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REVIEW | Kangaroo Stew is a hearty family drama that kicks off Blue Room Theatre’s 2021 programming with a wallop!

Review | Laura Money

Talk about a show that packs a punch! Kangaroo Stew written and performed by Zac James, directed by Bruce Denny and played at The Blue Room Theatre is the ultimate family story. It takes good, hard working people who are dedicated to each other and their sacred land and posits the question – what would happen if this was all taken away? Featuring a five-person cast of phenomenal actors, Kangaroo Stew takes you back to your roots and educates while entertaining – and it will probably leave you with a lump in your throat.

The set is dynamic, providing clear zones where each dramatic section occurs – Denny’s direction is smooth when each character moves from area to area alongside masterful lighting design from Peter Young. There are earth toned screens that demarcate the separate areas, a kitchen table with cupboards and hob in the heart of the stage as with the heart of the home, and a bedroom to the right for privacy that plays an important role throughout. Young’s contribution is highlighted during a dreamtime story in which actors move and dance in a sinister fashion behind the screens with a powerful light casting creepy shadows of the characters in the story to accompany Maitland Schnaars‘ hypnotic storytelling.

Schnaars plays John, father and husband of the struggling family. He is also dead. Returning guiding spirits are an integral part of Aboriginal culture and John’s spirit is interwoven into the story just as seamlessly as Dreaming and the spirit of the land are into culture. Cutting a dignified and sometimes solemn figure, Schnaars gently but firmly teaches country and story to his children. He jokes with his son, Jack (Micah Kickett) who shares banter with the cheekiest of grins, but is serious when addressing David (James) providing a gravity that cultural significance merits. Kickett and James share a brilliant chemistry that is every sibling relationship. They love each other fiercely but also have the capacity to hurt each other because of it. Jack sees David’s moving away as a betrayal – which is nothing compared to what is about to come.

At the heart of Kangaroo Stew is a strong bond and intense relationships. There is a beautiful moment between CJ Hampson and Rayma Morrison as mother and daughter in law that will leave you unsure if you should laugh or cry. The family’s utmost dedication to its newest member is heartwarming. Hampson plays the peacekeeper well, shifting seamlessly from playful language with Jack and respectful yet friendly tones with Lilly. However, it is Lilly’s relationship to John that is the most harrowing. Morrison’s Lilly is strong on the outside but falling apart with emotion inside. She shifts from capable, funny, caring matriarch to vulnerable, insecure, quiet alcoholic. Lilly drinks to ‘banish’ John’s spirit as she feels she can’t move on until he’s gone. Schnaars and Morrison share a touching moment that is so perfectly performed there isn’t a dry eye in the house.

Kangaroo Stew is wonderfully uplifting, a stunning insight into the everyday understanding of spirituality and culture. It’s connections to land and family are strong, tangible threads that prove that much like the stew itself, every element is different but when it comes together it works better than ever. And it’s a bloody good show, too!

Kangaroo Stew is playing at The Blue Room Theatre from 27th April – 8th May 2021. You can get your tickets HERE

Interview, on now

IN CONVERSATION | What’s in Kangaroo Stew? Find out with Director Bruce Denny as we talk about his latest Blue Room Theatre Production

Interview | Laura Money

Kangaroo Stew is a family drama that centres around Native Title, loss and grief, and the ways in which we all come together as one. It premieres at The Blue Room Theatre on 27th April 2021. We caught up with Director Bruce Denny to find out what it’s all about.

Denny has directed plays previous to this but Kangaroo Stew marks his Blue Room debut, he was assistant director on FIFO (Yirra Yaakin), independent co-op type theatre and will be directing for Yirra Yaakin’s Dating Black. He was just recently in The Sum of Us – so does being an actor give him any more insight into directing?

‘Well as a director you know what the actors are going through. You know all the nerves and the worries and the doubts and all that. And as an actor you think, ok it’s not just about me and my character, the director has to put the show together so it all balances out. As an actor you’re very quick to think ‘my character wouldn’t do that’ but as a director you think ‘oh actually, that relates to that because that’s what so and so said in page 2. I think it’s a good thing to cross over. I love being on stage.’

Interestingly, Denny’s journey to the stage is not your classic story. ‘When I went to school I wasn’t allowed to do drama … I auditioned in grade four for Oliver, the musical and the next week Dad took me out and enrolled me in football!’

