Sydney Fringe Festival: Past Years

THE SWANMAIDENS: MUCH MORE THAN MEN

Production Photography: Clare Molnar

WARNING: May involve dance, glitter and boys being boys.” says their Facebook events page and yeees, THE SWANMAIDENS does indeed have all that but more, much more and one very special, unique, exciting other thing.  The show has now finished its run at the Sydney Fringe but with luck we can expect more from new company Hunter & Sammler, this team and writer/director Luke Yager.  Because this was a cracker of show.  It was a fiercely male and ferociously sensitive production with mystery, great audio and performances that really bite the bullet.

We meet four men in worn khaki attire when they respond militarily to an urgency of klaxon call and red pulse with the violent donning of wall mounted gas masks and the aggressive waving of simulated weapons.  This, after a preshow bassy surround vibration on the audio track that really does your head in and after we have seen one of their number, a lost, broken boy surreptitiously hiding a big cardboard box.  It’s a wildly intriguing opening.  Sharing too much about the plot might spoil the enjoyment of a remount of the show, so suffice to say that these are men alone who will embrace swans and Tchaikovsky in an act of rebellion. Continue reading THE SWANMAIDENS: MUCH MORE THAN MEN

THE WOMEN OF CHASING SMOKE: GENTLY HELD WHISPS

Images from :CHASING SMOKE

Playing as part of the Sydney Fringe, THE WOMEN OF CHASING SMOKE  is under the aegis of contemporary circus company Casus, an organization respected Australia-wide for the quality of their development of thematic content inside the form.  The parent production, CHASING SMOKE, is a larger show which was “born out of Circus Oz’s BLAKflip, a program that nurtures and actively increases the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander circus artists on stages in Australia and across the globe.”  This incarnation is the women of that show and it is blazingly femalecentric in strength and lyricism.

It begins with a tour of ‘Aborigine World’ from a hostess who is dressed in a colourful and very charming 50s tea-length, full skirt, swing dress.  As two women of colour do the huddle and look sad thing in their grey ill-fitting costumes on centre stage, our hostess re-introduces us to our historical misperceptions.  It’s a confronting beginning if you have time to really think about it but this show will move fast, morph easily into new skill based scenes and flow gracefully to express the lived experience modern indigenous women. Continue reading THE WOMEN OF CHASING SMOKE: GENTLY HELD WHISPS

TOXIC KISS PRESENTS JOUISSANCE

Benedict and Margo of Toxic Kiss

“Toxic Kiss: Presents Jouissance” is a pithy “live art coalition” helmed by the over-achieving Margot Koch and her more pathetic half, Benedict Jaye J. Jay, who are hell-bent on bringing true art to the masses.

The pair are the theatrical alter-egos of writers and performers Clare Hennessy and Richie Black. They’ve concocted a riotous, bizarre show in ‘Jouissance’ that examines the true purpose of art, and in doing so stumble upon the hilarious and sometimes sobering lack of joy.

For just under an hour Margot and Benedict battle both inner and literal demons, characters observed so astutely they could be caricatures from inside a Sacha Baron Cohen mockumentary.

Hennessy and Black have wonderful comedic pairing, reminiscent of other popular double-acts such as French and Saunders or Lano and Woodley, with the curmudgeonly and berating Margot delightfully played against the morose and whimsical Benedict. reminding us that you don’t need to be an art lover or maker to understand what’s essentially a very Australian skepticism of pretense and poppy-cock.

The comedy mines the intellectual and the gleefully profane to superb effect – while bringing to life a surprisingly effective psychological subtext. It is also hilariously funny whether you are an art-lover or not. I look forward to seeing Toxic Kiss’s next work!

For more about Toxic Kiss presents Jouissance, visit {Website:10}

PINOCCHIO: GO, STAND, WAIT, BEG BUT GET A TICKET!

PINOCCHIO playing as part of the Sydney Fringe is the most marvellous worldbuilding.  The production is artistically and intellectually rigorous, expressively expansive and technically perfect.  It is having well deserved sold out houses, but get your hands on a ticket any way you can.  Because this is a production so specifically created around its surroundings that one fears it will struggle to find a re-mount venue.

It begins as Geppetto is come home to his grey, brutalist, Bauhaus inspired, utilitarian, dirty-windowed workshop.  Taking the photo of El Duce from the wall, Geppetto’s imagination fires and to the squeaks of his two clarinet-playing creations, the other three puppets will also come to life.  For the next 40 minutes he will interact with love and with sadness and with surprise and with fear. Oh! the games they will play. Continue reading PINOCCHIO: GO, STAND, WAIT, BEG BUT GET A TICKET!

