Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Cabaret: Little Death Club

You could not ask for a more delicious summer evening to enjoy the intoxicating delights of the Fringe's Garden of Pleasure.  Amid the fireballs and fairy lights, alluring semi-clad performers roam free in this delectable optical feast.  It is no wonder the impressive queue awaiting admission to De Parel Spiegeltent were well primed to submit wholly to the many charms of the supremely seductive Bernie Dieter.   
Dieter, bedecked in glossy black feathers, shimmering sequence and bejewelled stilettos, had ensured there wasn’t a “starfish” among us. Her sultry voice and clever wit rang clear and true in her delightfully funny musical tales. In particular, her online dating foray with her “kinky uber geek” who dressed her as a wookie to “do” her like a “6ft dog” had us all crying with laughter.
The line-up of guest artists this night was pretty solid too, There was Marcel Lucont’s deadpan delivery about Australian capital city greeting signs, and wine that should not be served at the “temperature of balls” along with his poetry on animal sex,: “You said, let’s go wild, so why can’t I put this in there?”.  
The Party Time Ghost duo wowed us with their physicality and remarkable balances. Next up was Leah Shelton, a pole-dancing, wine-swilling tribute to bogan subculture, pelvic thrusting the crowd with a ‘goon bag’ golden shower. 
Completing the line-up was the velvety baritone, Le Gateau Chocolat who asked us to imagine Sandy from Grease as a “black man with a beard” who enjoyed “a steady diet of KFC”, and impressed us with his crowd pleasing rendition of Hopelessly Devoted to You.
From the moment Dieter greeted us with popcorn as we filed in, we knew we were in for a treat and we were not disappointed. We quickly wanted to participate in this enjoyably sexy jaunt that climaxed with us out of our seats, jubilantly dancing in the aisles to Dieter’s finale, "Let's Drink Like it’s the End of the World".   
A truly enjoyable and entertaining evening that left an after-glow of satisfaction and a desire for more.
Hermione Gehle

Theatre: Power Ballad ★★★★½

Julia Croft
Blue Room
Until Saturday 3 Feb 

It’s quite something. Patti Smith’s Pissing in a River, a left field power ballad par excellence, danced by Julia Croft, half naked, face obscured by rock chick hair. A mike stand. A mike.
It’s a sudden insight. Rock ’n’ Roll has two phallic symbols. Those guys and the hot guitar are at one end of it; those women and the microphone at the other.
Croft, whose prescient, Hollywood-busting If there’s no dancing at the revolution I’m not coming was a highlight of last year’s Fringe, and this show, simpler in structure but even more entertaining and fierce, surpasses it.
In its finest moments – an extraordinary, distorted play on the word “theatre” and the horrible threat of “feminist theatre”, and some over the top karaoke (We Belong to the Night, How Can I Get You Alone, the hilariously-impossible-to-sing-along-to No More I Love You) the mood of the audience went past mere exuberance to genuine euphoria.
It was a truly exciting experience, even for a straight white male who was, I guess, the target, or at least the butt, of both the ferocity and the gags.
I understand that Croft brings her own microphone to performances. It must be made of titanium, because it gets a fair hammering as she uses it as chalk, beats it on the floor and all parts of her body, goodies it, swallows it whole and produces - with the aid of some self-manipulated electronica – some of the wildest sounds your going to hear on a stage.
Last year I compared Croft’s ferocity and humour to Bryony Kimmings’s Fringe smash, Sex Idiot, from 2015. Even more so this time around. Hopefully, like Sex Idiot, tickets to Power Ballad are going to be impossible to get by Saturday night’s last show. Make sure you’ve got one of them.

