Saturday 21 September 2019

Reviews: Melbourne Fringe Festival 2019 (Part 2)

Narrelle Harris and I have seen more shows at the 2019 Melbourne Fringe Festival. Here are four new reviews...

1. Apex Predator
Reviewed by Narrelle Harris

Lucretia Mackintosh arrives on stage with her Disney princess eyes and smile and a bright red clown nose. She’s offering to do a stand-up routine for Elizabeth Davie, who's lurking fearfully behind the curtain, and takes to the task with gusto.

In fact, Lucretia turns out to be a kind of slasher revenge clown, a charming psychopath, and she deals with one unseen predatory male after another in very decisive fashion. There’s gleeful transgression in the audience participation after Lucretia mimes a decapitation, and glimpses of character motivation ("They say don’t fight back in case it makes them angry. But what if I get angry?").

Recently on Twitter, someone said the Joker should actually be a woman who was told by a man she should smile more - once too often. Elizabeth Davie’s creation feels like the prototype of that Joker.  

Apex Predator is playfully savage (or savage and playful), with some of the most horrific and blackly funny mime I’ve ever seen. The pacing between encounters can be a bit slow, but it’s wickedly funny. For anyone who has endured a creeper, a groper, or any unwanted sexual advance, it's disturbingly satisfying too.

[Find details and buy tix for this show here]

2. Side A
Reviewed by Tim Richards

In the late 20th century, before the arrival of CD players and MP3s, a kid’s identity was still wrapped up in tape: cassette tape. Amanda Santuccione is accompanied by a big reel-to-reel tape player, portable cassette players, and a stack of mix tapes. She uses these to intersperse tales of growing up in Geelong with snippets of music and the words of her family and friends.

It’s a warm, nostalgic trip through childhood, puberty and young adulthood accompanied by memorable tunes... until first a friend and then Amanda herself end up in abusive relationships. Music is a part of the healing process, bound up with her friendships and family bonds from start to finish.

It’s an enjoyable show, though the performer’s lines are sometimes lost to the music and the noise seeping in from the Trades Hall corridor. Audience members will find plenty to relate to in the way Amanda’s favourite music acts as the soundtrack to her life.

[Find details and buy tix for this show here]

3. The Kick Inside
Reviewed by Tim Richards

On stage, Kerensa Diball dons the colourful headdress of Athena; the Greek god who, as she says, was responsible for the creativity that led to the conquest of Troy via a wooden horse. Along with Helen Mirren, she’s one of the few role models for a woman who decides not to have children.

That’s what this show’s about, Diball’s decision not to have kids and her coming to terms with that. As part of that process, she does some '60s dancing in '60s gear, takes us through her history of work and travel, and responds to recordings of her partner and her mum.

It’s a good topic for a show and Diball is a likeable performer, but she needs work on her voice projection and other performance skills to give the act the snappy execution it needs. The script also feels a little slight - at 35 minutes’ actual run time it could stand fleshing out with more complex aspects of her child-free decision.

Having said that, the sequence presenting Diball as an egg-laying insect is a piece of prop-driven genius.

[Find details and buy tix for this show here]

4. Monster / Woman
Reviewed by Narrelle Harris

Medusa’s story is generally well known. An evil woman with snakes for hair, whose deadly look turns all to stone, fated to be decapitated by the hero Perseus.

That’s one version anyway, and not even the most original. Medusa’s mythology is full of dichotomies and contradictions about beauty/monstrosity. All of them are explored by Sabrina D’Angelo in this superb, engaging, thoughtful and funny black comedy.

The tale begins with Medusa’s severed head on a table in the afterlife. She’s naturally bemused (and a bit distressed about her lack of a body) while a prissy Afterlife Border Security officer (David McLaughlin) quizzes her about her life and death.

After some delicious snake puns as she introduces him to the individual snakes on her head, Medusa finds some old VHS tapes. These take her back through the ages as she re-learns her origin story and how she’s been reinterpreted through the centuries - almost exclusively as a way for men to frame their own interests and fetishes.

But there’s a feminist take on Medusa as well, one which happily reminded me that Luciano Garbarti’s 2008 turnabout statue of Medusa holding Perseus’ severed head exists.

D’Angelo is endlessly excellent onstage, flowing between vulnerability, comic delivery, femme fataleness and heroic poses, with splendid physicality and a marvellously expressive face. McLaughlin provides terrific support and some sly commentary on the Medusa myth as together they work through the changing symbolism.

Monster / Woman is funny, strange and wonderful. Go see it.

[Find details and buy tix for this show here] 

That's our final coverage for this year's festival. Hope you enjoyed it! Back to the regular schedule of travel-related posts next week.

No comments:

Post a Comment