It wasn’t until a well meaning neighbour connected to community theatre encouraged him to tread the boards: ‘I was fortunate enough I had a neighbour once who was involved in community theatre and they were looking for a sleazy Mexican card player for A Streetcar Named Desire and she said ‘yeah, you’d do it, Bruce.’ And yeah, I loved it and kept up with it after that.’

Of course there are many ways to get to where Denny is today ‘Yep, did community theatre for a while then an agent came and saw one of the shows and at that time I was a male model and got myself an agent and just went from job to job. I never went to WAAPA as such but I have done courses like stage combat and character and development’

‘I had a lot of good directors when I first started, one of them she taught me about owning the space and others teach you stagecraft and things as you go along.’

So what was his first Blue Room show?

‘A few years ago in the 600 seconds I did a monologue, about three or four years ago. I’ve always gone to the Blue Room to see shows, I have a place in the country I live in unless I’m at work – if I haven’t got work I go bush but I really love contemporary Australian theatre so I’ve always been a fan of the Blue Room. It’s the first time directing there but I have been in shows.’

What’s it like being at the Blue Room?

‘What I like about it is it’s a small space – it’s got a good feel about it. Because you’ve got usually an educated audience in the theatre, so they’re prepared to allow for experimental theatre, they’re a good bunch of people and the confined space suits a smaller play.’

Kangaroo Stew started out as a much larger production ‘Zac and I sat down and had to bring it back to what we could actually perform in the space that we had with the budget that we had as well. What’s the basic story line of what we want to tell.’

It’s ultimately a story about family so how does it feel directing a bunch of people who have to love each other every night?

‘[There are] five people on stage – the father John played by Maitland Schnaars – now he’s actually already dead, so you see him throughout the play, then his wife, his widow Lilly who is played by Aunty Raima, then his son Jack who stayed home who is played by Micah and then there’s David the son who left and has now returned, he’s played by Zac James the writer, and then we have his fiancé/love interest in CJ Hanson.’

‘There’s a lot of respect, well Maitland has a lot of respect for people because of his experience and his body of work, the new person is Micah, he’s done stand up comedy and this is his first time on stage and it’s a very supportive experience – myself and Maitland we sat down and had a yarn with him – he’s coming leaps and bounds and I’m sure this is not the last time you’ll se him in a show. There’s a real bond, they all look out for each other when you’re on the stage you are dependent on other people so you do need to be supportive of each other.’

It’s a family story – how important is aboriginality to the story?

‘Well Zac is Wangai, it’s a family story similar to a lot of people out there – they’re doing it tough and then they get the offer of royalties from a mine compared to the importance of culture. We covered this in FIFO as well, it’s an issue that’s affecting lot’s of communities – do we stay here living in poverty without proper chances for education or can we retain the culture and still get ahead. So it’s a modern story linking to the ancient past of beliefs – where do you compromise? It’s a subject that’s affecting many places now.’

‘We’ve got to tell our own stories. They’re the same stories as everyone else’s. I was involved in a play called Cracked a couple of years ago and that covered drug addiction and that can be a story about white fella, black fella – it’s a story that’s still affecting families now and that could be in any suburb. These stories, they’re our stories – I’m not trying to tell somebody else’s story. The movement now is really, ok our stories are as relevant as anybody else’s stories and we don’t have to just do this old stuff. Yeah, stories about poverty and doing it tough is not confined to one race, colour or creed. They’re modern stories – anyone can watch the importance of coming together as a family to make decisions … so it’s a story that anyone can take something from.’

‘We have included bits of culture in this one – spirits, language, a bit of dance, just bits of it to tell the story, to keep it grounded.’

What do you think the audience is going to get out of Kangaroo Stew?

‘I’d like to think they’ll get a better understanding of what’s out there. Mining and the remote areas, these things can have a big impact. So it’s an understanding of what people can go through in these areas – I know from living and working in the city it’s like ‘oh just leave it all in the ground, you know what I mean?’ And there’s something there that says we need work, we need jobs for our kids and other people say no dig it all up! And of course you can’t dig it all up because it’s important to our culture. So, it’s not as simple as people think. I think Zac has done a great job in saying hey, if we do this we could have this, we could have that, we can get proper health services and all that. I think Zac as a writer has done a great job because he’s not just one sided.’

‘In theatre I don’t always say I want the message to take this message away. I want to give them a show that they enjoy being in that room and that they want to be in that room again. When I normally get the actors together for rehearsing a show my general spiel is always to remember that you’re doing this for an audience. If we have an empty theatre, what’s the point of putting it on? So I usually try to direct so that either the audience are going to get something out of it or at least enjoy their night at the theatre.

