|Profound cutting-edge work finds a certain order amid the chaos|
|MELBOURNE FRINGE FESTIVAL – THEATRE|
|Cameron Woodhead Reviewer|
|THE WAITING ROOM
Born in a Taxi & The Public Floor Project
ENTER The Waiting Room and you immediately ask: where’s the stage?
|Bureaucrats’ quest for footballing gold is Ridiculusmus|
|TOTAL FOOTBALL Rating: 3.5/5 By David Woods and Jon Haynes. Ridiculusmus, La Mama, Carlton, until 10 October, $25/15
A SHOW called Total Football, with the third drawn grand final in AFL history? What a corker. David Woods and Jon Haynes form a UK double act, Ridiculusmus, remembered here for a two-man version of The Importance of Being Earnest. Their latest is a clever and supremely black British satire, set in the lead-up to the 2012 London Olympics. It’ll appeal to anyone who loves to hate Poms or soccer.
We follow bureaucrats as they try to forge a national soccer team. Going for gold, they score all sorts of gruesome own-goals in the process. Each scene combines excoriation and absurdity, verbal wit and physical comedy. The passions of genuine fans — from racist yobs to immigrants — are marginalised; dissolving into a nightmarish realm of managerial doublespeak, smug corporatism and the best of British manners. In Total Football, the anxieties of UK nationalism become both kinds of erectile dysfunction, the fun constantly vanishing into embarrassment or agony.
|Travelling suitcase tells tall tales to all your mates|
|MELBOURNE FRINGE FESTIVAL|
|Cameron Woodhead – Reveiwer|
|THEATRE THE LOUNGE ROOM CONFABULATORS RAT ING: 3/5 By Wil Greenway and Stuart Bowden Your House, to October 2, $20
HERE’S what happens. You book your lounge room for this performance. Choose whatever audience you like to attend. At the appointed time, you’ll find a note under the door.
Two blokes and a suitcase rock up with a magical tale to tell.
Couched in a parable about twin brothers who can’t stop yarning until they’ve told the perfect story, the show is fractured and recursive — an almost labyrinthine blend of comedy and horror (and a kind of weird, aggressive pathos) that takes in everything from snatches of poetry and fable to terrible puns and haunting songs.
The suitcase contains treasures from plastic figurines to cut-price shadow puppetry.
It’s tempting to compare Wil Greenway and Stuart Bowden to The Suitcase Royale, but they are utterly original. The “junkyard theatre” aesthetic plays a much smaller role, but the narrative ingenuity behind this performance — infinitely clever, insidious and beguiling — is a rare treat.
|Raucous opera parody mostly pedals uphill|
|MELBOURNE FRINGE FESTIVAL- OPERA|
|Cameron Woodhead Reviewer|
|THE ENDARKENMENT: A PEDAL-POWERED OPERA
Written and directed by Fregmonto Stokes; composed by Angus Leslie and Julius Millar, North Melbourne Town Hall, 521 Queensberry Street, until October 1, $20/15
THIS berserk brain-melt is classic Fringe — I even left with goo in my hair.
Most opera plots are rubbish; this no exception. Stokes’s libretto, a rambunctious parody of corporate marketing, drug addiction, promiscuity and virtual reality, creates a post-apocalyptic world sans electric power.
A fraudulent preacher (Peter J. Reid) leads a flock of three original sinners — Reuben Brown, Amy Turton and Zak Pidd — on a path back to the light (with eco-friendly lighting powered by three cyclists).
If much of The Endarkenment is facetious guff, you can’t help but admire its wild, Dionysian experimentation: the opera jostles with commedia dell’arte, physical clowning and internet inanities.
