Saturday, February 13, 2016

Perth International Arts Festival

I'm all out of stars! 
wonderful theatre programme was a major highlight of Wendy Martin's first PIAF. 

Simon Stone's stripped bare adaptation of Ibsen's catastrophic story is unflinching in its vision and nigh-on perfect in its execution.
(Heath Ledger Theatre until Mar 13)
James Berlyn leads us gently through his family's history and invites us to consider our own,
Sweet science stories of empowerment that are a little too backward-looking to make for great theatre.
The girl who has everything faffs about a little more than she should, but, ah! That voice, those eyes, those 
William Kentridge's theme is time, and his imagination is executed with faultless brilliance. Joanna Dudley gives a performance that would fatally unbalance most productions; here, though, she is first among equals.
Much of the original is not to be, but the production's wonderful stagecraft and effects help it vault over a very high bar
Geoff Sobelle has such confidence in himself and his techniques that many of the established conventions of theatre can be dispensed with.

Jonny Donahue is warm, gentle and funny. In his hands, a desperately sad story becomes richly life-affirming and wonderfully entertaining.

Monday, February 1, 2016



Here's a Fringe-ful of Turnstile memories…

The Ballad of Frank Allen ★★★½ 
Crowther and Adamczak channel Martin and Lewis (and another Allen) in a story about a tiny man in a beard.

Read all about it!

The War on Food ★★½ 
A little to much, a little too soon, for the bright young things on the Cutting Room Floor.
Read all about it!

Blue Cow ★★★½ 
Alice Mary Cooper made waves last Fringe - she's done it again.
Read all about it!

My Life in Boxes ★★★ 
Teddy and Elise's love story defies death and gravity.
Read all about it!

7 Needs ★★½  
Some good things, but the glass is only half full at best.
Read all about it!

Asian Ghost-ery Store ★★★½  
Shan and Yaya are Asian - and they ain't gonna take it anymore!
Read all about it!

Staggeringly Epic: Ludwig ★★★ 
"Delightful Fringe sleeper" aren't words that you often see together. Well, here they are.
Read all about it!

We Didn't Come to Hell for the Croissants ★★★ 
Jemma Kahn returns with more Kamishibai - "paper drama" - and she ignites the Fringe again.
Read all about it!

Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster ★★★ 
There's no doubt Nicola Gunn has what it takes - it's whether it all fits in the same place at the same time I question.
Read all about it! 

Get Around Me ★★★
Get Around Me is a strange little show, and an uncomfortable one.
On the surface, this is the true story of the unlikely Aussie Rules career of Gillian English, a girl from Nova Scotia; but footy isn’t what it’s about. Throughout her football story she found herself having to cope with sexual harassment. It drove her from a game she should be entitled to enjoy without menace. The overwhelming emotion I took from Get Around Me was deep disappointment that the game I love was the vehicle for behaviour as reprehensible as this.
(The complete review appeared in The West Australian 15.2.16)       
The Great Ridolphi ★★★★
Chris Isaacs chronicles one man's great hunt for a lost father and a missing Goya and his actor Steve Turner, director Adam Mitchell and designer Trent Suidgeest deliver.
Stuart Bowden: Wilting in Reverse ★★½  
I get what people see in Stuart Bowden's theatre - I just don't get it myself. The story of Wilting in Reverse is yet another run at apocalypto-environmental sci-fi, the theatrical technique, metatheatre or whatever, more often than not dithering. Bowden's got a lot going for him, and this show is far from a dismal failure. I just wish he'd get on with it.
My Best Dead Friend ★★★★
An extraordinary story of ordinary lives, told in Kiwi and scrawled in chalk by my new best friend Anya Tate-Manning.
Read all about it!
Dr Felicity Rickshaw's Celebrity Sex Party ★★★★ 
Bunches of orgasms, and even more fun, in the latest Woods and Jones mini-musical
Read all about it!
Inside We Hide ★★½ 
Ann-Marie Biagioni's first play might not quite cut it - but watch that space.
Read all about it!
Islamofarcist ★★★★ 
Sami Shah is always funny; now I think he is also important.
Read all about it!

Alice is Drowning ★★★
This impressive little debut from the Your Mouth Collective is, in many ways, a companion piece to the much-awarded Under This Sun, which is also running now at the Fringe. Alice (the compelling Phoebe Sullivan) dreams of the sea, and her lost father, in dusty Leonora. Her best friend Brian (Lukas Radovich) has losses of is own, but fears losing Alice more. The script leaves the pair a little before it ought, but achieves some good things while we are with them.
17 Border Crossings ★★★★½
Thaddeus Phillips put his stamp on this year's Fringe.

Read all about it!
Sleeping Beauty ★★★

To sleep, perchance to dream.

Read all about it!
Labels ★★★★

The label on Joe Sellman-Leava's show said "see it".

