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The Ten Best Things to See at the Melbourne Fringe Festival 2014

From a symphony of forks to a night of yelling at Joe Hockey, take charge of the unwieldy Fringe program with these must-see events.

By Meg Watson
September 13, 2014

The Ten Best Things to See at the Melbourne Fringe Festival 2014

From a symphony of forks to a night of yelling at Joe Hockey, take charge of the unwieldy Fringe program with these must-see events.

By Meg Watson
September 13, 2014

With hundreds of shows sprinkled throughout the city over 18 days of solid programming, the Melbourne Fringe isn't really something you attend — it's something that just happens to you. From September 17 - October 5, you'll no doubt stumble upon some small portion of the Fringe Festival at a local laneway, gallery or bar. But, to make the experience a little more digestible, here's a list of shows you should definitely make an effort to see.

Whether it's dancing to a symphony of forks, a night of yelling at Joe Hockey, or an intimate set with some local indie music gods, each event here is sure to lead to some interesting stories to tell the next day.

A Day Like Every Other

There's no need to be coy at the Fringe Festival so you may as well jump straight into the deep end with some live art. One of the exciting free works you might stumble upon at the North Melbourne festival hub, A Day Like Every Other offers a dreaded one-on-one experience with the artist (Mattie Young or Georgia Mill). Thankfully that portion of the work only lasts five minutes. After being subjected to a short interview and supplying your mobile phone number, the artists will fill your following day with an elaborate list of adventure and whimsy. Go about your daily routine with a couple of playful and surprising differences. Australia now has its own version of Miranda July.

September 19 - October 4, 7.30pm at North Melbourne Town Hall (521 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne). Free.

Symphony of Strange

Off the back of rave reviews at Adelaide Fringe, it's clear that Symphony of Strange is a totally unique performance. A solo dance piece with a twist, this work sees Edward Willoughby take to the stage supported by a 50-piece live orchestra of "non-musical instruments". While we're not entirely sure what that entails, we can only assume it includes some crazy work on the spoons and, judging by the promo shots, forks. One of the works performed at The Substation (the west-side Fringe hub), this is definitely going to be well worth the trip across the West Gate.

September 30 - October 4, 9pm at The Substation (1 Market Street, Newport). $22/25.


We're not ones to make light of someone's sexuality, but when people say they want to marry the Eiffel Tower we're happy to have a little giggle. Representing the ladies in the comedy stakes and exploring the odd life choices of objectum sexuals with a 50-minute stage show, Nicolette Minster comes out — she's officially in a relationship with her security blanket. It's a naturally funny concept and one we can't wait to see come to life on stage, but if there's a warning for mature audiences at the door we're calling quits. We don't know how you can fully prepare yourself to watch someone seduce a step ladder.

September 19 - October 4, 9.15pm or 10.15pm at The Lithuanian Club (44 Errol Street, North Melbourne). $16/21.

Come Heckle Hockey

Don your communist red, grab a megaphone and possibly swipe some rotten fruit on your way there — this is exactly what it sounds like. Brought to Fringe by Joshua Ladgrove (AKA Dr Neal Portenza), this simple but genius work involves pinning a picture of the maligned Federal Treasurer to the front wall of the theatre, letting in a bunch of pissed off people, and watching the beautiful and inevitable unfold before your eyes. It's a concept he's tried before. At last year's Fringe, Come Heckle Christ appealed to the filthy heathens among us and made for quite the show. This one understandably has a broader appeal. As Ladgrove himself states, it's really for "anyone not earning $500,000 or more".

September 28, 9pm at The Lithuanian Club (44 Errol Street, North Melbourne). $19/22.

