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Fringe 2013

Angry Young Man
Holden Street Theatres – The Studio, Sat Feb 16

Angry Young Man is a cracking, rapid fire 60-minute exposition on immigration, bleeding hearts, good intentions and bad blood. It has plenty of laughs, but also has important points to make about assimilation, racism and, perhaps, the question of exactly what one should be prepared to surrender for a “better” life.
Four young men, identically suited and booted, play the central role of Yuri, a surgeon recently arrived in England. They also play the roles of the minor characters – a gushing woman, elderly men, racist thugs, and a dog. The performances are superb without exception.
The dialogue is skilfully delivered, as the central role bounces from actor to actor. Bodies are flung around, making full use of the space. The accomplished physicality is vital to the story telling.
Ben Woolf’s multi-award winning play is light but meaningful, adeptly delivered, and will prove once again to be a hit with Fringe-goers.

Final Word: Energetic

David Robinson

Angry Young Man continues at Holden Street Theatres – The Studio until Sun Mar 17.


Glory Dazed
Holden Street Theatres – The Studio, Sat Feb 16

It’s 2.00 AM and the pub is about to shut. Hang on; is that someone at the door?
And, with that, the audience bears witness as one man rages against his reality.
Samuel Edward Cook is excellent as Ray, just about managing to keep a lid on the ever-present threat of his fury manifesting into something tragic. Chloe Massey, Adam Foster and Kristin Atherton are also marvellous as the three individuals forced to participate in Ray’s vague attempt at explanation and, perhaps, redemption.
Amongst the violence, the accusations and the vodka there are also deft observations about the ultimate worth of war, and of the farce of patriotism.
Second Shot Productions worked with jailed ex-servicemen in creating Glory Dazed. The gripping reality that has resulted from this series of conversations is there for all to see.
Written by Cat Jones and directed by Elle White, Glory Dazed pulls no punches.

Final Word: Fuelled

David Robinson

Glory Dazed continues at Holden Street Theatres – The Studio until Sun Mar 17.


Like a Fishbone
Higher Ground East – Main Theatre, Sun Feb 17

Like a Fishbone begins in an orderly manner; two individuals, polarised opinions on a contentious topic, perhaps both views are valid. Let the games begin. This appears to be familiar territory, albeit in an unfamiliar setting. An hour later I am wondering what happened. The initial dilemma has evolved into multiple counterpoints. Is this about faith (“I will always take God over the truth”)? Or is it something about how we view tragedy as both a society and as individuals? Perhaps it’s about the responsibilities of parenthood, or the validity of gender-specific roles?
Anthony Weigh has created an engaging and challenging story, and it is well presented. The actors do an admirable job, presenting this winter’s tale on a 40-degree day, while managing to overcome the noise from the pub crowd next door. Ultimately, this is a worthwhile experience, more so if you are not looking for a key message.

Final Word: Cloudy

David Robinson

Like a Fishbone continues at Higher Ground East – Main Theatre until Thu Mar 14.


Love in the Key of Britpop
Tuxedo Cat – Red Room, Mon Feb 18

A simple set; red curtain, black stage, stool, spotlight, microphone. All we have is Emily Andersen. And that is all we need.
Andersen recounts a tale of love, discovered and lost in Melbourne but set to a lyrical soundtrack that comes from the other side of the planet. As her heartfelt and bittersweet story unfolds, Andersen name-checks just about everyone associated with those heady days of Cool Britannia. Even Joy Division and Arctic Monkeys get a mention. But it’s mainly about the time when Damon, Jarvis and Noel ruled. Andersen’s impressive 60-minute prose poetry paints evocative, beautiful pictures of the mood, the scenery and the songs of her ultimately doomed Britpop romance. It’s quite a brilliant effort.
This show should be enjoyed by one and all. The venue is close to The Garden, it’s an early start, so why not kick off your night at The Fringe in style?

