No Plain Jane

Theatre reviews and musings (mostly) from Adelaide

Tag: Tom Pitts

Fringe Review: A Modern Deception: Live To Air

A Modern Deception: Live To Air is a magic show, a comedy show, and a morning television show rolled into one. Magicians Alex de la Rambelje, Vyom Sharma and Luke Hocking appear on the live-to-air pre-morning show sitcom about magicians who are also lawyers, when they find out a) it has been cancelled and b) the hosts of the following morning show have died, so they will need to fill in.

The show sees the three men (with occasional cameos from stage manager Brendan Jelly) take over said morning show, and Magic Mornings, as it is now called, explores the tropes of morning television through magic: the news told through cards, the cooking segment which causes a cake to magically appear, the infomercial with ever multiplying wine bottles, the weather report crossing a trick from stage to video. Through a mixture of pre-recorded segments and live action, A Modern Deception gives us a fun laugh at morning shows, and genuine amazement at some magic tricks – and quite a few more spoiled by a childhood of reading magic books.

Director Danny Delahunty and script developer Max Attwood devised the work in conjunction with the magicians, but the work struggles to find its feet in the balance between the world of the morning show, and the “off air” conversations of commercial breaks. Through this construct, the show tries to have it both ways: be a traditional magic show with audience participation, while also playing around with the conventions of a morning show. While some of these tricks would be harder to shoehorn into the construct, in the end these off-air segments cheat the show.

On their own, these tricks are often funny and are well performed, but in a narrative show the team need to be a bit tighter in being faithful to the framing device. In the end, what we walk away from does indeed feel more like a magic show and less like a play. Which, in itself isn’t a bad thing – there is just room for there to be much more.

A Modern Deception: Live to Air, performed by Alex de la Rambelje, Vyom Sharma, and Luke Hocking, devised with director Danny Delahunty and developed and edited by Max Attwood. South and music by Tom Pitts; Stage Manager, Tech and Performer Brendan Jelly. In the Cupola at the Garden of Unearthly Delights until March 3. More information and tickets.

Melbourne Fringe Review: Choir Girl

Choir politics, it seems, are a very big deal.

Which choir you’re in; who they accept and who they reject; their history; their venue; their accompanist; what section of the choir you are in; what food you bring; how much you rehearse; who gives whom a carpool.

Anything I’ve missed? Dozens of things, I’m sure.

Sarah Collins’ Choir Girl is a somewhat befuddling look into the world and the politics of choirs, of being an outsider, and of finding spaces for the lonely. A one-woman show, it is at its core, a small and simple story about Susan (alto) joining a new prestigious choir two bus trips away, while struggling to fit in amongst the other women of the choir and desperately fantasising about the accompanist.

This seemingly simple, one-woman show, though, is far from small. Joining Collins on the small stage in the Lithuanian Club Ballroom is an ensemble of fifteen women making up the choir: making this a small story epically told.

Collins’ Susan is earnest and heartwarming in all the right ways, while also being dark and incredulously manipulative. Incredibly dorkily invested in choir, slightly socially awkward, judgmental, and slightly lacking in empathy and social awareness, Collins nonetheless manages to pull of a character that, if we’re not exactly rooting for her, we’re still in some way cheering her on. This choral world – which to me is entirely foreign – becomes a refuge for the lonely Susan: a place where she can blend perfectly in as a good choir girl should, but you get the idea she feels she is so good at blending in she is probably the best at blending in, and so she is probably the best in all circumstances.

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