Melbourne Fringe Review: “Strongman, Daredevil, Idiot”

Back in the main theatre of Speakeasy HQ in central Melbourne, I had been waiting all week with anticipation to see “Strongman, Daredevil, Idiot” performed by Mad Vlad Bolshoi and Zlobnyy “Babushka” Kartofel Let me make an admission here: this show is NOT for the faint hearted! Get ready to strap yourselves in for a wild ride for this show, for it has surprises, danger and drama in each moment.

Right from the moment the show starts, the audience becomes aware that they’re now on a rollercoaster hurtling along at breakneck speed with Mad Vlad and Babushka at the controls. Mad Vlad himself wastes no time smashing things and flirting with danger in every move. The show features some strongman stunts (like metal bending) but there are segments of the show that stray into daredevil territory, and there was one particular stunt that made me want to shake Mad Vlad and yell “ARE YOU INSANE?!!” at him. Trust me – when you see the show, you’ll know what I’m referring to. I seriously don’t know how he does it! This show is gripping, will have you perched on the edge of your seat and will make your pulse race. I’m sure I had hypertension / an elevated heart rate during the entire show! At times, things got a bit thrilling and I wasn’t sure if I needed to look away. When I did see the expressions on the faces of other audience members, there was a mix of shocked expressions, plus plenty of wincing and grimacing. I get the feeling that many people rarely get the opportunity to watch strongmen and daredevils.

I enjoyed the juxtaposition with this show as Babushka provides comedy relief (via her chirpy accordion and penchant for confetti) especially when Mad Vlad is completing a crazy or extra dangerous task. Babushka is also a master of the ‘hard stare’ which prompted many giggles from the audience. Seems they don’t smile too much where Mad Vlad and Babushka come from, however they certainly provided a few smiles and giggles for their audience. Mad Vlad himself is also engaging with the audience – many of us had the chance to make sure / feel / test that the concrete pavers / pieces of metal and wood etc used during his act were real (and they were) which added to the impressive nature of the show.

Mad Vlad and Babushka expend a lot of energy in their show, but it is all worthwhile for an audience that madly screams, cheers and shouts for them as they leave the stage at the end of a thrilling, safety defying and crazy show. A wild rollercoaster ride that I enjoyed very much and that I’m so glad I took.

VERDICT: “Strongman, Daredevil, Idiot” doesn’t just tick all those boxes, it blows them away and smashes them! Make no mistake about this show: it is thrilling and is dangerous, but there’s fun to be had when you shake off the trappings of a mundane life and flirt with danger. IS VLAD. IS STRONG. IS MAD.

Tickets / more information:
https://melbournefringe.com.au/event/strongman-daredevil-idiot/

Advertisements

“Miniature Museum of Magic” performed by Jo Clyne

 Down an alley in Melbourne, hidden in a room that used to be an old bank vault is The Vault Melbourne – an intimate theatre seating only 20 people. This charming theatre – decked out with vintage curtains and plush furniture – is a fitting room for Jo Clyne’s magic show “Miniature Museum of Magic” which is a show that takes the audience back in time to the ‘golden age of magic’. Jo’s show is heavy on storytelling and charm as much as magic, but each aspect of the show fits together beautifully.

Jo sets the scene well with a simple table and chair onstage and wears a beautiful outfit, which echoes some of the time periods she speaks of. Jo commenced the show by explaining the setting of the show fits parlour magic – in a time where the richer members of society would have a magician perform privately for their selected friends in the parlour of a mansion. Indeed, I did feel lucky to be in an intimate gathering of audience members to witness the ‘Miniature Museum of Magic’.

Harking back to the title of the show, Jo did almost seem like a museum guide or curator at times as she told stories involving magicians from the past or special places like Coney Island. Following each story would be a piece of magic tied to that story or theme. Each piece of magic was well chosen and fit each story perfectly. The pieces of magic in the show were largely pieces of classic magic – as you’d expect with the theme being historical – however there were some clever twists too. During some moments of the show, audience members leaned in with anticipation and gasped with delight at other times. There were moments of disbelief for us all as Jo weaved her magic. Audience participation was included in the show (as it is with most magic shows) however instead of this being a daunting prospect for some people, Jo was so disarming and gentle that she never had an issue with people not wanting to help. Each volunteer enjoyed the magic (that often unfolded in their own hands) and left the stage with a smile.

