Saturday, 28 January 2017

Fringe World 2017 - Shows at The Brisbane (28 January & 9 February)

Where Be The Winged Apes? - Emma O'Sullivan (28 January 2017)

An empty waiting room outside the door to Hell. The receptionist is missing and Satan is apparently sooking behind the door. A queue of people wait to get in headed by newly deceased bus accident victim Emma in a 'sequined catsuit'.

We know it's purgatory as a) it's hot (special effects, Perth summer) and b) The Girl From Ipanema has been playing on an endless loop.

So begins a very funny one-sided conversation between Emma and Satan as she tries to gain entrance to this 'minimalist Hell'. Smart, likeable, and energetic, O'Sullivan is totally engaging as she plays up to the audience and creatively uses the door as both prop and defacto representation of Lucifer himself.

Just when I thought the premise was beginning to run out of steam, O'Sullivan pulls a reversal that is well-timed and cheekily executed as she sticks the landing with aplomb.

A fun show upstairs at The Brisbane that is destined to win Best Use of a Venn Diagram in a Fringe Show! Last show Sunday, 29 January.

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner - The Immaculate Conception (9 February 2017)

I can truly say that this show engendered an epiphany with its rousing anthemic closing number that has changed the way I see the world, today, tomorrow, and the day after next.

Words that will never leave me. I could share these talismanic lyrics of wisdom but such potent life-changing advice really should be experienced in person.

Of course, the journey to such wisdom is fraught with obstacles and what better way to depict the conflicts of the world than at the time honoured saga of introducing your gay Muslim boyfriend to your Carrie-esque religious mother over dinner? The premise is pregnant with satire and conflict.

What's more, the original songs show an inherent understanding of the musical theatre form driving the narrative forward and illuminating the inner emotional lives of the characters. The Book and Lyrics by Lucy Ross who plays the mother are witty and subversive; the music by Benjamin Colley playful and expertly rendered by Tim How.

Colley plays the son nervous about introducing Ashley Rousetty's Mo to his mother. As the increasingly inebriated Gloria becomes more offensive, Mo rises to the challenge. It's funny and pointed with a healthy dose of satirical bite.

Highlights include the aforementioned ending, a blazing rendition of Amazing Grace by Ross, and a standout setpiece as awkwardeness turns to disbelieving laughter which is cleverly incorporated into song. And sing all three can with talent to burn.

One more show left this Friday night. Go see it, it could change the way you see the world. Just don't sing the closing lyrics to your pastor.

*originally published at

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Fringe World 2017 - Shows by Jeffrey Jay Fowler (25 & 27 January)

Price Tag - The Last Great Hunt (25 January 2017)

Satire pushed to absurdist limits as Groundhog Day meets the mother of all gauche dinner parties. While any production that features Jo Morris and Nick Maclaine amongst its acting numbers as well as the oft sharp writing of Jeffrey Jay Fowler will have its moments, this left me a little cold.

The targets of the pointed barb of Fowler's writing - materialism and the corrosive influence of wealth - were handled in heavy-handed fashion for mine and didn't offer more than surface level illumination. Rich people can be pricks. Really rich people even more so.

But beware large aquatic creatures tripping on your doorstep!

The One by Jeffrey Jay Fowler - Whiskey & Boots (27 January 2017)

Two newly unencumbered people fall into each other before falling in love which leads to thoughts of marriage... which isn't as palatable to one as it is cherished by the other.

First rate performances by Georgia King and Mark Storen; the former in a layered portrayal that incorporated a level of warmth I hadn't seen from her before; the latter with an almost wide-eyed naivety that slowly turns into a hard-earned epiphany. There is an ease and believability to the characters' relationship that is compelling.

The script by Fowler is excellent. There was an 'outburst' relatively early when a specific viewpoint on marriage was explicitly stated. This momentarily made me nervous as I thought maybe the piece would turn didactic. But the excellence of the writing and acting in the set-up and characterisation had me invested in the relationship and genuinely liking each character. The perspective was handled with maturity and paid off in spades in a well executed ending.

