Elizabeth Davie – Apex Predator

By Colin Flaherty

In a world where danger lurks around every corner, Elizabeth Davie has her clown Lucretia Mackintosh to do the things that she can’t. This dark performance verged on a rather extreme form of Radical Feminism, playing out revenge fantasies as a form of catharsis with plenty of gallows humour.

The clown is a classic device used to say and do the forbidden and wow does Lucretia do that. She was an intriguing character – fairly disarming initially with a timid demeanour and a child-like desire to play, but once the red mist descended she was quite a demented being. Action hero styled quips after an altercation regularly raised the laughter level above nervous titters giving the audience some welcome relief following a gruesome mime.

The inclusion of an excerpt from King Lear was an interesting way of providing some background into Lucretia’s creation but digging deeper doesn’t really reveal any deeper meaning. Lear’s fool was a voice of reason while Davie’s clown was an outlet (an empowering but potentially dangerous one) so the reference seemed to just serve as an explanation as to how she became desensitized to violence.

The deliberate pacing and repetition (with only changes to the triggering comments) made watching this a bit of a slog but I could see the reasoning behind this structure. We saw variations of the same act play out over and over to reflect that violence against women happens with shocking regularity.

Aside from Lucretia telling a child to “not to play by all the rules”, I was disappointed that this show didn’t seem to do anything beyond being fed up with being under constant attack from unwanted male attention and the secret desire for revenge. It was focused on shouting at the world about the injustice and giving us a slightly perverse delight in seeing the traditional predators getting their comeuppance.

Apex Predator is a worthy addition to the Fringe and despite the seriousness of this topic delivered enough dark laughs to satisfy. It’s also worth seeing to help Davies donate to the organisation Wire Women’s Information (https://www.wire.org.au/).

Apex Predator is on at Trades Hall until September 29
https://melbournefringe.com.au/event/apex-predator/

Kiwifruit – An Autobiography

By Colin Flaherty

Simon Hawkings has been kicking around the Melbourne scene as part of sketch troupes and performing with the Improv Conspiracy. In Kiwifruit he branched out on his own with a one man cavalcade of characters in a story that was funny and personal.

The show was framed in a wonderful manner – the elderly Hawkings addressing his large family with the subtle sound of a crackling fire setting the scene for this lounge room chat. He engaged with us (his descendants) in a delightful way and, even though we weren’t sure how he expected us to respond, it was a great device. When he was addressing no one in particular it made us feel part of the family, relieved that we weren’t the one being scolded.

As he recounted his life, Hawkings played all the parts of various people close to him using simple costuming to transform between them. It wasn’t a particularly extraordinary life but he found plenty of laughs in New Zealand suburbia. Characters including his manipulative mother, bullying brother and inner demons, all were played big and broad to sell them perfectly. There were a couple of scenes where the relevance to his life was a little tenuous but they were wonderfully exaggerated and fitted in well thematically.

The narrative was propelled along at quite a good clip – belting out some songs as exposition dumps and spouting plenty of amusing lines to tickle your fancy. He milked excessive repetition as a joke for all its worth but his cheeky demeanour gave him the narrowest of passes. There were some dark moments in the show in which he didn’t quite extract enough humour to cut through the seriousness. It was during these times that it felt like more like therapy on stage rather than comedy but hey, contrast is a good thing.

This was a great solo outing from Hawkings which highlighted his talent as a wonderful comedic actor. Bravo sir!

Kiwifruit – An Autobiography is on at Crowded in the Vaults until September 22
https://melbournefringe.com.au/event/kiwifruit-an-autobiography/

Creatures Lost

By Lisa Clark

The performance group Picked Last for Sport are an impressively multi-talented bunch of artists and they have created a delightful Fringe show with original songs, handmade puppets, charming characters and silly choreography. The songs are intelligently written and catchy, the stories are compelling, the jokes funny, the singing in tune with beautiful harmonies and they are all very good puppeteers. The theme of species extinction is fairly serious one, but the talented team of performers have found ways to make the show very funny and accessible.

We are welcomed into the room by a turtle who is on stage as we arrive. The first thing to impress me about Creatures Lost is the puppetry. Not spectacular but simple and extremely well done in a Muppet kind of way. The Dancing Dodos were wonderfully silly, and then the woolly mammoth came out to move our hearts and make us giggle, I think she was my fave because it was such a fantastically realised puppet and made from a woolly jumper. No, no… it’s more ingenious than you are imagining and one of the most gorgeously sung songs on the night. The Orangutan was also a truly showstopper of a puppet. It’s song was a lament and the performance suitably sweet and sad. The group was smart enough to have most of the humour play out around the already long-extinct animals and the poignant numbers were given to animals that are alive but endangered.

Creatures Lost is a cabaret show so is mostly made up of a collection of musical numbers which are all different in style and vibe but all about the same topic and amazingly pretty much all really entertaining and catchy. There are dance numbers that are simply and often amusingly choreographed. It’s actually hard to pick a highlight because they were all highlights. The T Rex Rap is the first funny song with fantastic dinosaur masks. The Sabertooth Tiger brings some 1960s GoGo to the stage, the Thylacine is a 1940s film Noir style jazzy mystery man and there is also a singing cowboy.

