Saturday, October 11, 2008

Around the Fringe in 80 Shows (9)


The old pond
A frog jumps in -


A welcome slice of post-post-feminist comedy that sets its targets on the double standards, stereotyping and embedded expectations still put to Australian women in a period where many still don't want to identify themselves with the F word. The other F - funny - is here in abundance, which is a bonus. The two performers have a real confidence in handling their material, which is mostly sketch- and character-based. I think I would have liked to see a few moments that broke out of this format into a more direct style of address - not a "this is what where doing here" thing but something to frame the overall collection of acts and vary the tone a bit. Some great stuff here in any case.


The most impressive thing about this circus three-hander was the way it looked so easy - it doesn't scream "I'm doing amazing things!" like many circus acts. It just does them. They're still pretty amazing, though. It's a kind-of adults-only affair with lots of hilarious, tongue-in-cheek polysexual perversity thrown in. It's not dirty or obscene, though, just ridiculously sexualised in a silly, free-floating way. The three performers are massively talented; I think they could still use a little more outside direction in order to sharpen their characters and relationships. The acts themselves are top stuff, though.


I only caught the second spiel in this double bill from members of the Caravan of Love. Entitled "a preamble", it's a solo from Eva Johansen who, may I say, is a damn fine singer. It's one of those loose, deliberately awkward bits of comic meta-theatre that sees Johansen fussing about, constantly getting distracted, playing out little digressions and so on in the build-up to the actual beginning of the show - which, of course, is where the real performance ends. We've seen this conceit heaps of times but Johansen presents enough solid comedy and theatrical nous to inject a lot of vigour into proceedings. My only real quibble is that the framing device - and Johansen's constant reassurances that "this isn't the show" - are sort of unnecessary. It's clear from the title alone what's going on, and the actual content is enough to hold up the show without making it any more explicit.


This dance marathon/high school social/variety extravaganza was packed from the get-go, which meant some punters had to queue for a while to get in. It was worth it, though - more than a hundred dancers performed, from a tap troupe of older women to a local ballet outfit from Darebin (I think) to the ironic 80s kitsch of the Real Hot Bitches. Plus punters wore numbers pinned to their clothes which allowed them to be assessed by roaming judges (the ten best had an on-stage dance off near the end) and a good time was had by all. I was especially pleased to see a bona fide spontaneous dance battle suddenly occur next to me, and soon a huge ring had formed as more joined in the fray - breakdancers, circus folk, flouro spandexed RHBs, the Hall & Oates dancer from Dave Quirk's show, and - most mystifying of all - a pair of boys who came out of nowhere and completely cleaned up the competitors. They were maybe 12, 14 at most, and they were matching everyone who stepped up to challenge. I have no idea what the hell these kids were doing there. But good on 'em.

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