This show was so enjoyable that the hour just flashed by and in no time I was thrust back onto the bustling streets and lanes of modern day Melbourne.

VERDICT: A show perfectly suited to those who love history, stories and magic. The ‘Miniature Museum of Magic’ is full to the brim with mystery, magic and marvels. Allow Jo Clyne to enchant you with her stories and magic, and take you back to the ‘golden age of magic’.

Tickets and more information: This show is held in The Vault Melbourne theatre, which is part of Speakeasy HQ.
Ticketing link: https://www.trybooking.com/book/event?eid=408811&

*disclaimer: I attended this show as a guest of the performer

 

Melbourne Fringe Review: “Make Your Move”

Returning to the lovely Gasworks theatre for another serving of fringe festival entertainment, I was excited to attend the show called “Make Your Move”. I had read a little about the show, however much of the details are left to be deliberately mysterious. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but throughout the course of the evening I was pleasantly surprised. With many shows becoming overly descriptive in titles and marketing blurbs, it was a little liberating to attend feeling like a ‘clean slate’ – having no preconceived expectations about the show. “Make Your Move” is a well organised show and the intimate but keen audience on opening night were warmly welcomed by the cast.

“Make Your Move” is directed by Gemma Flannery (13Theatre founder) and features a core team of 4 engaging performers – Luke Livermore, Hayley Marlow, Robyn Mclachlan and Tara Kennedy. Throughout the show, the audience is slowly given access to and perspectives of each character’s personality and world. It seems, at times, as if the audience members have visited a small town inhabited solely by these characters.  Dispersed between vignettes of each character, there is also a broader storyline featuring two lovers – a story which progresses, evolves and twists through the course of the show (and via the reactions / opinions of audience members).

The 4 performers within “Make Your Move” each did a fantastic job of bringing their characters to life – there were amusing conversations for the audience to witness, giggles and wry smiles and some impressive monologues. There were a couple of cliche lines, however there were also modern references which I enjoyed so a sense of balance was towed. Most importantly, the characters were highly relatable – I could see elements of myself in some of the characters or even elements of their backgrounds and could think of other people in my life who could relate to the characters as well. Collectively, I believe at least one of the characters would be relatable to most audience members (in one way or another). This also helps draw the audience into the stories within the show – as the show progresses, I get a sense that the audience ‘cares’ about the welfare of each character a little more. Overall, I found the characters’ perspectives to be like a foggy bathroom mirror – at the start of the show, the audience isn’t given much detail and then progressively through the show we learn more about the characters until a clear image of  each appears.

A regular segment of the show that I enjoyed was the “Game Show” segment, which to me was a commentary on how life throws us all into uncertain and stressful situations sometimes. I enjoyed the metaphors that the game show references brought, as well as some bonus laughs. I also enjoyed the ‘prop heavy’ nature of the show, and indeed how each performer / character regarded the props in the space after they had been used. It felt like every aspect of this show had been carefully selected and regarded. There were some storyline aspects that were serious and could be taken to darker places, however a balance remained (in content and jokes / light hearted moments).

The title “Make your Move” was regularly referenced throughout the show, which I liked as it constantly brought the audience back to the concept of “what’s next?” or “what do you want to do next?” or “where are you headed?” Life often throws each of us into the paths of crossroads – just like in this show, where characters approach their own crossroads with different perspectives.

Verdict: it’s time for YOU to take that next step and “Make Your Move” to the Gasworks to see this enjoyable, clever and thought provoking show. Take a chance, roll the dice of fate and see a show worthy of your time, attention and thought.

Tickets: http://www.gasworks.org.au/event/make-your-move/

*Disclaimer: I attended this show as a guest of the Director.

