Top Picks at the 2017 Adelaide Fringe

Adelaide Fringe Anya Anastasia - photo by Gee GreensladeThe 2017 Adelaide Fringe kicked off in spectacular style last night, as the Fringe Parade heralded the start of this year’s Festival. With more than 1100 events, the 2017 Adelaide Fringe program boasts another record number of attractions to delight, inspire and challenge audiences. Arts Guru and Founding Chair of the Fringe, Frank Ford shares his top ten picks of this year’s Festival:

Star Theatres: 22 February – 4 March
From award winning writer Jeanine Tesori (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Shrek the musical) comes VIOLET. Set in 1964 and focusing on a young woman who bears a scar on her face from an accident when she was a child. She is in search of a miracle. Boarding a Greyhound bus that is traveling to Tulsa, Oklahoma she hopes to be physically healed by a famous TV preacher. On her journey of self-discovery, she meets two soldiers, who soon become her friends. As the young adult’s journey advances, so does their understanding of many important lessons and choices about life and growing up. Throughout the musical, Violet flashes back to childhood memories, with her father, whom she condemns as totally responsible for the accident. Ultimately, Violet experiences a miracle healing that is more than she was searching for.

Angel by Henry Naylor
Holden Street Theatres: 18 February – 19 March
Kobane, 2014: there’s a siege as fierce as Stalingrad. ISIS, having steam-rollered through Iraq, expect to take the town easily. But the citizens have found a heroine: a crackshot sniper, with 100 kills to her name. And she appears indestructible. She’s the Angel of Kobane. Winner of the coveted Scotsman Fringe First Award, this critically-acclaimed show is a must see!

Anya Anastasia: Rogue Romantic
Royal Croquet Club – Pinky Flat: 28 February – 19 March
Feisty, feminist, fierce. Anya Anastasia multi-award winning internationally acclaimed cabaret femme fatale has gone ROGUE, armed with a biting wit and a lust for revenge. After a hit season at the Edinburgh Fringe, watch her smash the stage with a star-studded band.

My Name is Saoirse
Noel Lothian Hall – Adelaide Botanic Garden: 18 February – 5 March
My Name is Saoirse (meaning freedom in Irish) is an award-winning one woman show. It is a tender and moving coming of age story that follows Saoirse, an ordinary, extraordinary 15 year old growing up in conservative Catholic Ireland. Rural Ireland, 1987. Saoirse lives in a peach coloured bungalow with her Dad and big brother Brendan. Her best friend is Siobhán, who has a glorious fountain of ginger hair, a whisper like a foghorn and an arse that distracts all the men at mass. Saoirse prefers running through fields to chasing after boys, but Siobhán has other ideas. After a night out drinking with the lads, Saoirse discovers her pregnancy and is forced to set out on journey that will take her miles away from her home and the carefree adolescence she once knew.

39 Forever
Spiegel Zelt at Gluttony: 7 – 19 March
Do you still feel like you’re 25 even though your birthdate insists you’re not? Do you look at J-Lo and hope you can look that good at 47, even though you didn’t look that good…ever?! This hilarious new show takes a candid look at ageing in a world where botox and photoshop are the norm and looking your age feels like a failure. Written by Amity Dry (The Block) after the success of her hit musical, Mother, Wife and the Complicated Life, she now turns her focus to ageing in this comedic and poignant exploration on the pressure women face to stay forever young.

19 Weeks
Basement Pool – Adina Apartment Hotel Adelaide Treasury: 1 – 18 March
Directed by Daisy Brown and performed by Tiffany Lyndall Knight, 19 weeks aims to create a space where we can be more open with each other and feel less alone in our experiences. Everyone knows someone who has had an abortion or lost a pregnancy, even if they don’t talk about it. In 2016, playwright Emily Steel had a termination after her baby was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. This is her story, told honestly and publicly, because there are so many more stories out there. Come sit by the pool, put your feet in the water and listen.

