Top Picks for the 2017 Melbourne Fringe

Outer Urban Projects VesselWith an incredible lineup of local, national and international artists showcasing new work in hundreds of venues across the city, Melbourne Fringe offers up over 440 events across 2.5 weeks from Thursday 14 September 2017. With so much on offer, Australian Arts Review takes a look at 15 shows worth checking out:

After Hours Cabaret Club
Wonderland Spiegeltent: 14 – 30 September 
With enough sass, charm and decadence to power a moonshine distillery… Welcome to the After Hours Cabaret Club where the hottest burlesque, cabaret, sideshow & circus stars go to let loose after working their glamorous show all over the Fringe. With a cast of award-winning performers including cabaret darling Tash York, Kelly Ann Doll – Australian Burlesque Icon, and vaudeville extraordinaire David Splatt – Australia’s Got Talent finalist, witness the creme-de-la-creme of the carnie world do things you’ve never seen before, and may never see again. It’s dangerously debauched, scandalously sophisticated and outrageously unpredictable.

The Butterfly Club: 18 – 24 September
A dirty wink from a pervert, a Rod Stewart lookalike that won’t leave you alone and some drunk chick who yells “we love what you’re doing darl, but do you mind turning it down a bit”. Set over a single evening, Elizabeth features original indie-pop songs and true stories drawn from late night stints playing piano in Melbourne’s hidden hotel bars. Scotsman Fringe First Award winning company Bullet Heart Club collaborates with indie songwriter Lisa Crawley to create an intimate gig-theatre work about what it feels like to be the equivalent of musical wallpaper.

For The Ones Who Walk Away
Siteworks: 27 September – 1 October
What would make you abandon immeasurable happiness for a world that promises nothing? From the company that brought you The Bacchae and Gonzo, this new performance installation takes over Siteworks, Brunswick, inviting audiences to roam its many rooms in search of the traces of the ones who walked away.

Nigella Love Bites
Alex Theatre St Kilda: 14 – 23 September
She has been tantalising our taste buds for years. Single handedly bringing sexy back into the kitchen with her smooth rich British accent, voluptuous physique and rampant addiction to alliteration. Nigella has proven she is a domestic goddess time and again. However, even a domestic goddess is prone to a bad day where everything just doesn’t seem to go their way and all they seek is a day languishing around in bed. In recent years her life has been filled with the bitter and the sweet. After a slew of recent media disasters, she has relaunched and revamped and is back with a vengeance.

Pee Stick
The Jury Room – Courthouse Hotel: 13 – 21 September
Annie is 50% pregnant, with Schrödinger’s baby. In 1987 she sits alone on a toilet waiting to see if her life will change forever. Will Annie’s possible pregnancy ruin her career in the fast-paced CD-ROM data management industry? Will she need to move back in with her hippy mother? Just how exclusive are these mother’s clubs, anyway? A ridiculous one-woman comedy written and performed by Carly Milroy, and directed by award-winning Rachel Davis, Pee Stick shines a playful light on the terror and/or wonder of motherhood.

Share My Blankets
No Vacancy Gallery: 13 – 24 September
Beneath Aly Lorén’s blankets, there are stories of human fluidity and validity ready to be uncovered. Supported by a live electro/acoustic two-piece band, Aly meanders through the past five years of her life, coming into her queerness, processing her sexual experiences good and bad, and reclaiming her identity. By exploring concepts of sharing intimate truths through moments of giving, grieving, receiving, and surrender this work offers each of us permission to populate space in our own storytelling.

Sharnia Choir: Still the One
Fringe Hub – Lithuanian Club: 15 & 16 September
A group of A cappella singers united by a love for leopard print and armed with the prerogative to have a little fun. This eleven gal, four guy group came together to form a choir dedicated entirely to the one and only Shania Twain. The Choir explores the personal and professional life of Shania Twain through song, dance and drag, effortlessly weaving country-pop classics into A cappella harmony without losing the wink-n-wiggle of the originals, The Choir is here to sing you all her hits including Man I Feel like a Woman, From this Moment, and That Don’t Impress Me Much.