Melbourne Fringe Review: Le Grande Cabaret

Tucked away in an inner city suburb, Hares and Hyenas is a both a bookshop and a performance space. The venue is playing host to a handful of fringe festival shows this season, including the one I was lucky to attend: Le Grande Cabaret. I will admit that I have previously seen an incarnation of Le Grande Cabaret, however this one was a markedly different show – with a particular theme and different assortment of performers.

Patrick Collins was the suitably charming MC for the evening and announced that the theme of the show was “Heaven and Hell” – with the first part of the show dedicated to performers with heavenly personas and routines, and the second part of the show would descend into the more devilish routines! Patrick addressed his audience as a ‘pantomime crowd’ prompting lots of of ‘oohs and aaahs’ and of course, making the audience laugh.

The lineup for the ‘heavenly’ portion of the evening commenced with none other than the delightfully sweet and divine Camilla Cream. Appearing in a beautifully fluffy and soft pastel pink outfit (with matching feather fans and headdress), it seemed that Camilla floated in on a cloud of fairy floss. Her routine set to a jazzy rendition of the modern song ‘Call Me Maybe”, Camilla was playful towards the audience with every step. Winking and being sultry one minute, then smiling coyly the next – every performance from Camilla is a sweet treat! I’m constantly impressed and mystified with how Camilla seemingly effortlessly moves and weaves her fans in time with the music. The way she uses them, they looks like they weigh nothing at all. One thing is for sure – Camilla’s performance was sensational!

Lord Lovat appeared next, with his ‘Twerking in the rain’ routine (admittedly, one of my personal favourites). If you’ve never seen Lord Lovat perform or seldom seen this routine then you are simply missing out on an amazing performance that is sassy, sexy and will leave you screaming for more! It’s a routine that never fails to leave the room steamy. Continuing on with the heavenly performers, I felt blessed as another ‘fan favourite’ – Liberty Foxx – appeared with a striking comedy based routine that was cleverly themed and which involved a complete transformation. I won’t spoil exactly what happened here, but let’s say the audience went bananas for Liberty.

Miss Holly Wouldn’t slipped through the crowd and onto the stage like a goddess from films past, performing a breathtaking and enchanting ‘classic tease’ routine and using a draping outfit with great effect. Continually glancing back to her audience, Miss Holly Wouldn’t ensured the audience constantly wanted more, and more we did! Ever so beautiful throughout her routine, I spied many longing glances from audience members after she had left the stage. Rounding out the heavenly section of the show was performer Michael Wheatley, who brought a gangster style vibe and very athletic body to the stage. I enjoyed his performance as he told the story of a man trying to impress a very beautiful woman (Camilla Cream) without using a word. The audience couldn’t but be charmed by Michael – he is such an endearing character.

In no time, Patrick Collins returned to introduce us to the hellish characters within the second part of the show, and in the process seemingly became overcome by the prince of darkness himself and performed some card magic!! Hellish to some, but I reveled in the magic routine (steered behind the scenes by the prince of darkness) and was entertained by every moment! It certainly displayed a stark contrast to the first section of the show. While the audience were on their journey to the hellish depths of the underworld, we discovered that many of the performers were the same people as we’d seen earlier in the show – however they’d taken on darker personas….Lord Lovat had now become a zombie, convulsing the wards of some faraway hospital while Liberty Foxx used a very slow, almost heavy metal reworking of the song ‘Bad Moon Rising’ to depict an almost occult little red riding hood. With her slow, calculating and almost tortured movements, Liberty Foxx’s performance gave me chills down my spine. Headlining the evening, Michael Wheatley returned – seemingly possessed by the soul of a singer from the 1970’s. Impressed by his vocal ability, the audience was treated when Michael came down into the audience and showed off his suave dance moves up close to some lucky audience members. All velvet and smooth moves, Michael’s routine was sultry at times as he gyrated his hips and surveyed his newest fans – the room was in awe and excited at the same time. It was the perfect crescendo to a fun evening out.

Aside from the amazing performers who clearly took the show theming to heart, what I enjoyed about this show is that it was fast paced with thrills and exciting moments around every corner. With a lineup that changes each night, you’ll never know who you’ll encounter in heaven (or hell).

