Thursday, January 7, 2016


You can use Fringe as a round-the-world ticket to the best alternative comedy, theatre, cabaret and circus on the planet.
And why wouldn’t you? With 700 acts from 23 countries to choose from, It’s a dizzying selection, and you won’t have to go far for tips on the hottest dishes in the food hall.
But here’s another idea. Why not consider taking a Fringe Staycation, even for one week during the festival, and concentrate on the 290-odd acts from WA appearing there? (Happily
there's a link called “Homegrown Heroes!” on the Fringe website to make it easier to find and book locally-produced shows.)
It also helps that many of the WA shows on offer have been “vetted” – by previous success at Fringe or around the local traps. It’s a decent rule of thumb that a show that’s re-appearing at Fringe, or has come to it after a successful regular season run, will have something going for it.

For starters, here are the lollies in Turnstile’s Fringe Staycation showbag.We’ve already seen last year’s Martin Sims (for best WA-produced show at the Fringe) and Turnstiles Award winner, Tim Watts’s Monroe & Associates, and it will be a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it ticket again this year. We’ll be checking out the other shows by Watts’s mates in The Last Great Hunt, The Crossing and The Great Ridolphi. A couple of the Hunters, Gita Bezard and Jeffrey Jay Fowler, have teamed with the writer/director Will O’Mahoney in Black Swan’s Fringe double, Loaded, featuring a sizzling bunch of WAAPA grads including the amazing Megan Wilding.
Holland Street Productions, the winners of the 2014 Martin Sims, are also back, with the irresistibly titled Dr Felicity Rickshaw’s Celebrity Sex Party. It just has to be a hoot.
Turnstile Award winner Under This Sun, is having a Fringe run, as are shows by indie theatre luminaries Shane Adamzack (The Ballad of Frank Allen), Damon Lockwood (Love and Hate), Renee Newman and Ian Sinclair (Sleeping Beauty) and St John Cowcher in The Man and the Moon.
The fast-rising The Cutting Room Floor are smashing this year’s Fringe with three shows, including the talented Ann-Marie Biagioni’s Inside We Hide and Zoe Hollyoak and Guiseppe Rotondella’s The War on Food. The talented Biagioni is also appearing with fellow Curtin theatre course alumni in Halina.
There’s so much more. The makers of the out-of-nowhere 2014 hit 10,000 Beers are back with 7 Needs. Matt Penny encores the irresistibly cuddly Frank the Mind-Reading Hotdog, and WA rock legend Dave Warner brings back his 2015 Fringe sell-out The King and Me. The funniest Pakistani-Australian since forever, Sami Shah, treads on dangerous ground with Islamofarcist and the startling Tiffany Barton’s Diva is a returning Fringe award-winner.
I’ll also be seeing Jo Morris in Resort Apocalypse, Rorschach Beast’s Girl in the Wood (part of the Fringe’s growing offering for kids and young people), Hellie Turner’s Meow, a bunch of new WAAPA grads in Alice is Drowning and Super Awesome Best Friends Forever, the multicultural Asian Ghost-ery Store and the Menagerie Choir’s Sounds Like Teen Spirit. All West Australian product.
I could go on – but here’s the point. When it comes to WA shows, what you see at Fringe is really just the tip of the iceberg. From the fancy stages at the State Theatre Centre to tiny back rooms scrounged from their mum’s cousin’s uncle, our performing artists are following their dreams, and venting their spleens, all year round.
You don’t have to wait until Fringe to see them, and it’s a pity if you do.
So why not use this month as a travelogue? Check out WA’s brilliant local talent, see what’s for you and what isn’t, and enjoy the work they do on the other 335 days of the year.
You’ll find you can Fringe Staycation any time you want, all in the comfort of your own home town.  

An edited version of this piece was published in The West Australian Fringe World supplement 6.1.15 

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