The use of Storen's guitar playing, singing, and choice of song added immeasurably as well.

I know it's only the end of week one and there have been many well reviewed shows with no doubt many more to come but this has the Martin Sims Award written all over it. It is also a perfect companion piece for Fowler's terrific Fag/Stag.

*originally published at

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Fringe World 2017 - Shows at The Ellington (24 & 30 January, 6 & 16 February 2017)

Minor Major Marlene - Ali Bodycoat with Gabriel Fatin (24 January 2017)

Who knew that Fringe World had a time machine and that it was located at the Ellington Jazz Club?

This tribute to the formidable career of legend Marlene Dietrich had class written all over it from Bodycoat's performance and 'severe chic' look to the superb accompaniment by Gabriel Fatin on piano to the images from Dietrich's films projectedon the rear wall.

Classic songs abound - Falling in Love Again, Just a Gigolo, Where Have All The Flowers Gone and Blue Velvet among others, beautifully sung by Bodycoat.

Highlights for me - the haunting White Grass; Fatin feeling it during One For My Baby and One For the Road; and the impish The Laziest Gal in Town.

Make 'Em Laugh - The Untold Story of Donald O'Connor by Mikey Halcrow & Jens Radda (30 January 2017)

Having recently seen a big touring production of Singin' in the Rain and the renewed interest in the original movie after the passing of Debbie Reynolds, I was primed for this show. I knew Donald O'Connor played Cosmo in the classic movie musical but little more.

This show fills in the blanks including O'Connor's first wife, military service, and his partnership with a talking mule called Francis. Then, of course, there is his portrayal as Cosmo which earned him a Golden Globe nomination and from where the famous 'Make 'Em Laugh' comes from.

Halcrow makes for a charismatic O'Connor with Radda an excellent comic foil whilst also accompanying on piano. I thought there might have been more dancing but the stage space at the Ellington is fiendishly tight.

The most impressive aspect of the show was the chemistry between Halcrow and Radda. They bounced off each other wonderfully especially recovering from the odd goof in amusing fashion.

Highlights include Halcrow's athletic routine of the title number and a surprise 'appearance' of a legendary Broadway performer.

An entertaining show that shines a light on a varied and interesting career.

Wrong Direction presented by Christopher Dean (30 January 2017)

Chris, Jason, Ben, and Cameron. Remember those names as the boy band gone bad goes global. Surnames are for one hit wonders not sure to be household names from Balga to Boise; Belize to Berlin.

This is a high energy, full on parody, raunchy as all get out explosion of boy band harmonies, dance moves, and unforgettable lyrics. Trust me, there are lyrics you will never forget.

It also showcases superb vocal work from the four WAAPA graduates who lampoon a musical sub-genre while singing the hell out of a mix of original and well known songs.

The choice to cover Boyz II Men's End of the Road early established the talent on display. This was far more than a simple pisstake. Other covers included Uptown Girl and Robbie Williams' Angels.

The originals covered body parts, secrets, an extraordinary 'hymn', and, let's just say, some taboo subjects.

And didn't the audience love it. The reception was wholehearted and raucous.

A terrific show full of sass perfect for Fringe.

Frankly Hank - Radda Productions (6 February 2017)

It is so exciting to witness a rare live performance of the original 'Northbridge, Northbridge' before some hack called Sinatra stole it and retooled the lyrics in honour of a sleepy hollow in the US.

Welcome to the 50s where brylcreem is king and Hairspray is a decade away. Where Robert Menzies is Prime Minister and political correctness is not even a glint in the eye of the most ardent SJW.

Jens Radda plays Hank Finatra, crooner, bigot, and all round cad; drink at the ready, lyrical putdown cocked and loaded. This is a high wire act of pointed satire - and by pointed I mean a shank in your ribcage - which will have you thinking, "did he really just say/sing that... and did I just laugh?"

