance. It remains a touching exploration of facing the realities of life and love and how, sometimes, darkness is much more of a comfort than the harsh light of day.

Venue: Fringe Hub, Upstairs at Errol’s, 69-71 Errol Street, North Melbourne, 3051
Season: Until 3 October | Tues-Sat 10.30pm
Tickets:$20 Full | $16 Conc | Cheap Tuesday
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival

REVIEW: BODIES OVER BITUMEN

Circus under the sky

By Myron My

This year’s Melbourne Fringe Festival has seen a variety of circus performances using the art form to create some highly unique shows. There’s been glow-in-the-dark circus, and circus that is inspired by climate change, and now with Bodies Over Bitumen, there is outdoor circus that takes us out to the streets of North Melbourne.

Bodies Over Bitumen

We follow the three performers Skye GellmannAlexander Gellmann and Naomi Francis, down side streets and main roads as they perform various tricks and acrobatics. Similar to other Fringe Festival shows, Suburbia and CitydashBodies Over Bitumen invites its audience to look at your surroundings in a new light and to take notice of what is there.

The silks routine off a tree on Errol Street was quite mesmerising to watch, with quite a few passers-by also stopping from their evening outings to admire. Looking up to Francis as she spun herself around and climbed up the rope, surrounded by all the leaves and branches, felt fairytale-like.

Similarly, the finale with Skye Gellmann’s pole routine on a street pole was well choreographed and displayed some amazing strength. It was a great way to finish but sadly, the rest of the evening failed to leave a strong impression on me. There was a lot of waiting and watching for things to happen and when they did, the build-up was not justified. One act involved a piece of flint being scraped on the road and watching a few sparks for five minutes, which unfortunately did not create a sense of wonderment for the audience.

Bodies Over Bitumen wants us to acknowledge how landscape and environment play a big part in defining who we are. I only wish the performers had attempted to develop some of these ideas further as this production has the potential to be an eye-opening show and create real curiosity in people’s minds. Instead, it is a show that seems to have taken a few wrong turns in determining what journey it wants to take us on.

Venue: Meet on the steps Fringe HubArts House, 521 Queensberry St, North Melbourne, 3051

Season: Until 3 October | Tues-Sat 6.30pm

Tickets:$23 Full | $18 Conc | $14 Cheap Tuesday

Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival

REVIEW: Sophie Joske will BECOME A FUNCTIONAL ADULT IN 45 MINUTES

Tightly-wrought, intelligent and very enjoyable performance

By Myron My

Sophie Joske wants to become an adult. She wants to be accomplished and respected as a person, but she’s not quite there yet. Presented as part of the 2015 Melbourne Fringe FestivalBecome a Functional Adult in 45 Minutes is a cautionary tale in which Joske explores what life must be like to be a successful adult.

Become a Functional Adult in 45 Minutes

Joske sets her sights on graduating from the Mature Learning Academy as an ‘adult’ so she can finally go out and live her life. What follows is a series of satirical ‘self-help’ tests in a variety of categories, such as work, social skills, relationships and sex, to assess just how prepared Joske is at handling these situations as a fully-fledged adult. Sadly, she fails at each, but not without some real laughs along the way.

Joske’s punchlines are well delivered and the flashbacks scenes are a touch of gold. One of the many great moments of the show is the “positive female affirmations” that play over the speakers as Joske gets changed into a different outfit. Joske’s desperation to graduate reaches a dramatic climax that you can see coming but are ultimately still stunned and surprised by what has eventuated. The one serious moment of the show is executed extremely well and really pushes the message Joske is trying to say.

Become a Functional Adult in 45 Minutes offers a witty critique of modern society and the sexism and gender inequalities that are so prevalent within it. A memorable example of this is Joske’s revelation of the process women ‘must’ go through in order to look and smell attractive enough to the opposite sex whereas men…just need to take a shower. Joske also takes a swipe at our ageist society, which will question your life choices if you are over 30, and not yet married with children.

