Showing posts with label adelaide fringe review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label adelaide fringe review. Show all posts

Monday, 25 February 2013

2013 Adelaide Fringe Review - Charles Barrington in One Character or Less

2013 Adelaide Fringe Review - Charles Barrington in One Character or Less
The Tuxedo Cat until 2 March

I can't help thinking that Adelaide punters are constantly missing a trick with Charles Barrington.  I have seen his last couple of shows here and the audiences have been - I am sure Mr Barrington won't mind me saying this - poor.  Not in terms of quality, of course (indeed, when I have been there the shows have been enthusiastically received), but certainly in terms of quantity.  I may be under a misapprehension here, and on nights when I haven't been in the house has been full, but it seems that Adelaide theatre-goers are depriving themselves of the real treat that is Anthony Rogers' delightful comic creation.

Part esoteric musings, part pseudo-Hollywood gossip, part lecture on bees, the actor-producer-writer-director Charles Barrington (he started as a child actor when he was very young...) has a unique way with a punchline; he will often not only lead you to it, but will sometimes wait for you to get there before him.  The show has a distinct, easy-paced, almost shambolic rhythm to it and there is undoubtedly more than a whiff of substance or alcohol abuse in Mr Barrington's past that goes some way to accounting for this.  The performance has spontaneity and charm and, as one would expect from an international star of Mr Barrington's stature, he has an easy - and yet arm's length - rapport with the audience.

I think Charles Barrington is one of the most unique comic personas to have appeared in Australia in the last few years, and one that has the potential to really grow.  The jokes are funny, the character has depth, and there is a rich vein of comic material to be mined in parodying the pomposity of the self-absorbed performer.  If a less frantic, more reflective style of comedy is what you are yearning for, I would urge you to pay Mr Barrington a visit, as I think an undiscovered gem is being hidden in full view, while Adelaide just doesn't seem to be looking.


Thursday, 21 February 2013

2013 Adelaide Fringe Review - The Blue Room

2013 Adelaide Fringe Review - The Blue Room 
by David Hare
Presented by 5 Pound Theatre, directed by Jason Cavanagh
Starring Kaitlyn Clare and Zak Zavod
At Urban Spaceman Vintage, 2/27 Gresham Street @ 9.00pm until 2 March

Standing out in a somewhat down-at-heel Gresham Street watching a Reeperbahnesque performance in a shop window makes a most interesting start to a theatrical evening.  The vintage clothing store Urban Spaceman is transformed into a performance space for this production of David Hare’s loose 1998 adaptation of Schnitzler’s La Ronde, and so the display window was put to novel use as a prologue to the play.

Despite being an adaptation, this is very much a David Hare play, in particular in its portrayal of incongruous, enigmatic relationships or encounters, such as that between the MP Charles and the model Kelly, or between the actress and the wealthy American, Malcolm.  Hare has long had a fascination with the power politics of love, and so it is not only the prostitute Irene for whom sex is a transaction.  Unfulfilled yearning - for love, for excitement, for a better world - is always at the heart of Hare’s plays, although in The Blue Room it is not always clear just what it is that the characters are yearning for.  There is the suggestion throughout the play that relationships and sex are a way of diverting ourselves from our disappointment with life, and that love, if it comes along, is but a temporary distraction, a way of momentarily forgetting an emptiness that the play would seem to be suggesting is at the heart of existence.

If this sounds as though it makes for an overwhelmingly grim evening, this is far from being the case.  The production is notable for a simply outstanding performance by Kaitlyn Clare.  Worthy of particular praise are her portrayals of the French au pair Marie, Kelly the eastern European model, and Emma the middle-class married woman, although all of her characterisations are of the highest quality.  When the characters demand it, she is in turn vulnerable, domineering, confused and calculating, and manages to play both youthful and more mature characters with equal precision.  Ms Clare’s physical characterisations were also deftly differentiated, and she can both totter on high heels when stoned and play the theatrical grand dame with equal elan.  This is a highly accomplished piece of acting and shows Ms Clare to be an extremely versatile actress with a great range, and we can expect to see her playing major roles in our leading theatres in the not too distant future.

Zak Zavod’s performance is perhaps less frequently engaging (although I would venture to suggest that this is as much to do with the playwright as with the performer), in that the range of characterisations is possibly too wide to reasonably expect one actor to take on, particularly in the no-frills world of fringe theatre.  It might be an unreasonable expectation for an actor to successfully engage with the characters of both Anton and Charles, and so it is not surprising that the latter was the least fleshed-out character in Mr Zavod’s repertoire.  Having said this, I nevertheless enjoyed his portrayal of the pompous playwright Robert, and Malcolm the American suitor, that latter being Mr Zavod’s most successful creation and providing one of the play’s stand-out scenes.

This production has attempted to make a virtue out of necessity in its staging and, one or two costuming quibbles aside, director Jason Cavanagh’s spare setting, limited lighting and imaginative use of an unconventional theatre space serve the play well.  However, it is Ms Clare’s performance that is the main attraction and if there is a better acting performance at this year’s Fringe, I should be very much surprised.