IF SYMPTOMS PERSIST FALL APART

In love, we need. We crumble and fall apart. With one another we conquer.

Two women.
Two minds.
Raw.
Intimate.
Minimalistic.

If Symptoms Persist Fall Apart is an original work from the creative minds of recent drama school graduates Shayne de Groot and Madeline MacRae. It is an experimental blend of physical theatre, elements of dance and broken dialogue with an original soundscape. Two bodies evolve within a minimalistic space bringing to life a fluid and gritty expression of love, emotion, vulnerability, intimacy, heartache, pain and triumph.

IF SYMPTOMS PERSIST FALL APART is playing the Red Box, Legs Hub, 91 Canal Road Lilyfield 2040 on September 29th at 6pm.

For more about If Symptoms Persist Fall Apart, visit https://sydneyfringe.com/buy-tickets/?q=if%20symptoms%20per
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SCARECROW: BESPOKE THEATRICALITY CREEPS AT BLOOD MOON THEATRE

Romney Stanton in SCARECROW

SCARECROW is a terrific choice for presenting at the  Sydney Fringe and for producing at Blood Moon Theatre.  Written by prolific American playwright Don Nigro, it is textually designed to be bare, claustrophobic, with the focus on character and relationships.  As directed by Naomi Livingstone and Deborah Jones, this offering is bespoke to the tiny stage and has a brilliant performance at its heart.

We meet Rose and her daughter Cally.  Never going out and probably feigning her illness, Rose has always had Cally to herself in the tiny house on the edge of a cornfield but the daughter is ripe for manipulation and sexual predation.  Enter Nick.  Shadowy and experienced in influencing pliable, inexperienced, naive young women, his agenda apparently reaches beyond just sex with the eager Cally, past the field’s scarecrow into the house itself. Continue reading SCARECROW: BESPOKE THEATRICALITY CREEPS AT BLOOD MOON THEATRE

A NEW AUSTRALIAN DOUBLE BILL : QUITE A FLURRY AT THE FRINGE

French Santa is a new Sydney based production company run by Valentin Lang and James Sweeny.

French Santa is slipping down the Sydney Fringe chimney with a sack full of fun, presenting a double bill of two new 50 minute Australian plays, The Intervention by Valentin Lang (directed byLloyd Allison-Young) and Good, Die Young by James Sweeny (directed by Damien Strouthos).

THE INTERVENTION , penned by Valentin Lang, is a kitchen sink, dirty dishes, carpet curl, share house drama where. Mary and Joe and Steve share a house and Mary is concerned that Steve is on a spiral into alcoholism.. It’s not just his health she is concerned about, but the health of Joe who is his deputy in dipsomania, and the wellbeing of the house’s furniture and floor coverings.

She plans an intervention which unleashes a can of worms that wriggles with house share hypocrisy and room-mate resentments and recriminations.

Nice work by four players – Jess Belle-Keogh as Mary brings a quality reminiscent of a young Judi Dench. Luke McMahon is the lovelorn lost weekender, Steve, and the play’s author, Valentin Lang, is the procrastinating puppy, Joe. Rounding out the quartet is Elle Harris as Anthea, Steve’s celebrity squeeze who is happy just to have him as an occasional fuck buddy.

The more intriguing work is GOOD, DIE YOUNG, a speculative piece about the inherent amorality in achieving amorality. See what I did just there. It’s just what the playwright James Sweeny is doing, conjuring the word and pitting his characters in the pros and cons of the ethics and economics of medical breakthroughs, and putting in that cheeky little comma in the title. Hope you weren’t too comatose to spot it.

There’ll be no nodding off in this bracing speculative narrative – sexy, surprising, controversial and sparklingly funny – fuelling high octane performances from an awesome foursome.

Playwright James Sweeny, plays Alex, the bio-tech maven, Alex, who has undergone a surgery that renders himself amortal, that is, immunised against disease and ageing. The cost is astronomical, far beyond the means of mere mortals, but not to a guy who can afford a return trip to Mars.

His beloved, Jane, an actress, is given full throated and physical throttle by Jessica Clarke in a performance hungry as the sea, salty, sultry, satisfying.

In a perfect match tag team, Amanda Stephens-Lee plays the older Jane, exalting in the characterisations firm foundation.

In a character that, in essence, is a coda, Emily Pincock gives the teenage progeny, Poppy, a refreshingly delightful lightness of being.

September 25-29th, 7pm, Erskineville Town Hall, The Living Room.