Become a Functional Adult in 45 Minutes is a highly restrained and subtle look at how society is programming us to be the type of adults it wants us to be rather than allowing people to make their own choices. It’s an important message for any person of any gender or sex to be aware of. Joske’s balance of humour and critique is well thought-out that has you walking out questioning what exactly has influenced your decisions in life – but still with a smile on your face.

Venue: Club Voltaire, 14 Raglan St, North Melbourne, 3051

Season: Until 28 September | 7.30pm

Tickets: $20 Full | $17 Conc

Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival

REVIEW: Nick Eynaud in A STAR IS BORED

Witty and winning cabaret

By Myron My

Nick Eynaud doesn’t just want to be famous. He wants to be rich, famous and powerful, the triple threat. His 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival cabaret show, A Star Is Bored, reveals the lengths he will go to in order to make his dream come true – so long as he doesn’t actually have to do anything to earn it. Thanks to reality TV, he might be able to make that happen.

A Star is Bored

Eynaud takes us on a journey of his life that begins with his wide-eyed WAAPA school days through to the harsh reality of living back home with his parents in Reservoir. Along the way, he informs us of his obsession with Netflix and more specifically, reality TV shows, including MasterchefReal Housewives and Toddlers and Tiara  – the latter resulting in an incredibly hilarious audition tape that needs to be seen.

It would be difficult to choose any standout numbers in this show, as each song is brilliantly funny. However, Eynaud’s rendition of the Kate Bush classic “Wuthering Heights” as a Netflix ode and the location change to Reservoir in Hairspray‘s “Good Morning Baltimore” would be right up there. All song revisions are all cleverly written and are not only infused with a good dose of humour but also bring out Eynaud’s winning personality.

The use of mixed media is a welcome addition to the show, with the opening moments including Eynaud’s show reel of his “starring roles” in productions such as Wicked and Phantom of the Opera. The childhood photos shown throughout remind us that this person has a real history which made him all the more vulnerable and sympathetic on stage despite the jokey self-entitlement being projected.

A Star Is Bored is essentially Eynaud’s self-discovery that at some time, we all need to grow up, even just a little. You can still dream to be rich, famous and powerful but with a small dose of real ‘reality’ for sanity’s sake. A Star Is Bored is a great showcase of Eynaud’s own star qualities and a highly enjoyable hour of cabaret.

A Star Is Bored was performed at The Butterfly Club as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival on 23 -27 September.

REVIEW: Elena Gabrielle Presents DIRRTY

Cheerfully unsanitary

By Myron My

From the opening act of the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival late-night variety show Dirrty, it is very clear that this is not going to be a regular type of variety show. To say anymore about what transpires would be to ruin the surprise that curator Elena Gabrielle has planned. The night itself involves a variety of performance artists invited by Gabrielle to celebrate all things sex and taboo in their own unique ways.

Dirrty

The condoms and lube are freely available and there is a lot of flesh – both male and female – on display. There are songs about the joys of protected sex and the answer to where exactly JonBenét Ramsey as been is revealed. It is indeed, a hedonistic night for all.

Gabrielle is unashamedly the heart, blood and tears (and possible other bodily functions) of this sexy show. All her acts are playful, engaging to watch, and most importantly, fun. Her own spin on “All That Jazz” and “Diamonds Are A Girls Best Friend” showcases her range of talents, including her impressive singing and her brilliant sense of humour. Gabrielle could front this show solely based on her own acts and it would be a standout for this festival.

However, this is promoted as a variety show and as such, the success of a production like this is based on its guest artists – and unfortunately on this night, I didn’t feel the other performances were as captivating or exciting to watch as Gabrielle’s. They were all nicely aligned with the “dirrty” theme for the evening and pushing the boundaries of “conservatism”, but apart from the admirable Ladybird Blue, the other artists didn’t have the same pulling power to drawn me in.

If you can handle the 11.30pm time slot, Dirrty is worth a look, if only to see Gabrielle strut her stuff. This is definitely a show where you can leave your inhibitions at the door and if you don’t, Gabrielle and guests will make sure they take them off you instead.

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne

Season: 26 September, 1-3 October | 11.30pm

Tickets: $32 Full | $28 Conc

Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival