With over 455 boundary-pushing events from 2,718 participating artists across 140 venues, including the exciting new home of the Fringe Hub, Trades Hall, the 2019 Melbourne Fringe Festival runs 12 – 29 September. With so much on, Australian Arts Review takes a look at fifteen shows worth checking out:
I’m a Phoenix, Bitch
Fairfax Studio – Arts Centre Melbourne: continues to 15 September
One of the UK’s most significant performance-makers, Bryony Kimmings, returns to Melbourne with a solo masterpiece about motherhood, heartbreak and finding inner strength. She combines personal stories with epic film and original pop songs, in a powerful, dark and joyous tour de force.
In 2016, Bryony nearly drowned. Postnatal breakdowns, an imploding relationship and an extremely sick child left her sitting beneath the waves hoping she could slowly turn to shell. Three years later and she is able to deal with life again. Who do we become after trauma? How do we turn pain into power? How do we fly instead of drown? Tonight, a new legend will be created – an invincible and fearless woman.
Daring Dog Monologues
Studio – Gasworks Arts Park: 12 – 21 September
A dog flies breathlessly all the way to the moon. A woman-dog dreams first of love, then revenge. A dogless man reveals a secret talent. We went digging in a local garden bed, a Russian spaceship and a suburban bedroom or two, and these are the juicy treasures we turned up. Quick, share them with us, before the sun goes down, before we lose our bravado and just start burying them all.
A collection of original monologues, Daring Dog Monologues was created by Clare Mendes and written by members of Melbourne Writers’ Theatre. Our actors are excited to be performing these eclectic monologues and, having been given the command to Stay – our writers are watching the show unfold from their favourite lamp-posts.
Head First Acrobats: Railed
Wonderland Speigeltent – Federation Square: 12 – 25 September
Well known for their international sensation, Elixir – smash hit of 2018 and winner of Best Circus and Physical Theatre Award at Adelaide Fringe (along with a slew of sold-out shows all over the world) – the boys from Head First Acrobats premiere their latest high voltage offering, Railed, at this years’ Melbourne Fringe Festival.
A Western-themed Circus Spectacular combining trademark physical talents, finely chiselled bodies, and impeccable comic timing, prepare yourself for a collision of bare-chested Circus and bare-knuckle bar fights. Directed by Debra Batton and John Walton, Railed is a racy, heart-stopping display of the finest acrobatics, leave your expectations at home, come to the wrong side of the tracks, and let the boys of Head First steal your hearts.
Stables – Meat Market: 12 – 21 September
Who’s your celebrity doppelgänger? Could you make a living impersonating them? How about being their stand-in on the set of a film? Kane is one of the world’s biggest movie stars. And his body double is every bit as important, sharing more than just looks with his famous counterpart. But just how intertwined are their lives?
Directed by Gavin Roach (My Wife Peggy, The Measure of a Man) and featuring Tim Quabba, this one-person play of mirrors and mannerisms explores the strange world of the body double – it makes unique contributions to timeless theatrical concepts of images and representation. Written by two Australian theatre powerhouses, Lachlan Philpott and Luke Mullins, Lake Disappointment is an unusual new work about ego, self-fashioning, and illusions.
Let Me Show You My Hole
Stables – Meat Market: 12 – 28 September
As far back as Ali Choudhry can remember, he has always been for one reason or another, that guy on the outside looking in. He’s always been that guy who wasn’t quite included. Much of his personal work deals with identity through the use of portraiture. With this series, he wanted to explore this concept further in a more abstract way. Ali is a Melbourne based photographer, born in Pakistan, schooled in America and Canada, before moving back to Pakistan and eventually journeying to Australia.
Fringe Hub – Trades Hall: 12 – 29 September
After touring the globe, the legendary cabaret YUMMY is back in Melbourne! Join the ever fabulous and multi award-winning ensemble as they take you on the most delicious and unpredictable ride of your life.
YUMMY DELUXE is a mix of new acts and YUMMY favourites with some electric new group numbers. Winners of “Best Production” and “Best Ensemble” (Cabaret) at the 2018 Green Room Awards, YUMMY has become synonymous with breath-taking drag, music, circus, and burlesque. Come and join the stars of YUMMY as they lead a new wave of outrageous, joyful, and innovative cabaret.
Meeting Room – Meat Market: 13 – 22 September
Written by David Williamson, A Conversation explores the use of community conferencing – a process where the criminal and their victims (in this case the families of each) come together to talk in an attempt to ease, or at least begin to understand, the pain and suffering caused by violent crime.
What follows is an intense 90 minutes (no interval) as the play explores themes of classism, nature vs nurture, toxic masculinity and the devastating effect and wide-reach that violent crime has on people. Throughout, it also asks a fundamental question that has been asked for thousands of years: In what way are we (as individuals, as a society and as a species) culpable through indifference and/or ignorance brought about by long-standing cultural standards?
Studio – The Burrow: 13 – 29 September
Andi Snelling’s life has taken a spectacular wrong turn, leaving her fighting for survival. Little does she know, she is about to be rescued in the most profound way. Happy-Go-Wrong offers an intimate peek behind the curtain of those who face their mortality on a daily basis with unflinching honesty and life-saving comedy. And roller skates.
Blending clowning, storytelling and physical theatre with a twist, Happy-Go-Wrong is a visceral solo odyssey through the darkest depths of human struggle, lit by the power of resilience. Following her sold-out hits #DearDiary and Déjà Vu (And Other Forms of Knowing), this is Snelling’s third collaboration with director Danielle Cresp and marks a triumphant comeback after three epic years away from the stage.
Wonderland Spiegeltent – Federation Square: 17 – 22 September
Fringe Hub – Trades Hall: 25 – 29 September
An opulent Adults Only evening inspired by the French Quarter of New Orleans, the ever elusive Circus Society now invite Melbourne audiences to their electric and flamboyant parade. Blending Cajun party culture, French exuberance, Creole voodoo, masquerade and breath-taking acrobatics.
Society serves up an extroverted lighting design and unique styled soundtrack featuring live and original ‘nawlins’ party tunes from dirty south hip hop, to the big easy jumping jazz numbers. An all alluring, all-encompassing onslaught on the senses, nothing is off limits in this indulgent Circus Cabaret.
Fringe Hub – Trades Hall: 21 – 29 September
Following an outstanding Green Room Award nominated performance, audience favourite Pisca (Cameron Taylor) returns for a limited season this Melbourne Fringe. Pisca was born to be a duck. He’s just not good at it.
Through a combination of clowning, physical theatre, song, and imPECKable timing, this Cabaret will duck dive deep into the exploration of Pisca’s life, and his desperate search to find what he’s good for. Waddle he do?
Top Gun! The Musical
Chapel Off Chapel: 21 – 22 September
Following hugely successful runs by the original Canadian company in both Toronto and New York , the Australian company of Top Gun! The Musical is flying in to Chapel Off Chapel for a raucous and revved up night of theatre!
Singing. Satire. Subtext. All at Mach 3! If you see only one musical comedy about mounting a mega-musical based on the movie Top Gun, make it Top Gun! The Musical. Writer Billy Palmer is about to crash and burn. His musical adaptation of Top Gun is going off the rails and he really needs a hit… especially after the debacle of Apocalypse Wow! Instead, he’s saddled with a quarrelling cast, a shady military producer, and a bit of bad luck. Now if only everyone would stop singing!
The Will To Be
The Butterfly Club: 23 – 29 September
One lonely night in 1962, a young university lecturer weighs up his life. The career of his dreams is no more. His secret is out. Will he choose love or the law? In a time when homosexuality is illegal in Australia, a man of reputation must ask the everlasting question: ‘to be or not to be?’
Written and performed by Mark Salvestro, The Will To Be is a one-man show exploring legacy, sexuality, and shame, married with the words of William Shakespeare and music of the 1960s. Does a life filled with fear and denial make for any life at all?
Stables – Meat Market: 24 – 28 September
Be sinful. Break the rules. Be authentic. And if you can’t freely take a piss then take the piss freely out of those who hurt you. Transgression is the premiere show by human rights advocate, Jacob Thomas, that explores the lived experience of being gender diverse after Australia passed marriage equality.
Jacob is non-binary, a Queen’s Young Leader and a human rights advocate, who was the interim-Coordinator of the Commonwealth Youth Gender & Equality Network. Jacob has represented the network at numerous international levels, including working with UN Women’s Commission on the Status of Women and ECOSOC Youth forums in New York, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in London and AIDS2018 in Amsterdam.
The Loneliness Project
Meeting Room – Meat Market: 24 – 28 September
We can all feel alone, but we rarely speak about it. Drawn from interviews conducted with people across diverse gender, sexuality, age and cultural backgrounds, The Loneliness Project explores what it is to feel lonely in an ever fluctuating world, which we struggle to keep up with.
A piecing together of recorded voices, musical score, and ambisonic soundscape, and composed specifically as an immersive, surround-sound piece; The Loneliness Project is a live art experience designed to run for 20 minutes for an intimate audience of 20. Individuals are invited to enter the auditory landscape by sitting, lying down, moving about the space and sharing the experience, in the hope that you… me… we, will no longer feel so alone!
Your Silence Will Not Protect You
Stables – Meat Market: 24 – 28 September
Do you remember the panic attack you had the first, and only, time you fisted someone? Gavin does. And it was hilarious. Having tackled bullying and body image, language and love, acclaimed queer artist Gavin Roach has caved into demand and is finally offering up a more “happy” and “fun” show. This surely will not end well.
The third and final installment of The Anxiety Trilogy – Your Silence Will Not Protect You is a joyous and illuminating adventure about coming to terms with mental illness, navigating alcohol abuse and trying to figure out why the hell you didn’t say something sooner.
The 2019 Melbourne Fringe Festival runs 12 – 29 September. For more information and full program, visit: www.melbournefringe.com.au for details.
Image: Let Me Show You My Hole (supplied)