St Kilda Stories
Studio 2 – The National Theatre: 26 – 30 September
A collection of original, bitter-sweet monologues with a seaside aftertaste penned especially for Melbourne Fringe by playwrights from Melbourne Writers’ Theatre. At Monarch Cakes an AWAS officer waits patiently for love, for the end of the war, and for her chocolate Kooglhoupf. A man has an existentialist encounter with a seagull on St Kilda Pier. A Midsumma Pride marcher reflects on his life and channels Wonder Woman as he prepares to join the parade. At the Sea Baths, a 1920s dancing girl emerges from an invigorating dip to share a secret or two. On the Esplanade, a woman nervously makes her way towards Luna Park for a reunion with a past girlfriend.

The Birds And The Beats
Wonderland Spiegeltent: 19 – 24 September 
After sell out crowds at Edinburgh Fringe, local musical comedian Grant Busé is returning to Melbourne Fringe with his hit new show about sex education – The Birds And The Beats. In a hilarious hour of comedy music, let singer and actual school teacher Mr. Busé (The Late Night Sexy Show / The Shuffle Show / Tinder) take you on a joyous sexploration of all the things they should have taught us about sex while growing up. From condoms to commitment, the show aims to delve deep into the minefield that is being a sexually active adult.

The One
Studio 2 – Arts House: 15 – 30 September
There’s a happy couple. They’ve been together a few years. They do things couples do: walk together, talk together, meander through IKEA, anal, crosswords on Sunday mornings. One day he realises she’s The One, so he gets down on one knee (as is tradition) and proposes. And she explodes: “Do you actually know what marriage is? It’s a way of turning women into property.” And he gets her point… kind of… but he loves her, and surely she’ll come around. I mean, he’s seen The Taming of the Shrew. Some women just need more convincing than others. Written and Directed by Jeffrey Jay Fowler, The One is a theatrical fever dream that takes the boy gets girl cliché and impales it with marriage’s grim history.

The Measure of a Man
Emerald City – Meat Market: 19 – 24 September
After hugely successful seasons in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth, Gavin Roach returns to Melbourne Fringe with a revised and dynamic performance of The Measure of a Man. How do you measure a man? Is it the way he walks, the way he talks? Told in Roach’s humorous, raw and deeply candid style, The Measure of a Man will stare into the heart of one man’s sexual anxieties and pull out the stories we try to shy away from – stories often shrouded in embarrassment or shame.

TRAPS: a romantic comedy for the modern sociopath
Studio 1 – Arts House: 15 – 30 September
Set in a surreal Veterinary clinic, TRAPS is a romantic comedy with a black heart about the pursuit of true love, self-harm and a 400kg saltwater croc called Polly. Amelia Evans’ script deftly weaves humour and heavy subject matter which results in an absurdist delight, and features an energetic, hilarious and equally moving performance by a cast of the best and brightest of the Melbourne Indie scene.

The Sky Is Well Designed
Northcote Town Hall: 15 – 28 September
Two scientists venture out into the desert to play music to the earth’s dying atmosphere. A work of quiet conversations and stunning sound, The Sky Is Well Designed is the second production from Fabricated Rooms. Offering audiences an experience that is both intimate and highly visceral, the production is a work of contemporary theatre that examines how our relationship to the natural world is shifting amidst the dual forces of digital existence and climate change.

Ugly Duckling
The Butterfly Club: 18 – 24 September
Duckie is well… an ugly duck, she’s also adopted, a Z grade socialite and suffers dysmorphic delusions of grandeur. Growing up with her faith in the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, she’s very discombobulated to find that only signets NOT ducks transform into beautiful swans. However Duckie won’t allow mere genetics to stand in her way as she utilises surgery, celebrity, Botox and fillers to fulfill her self-appointed birthright. Ugly Duckling is a cabaret told through song and spoken word, performed by Karla Hillam, written and directed by the multi-award winning international cabaret artiste Spanky.

Arts Centre Melbourne: 15 – & 16 September
A dance theatre work spanning street, cultural and contemporary styles, Vessel is about what it means to give birth and where and what you are born into. A 15 year old girl carries water down a steep hill in a barren mountain landscape and makes a pledge to her unborn child. Dance, vignettes, stories and song transform into a string of intersecting encounters and a powerful aesthetic. Featuring an inter-generational ensemble of dancers, performers and musicians brought together by Outer Urban Projects’ Artistic Director Irine Vela, Vessel features choreography by some of Australia’s leading dance exponents, Thomas E. S. Kelly, Nebahat Erpolat and Demi Sorono.

The 2017 Melbourne Fringe runs 14 September – 1 October. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Outer Urban Projects present Vessel (supplied)