Final Word: Definitely

David Robinson

Love in the Key of Britpop continues at Tuxedo Cat – Red Room until Tue Feb 26.


Flanders and Swann
Romantiek, Tue Feb 19

Tim FitzHigham has travelled from England (Kensington, naturally) and teamed with local pianist Matthew Carey to bring their Flanders and Swann recital to the Garden, some 50 years after the original duo toured Australia. The gentle satirical magic of this classic songwriting team is brought to life through the performance of songs such as The Gasman Cometh, A Transport of Delight and Have Some Madeira M'Dear. Other highlights include Ill Wind and the sing-along Hippopotamus. Amongst all of the wordplay and good-natured humour, there are glimpses of genius; as evidenced by the wistful Slow Train (recently covered by none other than Frank Turner).
The witty anecdotes linking songs are, in FitzHigham’s own words, “seamless”, and his attempt at constructing a French horn from a chair, a funnel and a length of garden hose is fun.
This early-evening show will prove a joy for anyone seeking some good old-fashioned intelligent entertainment.

Final Word: Delightful

David Robinson

Flanders and Swann continues at The Garden of Unearthly Delights’ Romantiek until Sun Mar 17.


Afternoon Tea with Joyce Grenfell
Glenelg Pier Hotel, Thu Feb 21

Liz Hirstle presents an affectionate remembrance of the life and work of the classic English comedienne Joyce Grenfell. Accompanied by her very own “Mr” Boulting on piano, Hirstle performs 13 of Grenfell’s best-loved monologues and songs. There are, of course, frequent visits to the nursery school, and Grenfell’s breathtaking talent for accents and mannerisms is mirrored by Hirstle’s impressive performances of Lumpy Latimer, Visitor and The Worrier. The show is bookended with the songs I'm Going to See You Today and Picture Postcard, both demonstrating that there was more to Grenfell than a toothy grin and a few jokes. Tales of Grenfell’s and Hirstle’s own life experiences are dotted throughout the performance and this makes the experience a more complete affair. The afternoon tea is a nice touch.
Hirstle and her assistants manage to bring the bonhomie of a time gone by, despite the slightly sterile nature of the venue.

  1. I'm Going to See You Today
  2. Nursery School (Free Activity Period)
  3. What Shall I Wear?
  4. Lumpy Latimer
  5. Wrong Songs for Wrong Singers
  6. The Worrier
  7. Nursery School (Flowers)
  8. Visitor
  9. The Hymn
  10. Unsuitable
  11. Olde Tyme Dancing
  12. Nursery School (Going Home Time)
  13. Picture Postcard

Final Word: Charming

David Robinson

Afternoon Tea with Joyce Grenfell continues at Glenelg Pier Hotel until Sun Mar 10.


Sentimental Journey – The Songs of Doris Day
Tiffins on the Park, Thu Feb 21

This show places the multi-faceted Doris Day in a soft-jazz setting, showcasing almost two hours of songs performed by Day on record and on film. Louise Messenger, along with her trio, does an admirable job with the songs, as well as sharing aspects of the Hollywood star’s life with the audience. The music is assured, and there is a fluency to the whole performance that makes for an enjoyable night.
Amongst many other numbers, Stardust, On Moonlight Bay, Sentimental Journey and Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps are all well-received. And, of course, there’s the classic Que Sera, Sera. The inclusion of songs not generally associated with Day ensures that there’s something here for casual and ardent fans alike.
Messenger is quite obviously an admirer of Day and tales of her own experiences add warmth to the performance. The audience genuinely enjoyed, and felt part of, the evening from start to finish.

Final Word: Daydreaming

David Robinson

Sentimental Journey – The Songs of Doris Day continues at Tiffins on the Park until Sat Mar 9.


