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InDaily's 2015 Adelaide Fringe picks

Festivals

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Seven sparkling “sirens” and more than 80 floats and 850 performers and will take part in the colourful parade heralding the start of the 2015 Adelaide Fringe.

The 4m-tall and 3m-wide sirens, adorned in “illuminated dresses of a thousand sparkling lights”, are inspired by the mythological creatures that lured sailors with their music and voices.

They will be spread throughout the parade (which starts at 8.30pm tonight – Friday – on North Terrace and travels south along King William Street to Victoria Square), seeking to entice people to explore the different facets of Fringe – cabaret, circus, comedy, dance, theatre, music and visual arts.

This year’s festival theme is “experience something new”, and InDaily is seeking to help you do just that with our recommendations from the packed program of a record 1058 events.

Our list below does include big-name, high-profile shows, but there are also lesser-known national and international acts and South Australian artists who can easily be overlooked amid the Fringe hubbub. Some are recommended by our reviewers’ based on previous experience; others because we are excited by what we’ve read and seen elsewhere.

As Fringe director Greg Clarke says: “See your favourites, but take a punt, see something a little bit different and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. You might even discover the next big thing!”

The Biggies …

Emma-Goh-Velvet

Velvet performer Emma Goh.

Velvet: Is too much disco ever enough? This new production premiering at Fringe takes its inspiration from New York nightclub Studio 54, stars legendary diva Marcia Hines and features disco faves such as “The Freak”, “Last Dance” and “Boogie Wonderland”. Read more in this interview with Velvet director Craig Illott. Garden of Unearthly Delights (GOUD), Feb 13-March 15.

Scotch & Soda: This is the new show by the crew behind former Fringe hit Cantina and comes with five-star reviews from Edinburgh. It will feature acrobats, percussionist and composer Ben Walsh (Tom Tom Crew) and the Crusty Suitcase Band “channelling the vibe of a rowdy whiskey joint set in some kind of dusty parallel Universe, between depression-era travelling circuses and Europe’s 19th-century carnival past”. Here’s the trailer. GOUD, Feb 18-March 8.

Fear & Delight: Another production by the makers of Cantina and Limbo (also back this year), Fear & Delight promises a smorgasbord of experiences. You can either attend the show, which will feature music by UK group The Correspondents and a cast of dancers, aerialists, acrobats and clowns, or the complete experience ($150), which also incorporates cocktails and some, shall we say interesting, food. InDaily has already had a taste of the latter – we were both afraid and delighted. Both experiences end with entry to the “cathedral of hedonism” The Devil’s Lighthouse. GOUD, Feb 13-March 15.

Circus

A Simple Space: Seven acrobats from Adelaide-based Gravity & Other Myths will be pushing themselves to the limits in A Simple Space. These guys are multi-award-winners and were named best circus act and physical theatre act at last year’s Adelaide Fringe for an intimate show InDaily’s reviewer described as “one brilliant hour of acrobatic pleasure”. Royal Croquet Club, Feb 14-March 15.

A-Simple-Space-by-Gravity--

A Simple Space. Photo: Chris Hertzfeld

Papillon: Another circus show that won fans among Fringe-goers and reviewers last year was the 18+ Papillon, from Victoria. It combines acrobatic feats and juggling with wit and song.  Cast members will also be hosting on Friday nights at Gluttony’s Lotus Club. Gluttony, Feb 13-March 15.

Illuminate: Also playing at Gluttony is Illuminate, a Madhouse Circus show which sees a cast of circus performers playing with light – think fairly lights, torches and lamps “used in ways you’ve never seen before”. Feb 24-March 1.

Soap: Described by presenter Arts Projects Australia as “sexy, seductive and sublime”, Soap is part circus, part-cabaret – and it promises to make a splash. The show sees an opera singer performing arias alongside a soundtrack encompassing everything from Beethoven to the Beatles and contemporary artists such as Sia and Goldfrapp. Meanwhile, acrobats and jugglers perform amid five bathtubs while being rained on from sprinklers. Royal Croquet Club, Feb 13-March 15.