Composers Angus Leslie and Julius Millar mix arias and ARIAs — the music, played by a feral gypsy band, gambols through a globalised domain of bhangra, bluegrass, turbo-folk and Gregorian chant. Occasionally a moment rises above the bedlam to make you laugh — for me, it was when Turton set up an expectation of Ave Maria, only to sing of a local retailer.
|It’s a mystery how Holmes adaptation got to stage|
|THEATRE – MELBOURNE FRINGE FESTIVAL|
|Cameron Woodhead – Reviewer|
|A STUDY IN SCARLET (A STUDY OF . . .) RATING: 1/5 Adapted from Arthur Conan Doyle, by Robert Lloyd and Scott Gooding, Vicious Fish, Son of Loft, Lithuanian Club, North Melbourne, until October 1, $20/$15
ROBERT Lloyd has a Sherlock Holmes obsession — one he’s determined to inflict on you rather than share or, better still, investigate. The least attractive part of A Study in Scarlet (A Study Of . . .) lies outside the parenthesis — a re-telling of Conan Doyle’s first Holmes mystery that chokes Lloyd’s freshness the way a parasitic vine might a sapling.
Holmes fans may be diverted by this dire adaptation, but Lloyd doesn’t possess the acting ability to make Holmes, Watson and the cast leap to life.
You can tell that he knows it.
Yet Lloyd’s virtue is precisely what makes him such a bad poker player: the vulnerability of enthusiasm, its nakedness.
It’s the clues he offers to his fetish that shine — anecdotes about reading Conan Doyle in Dubbo, performing in a school play, of meeting Ian Richardson (his favourite Holmes) at an after party.
Play to those strengths.
Give us three quarts comic deduction, one quart Conan Doyle. Let the audience be Sherlock (or Watson, at least) — then you’ll have a show.
|Sublime performance of a loner driven to the edge|
|Cameron Woodhead Reviewer|
|THESE ARE THE ISOLATE Rating: 4/5 By Katy Warner Fringe Hub, North Melbourne, to October 9, $18/14
HOW did a company as strong as Mutation Theatre escape my notice until now?
These Are The Isolate is a devastating two-hander. Loner Ed McCallister (Tim Wotherspoon) keeps up appearances at work, but the private cost is crushing. One day, the torment of depression — in the guise of a fantasy of happy marriage — lures him to the edge of an abyss.
Katy Warner’s play is full of rapid-fire word games — a compelling construction of a fractured interior nourished by Beckett. Albee might be another spoke in its wheel.
I kept imagining Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? where both Martha and the absent child are phantoms.
Wotherspoon’s sublime histrionic talents bring precision and subtlety to the performance; every inflection is calculated into an unfillable matrix of unhinged comedy and pathos.
Blemishes exist (like repeating the word “exist” in a play about suicide) — but this is astonishing theatre.
It knows the song the sirens sang was a lullaby.
|Lost souls edit their lives to connect online|
|STATUS UPDATE Rating: 4/5 By Peta Brady La Mama, Carlton, until October 10 $25/$15
ONLINE interaction encourages confession and persona-creation, epiphanies and lies. Peta Brady’s Status Update makes fresh, immediate theatre from this labyrinth.
When Eve and Adam (Brady and Danielle Carter) meet on Facebook, two lost souls become kindred spirits. An online romance is kindled through a mutual love of poetry and true crime — stories from the world outside magnified by the internet’s viral iteration of them.
Both characters have secrets: their online facades are heavily self-edited.
A transition from net love to real world love forces a surreal reckoning, via a souped-up internet fantasy world — a combination of Second Life and World of Warcraft.
Status Update generates a lyrical psychodrama from visual and verbal dissonance. Both characters sit at adjacent desks, laptops ready, and the script ricochets between online exchanges and private revelations.
It’s brilliantly acted, heaving with postmodern alienation, Sapphic lust and a poignant search for connection in a world of illusion.
|THE LOST STORY OF THE MAGDALEN ASYLUM
By Kylie Trounson, Peepshow Inc, Abbotsford Convent, Until October 2
Site-specific performance is providing our most haunting theatre. Maybe architecture always invites spectrality.