It could be a comedy or it could be a drama. After The Sum of Us for instance I had a lot of people coming up to me after and telling me their stories. And I felt very honoured by that… what they did is want to hang around afterwards and share their stories and open up a bit and that to me is good live theatre. When you get that audience engagement and they’re prepared to have a yarn about it after. I’m one of those people, I go out after the show and I’m quite happy to talk to anybody who wants to talk to me about the show. I’m quite happy to talk about it because for the audience that’s part of their evening out as well. Especially somewhere like the Blue Room which has a nice little bar and an area you can talk, they’ve paid their money to see 60 minutes of theatre, but if you can extend that out by another half an hour feeling safe and comfortable to come up and say, oh we liked that or it wasn’t my cup of tea – that’s fine too. For me theatre is everything. I can remember when every play was three hours long and you just want to go home and go to bed after. These days it’s shorter – curtains up at 7pm, we finish at 8 and then another half an hour of talking – I mean they don’t have to hang around, they can go home to bed or they can have a yarn. I like an audience that feels comfortable enough to hang around.’

So, how does the dynamic change as the show develops?

‘You find you have the reading and everyone’s all fired up, then you go through the blocking process and the energy starts to drop, then you go into rehearsals and it becomes routine, then the first time they start playing with props things change a bit. Then costumes and all of a sudden things lift a peg. And then the lights and sound come in and you think, alright. Then you get a few people in the room and they react, they start laughing or something and all of a sudden the dynamic changes. Then you get to the opening night where some people get nervous and then you have the run of the show, so it does change dynamics but in a good way.’

Of course, for Denny directing is all about connection – to each other, to the words, to the space.

‘Last night I did an exercise where I put all of the actors in different parts of the room, so they weren’t near each other and turned off every single light in the room so it was total black. And I got them just to do a lines run. And two of the actors actually felt really emotional in a part they hadn’t really before. It was just them in the dark without visual props or movement even taken out of it, they couldn’t move they just had to do it in the dark and sit still. And that took it to a different dynamic when they did that.’

Kangaroo Stew is on at The Blue Room Theatre. This interview was conducted pre lockdown and restrictions. Please keep up to date on their website: blueroom.org.au

Review

REVIEW | Feeling Way too Good: Songs of Michael Buble | Lisa Woodbrook is happy and she knows it!

Review | Kieran Eaton

With a show title like Feeling Way too Good: Songs of Michael Buble you may get the impression that Michael Buble is reigniting his early 2000s hit career, to perform at Perth’s Crown Casino! However, the past twelve months have been uniquely different with the global COVID pandemic and we now have an opportunity to look at things differently. Why not try a larger-than-life Australian personality in Lisa Woodbrook to take this humungous challenge up? Enter the bubbly Woodbrook herself – hailing from WA nail the classic tunes with gusto.

Woodbrook is comfortable in her own skin, adorning a bright pink suit and strutting the stage with comical flamboyance, she wins the audience over instantly with just a smile. Her voice is strongly projected throughout the dark surrounds of the casino’s former Eve Night Club and whether you agree or disagree with what she says – she certainly keeps your attention with personal observations, fluttered with daggy jokes that keep the night light and jovial. Woodbrook has the backing of a vast array of musicians playing big band style that back her so easily you barely notice their presence! They are cheekily introduced by the star of the show, but these instrumentalists are comfortable enough to give cheek back.

The set list is varied and still Woodbrook can link all the songs with creativity, including using a bunch of lemons as props for the old saying ‘if life gives you lemons’. When you hear this multi-talented singer, you forget that you are listening to Buble songs and that is power of Woodbrook’s gift for owning the stage and songs. If you think about it, Buble was the master of covering classic songs such as ‘Come Fly With Me’ and making them his own and this local gal made good does the same with her own imagination and interpretation. Woodbrook also embraces the crowd with little interaction that turn to weird heckles that she loves and handles with excellent humour. The only flashiness is some use of the smoke machine that creates an aura of mystique around the performer. The good vibes of the night are absorbed into your body that keeps you happy, even if the songs are not your cup of tea.

Feeling Way to Good Songs of Michael Buble is a wonderful cabaret hour of entertainment that will be leaving you wanting more and so go check this show out wherever you can.