Despite the puppets this was not actually a “kids show” as such, but it is one you can take your kids to and they will love it as much as you do. The themes of animal extinction and climate change are very relevant but the show is only gently political and not too didactic. Yes, some of it is preaching to the converted, a Fringe audience at the Butterfly Club are unsurprisingly onside but I loved it anyway. There was a beautiful balance of the funny and the serious along with some very interesting true stories. I could see Creatures Lost as it is now easily touring schools and community groups successfully. This is not a highly polished production but it is a very entertaining one. The beautifully made puppets show that with a bit more money this wildly talented team could really do amazing things.

Creatures Lost is on at The Butterfly Club until September 22
https://melbournefringe.com.au/event/creatures-lost/

5 Good Reasons to See How Dare You

1. It’s a stand up and storytelling show that covers everything from estranged cat-parenting to a late 20s Autism diagnosis, so there’s truly something for every one.

2. There’s definitely no ukulele involved. But there is a ukulele on stage. Such. Tension.

3. I’ve noticed a lot of other people on this page are people I do improv with. It’s important I do better than them because if there’s one thing we learn from improv, it’s every man for themselves..

4. A fortune teller told me this show would end in a terrible fire, as such the absolute worst thing that could happen at this show is that we all perish in a terrible fire.

5. Writing this show is the probably the scariest and best thing I’ve ever done, it means everything to me to share it with you.

Kate Chalmers performs How Dare You at the Rattlesnake Saloon Sept 26-28

https://melbournefringe.com.au/event/how-dare-you/

5 Good Reasons to See This Is Our Pilot

1: Boy oh boy, we can’t wait to share with you all the reasons to see This Is Our Pilot!

2: Just 5 reasons! Wow, better think of the very best ones so people get excited to see This Is Our Pilot!

3: We reckon we could come up with way more than 5! Our creativity is endless!

4:

5: We’ve made a huge financial commitment and decided against all advice to self produce we’ve really found ourselves in quite the pickle not to sound desperate but ok we’re desperate even with selling 30% of seating our losses are not even close to covered also Annie’s mum isn’t coming out of spite because she told her performance was not a viable career But mum it’s just for fun we’re having fun ok mum fine you got us are you happy now if you’re still reading this psychotic ramble please you have to buy a ticket full price and one for a friend too you owe us come on please we’re so sorry for yelling we’ve just been under a bit of stress because we are creating and performing a Fringe Festival show at Coopers Inn called This Is Our Pilot.

Annie Lumsden and Lena Moon perform This Is Our Pilot  at Coopers Inn Sept 20 – 27

https://melbournefringe.com.au/event/this-is-our-pilot/

5 Good Reasons to see Is This It?

1. It’s inspired by being a teenager, and the Strokes’ debut album…
Ian McCarthy took a lot of inspiration from the way he idolised rockstars as a teenager, particularly through the way he worshiped the Strokes’ debut album, ‘Is This It?’ Ian reflects on that reverence we all had for artists as young people throughout the show.
“All of the changes that I’ve gone through as a person, since I first became obsessed with that album, and looking back on it now, it means different things to me now than it did then, but I still love it the same amount.”

2. …But, you don’t have to be a Strokes fan to enjoy or get the show!
Ian wants to stress that this show will not be exclusive to try-hard fans of the band or the album, granted though, he does make a reference to the Strokes in the following quote. The show will honestly be relatable to anyone who was a celebrity-idol-praising teenager, which is all of you, I
can bet.
“If people don’t know the album, that’s fine,” says Ian. “It’s about me, through the album as a device. There’s not going to be any super niche Strokes jokes. There’s not gonna be like; ‘Albert Hammond Junior!? I hardly know her!’ But give it a listen for sure!”

3. You can learn how to kill your problematic idols, like Ian already has.
In the current state of celebrities getting their just desserts for the heinous and problematic things they have committed in the past, you should separate yourselves from the people you once idolised, and Ian has some advice for doing that. Even on a basic level, you shouldn’t really want to obtain their incredibly fraught lifestyles anyway, according to Ian. Having once
idolised comedy icons Louis C.K. and Woody Allen, along with many problematic singers in the past, Ian says to just accept the fact they are human and ditch ‘em.
“You forget that they are just normal people. They are not necessarily these perfect, geniuses that you build them up to be. You don’t want your life to reflect theirs either. A lot of artists have messed up lives. Like, I love Lou Reed but I’m not going to go out and do heroin any time soon.”

4. This isn’t Ian’s first rodeo, despite being his debut solo comedy show.
Ian has already had plenty of experience on the stand-up stage throughout the past couple of years. Debuting at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2019 with two other friends in ‘2 Matts and a Rat’ (Ian was the rat) gave him plenty of opportunities to stretch his funny muscles. And, making it to the Victorian State Finals in RAW Comedy 2019 too means Ian has taken a proper comedic crack across multiple stages. Ian is particularly grateful for the two opportunities to finally spread his wings in the comedy scene.
“We got all we wanted out of it. I felt like I came out of it better as a comedian. That’s all you can really ask for.”

5. It’s hosted at Crowded in the Vaults, a particular favourite of Ian’s.
Finding a suitable venue for your debut solo show is paramount for ensuring the comedian and the audience are satisfied throughout the night and Ian thinks he’s found the perfect place to host his comedy premiere. Accessible from the city by tram, Crowded in the Vaults is already making Ian feel at home.
“The room that I’m doing my show is just really cozy. It’s a small intimate space, which for me personally is the best place to perform. You can talk to people and be a bit looser in that space.I can reach out and touch the front row…not that I’m planning on doing that but I could if I wanted to.”

Ian McCarthy performs Is This It? at Crowded in the Vaults – Vault 11, Sept 17 – 22
https://melbournefringe.com.au/event/is-this-it/