FRINGEWORLD 2018 | Terror Australis | 3 stars

Review | Amanda Lancaster

Terror Australis stars Leah Shelton in what has been described as “grindhouse cabaret edgier than a serial killer’s machete.” Upon walking into the Big Top whilst being seated, the audience sees a giant Hills Hoist washing line covered in various objects – sheets and articles of clothing and then the show begins.

Shelton enters as the sheets on the Hills Hoist have scenes of the Australian outback and country roads projected onto them and her performance begins. She starts to pole dance on the Hills Hoist and interact with the front row members of the audience by holding a goon bag in her mouth and pouring some drinks, afterwards putting it between her legs and shuffling forward and spraying liquid all around.

The all too familiar “a dingo ate my baby” phrase plays as she pulls a dismembered dolls head out of nowhere throwing it into the audience, HOWZAT plays and she grabs a cricket bat from off the line and after producing two more dismembered dolls heads she throws the newly acquired heads into the audience as well. Lining up a shot with the bat as she beckons for them to be bowled at her and POW one by one the dolls heads go flying with the exception of one which is caught by a swift and savvy audience member.

The show continues on with some hilarious masks and toying around with a large suitcase and she waves and moves her limbs about whilst looking like she is trying to escape it, moving onto some terrifying wolf creek type scenes and continues to fall down the rabbit hold of creepiness with news of Australian hitch hiker horror stories.

Terror Australis, whilst  impressive as a thematic performance idea does not quite manage the same in its execution. Shelton, is immensely likable and the show is full of interesting ideas, yet falls victim to an inconsistent tempo. The approach and ingenuity of multi media  applications are a truly intriguing and intelligent approach to attempting to create a cabaret version of horror noir genre.

Shelton’s cartoon pinup performance style is super cute, but this does not seem to keep the audience’s attention during lulls in the narrative. This show could be very different  with a more fluid and manicured touch.

If you like cabaret and performance art but want something more macabre then give this show a try but if you are turned off by semi-gruesome themes and real world stories about attempted abductions and deaths it might not be the show to hitchchike to in the dark!

WHEN: 27 January – 4 February 2018 | 10:00pm

WHERE: Big Top | The Pleasure Garden | Northbridge

INFO: Tickets $18 – $29 | Duration 45 mins | Suitable 18+ | Adult themes | CABARET



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