Review

REVIEW | The Swing Sisters & the Boogie Woogie Bugle Band | Swing into a retro night of great music at Crown Live Sessions

Review | Kieran Eaton

Does your heart feel like it does not fit into this crazy modern world? Well, let’s embrace the old classics with a bit of swing! And who better to celebrate the era mostly around the 30s, 40s and 50s than a trio of groovy female vocalists of Zalia Joi, Samantha Hicks and Amy Ehlers. Dressed in vintage outfits, be mesmerised as you are transported to this simpler time.

Apart from this glamorous trio, The Swing Sisters & Boogie Woogie Bugle Band consists of musicians using the big band instruments of brass and percussion and their love of playing is exemplified as they play the tunes with ease opening with a great mood setter with, In The Mood.  Joi, Hicks and Ehlers then explain the importance of mood raising songs during war times and it gives you a good insight into the role of music and entertainment in keeping spirits high. These explanations work seamlessly with the transition to multiple songs – sixteen songs in total for this hour of non-stop uplifting! The costumes are very well designed with their bright blue dresses grabbing your attention from the back of the audience. They even dress a bit flashier for the finale leaving the Boogie Woogie Bugle Band to go solo for a bit!  Their stylish choreography is straight out of the Andrews Sisters playbook and they look great. When they describe the songs, you can feel their love of the era that makes you nostalgic – even if you did not exist in that time! The knowledge you gain from this trio is insightful and natural, so any little stumble is met with warmth. There is realism in the performance with no use of special effects, rather simply good sounds and plenty of charisma.

What creates the charm for this act is their energy. You feel their enthusiasm and embrace their instructions, like clicking your fingers to a song. There is good balance between genuine down to earth personalities with strong, efficient professionalism. Set in the big surrounds of the former Eve Nightclub at Perth’s Crown Casino, you can chill with a beer or wine in your hand and still tap your toes at the same time! Chill or boogie, it’s up to you because this easy-going night of entertainment will leave you smiling with contentment that you have experienced a night of relaxed swinging to your hearts content!

The Swing Sisters & the Boogie Woogie Bugle Band played at Crown live sessions in April 2021.

Review

REVIEW | Sweetwood – Legendary Hits of Fleetwood Mac | Awesome sounds hit Crown Live Sessions

Review | Laura Money

You can go your own way as long as it’s directly to Crown Live Sessions to see Sweetwood – Legendary Hits of Fleetwood Mac! Sweetwood are a five-piece band that play the fantastic music of Fleetwood Mac. You’ll have ‘dreams’ about this phenomenal cover band who are certainly bringing the absolute coolness of Fleetwood Mac in their heyday to well-deserved standing ovations.

Zalia Joi channels Stevie Nicks with her wiccan outfits and earth mother mannerisms. It’s clear that Zalia’s focus is on the music as she lets it thrum and dance around her – complete with ribboned tambourine, Zalia almost has an out of body experience soulfully singing the hell out of ‘Gypsy’ and ‘Rhiannon.’ They have the vibe down to the big hair and 70s effortless style – Sweetwood look like they should only ever appear in polaroid photos, and if you squint it’s just like seeing the original line-up for real! What really stands out is the sheer musicianship that everyone possesses – each member of Sweetwood is as talented as their famous counterpart.

The set list is a diverse mix of pop hits, heartbreaking tear-jerkers, and fierce bangers that shows off the range of the band and makes you realise just how varied Fleetwood Mac’s sound actually was. Killing it with ‘Tusk’ as the opening number, Sweetwood keep the grit and guts of their music with ‘The Chain’ and ‘Don’t Stop’ with Stewart Herbertson absolutely slaying as lead guitarist and rock God stand-in. His harmonies with Zalia are phenomenal and definitely the cause of many goosebumps. Of course, there have to be some iconic pieces and Zalia and the band nail every note of ‘Little Lies’ and even reference Stevie’s solo career with ‘White Winged Dove’ – Zalia resplendent in a white feathered cape. It’s this amazing energy that just elevates Sweetwood from tribute band to pop/rock phenomenon!

Sweetwood perform all over Perth throughout the year, so keep your eye out and don’t miss out on the full experience. It’s an entire thing – not just some music but an immersion into a particular time and place, you’ll be stamping your feet and singing along and begging for more at the end.

You can check out Sweetwood on their Facebook page HERE

Interview, on now

IN CONVERSATION | Lisa Woodbrook | This cabaret show is finally being performed as part of Crown Live Sessions this April

Interview | Laura Money

Lisa Woodbrook is a phenomenal cabaret artist who has successfully performed in Fringeworld and travelled her shows around Australia. Her show Feeling Way Too Good: The Music of Michael Buble was cancelled during the snap lockdown but now she’s back finally performing the show as part of Crown’s Live Sessions. We spoke to her back in Fringeworld before all this happened and she gave us an insight into the show.

