“Puffs” the play

Puffs (also know as ‘Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic & Magic’) is a play written by Matt Cox, and the production is currently in town at the Alex Theatre in St Kilda. Dressed in my full Slytherin house outfit, a friend and I joined the throng of assorted witches, wizards and muggles ready to watch the show. I was impressed that the Alex Theatre has gone ‘all out’ with their theming, with witty signs and decorations festooning the foyer and indeed the theatre which just ramped up my excitement. You see, being a fan of a certain franchise can be tough when the Northern Hemisphere gets the bounty of special events. We are so lucky to have Puffs in Melbourne – let me tell you why via my review below!

Let me start by mentioning I did have my reservations about this play: were they doing the franchise so dear to my heart justice? Had they done the requisite character research? Was it to be too focused on Hufflepuff house for my Slytherin tastes? I need not have worried about any of that as “Puffs” was suitably true to the books and entertaining for light readers right through to devotees. Indeed the audience may not have even needed to read all of the source material in order to enjoy the performance. A large spread of age ranges in the audience was testament to its broad appeal.

The story of “Puffs” centres around Wayne (from Craigieburn!) and the mixed (Bertie Botts eat your heart out!) bag of friends he makes along the way in Puffs house. Puffs house members are known for not being an assortment of adjectives (book smart; sneaky ; brave) but this play proves they are endearing, friendly, clever and entertaining. Each character had a ‘type’ (the ’emotional one’, the ‘sporty one’, the ‘good at maths one’, the ‘confused one’) which brought charm and an assortment of giggles along the storyline. The narrator of the play drove the progression of events along all seven books in a clever manner, with a ‘swish and a flick’ of comedic flair. The stage setup of an assortment of doors was also used in a variety of clever ways by the cast.

I was particularly impressed with how poignant Hufflepuff scenes from the books were translated on stage, and the inclusion of stage magic in others scenes (wands included!). There were an assortment of modern / muggle references and puns which gained some extra hearty laughs from the audience. At one point I had to muffle my laughing (that had turned to crying) with my Slytherin scarf. All the characters you know and love are referenced (including ‘the boy who lived’,’you-know-who’ and some favourite professors). A memorable scene was the description of how the heads of house decided on who would be accepted at the school, which was enhanced with the use of a variety of props. In fact, much of this show was prop heavy which suited the comedic nature of the show. Going into the play, I had no idea what to expect however be assured that this show will make you laugh (probably a handful of times!). Such was the amount of comedy and laughs, I was surprised that this show hadn’t visited the city during the comedy festival.

‘Puffs’ is a magical night out, which suits a large range of ages (do note that they offer matinees for younger witches and wizards). Those who have not read the books relating to the franchise need not be put off as there are laughs and references included with a wide appeal. The subject material is treated well and the cast is aware that much of their audience has an extensive working knowledge of the texts. This all means that the show is by no means a cheesy parody, it delivers on all aspects of content (time permitting of course) and respect for the source material.

VERDICT: Accio wand and broom and get ready for an express ride through the ‘Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic & Magic’,filled to the brim of a pointy hat with puns, hearty laughs and hilarious moments. It’s nice that members of Puffs finally have their time in the sun, and it’s true that this show is an enjoyable one-  no matter what house you’re in.

Tickets / information: http://www.puffstheplay.com/australia#home

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“Tequila Tease” at Little Blood

 On a wintry night in Fitzroy, I visited the well known ‘Kodiak Club’ however this time I went upstairs to their venue ‘Little Blood’. Little Blood is an inviting room with a bar at one end, a performance space at the other and plenty of places to sit (and eat or drink) in between. With a roof festooned with sparkly sombreros, Little Blood is a memorable bar with a slightly Mexican theme. Within Little Blood, Tequila Tease is a monthly burlesque show with plenty of guest acts and surprises.