Radda tackles gender politics, race, sexuality, and religion by distorting the lyrics of famous Sinatra songs and other standards with acerbic asides in between. That he can sing the hell out of instantly recognisable classics despite the lyrical mangling and has an inherent charm helps deliver the, at times, breathtakingly non PC content.

This will have you laughing and squirming in equal measure and as the promo's state, is definitely not for the easily offended. A gutsy show that will perhaps divide opinions but is fearless in shining a light on today's inherent inequalities by reflecting on the past.

How To Co-Host A Murder - APAN Entertainment (16 February 2017)

I'm fast coming to the conclusion that the legendary Kander & Ebb are the soundtrack of this year's summer in Perth. Their timeless songs featured in A Hot Harlem Romp; Chicago opened recently in Kwinana to glowing reviews; and here they form the backbone of a loose narrative involving dancing dames, bumbling detectives, an effusive host and domineering club owner... with a murder of the star attraction. Everyone is implicated including the audience.

It's fun and frothy with audience interaction; some 15 musical theatre songs from Cabaret to Anything Goes and Chicago to Gypsy; colourful dancing girls; and a good-natured vibe.

The vocal talent was a little uneven and there were a few sequences that got away from the cast - notably Cell Block Tango and When You're Good To Mama - however the highlights included Lloyd Hopkins' Mister Cellophane and a funny twist on Lady Is A Tramp with a playful Hamish Briggs.

Briggs was a likeable host though the setup was somewhat repetitive until the missing star is confirmed as dead. Madeleine Shaw added acting chops as Audrey and worked well with particularly Hopkins' hen pecked and lovelorn policeman.

Ben Todd was good on piano as Bobby though it was at times a thankless task with some of the 'bigger numbers' begging for extra oomph. The revelation for me was Andrea Lim as Babydoll who sang well and added character to a ditzy role. The dancers brought glamour and energy with especially Nikita D'Souza catching the eye.

A pleasant romp that was well suited to The Ellington.

*originally published at

Friday, 20 January 2017

Fringe World 2017 - Day One (20 January 2017)

Topographs - The Blue Room Summer Nights, Michelle Aitken & Anneliese Kirk

Two pieces, one a philosophical musing on the concept of the rhizome; the other a more frenetic exploration of modern womanhood laced with pointed humour and attitude, told in three movements.

Studded with WAAPA talent the dancing is enthralling at such close quarters.

A fine way to kick off my Fringe festival.

Fairybread - sandpaperplane

A one act musical with a really strong set of songs/music with complementary singing talent that was very good. I wasn't as convinced about the Book though as I was a little confused with the blurring of what was real, what was imagined, and what was recreated.

Putting aside some opening night technical hiccups it's a good venue and the band played well. Each performer had a chance to shine with a featured song among the best of which were Parallel and I'm Just A Girl Tired of Waiting.

Sophie Joske: Household Name - Catface Productions

Confident, funny, and not above some bombastic lip sync style fireworks.

See a 'struggling' comedienne battle a stifling male assh-- director (sorry Adam) for eventual supremacy and creative freedom.

Hear the funniest theory about reincarnation ever.

Learn what a charity mugger is.

A fun show and a perfect way to cap off day one.

*originally published at

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Singin' in the Rain - Crown Theatre (7 January 2017)

Great way to start the year taking Mum and Dad to see Singin' in the Rain at the Crown Theatre for their Christmas present.

The title number is spectacularly staged and performed at the end of the first act with the full cast reprising it at the end of the show. No need for a poncho as we were up high in the front row of the dress circle.

Gretel Scarlett was fabulous as Kathy Selden; Nadia Coote a scream as Lina Lamont; and our Don Lockwood, Rohan Browne I believe for today's matinee, was also very good. Jack Chambers, however, stole the show in a brilliant comic performance as Cosmo Brown. It was a thrill to also see recent WAAPA graduate Lyndon Watts crush his feature number Beautiful Girl. The orchestra was exceptional.

There were times it betrayed its movie origins and it took a while to build up a full head of steam but there were several great sequences with plenty of tap and the use of the screen for the 'talking pictures' was hilarious.

*originally published at