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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Concrete Playground’s Sydney Fringe Festival 2013 Diary

We're out on the streets, seeing all the things.

By Rima Sabina Aouf
September 21, 2013
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Concrete Playground’s Sydney Fringe Festival 2013 Diary

We're out on the streets, seeing all the things.

By Rima Sabina Aouf
September 21, 2013
  shares

The Concrete Playground team is out on the streets soaking up the Sydney Fringe. Here's what we've found so far — this diary will be updated as the festival progresses.

Adventures in Hair

18 and 15 September, The Switchbox, Factory Theatre; 2 October, The Container, Factory Theatre

Adventures in Hair is a wonderfully original and clever piece of writing with an incredibly nonsense plot about the quest for a new viceroy for 1622 Macau. It had absolutely nothing to do with hair but certainly lots to do with adventure and whilst there were some criticisms to be had — some scenes involved too much standing still and the hat donning was unpolished — these could be ignored due to the energy brought by the trio of Ciaran Magee, Michael Richardson and Laurence Rosier Staines. They were clearly enjoying what they were performing on stage and it was infectious, with the entire audience laughing even if they weren't always sure why.

-MW

Fully Committed

26-28 September, New Theatre

Sixty minutes. Forty characters. One actor. Becky Mode's Fully Committed is a rollicking, fast-paced one-man satire revealing the not-so-fine underside of fine dining. It depicts one day in the working life of Sam Peliczowski, whose day job is phone reception for a four-star Manhattan restaurant. It's a highly challenging script, demanding on-the-mark timing, deft switching of personas and intensely focused energy. Actor Nick Curnow, under the direction of Alexander Butt, does it tremendous justice, natural and believable as the pressured-to-the-hilt Sam and laugh-out-loud funny as his cast of persistent customers and unhelpful co-staff. As The Brevity Theatre Co.'s debut production, Fully Committed suggests that the Australian theatre scene can celebrate an exciting addition.

-Jasmine Crittenden

Jane Austen Is Dead

16-23 September, New Theatre

Jane Austen is Dead is the best play I have seen at the Sydney Fringe in the years I have been attending. Having been neatly polished in Edinburgh, New Zealand and Melbourne, it arrived in Sydney with not a theatrical crack to be seen. Mel Dodge's captivating performance as 33-year-old "spinster" Sophie, youthful and desperate Mary as well as her countless past suitors fuse together brilliantly and her integration of Austen's archetypal male suitors into the play is effortless, so much so that you certainly need not be an Austen fan to comprehend and enjoy the show. Sophie's final realisation that she is happy in her own company is fitting, as we were all happy to be in Dodge's for the hour.

-MW

2013 - When We Were Idiots

6-15 September, starting at The Pie Tin Newtown

In 2013- When We were Idiots, comedian Xavier Toby dons a penguin suit (not a tuxedo, a literal penguin suit) and pretends that he and the audience are from the year 2113, wandering the streets of Newtown reflecting on all the stupid things people did and believed in in the year 2013. The show is part interactive stand-up. part hilarious walking tour and actually does contain a lot of cool historical facts about Newtown. Toby covers lighthearted stuff like onesies, fast food and consumerism (because apparently in the year 2113 people only wear one outfit until it wears out — a statement met with some dismay by female audience members) but also touches on things like gay marriage, boat people and Tony Abbott. It's one of those things you could go to every single night and have a different experience, because a lot of the humour comes from the interactions with the public along the way and the audience participation elements. Site specific/interactive art is on the rise, but so far this hasn't really spilled over to comedy. It's a unique approach to stand-up (or rather, walk-around) comedy and it would be interesting to see if this inspires other comedians to try similar formats.

-Anita Senaratna

-When We Were Idiots

MotherFather - DoctorDoctor

18-20 September, The Fusebox (Factory Theatre)

MotherFather are the two best improvisers in the country at the moment, confirmed by their current status as national Theatresports champions. However, watching them in an hour-long format you can witness their true brilliance in all its hilarious glory. Bridie Connell and Tom Walker excel in an arena where they can flesh out their characters, showcase their ability to rap and generally just entertain — Tom’s description of a pet as a partner that you can hold in one hand will leave this reviewer laughing every time he pats a dog. The chemistry they have as a performing duo results in not a beat being missed, compelling the audience to immerse themselves in the entire hour. Whilst their run is at an end, you can still catch Tom’s absorbing physicality in his solo show, Muscle Clown.

Matthew Watson, writer

101 Vagina

17-22 September, TAP Gallery

Sigh, if only sex-education made a class excursion to the 101 Vagina Book Exhibition compulsory. It's a tonne more helpful to the prepubescent than 'hair will grow places' and is all about flipping off the taboo that surrounds the female body. Philip Werner's series has donned the walls of Tap Gallery with 101 photos of vaginas (otherwise known to the diagram savvy as vulvas), each accompanied by a message, story or poem. Part of Sydney Fringe, this is one we all need to see one or even 101 times. Expect a little high-fiving your awesome body along the way.

-Rachel Eddie, writer

101 Vagina

The Defence

4-14 September at PACT Centre for Emerging Artists

If the Sydney Fringe Festival is a lucky dip, The Defence is the $10,000 winning scratchie someone kindly dropped into the mix. By Chris Dunstan and his cohorts from theatrically prodigious University of Wollongong, it explores the shifting shape of misogyny over the centuries. Nested like a Russian doll, The Defence contains a bombastic, gender-swapped play about the psychology of playwright and notorious woman-hater August Strindberg (whose Miss Julie is concurrently playing at Belvoir), the rehearsals for which are constantly interrupted so the male director and his two actors can workshop the scenes. Needless to say, its greatest indictment is reserved for today's educated young men, who may be able to deconstruct gender at essay length but still manage to do and say some vile and unaware things. Funny, confident and unflinching, The Defence is incredibly smart but never feels like hard work.

-RSA

The Defence

Jude the Obscure

4-14 September at PACT Centre for Emerging Artists

This show has the best premise ever, end of story. Writer/performer Alice Williams plays Australian comedian Judith Lucy, in space, in the the future, doing a catalogue of "little known material" from her oeuvre. It's an odd and marvellous meeting of Williams' academic, questioning brain ("inspired by the fatalism of [Lucy's] comic persona", she looks at the "themes of destruction and failure" from Lucy's comic material from a "universal perspective") and a novelty mode of interrogation. Appropriating the stand-up form and mimicking Lucy brilliantly, Williams takes us on an absurd, punchy adventure that knows its limits and ends within 40 minutes. Confronted by the majesty of space and the horror of complete isolation forever more, Lucy is wry and pragmatic, and we're left to wonder, is that for the best? It's all done with total love, and we hope somewhere out there, Lucy herself is getting a kick out of it.

-RSA

Jude the Obscure

Bushpig

10-13 September, Seymour Centre Sound Lounge

The pinnacle of one-woman showmanship right here. Hannah Malarski is a NIDA playwriting grad with a gift for creating vivid characters through both writing and performance, with director, designer and dramaturg Jack Richardson helping give the piece solid form. It's a transfixing little number that evokes the bewildering feeling of living in the world sometimes — particularly if you're from a country town as small as the fictional Funnel, and particularly if you've just left for the big smoke to forge a career in television, as has our dear titular character, Bushpig. The journey has Malarski morphing from corpulent Aunt Vivian to a mystical gardening show host, a disingenuous talent agent, a bratty boy, a vocally challenged cat and plenty more besides. It goes to a weird place you in no way could have imagined at the outset.

Rima Sabina Aouf, editor

Published on September 21, 2013 by Rima Sabina Aouf

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