So, what’s it all about?

Well, it’s kind of the old ‘when life gives you lemons’ thing and also you get to experience me singing with a five piece band! This show is more focused on the musical elements but just like the last show (Lilly Allen & Amy Winehouse) I do comedy in between the songs. There’s a nice flow to it and it’s going to sound great as we’ve got a great band. I love the music of Michael Buble and wanted to perform it and he always does it with a full orchestra so I have an orchestra of five people! I wanted people who came back for the second show to have something extra special to enjoy. I mean a piano and a singer is great but you get a fuller sound with a whole band.

Is this usual for you? How did you get started?

I did my Bachelor of Musical Theatre and then went on to work in Melbourne and then COVID brought me back to Perth six years later. I’ve been working with different bands and doing corporate gigs and events. I went back to Melbourne straight after Fringe last year and then in March I lost everything because all the gigs shut down. I couldn’t do weddings or Melbourne Cabaret Festival so I lost work for about six months and then I decided to head home. It’s been great, since I came back it’s been pretty full on – so Melbourne was shutting down and it felt like being in a war zone but leaving was the best thing I did. Since July I have been gigging consistently. I even did We Will Rock You last year and it was wonderful to be onstage in a massive theatre. I’m just really grateful for my experience. Who would have thought a pandemic would have created something like this?

So, being back in Perth gave you time to work on the Buble show?

It did! Well it definitely gave me the concept and the ideas – you know last year was really tough for a lot of people and I feel lucky and grateful for hat happened to me last year because I don’t think that I was that affected at all. I did change my life and where I was living but really I could still perform because Perth was so protected. The rest of the world haven’t been so lucky, like the UK and Europe it’s just so sad what’s happening and they’re like the hubs of theatre and entertainment in the world and they’re in lockdown. Plus things are closing down like amazing jazz bars in New York and the West End in London – it’s such a shame, so I guess that I developed a positive outlook on life and got to sing every weekend and just do what I wanted to do. You just never know when you might not be able to do that.

It seems like positivity is the theme of this show, let’s be honest what’s more positive than Michael Buble?

It sounds so cheesy and corny but all of his songs are so fun and uplifting and there are lovely crooner songs which I love to sing and I just thought this is a great concept to take into 2021 – everyone had such a tough year and they’re all still going through a bit of a tough time so I guess if you want to feel good and tackle some of the lemons that life throws you and listen to the songs I’ve picked then maybe you’ll have a good time. The content isn’t as naughty as the other show but it still has that Lisa flavour – it’s still cheeky but I maybe don’t swear as much like being at a family brunch! I just thought it was good for me to branch out as an artist and try a new demographic and do something a bit different.

What will people get out of this show?

They’re all feel good songs and I think a lot of people will love the band and the music. It’s been interesting writing this show because the songs are all so happy and uplifting there’s nothing really that you can take out of it to make fun of. As a writer it’s been interesting matching the stand-up and comedy elements with the music of Buble. But I think I’ve come up with some good ideas. It’s fun, it’s uplifting and it’s great music.

The Live Sessions at Crown start on Friday 9th April 2021 and you can grab your tickets HERE

Review

REVIEW | Elvis: All Girl Tribute to the ’68 Comeback Special | An evening of great music and phenomenal vocals in Crown’s Live Sessions

Review | Laura Money

Don’t be lonesome tonight, get yourself down to see Elvis: All Girl Tribute to the ’68 Comeback Special it will be better than checking into the Heartbreak Hotel and you’ll be all shook up after an evening of classic Elvis hits performed by a diverse group of fabulous women. The show celebrates all things Elvis and is a fitting tribute to the King himself with different musical styles paying homage to his rockabilly, country, and rock styles. It’s a full power hour of a little less conversation and more dancing in your blue suede shoes!

Seasoned performer Darlene Gianoli is rather enamoured by Elvis and wanted to create a show based around his music. After reading about the ’68 Comeback Special she was surprised to find that the King had been out of the spotlight for years before he finally hit the stage in a tv special that featured his greatest hits. Gianoli watched in raptures as an all-star cast recreated the special in 2018, including Keith Urban and JLo and thought she would give the tribute a red hot go too. Kicking things off with Mr TCB himself, Elvis fanatic Peter Chase gets you in the mood along with the band including Razor Jack on the guitar the stage is rocking and the atmosphere is crackling with great music.