MKA: Richard II

Who would have expected to see some Shakespeare in the Fringe program? What seems like an unlikely pick for the experimental and forward-thinking festival, this performance of Richard II is bound to be a far cry from Geoffery Rush's King Lear if you know what we mean — although we won't yet rule out nudity. Devised and performed by Mark Wilson, this piece about the deserved misfortunes of a corrupt God-king, will be used as an allegory for Australia's current political climate. Though he's an international fellow at Shakespeare's Globe in London, Wilson also has a bizarre playbook to be aware of. His last hugely-successful production, Unsex Me, saw him take to the stage with a self-reflexive drag act termed "a cross between Freddy Mercury and Richard Dawkins". You've been warned.

September 17 - 28, 8.3opm or 9.30pm at Northcote Town Hall (189 High Street, Northcote). $21/26.

All the Single Lad(ie)s

You love Beyonce. You love a spot of gender critique. Then you are also most definitely the target audience for All the Single Lad(ie)s, a work that juxtaposes the music of proudly feminist Queen Bey with surreal scenes laying bare various conundrums of gender and sexuality. From experimental Perthians The Cutting Room Floor, All the Single Lad(ie)s premiered at the Perth Fringe World Festival, where it won much adoration but also prompted the West Australian to say, "We were warned that All the Single Lad(ie)swas 'grotesque', but that was probably not enough of a warning for what we witnessed." Sounds like perfect Fringe material.

September 30 - October 4, 8pm at Revolt 3 (12 Elizabeth Street, Kensington). $15/20.

Steen Raskopoulos - I'm Wearing Two Suits Because I Mean Business

Straight back in the action after this year's Edinburgh Fringe, young comedian Steen Raskopoulos has a lot going for him. Not only did he win Best Newcomer at last year's Sydney Comedy Festival, he was nominated for the same award in Edinburgh — that's a big freakin' deal. It sold out last time he was in Melbourne, but this may be your last time to see the show that's making everyone swoon. Admittedly, this isn't a show for someone who like their humour toned down and quietly witty. This is one for those that like their characters big, their comedy physical and their suits properly double-breasted *ba dum tss*.

September 28 - October 4, 5pm, 8pm or 9pm at The Lithuanian Club (44 Errol Street, North Melbourne). $22/24.

The Bookbinder

This is an adult and kid-friendly show, but just elbow the little tykes out of the way and you'll be privy to a magical little work that unfolds in the dimly lit little Fringe hub (specifically: The Lithuanian Club in North Melbourne). From New Zealand company Trick of the Light Theatre, The Bookbinder is an amalgamation of forms and DIY special effects — you'll find shadowplay, paper art, puppetry and musical interludes intertwined in a mystery and cautionary tale of what happened to the bookbinder's last, overly cocksure apprentice.

September 19 - October 4, 6.45pm or 7.45pm at The Lithuanian Club (44 Errol Street, North Melbourne). $19/24.

Uncommon Places

The Fringe Festival is all about discovering new work, but it might not be where you expect it. This year, the festival has commissioned 10 artists to create site-specific work all across the city, Carlton and North Melbourne. Centred around places of transit or gathering you may stumble upon works outside the Swanston Street McDonald's or even at your local tram stop. If you'd prefer to seek out particular works, take a look at this map and curate your own journey. Hot tip: take a stroll to the City Baths or Pellegrini's at night.

September 17 - October 5, all over Melbourne. Free.

8 First Dates

If you needed any more proof that Fringe really is the place to be over the next couple of weeks, Thursday, October 2 will see eight of Melbourne's best indie musicians take to the stage to perform a set of exclusive new songs. These are no newbie acts either. The lineup includes: Angie Hart of Frente, Jae Laffer of The Panics, J. Walker of Machine Translations, Ainslie Wills, Charles Jenkins, Mikelangelo, Jess Cornelius of Teeth and Tongue and James O'Brien of Darling James and The Boat People. See the festival out in style: free music in the heart of it all, at the Fringe club.

October 2, 10pm at North Melbourne Town Hall (521 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne). Free.

Check out the full program at the Melbourne Fringe Festival website.

Published on September 13, 2014 by Meg Watson

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