Warmly welcomed into the busy space filled with audience members, I sat down and made some new friends while waiting for debut of Tequila Tease to begin. The next moment the MC for the evening – the debonaire Andrew Iles – bounded to one end of the room to announce the show. Iles was excitable, made clever drink references and ensured we were all ready for a wild night “south of the border” (as they say!).The evening was organised by duo Platinum Honey (performers Camilla Cream and Lord Lovat) and the audience was in for a treat as this very duo opened the show with a raunchy synchronised classic tease act on chairs. Platinum Honey made the audience pant for more – I could feel the audience members getting a bit hot under the collar when Platinum Honey is in town!

Miss Holly Wouldn’t was the next act to enchant the audience. It was as though history and glamour walked together when Holly Wouldn’t graced the room with her playful routine. I especially enjoyed her reactions to and interactions with audience members – everyone was delighted by her performance.

Lord Lovat returned to perform an exciting and raunchy boylesque routine in dangerously high heels. I could hear the audience cheering louder than ever during Lovat’s routine and I constantly wonder how he carries out such a physically demanding routine in towering heels! He is such a modern marvel! His moves rivalled that of a raunchy music video, and again I could feel the heat in the room rise during his act. If you’ve never had the pleasure of watching Lord Lovat perform then you really must, he really is one to watch!

The other half of Platinum Honey (the divine Camilla Cream) suddenly appeared in a puff of feathers and pastel fabric for her turn to sway the audience’s favour. Camilla seemed to float and looked ‘extra fancy’ –  as if out of an old movie. I’ve seen Camilla perform more than a handful of times, and one thing I admire is her use of props. It’s rare for her to have something on stage and not use it in a clever way. With this routine, swirls of fabric were transformed into burlesque fans and her use of her fluffy feather boa was alluring.

After interval, MC Andrew Iles reappeared to sing songs and show off his sweet dance moves. Andrew has such a light hearted and cheeky way with his audience, that you can’t help but smile along and follow his lead. I must admit that Camilla Cream and Lord Lovat of Platinum Honey put in an enormous amount of effort for this show. I’m sure it is enough of a challenge to perform a duo act and a separate routine each BUT each returned for the second half and each with another act! Talk about a sensational show – the audience couldn’t contain their delight. I won’t spoil too much here, but if you haven’t seen Camilla’s tribute to Big Bird (yes – that Big Bird) then I highly recommend that you do. As for Lord Lovat’s next routine, he had a slightly different (yet equally appealing) persona and proved he can twerk and do the splits with the best of them. Needless to say, Lovat drove the audience wild (as he often does).

Miss Holly Wouldn’t reappeared again in a 1920’s inspired outfit and routine. Oozing old world charm and giving many a coy glance to the audience, Miss Holly Wouldn’t was pure temptation. Star of the ‘slow reveal’ Miss Holly Wouldn’t succeeded in taking the audience on a journey to times past, igniting everyone’s imagination along the way.

I was excited to watch the headliner for the evening – Bella de Jac – as her name is well known yet I’ve never had the pleasure of witnessing her performances. Bella de Jac arrived in a beautiful dress and hat to much fanfare. Bella de Jac has a gorgeous smile and a playful way with her audience. Ever in charge, Bella is not afraid to deny the audience what they want if they don’t play along! Bella’s amazing routine featured a few surprises so it’s no wonder why she was the headliner of this fantastic show.

At the end of the show, I was reluctant to leave the lovely, warm, happy bar for the cold night outside. It was clear that the audience was having a terrific time – I could feel the warmth cheer in the room and I could see smiles everywhere I turned. My throat was hoarse from all the cheering I’d done. Tequila Tease is a monthly show and I feel so lucky that this show is here to take us all away from the chill and gloom of Winter (and beyond).

 The next show of Tequila Tease is at Little Blood on July 6th
More information can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/tequilatease/?ref=br_rs
Tickets: https://www.trybooking.com/book/event?eid=374654&

Disclaimer: I attended as a guest of Platinum Honey.