Read all about it!
Perhaps There is Hope Yet ★★★½

In circus as in life, small can be beautiful

Read all about it!
Yeti's Demon Dive Bar ★★★½

Jennifer and Victoria came out to play with their fans
Read all about it!
The Man and the Moon ★★★½
Fly to the Moon and play among the stars with the disarming St John Cowcher and Brett Smith's hot, jazzy trio.
Read all about it!
  Under This Sun ★★★★½
 The Turnstile Award winner from The Emergence Co. returned for a Fringe run.
Read all about it!
2 Ruby Knockers, 1 Jaded Dick ★★★
Detective Dirk Darrow dug deep in this smart noir one-hander.

Read all about it!
The Road That Wasn't There ★★★★
Ralph McCuppin Howell entranced the Fringe last year with The Bookbinder, and his Trick of the Light Theatre returned with two more performers, Elle Wootton and Oliver de Rohan. An enchantment spinning New Zealand's own quirky history with the qualities we universally love from fairy tales and myths into a story that sits just beyond or below our waking lives.

Puddles Pity Party ★★★
My problem with Puddles is not his comedy, which is arch and intelligent, or his audience work, which is a brutal joy to watch. It's the songs. Good on him from avoiding the usual worn-away cabaret repertoire (though he did a laborious version of Hallelujah which, surely, should be put to bed before it does Leonard Cohen more disservice), but sometimes – a rock stolid shot at Sia's Chandelier for example – you realise you'd never listen to him if he wasn't a big guy in a clown's whiteface.
Sense and Spontaneity ★★★
There's not much you can say about improv that won't be contradicted by what you see when you go to it, but the set-up of this affectionate piss-take of Jane Austin (with Esther Longhurst and Jssica Messenger in empire line dresses, an audience member pickpocketed for storyline suggestions) will work just fine on any night. Special guest Glen Hall was suitably florid, and we all laughed more than we cringed.     
A Four-Eyed Guide to the Galaxy ★★★½
Rowena Hutson's Space Oddity reminded us that storytelling is still what it's all about.
Chrysanthemum Gate  ★★★
Sex, race and gender collide in Singapore.
EastEnd Cabaret: Perverts ★★★★
The EastEnd girls were in Perth on a mission, the world premiere of their first non-Vickty Victoria and Bernadette Byrne show, Yeti's Demon Dive Bar. In the meantime, it was fun to  saddle up the manbeasts for a trip down the memory lane of just about the best and most original cabaret act there is.
The King and Me ★★
The King was back in the building, and the show about his unexpected return made steady progress in its return Fringe season. The legendary Dave Warner, who wrote, is still much more comfortable behind the mike than on the stage, but Caitlin Beresford-Ord more than compensates with an increasingly confident take on you know who. 
Halina ★★★
The Open Lid Ensemble, a posse of Curtin Performance Studies grads from the past decade or so, devised a striking and effective piece of physical theatre that dealt with our clay and stone, rigidity and fluidity, in a most original fashion. Delivered with gusto and palpable commitment by its six performers (including Anne-Marie Biagioni and Amanda Watson, such hits in last year's Fuck Decaf), and beautifully accompanied by Biagioni's brother Michael, it only faltered for a short while when Halina tries to explain too much in a language we know too well.
Talk Dirty to Me ★★★
Texting, sexting, identity and mistaken identity put through the wringer by a sharp ensemble for The Cutting Room Floor.
Read all about it!
We May Have to Choose ★★★½
Emma Hall – a Laurie Anderson without music – has lots of questions and lots of answers, but in the end, it's us that have to choose.
Girl in the Wood ★★★½
An auspicious debut by Rorschach Beast; a girl's search for her brother turns into a Quest in the best fairy-tale tradition.  
Read all about it!
Reasons to Stay Inside ★★★★
The pick of my early Fringe, an impeccable story for kids about anxiety and indomitable spirit, with terrific performances all round. 
Read all about it!
The Crossing ★★★½
The Hunters delivered a tidy tale of corporate malfeasance that showed the influence of director Kathryn Osborne's foray into opera.
Read all about it!
MKA: Being Dead (Don Quixote) ★★½
Talk around the water cooler ranged from "Wow!" to "WTF!" after a typically divisive number from MKA.
Read all about it!
Resort Apocalypse ★★½
Like Total Eclipse of the Heart in cabaret, no matter how well it's done, dystopian apocalypse has been done to death.
Read all about it!
Purgatorio ★★★★
Beautifully staged and faultlessly performed, it's not typical fringe, but worth seeing any time, anywhere. 
Read all about it!

Loaded ★★★★ 
A talent-laden double bill from Gita Bezard and Will O'Mahony gets the Fringe and Black Swan's 2016 off to a positive start.
 Read all about it!