Comedy

Adelaide Fringe has once again attracted an impressive line-up of comedy stars who will be premiering new work, including Jimeoin, Hannah Gadsby, Cal Wilson, Celia Pacquola, Tom Gleeson and Sam Simmons. Here are a few of our choices:

Tom Ballard – Taxis & Rainbows & Hatred:  It’s the title of former Triple J breakfast host Tom Ballard’s Fringe show that has piqued our interest. That, and his hilarious experience from last year’s Fringe which he shared in a column for InDaily. In this year’s show, Ballard promises toget stuck into loneliness, labels, sex, love, finding the courage to be yourself and what all that has to do with a certain cab driver on a certain rainy night”. GOUD, Feb 13-March 1.

Dave Callan: A Little Less Conversation 3: Irish-Australian comedian and “Gandalf of Dance” Dave Callan is returning to the scene of the crime at the Rhino Room for the follow-up to last year’s cracker show A Little Less Conversation 2.  This time audiences are advised to strap themselves in for a wild ride with “one Viking, two back-up dancers, many dances, more lols”. And if you want to see where it all began, you can watch Callan in A Little Less Conversation Remix at The Peacock in Gluttony. Feb 13-28 and March 3-8.

WOMANz-Tessa-Waters-HERO-im

Comedian Tessa Waters.

WOMANz: Self-described comedian/booty shaker/chicky babe Tessa Waters has scooped up a stack of awards for WOMANz, voted one of the top 10 character shows at Edinburgh Fringe. Combining dance, physical theatre, clowning and “cheeky costumes”, it’s also one of six “unique shows” recommended by Adelaide Fringe director Greg Clarke. GOUD, Feb 13-March 15.

Kitty Flanagan: This year’s Adelaide Fringe Ambassador says she loves coming here because the lack of humidity means she gets to avoid looking like a “frizzy-haired bag lady”. We love her coming here because she is, frankly, hilarious. And she’s got a sharp edge. In her new show, Seriously?, Flanagan will dish the inside story on “gravediggers, cops, Cubans and spaghetti ‘soss’.” Royalty Theatre, Feb 13-March 15.

This is Not a Love Song: This show also features on Greg Clarke’s list of “Experience Something New” suggestions. Presented by comedian Greg Fleet and director Tegan Mulvany, it is a love story described as “equal parts irresistible first kiss and unstoppable, hate-fuelled wrecking ball, backed by “a live soundtrack compiled of every great song ever written”. Tuxedo Cat, March 2-15.

Theatre

Cut: This one-woman psychological thriller stars Hannah Norris, who will be familiar to some from the previous Fringe hit My Name is Rachel Corrie. This time around Norris plays a tormented air hostess, with Cut being presented in an immersive theatre setting before nightly audiences of just 18 people. Be afraid. Holden Street Theatres, Feb 14-March 14.

Stop Start: American playwright and solo performer Dawson Nichols is no stranger to Adelaide’s Fringe. In shows such as I Might Be Edgar Allan Poe and Virtual Solitaire, he astounded audiences with his mastery of multiple characters. This year’s solo play is promising a dreamy, hallucinogenic trip into the history of stimulants through the minds of two brothers. Unmissable theatre. Bakehouse Theatre, Feb 14-March 7. – Jo Vabolis

White Rabbit

White Rabbit, Red Rabbit.

White Rabbit, Red Rabbit: When Iranian writer Nassim Soleimanpour was banned from leaving his country after refusing to take part in compulsory military service, he decided to write a play to travel the world in his place. White Rabbit, Red Rabbit is the result. The performance is unrehearsed; each night a different actor takes to the stage and opens a sealed envelope with the script, thus beginning what promises to be an original and intriguing experience. Royal Croquet Club, Feb 14-March 15.

Jon Bennett – It’s Rabbit Night: Last year’s Fire in the Meth Lab delivered a tormented yet hilarious true tale of unhappy families, and showcased Bennett’s skill as a storyteller. Anyone who saw him perform there will have already bought tickets for his new 2015 show about “ordinary people leading extraordinary lives”. Tuxedo Cat, Feb 19-March 1 – Jo Vabolis

TJ Dawe – Marathon and Medicine: Veteran of more than 1000 Fringe performances worldwide, Canadian soloist TJ Dawe is bringing two monologues to Adelaide this year. Marathon is a tale of “long-distance running and personal blind spots”, while Medicine explores the shamanic journey of ayahuasca.  Expanding consciousness via fitness or pharmaceuticals – take your pick. Bakehouse Theatre, Feb 14-21 and March 2-7. – Jo Vabolis

The Love Life of the Ordinary: This tale of love lost and a soul found was penned by Adelaide writer (and occasional InDaily reviewer) Rob de Kok. The era-free production sees the audience, cast and band move through the rooms of an old city building, before making their way into an alleyway and out into Light Square. “It’s so low-tech that it asks the audience to light some scenes with their iPhones as it goes,” says Rob, and “for a change, it’s 100 per cent local in words and music.” Rated PG. Co West (Currie Street), March 4-11.