VERDICT: Don’t be afraid to venture to the edges of heaven and hell with ‘Le Grande Cabaret’. Let the performers take you to realms of angelic and demonic delights for an entertaining night of burlesque and surprises.

Tickets and more information: https://melbournefringe.com.au/event/le-grande-cabaret/

*Disclaimer: I attended this even as a guest of Le Grande Cabaret

Melbourne Fringe Review – Creatrix Tiara: Queer Lady Magician

 On a slightly chilly evening, audience members gathered excitedly within a studio theatre at the Gasworks to witness Creatrix Tiara’s debut magic show during the Melbourne fringe festival, titled “Queer Lady Magician”. The title of the show describes Tiara to a tee, however this is a magic show that delves beyond titles and labels – it is a show with a strong social commentary and narrative behind it.

I enjoyed that this show has an MC (Sonia) who was dressed in an outfit echoing a circus ringmaster. Sonia appeared on stage a few times throughout the show, to make introductions and to almost ‘keep the show on track’ in some parts. Sassy and witty, the audience took a shine to Sonia each time she appeared on stage. I find that many magic shows do not feature an MC, however this seemed to be an indication that around every corner, this was not a ‘standard’ magic show.

Creatrix Tiara made an exciting entrance onstage, and the crowd responded with a roar of applause and cheers. Dressed in a beautiful sparkly outfit complete with a tailcoat adorned with more shiny and sparkly elements, Creatrix knew she’s the performer everyone was there to see but didn’t let that sway her from diving right into her stories adorned with plenty of magical surprises.

Creatrix Tiara’s show explored many stories – personal stories from Tiara’s childhood and family, right through to poignant stories regarding heartbreak, and various challenges (racism, stereotyping, feelings of not belonging). Many stories were highly relatable  – even if one isn’t a queer lady magician, similar narratives course through our collective lives at one point or another. Creatrix Tiara’s stories evoked many emotions throughout the show – at times the audience sat in tense silence, while at other times there was laughter and nods of solidarity / agreement by audience members. There were some moments where I wished I could have reached out and provided a hug.
In terms of the magical elements, I could see that Tiara had carefully selected magical effects to accompany the stories and I have to say that everything was perfectly matched. Much of the magic selected was ‘classic’ magic, but with Creatrix Tiara’s own exciting spin and twists on it. A highlight is the cups and balls routine, which had the audience gasping in surprise.

The star of this show is undoubtedly Creatrix Tiara, however the show features a small cast of other characters – namely Chadbury and Caliope – who each have their important parts to play and greatly enhanced the storyline as well as helping to elicit reactions from the audience. They were each convincing and played their roles with perfection.

This show was not afraid to address some stereotypes of magicians / magic – namely can magicians be honest or trustworthy when they deceive and manipulate for a living? Are manipulations inherently bad (or can they be good)? Stereotypes of male magicians being ‘creepy’ and treating females as assistants / props (rather than females also being magicians in their own right) were also explored, which I found refreshing. Despite the serious subject matter in places, this is a very enjoyable show and I encourage all to go along and see it – it’s a jewel of the Melbourne Fringe festival program.

VERDICT: This is so much more than just a magic show. It’s a magic show with heart, soul and some thrilling surprises along the way. I encourage you to leave all your misconceptions about magic outside the door and step into Creatrix Tiara’s world of wonder. Potent poignant prestidigitation!

Tickets and further information: Creatrix Tiara: Queer Lady Magician runs from September 13th-15th at the Gasworks.
http://www.gasworks.org.au/event/creatrix-tiara/

*Disclaimer: I attended the show as a guest of the performer.

 

The 2018 Melbourne Fringe Festival has arrived!

The month of September features a cluttered social calendar for the citizens of Melbourne. Between football finals and the starting of the spring racing carnival season, sits the Melbourne Fringe Festival. Melbourne Fringe has always been one of my favourite festivals – typically full of radical performances by performers who ‘think outside the box’ and aren’t afraid to challenge society’s ways or group thought processes. I’m pleased to say that I’ll be seeing and reviewing a few shows as part of the 2018 Melbourne Fringe Festival, so please stay tuned (and please support the arts!)