Cabaret: Slap and Tickle ★★★★

STC Studio until  Feb 3

The director Mel Cantwell and Pinjarra-boy-making-good iOTA combined to much acclaim last Fringe in The Average Joe, and they team up again, joined by Russell Leonard and a 12-piece WAYJO orchestra, in Slap and Tickle (iOTA is Slap the clown; Leonard his gimp) in the STC Studio.
iOTA, who's made quite a name for himself over a 20-something-year career, operates in the disputed territory between drag and clownery, and he's awefully good at both. What's much, much more, though, is that he's a witty, quality songwriter with a mighty, flexible voice, and the dozen or so original songs he crams into a very busy hour are instantly accessible and surprisingly memorable.
But wait - there's more! His sidekick Leonard is an inspired casting. He's a big bloke – vertically and horizontally – more Canterbury Bankstown than Cabaret Ballet, but he moves that impressive bulk of his with rhythm, athleticism and quite some grace. 
Cantwell's done a terrific job packaging the whole affair up, and Mace Francis and his hot 12-piece WAYJO orchestra is a luxury I'm glad the show could afford. 
This is a show that would knock 'em dead at the Rooty Hill RSL (haven't times changed), but, in the meantime, you should let it beat you up good and proper right here and now!

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Comedy Lounge Perth City

The comedy business has had a somewhat chequered career in Perth, despite producing some big time comedians and much terrific material (Minchin, Creasey, Armadale, Eagles supporters).
For a while the Perth Comedy Festival, based in and around Mt Lawley, looked like it would be the springboard for an ongoing comedy scene, but, for one reason or another, it has subsided into a spin-off of the Melbourne Comedy Festival with no particular local character or sense of place.
That’s left rooms in suburban pubs like the estimable Lazy Susan’s, squeezed upstairs at The Brisbane, and the Charles Hotel carrying the can. Comedy badly needed a place a wider demographic of Perth pleasure-seekers would want to come out for.
There’s no denying comedy’s popularity in Perth – the bulging comedy programme at Fringe World attests to that ­– but, somehow, it has struggled to find that vital ingredient - a home that’s an attraction in itself.
It’s early days, but it looks like that room has arrived.
The newly-opened Comedy Lounge has a lot going for it. It’s got genuine date night black-is-the-new-black style, some sexy lighting, cute little tables (which you can book) on raked levels, and a bar you don’t have to go downstairs to get to that you can mill around in, and even slip out to during the show (choose your comedian carefully). There’s a decent, albeit uneventful, snack menu at reasonable prices and a maĆ®tre de who seems to get everyone sorted and seated more than satisfactorily.
Which is a long way of saying that this is a fairly cool place to be, located in an increasingly hot part of town among the jazzed-up laneways around Murray Street West.
Which brings on the comedy, and, on the six-pack stand-up night I went, it was well and truly up to scratch.
The great thing about stand-up comedy, of course, is how easy it is to get to you. A change of clothes and a single seat on a Tiger Air red-eye flight and a funny person can be delivered all the way to Perth without the usual logistical impediments to such an outcome.
The other great thing about stand-up nights is that, at ten or so minutes a stand, you can ease your way through the unmemorable, or even the truly awful (though none of this night’s bill, which included Damien Fleming’s little brother Justin, Shayne Hunter, Sean Conway and Marty Bright were anything like that) while you wait for inspiration.
You didn’t have to wait long. Greg Fleet anchored the show, and was as erudite, thorny, self-battering and hilarious as always. I suspect we’re going to see a lot of Fleet and his fellow senior laughmeister, Pete Rowsthorn, at the Lounge, and that’s not a bad thing at all.
On the bill proper, Perth export Rory Lowe’s is droll and dreadlocked with the sort of insights we fondly imagine only a stoner could have. He’s got that greatest of assets a comedian can have – we all know someone who’s just like him. Only he’s funny.
And then along came Townsville’s Danielle Walker. She’s that rare beast, the comedian you don’t know what to make of. For my humour, which runs most to the likes of Neil Hamburger and Paul Foot, Walker is the ant’s pants. She sniggers at her own jokes (so she should), she draws pictures of pigs with amputated legs. She’s just a little bit demented and, like I said, it’s hard to know what to make of her.
And I don’t know if any of us know anyone quite like her.

The Comedy Lounge gets underway in 2018 on January 11, and will have a strong presence during Fringe. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it becomes a place to be as the year cranks up.

The Comedy Lounge Perth City is upstairs at 403 Murray Street, Perth. Shows generally run from Thursday through Saturday, and tickets seem to range from $20 to $35.