#nofilter: A tongue-in-cheek exploration of ideas of perception, reality and identity in the age of smartphones and the “selfie”, this topical production has been “rescued from the ashes” of Adelaide youth theatre company Urban Myth, which folded last year. Presented by the South Australian Youth Arts Company and Beans and Such, #nofilter features a cast of eight young actors using a range of story-telling techniques, improvisation and discussion. Holden Street Theatres, March 13-15.

Dance

Djuki Mala – The Chooky Dancers: These Helpmann-nominated dancers from Elcho Island won our hearts at the 2010 Adelaide Festival with Wrong Skin. They won a few million more fans with a YouTube clip of their interpretation of Zorba the Greek. Now they’re bringing their high-energy fusion of contemporary dance and traditional Indigenous culture to Fringe for two nights only. GOUD, March 10-11.

Chooky-Dancers

Djuki Mala – The Chooky Dancers.

Run: Melbourne Dance Theatre is presenting this fast-paced, contemporary dance production which explores ideas such as fate, chance, time, choice and consequence. Said to be inspired by the film Run Lola Run and the biblical text “Run without becoming weary that you may obtain the prize”. Holden Street Theatres, Feb 27-March 1.

Music/cabaret

Dan Sultan: ARIA-winning singer-songwriter Dan Sultan, whose Blackbird album was named best album at the 2014 ARIAs, is currently touring on the back of his latest solo EP, Dirty Ground. Described as stripped-back, raw and emotive, the tracks (such as “Mountaintop”) will be perfectly suited to the intimate Spiegeltent setting. GOUD, Feb 19-20.

Macy Gray: Grammy-winning R&B/soul singer Macy Gray will play a Fringe show as part of a national tour on the back of her new album The Way. Promoters are promising she will perform all her hits, as well as songs from the new album, which you can get a taste of on her official YouTube channel. The Big Slapple, March 11.

The Garden Sessions: These free sessions at The Bandstand in the Garden of Unearthly Delights every Saturday and Sunday from 2.30pm offer an opportunity to hear some great South Australian Indigenous musicians, with a line-up including Allan Sumner, Bec Gollan, Jacinta Price and Cassandra Williams.

Michael-Griffiths-Adolescen

Michael Griffiths.

Michael Griffiths – Adolescent: Baby-faced crooner Michael Griffiths has a powerful cabaret voice and is unashamedly frozen in a prolonged adolescence. Hilariously cheeky, he shares his whimsical musings about life and adulthood and breathes new life into classic songs from musical theatre, film and ’80s pop. GOUD, Feb 13-March 15. – Trista Coulter

Wheatsheaf Ukulele Collective: The Wheatie ukes were on our list last year, too – but we love these guys, who play everything from pop hits to mad metal with unrestrained gusto. This “Best of the Best Show” Fringe show will also launch their new debut CD. Tickets to two of the five gigs are already sold out, so get in quick. Wheatsheaf Hotel, March 10-14.

Puddles Pity Party: Described as “the sad clown with the golden voice” and the “melancholy vagabond of rock cabaret”, Puddles will make his Australian premiere at Adelaide Fringe this year. We shall say no more, but direct you to this video of his cover of Lorde’s “Royals”, which has attracted more than 10 million hits. GOUD, Feb 13-March 15.

Beau Heartbreaker: You could do far worse than while away an hour with performer Selina Jenkins’ alter-ego Beau Heartbreaker (One Woman Performing as One Very Endearing Bloke), sporting a flannelette shirt and Akubra, spinning yarns and singing original songs. Get a taste of what’s in store from InDaily’s review of the 2014 Feast Festival show. Royal Croquet Club, March 7-15.

Hot Brown Honey: If the name isn’t temptation enough, a look at the website of these beautiful burlesque ladies should seal the deal, promising a “satirical, sensual, political mess” incorporating dance, poetry, comedy, circus, striptease and song. We’re expecting sass with ’tude. Royal Croquet Club, Feb 13-March 15.

