No Plain Jane

Theatre reviews and musings (mostly) from Adelaide

Tag: Garden of Unearthly Delights

Fringe Review: Tommy Bradson’s Sweet Sixteen or the Birthday Party Massacre

tommybradson60s

How best to write about a show in which you were pulled up on stage for? Of course, it radically changes the way you perceive the show: vast chunks of it get sieved through thoughts preoccupied with “what is my face doing” and “will I be asked to strip naked.” Even when these sections are over, and you’re back down in the relative safety of your seat, the rest of the show becomes somewhat blurrier.

It’s not quite a feeling of adrenalin. Or, maybe it is, an uncomfortable adrenalin you don’t know how to place. “Did I really just do that?” you think, when, of course, you didn’t really just do anything at all, but stand on stage and over-think every action you could possibly do with your body and try desperately not to laugh – from nerves, more than anything else – while a young man in white stage makeup and panda eyes of blue eye shadow stares into your face, and speaks of that time you striped naked in front of him, diving into the clear pool water under the moonlit sky and he found himself in love with you, and then he sings.

In Tommy Bradson’s Sweet Sixteen or the Birthday Party Massacre we’ve been gathered for Lula Whitlam’s surprise sixteenth birthday party. In the Campanile Tent at the Garden of Unearthly Delights, the audience starts the night looking upon the birthday table at the foot of the stage. By the end of the night, more than half the audience surrounds the table  – Bradson brought us up in a collection of uncles, cousins, and friends. The lolly bananas, party hats, and party poppers are shared freely, as several of us crack open a beer.

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AdlFringe Review: The Candy Butchers

The Candy Butchers photo Jeff Busby

When we walk into the big top, our fingers slightly sticky, we’re already there with the world of the circus. Big Top, hanging trapeze, red curtains, sugar overload: we know the circus. We know what we’re going to expect.

The trouble, though, is The Candy Butchers professes to be a dark circus, something off the beaten track, not your ordinary circus show. It plays so easily into traditional circus, though, attempts to be something different are never truly realised.

The non-narrative work takes four loosely drawn characters for four performers and gives us traditional circus acts: there is the clowning, the trapeze, the hula-hoops, and the tests of strength through handstand. Perhaps most crucially, the work fails in truly being a dark production by how much the performers are joyous in their roles, and how much the social construct of applauding for physical feats and trickery still stands in the show.

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