ASMR LIVE : IT BEGINS IN WHISPERS AND ENDS IN GUFFAWS

As the only grey haired person in the room I can truly say that I do not want to be sacrificed to save a baby in a rather bizarre reworking of the ‘Trolley Problem’.  But I needed to keep that to myself because given the unruly and constant laughter from this group of millennials-ish, they would tear me to pieces if I skewed the results of the vote about who would be murdered.  And how did it get to this from a show about autonomous sensory meridian response = ASMR?  Via the quirk in the work of comedian Issy Phillips, who has a show named almost  exactly that at the Sydney Fringe.

It begins calmly enough in the whisper and sotto voce of our host.  She’s very calm considering that her show has a huge, and very well designed, reliance on tech which decided to corrupt itself just before the show.   The calm beginning, however, is just a leaping off point as Phillips brings a range of very peculiar, very funny, slightly disturbing, situations and characters into play. Continue reading ASMR LIVE : IT BEGINS IN WHISPERS AND ENDS IN GUFFAWS

A LITTLE CABARET OF SELDOM HEARD TREASURES

This image: The Cast of A Little Cabaret
Featured image: Siobhan Clifford, Olivia Vasquez, Denise Devlin, & Embla Bishop
Production images: Christopher Starnawski (Omnes Photography)

A LITTLE CABARET is a fundraiser for Little Triangle’s November production of Michael John LaChiusa & George C. Wolfe’s THE WILD PARTY and its short run at the Sydney Fringe is pretty much sold out. With good reason.  There’s a commitment to excellence inside this little company that spills over the footlights in all their work. Staged or simply sung. Here we have seven gorgeous voices performing songs chosen with care to be interesting and unusual.  Celebrating the unsung is the publicity tagline and what a great program it turns out to be.

It’s just a lovely night to share with lovers of musical theatre as some songs ooze with familiarity and others are go-home-and-google offerings.  Directed by Alexander Andrews and accompanied by Conrad Hamill there are brief introductions “another woman sits at another bar alone” … “ A young wife has a secret.” Continue reading A LITTLE CABARET OF SELDOM HEARD TREASURES

WHERE WILL ALL THE PENGUINS GO? GREAT JOB KIDS!

These kids are just great and they have a topic they can get their teeth into.  WHERE WILL ALL THE PENGUINS GO?, playing as part of the Sydney Fringe, will give them a voice on issues such as the environment and the dangers of plastic bottles, war, refugees and the importance of family.

They are young but committed and they wear their heart on their sleeve as the ensemble brings a story of two brothers.  Brothers who see life in different ways and who grow apart as economic choices separate them. Continue reading WHERE WILL ALL THE PENGUINS GO? GREAT JOB KIDS!

WYNGARDE! A CELEBRATION – A SUPER QUICKIE GIVEAWAY

Photo by Richard Hedger

It’s lovely to see you – here’s to a pleasant evening. And a few surprises. There we are. Are you comfortable? Now where shall we begin?

G.bod Theatre presents WYNGARDE! A CELEBRATION
With Garth Holcombe as the famous but elusive TV star, this  new one-man show is from the makers of the acclaimed  QUEEN BETTE (‘Rain or shine, grab a ticket if you can’: SAG Review)

Peter Wyngarde was best known for playing the character Jason King, a bestselling novelist turned sleuth, in two television series: Department S and Jason King, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but was an accomplished theatre actor until his fall from grace: 2 arrests and convictions for gross indecency in public toilets in 1975.

Much of Wyngarde's life is disputed: his name, his birth date, his sexuality. We know that as a teenager he was a Japanese Prisoner of War (alongside JG Ballard) and that he studied at RADA, before dropping out. We know that at the height of his fame the most popular boy's name in the UK became Jason (after his character). We know that he was mugged by thousands of female admirers at Sydney Airport. We know that Mike Myers has credited him as the inspiration for Austin Powers. He may have been born Cyril Goldbert. He may have had a relationship with Alan Bates. 

He may have had the nickname Petunia Winegum.

gbodtheatre  [Facebook] presents WYNGARDE! A CELEBRATION  as part of the Sydney Fringe. 25 Sep 2018 to 29 Sep 2018 at The Office, Emerging Artists Sharehouse 104 Erskineville Road Erskineville Sydney 2043

With thanks to gbodtheatre, Sydney Arts Guide has three double pass giveaways to WYNGARDE! A CELEBRATION.  These are for either the Tues 25, Wed 26, or Thur 27 September.

To be in the running, email (editorialstaff.sydneyartsguide@gmail.com) 
with PETUNIA WINEGUM as the subject, along with your full name AND the evening you would like to attend.

Competition closes Midnight Sunday 23rd September, 2018 when the winner will be drawn. Only winners will be notified and the tickets will be available at the box office on the night of performance.