Where has Tay Around Town been?!

Hello lovely readers, you may well have been wondering where I’ve been for the last month and a half…I did have good intentions (I promise!) to leave a little post pre busy season organising conferences, however time got the better of me.

I’m currently at the tail end of doing much of the admin for 3 conferences spread across 3 continents over 3 weeks! Which has been quite the grand undertaking, in addition to a cheery sinus infection I had for 2 weeks in May…which has meant that I took a month off from reviewing / seeing shows and became a slight hermit while Winter was ever approaching!

The GOOD news is that I’m back seeing shows again and have seen some slightly unusual shows lately which I can’t wait to write to you all about so I hope you stick around and keep visiting.

Thanks for your support, everyone!

MICF 2018 Review: “Woah, Alyssa! 1”

Deep within the rabbit warren like halls and studios of the Nicholas Building, is the small theatre “Cage Me a Peacock” which is where “Woah Alyssa! 1” is performed. Lining up with an eclectic group of people, we were all eager to see the show performed by Colwyn Buckland and Filip Lescaut.

Upon entering the theatre, fun tunes were playing from a speaker – the sort of tunes you’d usually find at a house party. The audience were getting excited for the show, and a small handful were moving along to the musical beats while in their seats. Three mysterious white boxes were on stage and I must say that they took my curiosity. I was keen to know what was in those boxes!

Suddenly our hosts, Fil and Colwyn, bounded onstage and showed off some choice dance moves! Colwyn and Fil set about introducing the audience to a whole set of different characters through their series of witty and often satirical sketch comedy pieces. I particularly enjoyed the witty character names, spoofs of eccentric celebrities / characters and the duo’s take on sitcoms. There was a fantastic piece about an awkward interview a reporter has with a celebrity that I found to be poignant. Much of the content covered topical items, like the recent SSM debate and real life issues faced by the queer community (among others) – like dealing with ignorant people.

Throughout the show, Colwyn and Fil used some great facial expressions, awkward glances and some impressive projection to bring life to their comedy sketches and characters. The audience was loving it – laughing along for the entire show and even saying ‘awwww’ when one of the characters was going through some bad luck. Some characters were endearing and had such expressive eyes – there were moments where you just wanted to reach out to them or give them a hug. I was astounded at the versatility displayed by Colwyn and Fil during the show. The sketches were faced paced, clever, often involved props and neither missed a beat the entire time! Well scripted and flawless, this show is the one to see if you like topical, witty, fast paced comedy with flair.

Verdict: thoroughly enjoyable. I don’t often get to see sketch comedy, and I was amused and astounded the entire time during this show.

Woah, Alyssa! 1 is playing until April 22nd.
Tickets: https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2018/shows/woah-alyssa-1

Disclaimer: I attended this performance as a guest of the performers.

Tay Around Town RETURNS!

Hello readers! I’ve recently had a short time away in Japan (which I hope to write a little about at a later stage) however I’ve returned to Melbourne in the middle of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) season for 2018! As such, there is no rest for the wicked and I’ve been seeing comedy shows and can’t wait to write about them for you.

Do stay tuned for some more reviews – I hope that you’ve been able to go out, support some comedy and enjoy one of the great comedy festivals that the world has to offer.

Once again, thank you to everyone who takes time to read my blog.

Kevin Quantum “And for my next trick”

Kevin Quantum’s show was the last show I selected for my weekend jaunt at Adelaide Fringe. I noticed that he had a few magic shows listed in the program and hadn’t heard of him before, so thought I’d attend and see what all the fuss was about.

Clearly a popular man, Kevin Quantum’s show was sold out. People were even trying to sit on the stairs and aisles in order to see his show. Kevin is from Scotland, and his background is that he has a PHD is Physics and went on a reality TV show where he had to learn a new skill (magic) and present his new skill to a panel who’d then decide if he was a bonafide magician or not. Turns out he’s quite talented at magic so he has seemingly put other credentials on hold to tour his show – and what a show it was!

