Sydney Fringe Festival 2014


Very early on in THE SEASON, daughter Lou thinks out loud that she might take herself diving to get a fresh fish dinner. It makes sense; 3 generations of Duncans are gathered on this small island in the Bass Strait for the annual Muttonbird harvest. But the whole family around the rickety table is suddenly still then turn slowly to look at her. There’s a pause until unexpectedly, the Duncans, and us, burst into gales of laughter at Lou’s expense. We the audience don’t know Lou, we just met her but we have been enveloped by this family and we think whatever is going on is hilarious too.

In a nutshell, or more appropriately a nest, that is the brilliance of THE SEASON. We love these people. And we love them from the beginning.

After the seven cast appear from the shadows upstage reaching towards the spirit of the birds which come each year to these traditional lands, we meet Ben and Stella Duncan. Long married but still lovers, their hopes for this season are tinged with some undefined worry but it won’t stop them from enjoying every moment of having the family together for the birding season. Continue reading THE SEASON @ THE DRAMA THEATRE, SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

Desperately Young at Heart

Cherie Boogaart and Robert Hofmann in Carmen. Photo by John Marshall

Award-winning cabaret DESPERATELY YOUNG AT HEART is a welcome visitor at the Sydney Fringe Festival. Its crossover between the genres of music and comedy results in an hilarious and rewarding night’s entertainment.

Innuendo and skilfully crafted lyrics fly about as quickly as the necessary costume changes. Male and female characters parody singing students, vocal teachers, community singers and religion in the setting of a conference for mid-career vocal teachers. Robert Hofmann brings us each guest speaker or singer to share their individual tensions and desperate personal natures. Continue reading Desperately Young at Heart

Bond Street Bridge

Storyteller, vocalist and instrumentalist Sam Prebble
Storyteller, vocalist and instrumentalist Sam Prebble

In THE EXPLORER’S CLUB: ANTARCTICA. SONGS, STORIES AND IMAGES FROM THE HEROIC AGE, visiting Auckland duo Bond Street Bridge are presenting their own unique brand of history lesson as part of the Sydney Fringe Festival. Storyteller Sam Prebble on vocals, guitar and violin is supported by Brendan Turner on electric upright bass and close vocal harmonies.

Original songs in a unique modern folk style with lyrics inspired by or quoting the writings of polar explorers follow spoken interludes. The performers gently guide us through the tragic tales of various expeditions such as the Terra Nova expedition led by Robert F. Scott and Ernest Shackleton’s imperial Trans-Antarctica Expedition. Continue reading Bond Street Bridge

Jean-Paul Sartre’s NO EXIT

For me, Sydney is at its best in September.  Warm, sunny days and cool nights which can be spent in odd little theatres watching unique shows courtesy of the Fringe Festival.  “No Exit” is both these things. It’s playing in an Archway and it’s a text which is more often read than performed.

Written by Jean-Paul Sartre in 1944 (this translation by Paul Bowles), NO EXIT explores the situation of three souls locked together in a small cell in Hell.  They are brought there by a butler with no eyelids (Mathias Olofsson).  Joseph (Matthew R Grego) is a coward and a wife beater; Ines (Beverley Bugeja) is a seducer of women and Estelle (Stephanie Cowton) has committed the gravest of crimes. They are confined together in this room, with no darkness, for eternity. Each arrives expecting fire, brimstone and a torturer.  It is later they realise that they are not haphazardly cramped together, they are each other’s torturers. Continue reading Jean-Paul Sartre’s NO EXIT

Yes Dance

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As part of the Sydney Fringe I caught YES DANCE at the Dickson St Space, Newtown, a very intimate venue. The audience was on two sides of the ‘square’ and almost on stage themselves .There was just a tiny clear space of beautiful wooden floor, and the brick wall , for this challenging , quirky piece by Rennie McDougall which ‘ explores choreography for free-thinking bodies.’

Choreographer Rennie McDougall is one of the up-and-coming talents of the Melbourne dance scene. Since graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts four years ago he has worked with some of Melbourne’s most prominent contemporary dance companies, including Chunky Move, Lucy Guerin Inc, Luke George and BalletLab. YES DANCE promises the “guilty pleasures” of popular dance, as he and fellow performers Leah Landau and Harrison Hall “surround the audience with movement”. Continue reading Yes Dance

Aunt Agony

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This is a show that explodes open with chaos and empty wine bottles.  To “Que sera sera” on the soundtrack, the Aunt Agony of the title attempts to straighten up her disordered life in hilarious fashion.  Straight away the audience fell for her disarming beige-ness and we cheered this manipulating manic psycho through the next 90 minutes.

AUNT AGONY is the story of Christine (Sasha Dyer) who just wants a quiet, free room in the ‘burbs to lick her wounds from a failed relationship.   With no support from her mother or male menopause father, she ends up with Aunt Lynn (Taylor Owynns).  Aunt Lynn has changed since the death of her mother and Christine is in for a ride.  Plus, there seems to be a mystery here somewhere.  Not least of all what Auntie sees in Tommy (Dave Kirkham) the revolting building caretaker who can’t even use the toaster! Continue reading Aunt Agony

A Night With Melbourne City Ballet

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As part of the huge Sydney Fringe Festival on at the moment we were lucky to see an impressive mixed bill by the Melbourne City Ballet in their first visit to Sydney. The company was founded in 2013 under the direction of Michael Pappalardo and has already had several seasons in Melboune to great acclaim. The three works were Quantam, Acceptance (part of a larger work called ‘Grief’) and Consumption.

Two of the works were quite spiky and ‘neo-classical ‘ in style with Acceptance, the middle work, being far more ‘traditional’ classical ballet style. Continue reading A Night With Melbourne City Ballet

C.J.Delling in Reality Bandit

C.J.Delling performing her shtick at the Den in the Chippendale Hotel
C.J.Delling performing her shtick at the Den in the Chippendale Hotel

There’s a new comedy venue in town. It’s called  The Den, it’s in the Chippendale Hotel,  and  after seeing THE REALITY BANDIT WITH  C.J. Delling there last night, I’d say  it’s well worth a visit.

When you rock up to the venue the first thing you notice is a sign saying Under New Management. The food is good, generous, and very reasonable and there’s a good atmosphere. Then you descend stairs reminiscent of the Fitz Theatre and you discover a neat, comfortable little live venue. Then, right on time, (not always the case), the show starts. All good so far, but is this going to be another comedienne who thinks shock and poor taste equate to comedy or will there be something clever as well as funny? Yes, yes, YES! Continue reading C.J.Delling in Reality Bandit