Beccy Cole with Libby O’Donovan and Special Guests
MainStage at LIVE on 5 – Adelaide Oval: Friday 10 March
Beccy Cole is the real deal, a working mother, a comedienne, a multi instrumentalist, an author, a passionate supporter of Aussie rules Football and as honest, funny and genuine in real life as she comes across on stage. Her ability to laugh at herself and write her songs and stories with such brazen truth is refreshing. Her live show has an indelible impression. oining her on stage for this one performance show is Libby O’Donovan and other special guests! Imagine listening to them perform as the sun sets behind the Adelaide Oval.

Reuben Kaye: Success Story
Le Cascadeur – The Garden of Unearthly Delights: 18 February – 19 March
Reuben Kaye: Success Story is in no uncertain terms, his original story to becoming the gay superhero necessary for the modern age. Described by the British Theatre Guide as “the evil love child of Liza Minelli and Jim Carrey” – Kaye sweeps his audience away on a journey from tears to hysteria. Beautifully filthy, obscenely funny and with the voice of a fallen angel, Reuben Kaye is what happens when you tell your children they can be anything. With costumes that would give Liberace a haemorrhage, the world premiere of Reuben Kaye: Success Story is an explosion of sequins, lashes and haute-couture humour.

Holden Street Theatres: 18 February – 19 March
For those who don’t feel like they’re in the right life the web is a place to be yourself. ‘Happiness. Aching, constant, consuming – on there it’s more real than real life. I’m honest on there. I’m being honest. That’s important.’ Out in the real world though, things can be very different. A story of first love through the eyes of a gender-curious teen, Scorch examines how the human story often gets lost amidst the headlines. Inspired by recent court cases, Scorch has been awarded a Scotsman Fringe First and Best New Play at the 2015 Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards.

Panti Bliss: High Heels in Low Places
The Peacock at Gluttony: 18 & 19 February
Having played to packed houses and glittering reviews in London, Dublin, New York, Paris, Edinburgh and beyond, Panti Bliss traces her journey from small-town boy kicking against traditions; to towering plastique woman in false lashes making history. The Queen of Ireland, invites you into her gender-discombobulating, stiletto-shaped world, exposing the stories behind the makeup – from performance giant to accidental activist – to reveal the National F*cking Treasure she is today.

The 2017 Adelaide Fringe continues to 19 March. For more information, and complete program, visit: for details.

Image: Anya Anastasia-photo by Gee Greenslade

Frank Ford is a freelance writer, director, dramaturg and drama lecturer. He has studied acting, drama theory, dramaturgy, directing and cinema in his degrees: M.F.A. [Theatre Arts] from Columbia University, New York (Awarded the Richard Rodgers’ Scholarship); Certificate in Arts Administration, Harvard Business School; A.D.B., [Associate of the Drama Board] London and B.A. University of Sydney.

He is an author and director of opera, music theatre, cabaret, experimental theatre, modern and classic drama and multi-media productions. His plays, adaptations and cabarets have been performed in Australia and overseas. He was former Head of the Department of Drama at Adelaide University and has held various teaching, directing and arts administration positions here and overseas.

He was Founding Chair of Adelaide Fringe Festival and its first Honorary Life Member. He initiated the Adelaide Cabaret Festival and is Chair of the Advocacy Committee. He has served on many arts boards such as Country Arts SA, Adelaide Festival and as Chair of the Australian Dance Theatre and until recently Chair of the Independent Arts Foundation.

In 1999 he was awarded Member of the Order of Australia for service to the development of the performing arts in South Australia as a director, playwright, administrator and educator. In 2003 he received the Centenary Medal for services to the community, particularly through the performing arts. In 2006 he received the inaugural Premier’s “Life Time Achievement” Ruby Award for the Arts. He was an Australia Day, South Australian Senior of the Year Finalist 2015 and City of Adelaide, Citizen of the Year 2015. Friends’ Representative, Adelaide Festival Board 2017/18.