Charming and affable, Kevin Quantum was quick to show the audience some magic to get everyone excited and to prove to the audience that he really is magical. I loved the structure of his show, which he named “Countdown”. During this structure, each magic effect would be timed and for each successive trick a minute would be shaved off  – leaving a solid minute (or less!) for his finale.  This structure served two purposes well: it ensured that different styles of magic would be on display AND that the audience would stick around until the end to see if Kevin could pull off his desired finale. Despite his timing deadline, Kevin managed to thrill the audience with various pieces of magic, sought help from various audience members and ensured that the audience followed him along his magical adventure. The show included plenty of comedy alongside some truly amazing moments. My favourite moment was magic with sand (in a set that looked like it belonged in a Chemistry lab). I literally could not believe my eyes during that routine – it’s still hard to make sense of exactly what I saw!

Kevin Quantum presented more than one show during his time at Adelaide Fringe, so if he appears at a festival or theatre near you then please go along and see one of his shows. His presentation is unique and his magic is impressive.

Best of Edinburgh Cabaret

Continuing on with my wonderful weekend of Adelaide Fringe shows, I wanted to make the most of the variety of acts available. The Adelaide Fringe seems to have lots of links to the Edinburgh Fringe (the largest fringe festival in the world) so I thought “why not let the Edinburgh fringe come to me?” Thus, my best friend in Adelaide and I saw the “Best of Edinburgh Cabaret”. It was a fun show and a bit riotous in presentation and content, however it was in a late night timelsot and the crowd seemed to be up for anything.

MC’d by a kilt wearing man named Chris who unquestionably has the best 90’s dance moves I’ve ever seen, the lineup for the evening was Gingzilla, Evie Mischievy and Memphis Mae. Gingzilla is a 7ft tall bearded lady with a stunning voice (and gorgeous set of legs to match!). Gingzilla sang a collection of songs from her fringe show to much applause and cheering from the crowd. Evie Mischievy performed a clever improvised hoop act with another performer selecting the music. Evie dazzled the crowd with her beautiful hoop routines, while wearing a glittering choker and tiara.

What can I say about Memphis Mae? In Adelaide, burlesque performers seem to go that one step further (towards their audience or one step further with the removal of clothes) as compared to those in Melbourne. Memphis Mae was no different and boy, she did not disappoint! Memphis Mae got the audience all fired up and hot under the collar with her burlesque routine and then literally went crawling into the audience – over seats and patron’s laps – to chat to people and ensure we were all having the best time! Burlesque really is untamed here!

Closing out the show, MC Chris had the chance to show off his medly of 90’s dance moves (much to the envious eyes of many a man in the audience) and confirmed what really is under a Scotsman’s kilt (how cheeky!)

This show was a barrel of fun, and left the audience feeling shaken not stirred.

 

Breaking the Magicians’ Code with Kane and Abel

Kane and Abel are two thoroughly delightful, enchanting, witty and entertaining British lads (twin brothers in fact) who wowed Adelaide audiences with their magic. After gaining entry to the theatre and being given a sweet by the performers (ever so thoughtful) my friend and I were directed to sit in the front row. I couldn’t believe my luck and being in the front row just amped up my excitement for the magical thrills (and spills) ahead!

After a voiceover from their Grandpa reminding them not to break any of the magicians’ codes / rules, Kane and Abel bounded onto stage proudly describing the codes and cheekily suggesting how they’d break them. Fully of witty banter and playful jibes, Kane and Abel shared the stage well and even shared each other’s dialogue at times. Like true brothers there were points of disagreement, betting and showing each other up – all to the delight and cheers of the audience of course! This show had such a great atmosphere and I was lapping up each minute – whether the lads were displaying astounding and entertaining magic or descending into a brief karaoke solo. Be assured that there was plenty of magic to behold amongst the banter and comedy – magic that left the audience scratching their heads one moment and astounded the next.