Higher Ground East – Art Base, Sun Mar 3

ThreeApplesHigh returns to the Fringe with Smashed, a fast-moving tale of youth, friendship and loss. Yesterday, today and tomorrow collide as two young friends move through various stages of their relationship. Something awful, but as yet unstated, is about to happen. Actors Mandahla Rose (Hazel) and Kate Englefield (Ruby) provide verve and intelligence as they race through the dialogue with passion.
Directed by Victoria Beal, Lally Katz’ short play shows that the bond of friendship can be almost unbreakeable, despite lack of years and the best attempts of circumstance to pull it apart.
The static set is rather beautiful and remains appropriate despite the ever-changing circumstances, and the soundtrack and lighting play a significant part in creating the environment. All up, this is good-looking, thoughtful and chaotic ride.
A seat somewhere close to the front is recommended as some of the action takes place at floor level.

Final Word: Smashing

David Robinson

Smashed continues at Higher Ground East – Art Base until Sun Mar 10.


Writers’ Week Evening: War Stories: Kevin Powers, Tatjana Soli & Madeleine Thien
Elder Hall, Mon Mar 4

Three authors share their various experiences of writing a war novel, their views on war writing, and of war itself. Miriam Cosic introduces Tatjana Soli (The Lotus Eaters), Madeleine Thien (Dogs at the Perimeter) and Kevin Powers (The Yellow Birds). Each is invited to read an extract from their book. The pieces are, as expected, evocative and powerful. Although the settings (Vietnam, Cambodia and Iraq respectively) and themes of the novels are different there is a degree of common thinking throughout the discussion. Cosic seeks an insight into the motivation for writing the three books, and also looks for some detail of the writing process itself. The three authors are erudite and incisive, using the open and sometimes vague questions to offer insights into how the books came into being, where they see their work fitting into the war writing genre overall, and of war’s place within our lives.

Final Word: Genuine

David Robinson


The Audreys
The Garden of Unearthly Delights’ Paradiso Spiegeltent, Tue Mar 5

Taasha Coates and Tristan Goodall present an intimate and assured performance of eleven songs in a warm Spiegeltent. The combination of Goodall’s sublime guitar and Coates’ beautiful voice on Nothing Wrong With Me and Comfort Me immediately demonstrates why The Audreys are a top-drawer act. This is their last performance before heading to Texas and SXSW, so the audience gets the duo’s very best.
Two new songs, Roll Away and Ballad of the Fallen, fit perfectly into the set. It’s difficult to see them not becoming favourites. Instant classics like Oh Honey, Poorhouse and You & Steve McQueen augment the set.
Even a power cut can’t stop them. As all light and amplification disappears, the duo, bathed in the soft glow of a mobile phone spotlight, performs A Little More and Lonesome Valley as they walk through the calm, listening audience.
I think that The Audreys, perhaps, have it all.

  1. Nothing Wrong With Me
  2. Comfort Me
  3. Banjo & Violin
  4. Oh Honey
  5. Roll Away (new)
  6. Ballad For the Fallen (new)
  7. Small Things
  8. Poorhouse
  9. You & Steve McQueen
  10. A Little More
  11. Lonesome Valley

Final Word: Brilliant

David Robinson


The Fantastic 5 – The Decade that was the 1960s
The Promethean, Thu Mar 7

This entertaining musical trip through the most vibrant and game-changing decade of the 20th Century is split into three parts. The first bracket opens with The Twist and focuses on North American hits of the very early sixties; it’s largely rock and roll, with touches of doo-wop and surf. The second, and strongest, set is a tribute to Beatlemania and other English pop. The last section consists of songs from the tail-end of the decade and some straightforward middle-of-the-road ballads. Just about all of the songs you would expect in a show such as this are present. It’s refreshing to hear some Antipodean sounds – The Twilights, The Easybeats and The Masters Apprentices are all covered.
The capable and genial band handles the musical and vocal requirements with confidence and with a respect for the original versions. The attractive guitars and dodgy wigs are a bonus. The audience goes home happy.

Final Word: Goodtimes

David Robinson

The Fantastic 5 – The Decade that was the 1960s continues at The Promethean until Thu Mar 14.