Sympathy in the ‘70s: Adelaide prog-rock instrumental group Sympathy Orchestra are back, performing music from their albums Rest in Pieces and Sword Machine through a special quadrophonic sound system designed and built specifically for this gig to re-create the classic ’70s sound. The Garage International (North Adelaide Community Centre), March 13 and 15.

Other 2015 Fringe musicians to check out include Kate Ceberano, Katie Noonan, Jo Lawry, The Basics, Toni Childs, The Audreys, Archie Roach and J Mascis.

Random acts of Fringe

DotMaze: Get Lost: Described as a giant outdoor interactive maze and performance installation, the DotMaze is a family-friendly experience at the Royal Croquet Club in Victoria Square. There’s a maze – obviously – and within it visitors will encounter live performances, “charming characters and unexpected happenings”. Feb 13-March 15.

DotMaze

Get lost in DotMaze.

How to Play Ukulele and Guitar Workshops: For those who want to do, not just watch, Cal Williams Jr is presenting this series, where you can learn to write an original song, improv a guitar solo and jam with other musos. Wheatsheaf Hotel, Feb 13- March 15.

The Idea of North: public workshop: Want to learn the art of a cappella singing? Then get along to the public workshop being hosted by multi-ARIA-winning vocal group The Idea of North at St Mary’s College, Franklin Street, on March 12. The group will also be presenting two Fringe shows: Homegrown, showcasing songs by Australian artists at Nexus Cabaret, and a Stunning Sunday Soiree at the Jacob’s Creek Visitors’ Centre.

Op Shop Tours: One bus, five stops, 40 people, endless bargains – that’s the tagline for this perennial Fringe favourite. Essentially a guided tour through charity shops in different parts of Adelaide with songs along the way, the Op Shop Tours have sold out in previous years so best get in early. Feb 14-15, Feb 28, March 14-15.

Dressing for Doomsday: Ever wondered just what you’ll wear to the apocalypse? Dressing for Doomsday is a mixed media exhibition featuring the hottest trends for the end of the world. If you wish to avoid an apocalyptic fashion faux par, then be sure to head along to this exhibit. Adelaide Arcade, Feb 20 and 28, March 7. – Trista Coulter

Venues

There are dozens of Adelaide Fringe venues in the city and beyond, including pubs, wineries, cafes, galleries, museums, halls and more, so although we love the Garden of Unearthly Delights, try to broaden your experience beyond the park this year. Other show hubs include the Royal Croquet Club (Victoria Square), Gluttony (Rymill Park), Tuxedo Cat (Hyde Street), and The Big Slapple (Adelaide Convention Centre). The Rhino Room has a packed comedy line-up, Holden Street and Bakehouse are showcasing some excellent theatre, and cocktail bar La Boheme is one of our favourite cabaret venues.

Kitty says …

Still confused? Here’s 2015 Fringe Ambassador Kitty Flanagan’s tips for picking shows: “You must see at LEAST two shows. First of all, pick your absolute favourite act, something you’ve been dying to see. THEN choose the opposite of that for balance. So if your first choice is comedy, then choose something more arty and earnest. If your first choice is an international act, then choose something local. Always support your local acts, cos then you get to gloat in years to come when they are famous: “oh I remember seeing them in a tiny room at the Adelaide Fringe!”

See the full 2015 Adelaide Fringe program here.

2015 Adelaide Fringe show previews:

Tom Ballard: A gay ol’ time in Adelaide

Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind

Claire Hooper: Crazy stuff happens at Fringe

Comedian Justin Hamilton is homeward bound

What Would Beyonce Do?

Cut: A one-woman tale of terror

Velvet set to conjure a disco inferno

2015 Adelaide Festival previews:

Robot romance unfolds live on stage

Beauty and the Beast: true love in the raw

Gillard and Dessaix join Writers’ Week line-up

Adelaide Festival unveils 2015 program

Black Diggers headed for Adelaide Festival

Blinc: Artist makes the microscopic monumental

Five Adelaide Writers’ Week books to read

Writers’ Week: Hugh Mackay’s The Art of Belonging

Kiwi composer ramps up gothic horror at WOMADelaide

WOMADelaide 2015 to fill the senses

 

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