Cadogan and Hall at the 2013 Adelaide Fringe

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Adelaide Fringe Review - The Right Dishonourable Dickie Daventry

Adelaide Fringe Review - The Right Dishonourable Dickie Daventry at The Austral (The Bunka) Saturday 10 March

Having spent a bright and beautiful Saturday buried in the bowels of the Barr Smith Library researching Singapore's historic role in ASEAN, it is not hard to imagine that I was approaching my appointment with the Right Honourable Dickie with something approaching gay abandon.  A hour or so in his company brightened my day considerably.

The former Tory MP and all-round old school cad is the wonderful comic creation of actor Dave Lemkin.  Part Alan Clark, part Sir Rowley Birkin, part Lord Morgan of Glossop (spot the odd one out), this is intelligent and thoughtful comedy that somehow seemed entirely out of place in a back room at The Austral - if only he could have appeared at the Royal Institution (the former Adelaide Stock Exchange) all would have been perfect (there are rooms there decked out with Chesterfields and wing back armchairs!)

Ostensibly, the show is a political memoir and the Rt. Hon. Dickie takes us through his life and career - Eton (buggered senseless), Christchurch College, Oxford (buggered senseless) and then, with remorseless inevitably, into the upper echelons of the Conservative Party.  Along the way, we hear about his marriage to Marjorie (drowned in a sea of her own lesbianism), his feckless children and his rampant sexual encounters with Margaret Thatcher that involved Dickie dressing up as Breshnev on the outskirts of Wolverhampton (it's hard to work out which part of that is the most frightening!)

This is a beautifully imagined character in the Wodehousian tradition, and appropriately Mr Lemkin uses language and verbal dexterity with great aplomb.  Having known one or two chaps in my time not that far removed from Dickie,  everything about Mr Lemkin's creation resonated, from the genteel poverty suggested by the slightly shabby tweeds that had seen better days, to the hair with a mind of its own (a la the Mayor of London), although I am afraid that I had to take exception with his shoes which were clearly not from John Lobb as one would reasonably expect from a man of Dickie's pedigree.

The fact that I would appear to be engaging with this character on a level that takes almost no account of Mr Lemkin's contribution to the entertainment goes to show just what a fine portrait he has created.  This was old-fashioned character acting and story-telling of the first order.  The fogeyish inability to engage with a mobile phone, the condescending attitude towards the colonies and the muddled retelling of one of the funniest 'An Englishman, a Scotsman and an Irishman go into a pub...' jokes you will ever hear all added up to a splendid entertainment that was thoroughly engaging and inordinately witty.  My only regret is that it didn't go on for longer - a long convivial lunch and a dangerous third bottle in the company of the Right Honourable Dickie Daventry would be the perfect way to unwind on a late summer's afternoon.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Adelaide Fringe Review - Bob Downe: 20 Golden Greats

Adelaide Fringe Review - Bob Downe: 20 Golden Greats at the Arts Theatre, Friday 9 March

I first saw Bob Downe on TV in London in, I think, about 1992.  For some reason, the self-styled Prince of Polyester resonated with me and I found him hilarious without ever quite knowing why.  Nothing much has changed.  I may be fatter, older and balder but Bob still looks as youthfully effervescent at the age of 53 as he did all those years ago, and is just as wonderfully funny.  If only he still wore the legendary beige safari suit...

There is something quintessentially Australian about Bob Downe, but I don't quite know just what it is.  Perhaps it's his warmth and the sheer delight he seems to take in performing.  You cannot help but think that he lives to be on stage and that really does reach every corner of the theatre.   Mind you, the feeling is very much reciprocated.  Many performers have fans who enjoy watching them, many have devoted followers, but I have rarely seen a crowd that so adores their idol.   Genuinely adores him.  Bob (we can't even conceive of him under his real name, Mark Trevorrow) could literally do anything on the stage and he would have the audience in raptures.  And what a mixed audience it is - he has a demographic that other acts can only dream of.

For those of you who have never seen Bob perform, his genre is probably best defined as retro-kitsch (another sign of the impact he has made on me, as this sort of thing is not normally my cup of tea at all).  He performs classic pop from the 60s, 70s and 80s punctuated with gags and banter, and enhanced by nifty but naff dance routines.  But I think it is the eyes and teeth that really seal the deal.  He has a piercing, wide-eyed stare and stage-school smile that have to be seen to be believed, topped off (literally) by the most immoveable hairdo known to man.  He started the show in a 70s style tracksuit, but then stripped down to reveal his Caribbean Cruise Collection - floral shirt and stunning white polyester slacks, while a mirror ball whirled away gaudily above.  You get the picture...

It is only right and proper to point out, however, that Bob Downe really can sing.  I have never seen Mr Trevorrow in any context other than as Bob Downe (except in some episodes of Kath and Kim) but it would be great to hear him belting out some big band classics, as under the playful camp there is unquestionably a truly fine interpreter of a song.  I would also love to hear him doing some Sondheim one day, or perhaps some Noel Coward.  That I would travel a long way to see.

It is also worth mentioning that Bob really does seem to know and like Adelaide and his many knowing references to the city and its personalities are very entertaining and only made the crowd love him more (if such a thing were possible).  And, as a final coup de theatre he is joined on stage by a local living legend, who tells a truly scandalous story about William Shatner, a yellow sports car and a trip to Windy Point.  Get along to the Arts Theatre if you want to find out more...