The audience were treated to some special guests and characters during the show, which made the show more of a madcap adventure. Kane and Abel often had the audience in the palm of their hands which enhanced the magic. The finale of the show really has to be seen to be believed – writing about it here hardly does it the justice it deserves. Let’s just say, some audience members could hardly believe their eyes!

This show left me in such high spirits that had I extended my trip to Adelaide then I would have seen the show again. I can only hope that Kane and Abel make a trip to my hometown of Melbourne so I can enjoy the show with all my friends.

Extra note: I should mention that this show was in a family timeslot in Adelaide, however once in the theatre it became apparent that while children would enjoy the show and the magic within, that the show was clearly aimed at adults.

“Impossible” performed by Robbie Kay

During my trip to Adelaide Fringe, I was keen to see local magicians (in addition to overseas talents) so Robbie Kay’s show piqued my interest. Robbie’s magic show was on at a family friendly time and he must be a local favourite as the theatre was full.

Robbie was friendly and keen to show off his magical talents to the audience. He opened the show with a fun act set to music. Many in the audience were clapping and cheering along – it was a joyous way to start the show. As with many magic shows, there was plenty of audience participation with Robbie plucking lucky audience members to help him on stage. Much of the magic during this show was classic magic – routines everyone would expect to see- however there were some segments of modern magic and a few predictions and surprises along the way.

The show wasn’t always ‘smooth sailing’ with some minor tech issues and a GoPro that got kicked off stage a few times, but Robbie didn’t let that deter him and the audience always looked like they were having fun. Portions of the show could have been refined, especially when time was taken for audience members to sign an envelope during the show. Considering the audience were waiting outside the tent for ten minutes to enter the theatre, I’m sure that task could have been done then.

Overall, an enjoyable and entertaining show with light hearted magic that isn’t taxing on the mind. Some minor distractions didn’t impact the audience having a great time, however portions of the show could do with some refinement / polish. This wasn’t Robbie’s first show at Adelaide Fringe and I’m sure his shows will evolve and continue to be enjoyed by audiences.

Club Gotham: Villains of Vaudeville

An avid DC comics fan (especially of character Harley Quinn) and dressed in my favourite ‘casual Harley’ outfit, I was very excited to see this show during Adelaide Fringe. I particularly looked forward to how each performer portrayed / paid tribute to the villains within the show.

This show had all the ‘usual suspects’ that come to mind when DC villains are mentioned, plus a few surprising inclusions. All hosted by the clown prince of Gotham city himself – The Joker. He was a host of unhinged perfection, however I would have liked to see more from him. His comedy and wit were well timed, but he never had his own segment to shine and I think that was a shame. There were hints during the evening where I felt the Joker’s character was slipping – though I’m unsure if this was due to intense comments / banter from the audience or due to the tasks at hand. The show contained performances of burlesque and singing, with a bit a stage fighting included. The burlesque acts were definitely the strengths of the show, and gained the most applause and cheering from the audience.

My personal highlights were performances by Harley Quinn – who performed an energetic and gutsy burlesque number and Poison Ivy- who included Alice Cooper’s hit “Poison” in a well themed take on a classic raunchy burlesque performance. With Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy being BFF’s in the comic world, I’m sure you can imagine their chemistry when they’re both sharing the same stage! Ms Freeze was a welcome inclusion on the program and performed an erotic water based act to Madonna’s hit “Frozen”, which raised the temperature of the audience.

There were elements / segments of this show that seemed less polished than others, but overall it was a fantastic show. The burlesque acts left me feeling hot under my little Harley Quinn collar, and our night in Gotham City was one of excitement and surprise.

It’s a shame this show had a very limited run during Adelaide Fringe. The show was presented by ‘The JustAss League’ so if you ever come across one of their shows, then do book a ticket because you’re in for an entertaining and exciting night out!