The girls are completely different in style from Gianoli who brings her signature showgirl style to a stunning rendition of You Were Always On My Mind that moves the audience to tears to the fiery Gemma Luxton who gets you moving and grooving with Hound Dog. It’s a great blend of country and rock all from the actual concert itself but brought to life by the brilliant stylings of each performer. Libby HammerNatalie Martinic, and Zoe Simpson take on the funkier side of Elvis with great versions of Don’t Be Cruel, Blue Suede Shoes and an underrated classic Love Me. The intimate setting and fierce camaraderie sees the heart of the show ripple through the crowd and serves to highlight the nuances in Elvis’ repertoire.

So, get ready to love them tender and don’t be cruel because when these girls get to the Jailhouse Rock the whole audience will be jiving!

The Live Sessions at Crown Elvis: all girl tribute to the ’68 Comeback Special is part of a programme that began on Friday 9th April 2021 and you can grab your tickets HERE

on now, Review

REVIEW | Girls Gone ABBA! | Live Sessions at Crown Nightclub

Review | Laura Money

Get ready to dance the night away with Girls Gone ABBA! The only show that kicks out the BB and highlights the ladies! That’s right – these five incredible women take you on a musical journey through ABBA’s top hits and will have you screaming SOS and searching for a man after midnight.

Girls Gone ABBA features five powerhouse performers putting the flare(s) back on stage with their hour-long love letter to the music of ABBA and the inspiration and hope of the Mama Mia movies. From the title song itself to classics like Waterloo, Super Trooper and even Fernando each song is given the girl power treatment and performed with warmth and heart. The five women are firm friends and this shines through as they lift each other up through backing vocals and incredible harmonies. The arrangements are cleverly suited to each other’s individual style from the pop fun of Darlene Gianoli in Honey Honey her notes glide off one another clearly and smoothly – to Libby Hammer and Natalie Martinic killing it with their jazzy blues sound in Voulez Vous and Gimme Gimme Gimme. Zoe Simpson is a true talent with her hilarious and raunchy rendition of Does Your Mother Know That You’re Out – channelling Christine Baranski in all her glory. And then there’s the firecracker that is Gemma Luxton belting out SOS and I Do, I Do, I Do – both songs are transformed by her powerful vocals.

The magical element of this show is the chemistry between these amazing women who support each other with a genuine love shining through every note. They take inspirational and uplifting quotes from the movie – all from Donna’s diary – and sing the songs that make you happy. Everyone can’t help but flock to the dance floor when Gimme Gimme Gimme starts up and the love onstage ripples through the crowd with sheer happiness. The camaraderie and love colours the music in a beautiful way – you’ll get chills with the unbridled heartache of The Winner Takes It All and the playful nature of Super Trooper mirrors the tight bond of Donna and the Dynamos – in this case, they’re all DYNAMOS! So, girls I thank you for the music and an incredible night out!

The Live Sessions at Crown Girls Gone ABBA is on Saturday 10th April 2021 and you can grab your tickets HERE

on now, Review

REVIEW | Miss Lily’s Fabulous Feather Boa | School holidays just got more entertaining!

Review | Laura Money

Going to Spare Parts Puppet Theatre is always a magical experience but things have become decidedly more fabulous this school holidays as they present Miss Lily’s Fabulous Feather Boa. Based on the wonderful picture book by Margaret Wild with illustrations by Kerry Argent the play brings the characters to life – slinking, running, and tentatively leaping off the page onto the stage in this delightful adaptation. The show takes all of the charming elements of the beloved book, much to the delight of all in a truly memorable and entertaining show that appeals to those seeking wonder, humour, and technical prowess. It’s simply wonderful.

The Spare Parts stage is transformed in to a tropical paradise with a stunning moveable set by Iona McAuley (designer) complete with beaded doorway and frangipani garlands and populated by the signature charming puppetry Spare Parts is renowned for. Performers Cezera Critti-Schnaars, Ming Yang Lim and Tristan McInnes bring out the vibrancy of Sanjiva Margio and Lyndell Darch‘s stunning puppets with grace and fun – they don headpieces as the hilarious Koala and Wombat families allowing for funny physical humour. McInnes tackles the huge puppet of Miss Lily and deftly maneuvers her large frame with the grace and aplomb of the stunningly fabulous character, and Critti-Schnaars brings heart and tenderness to The Last Potoroo, gently moving her tiny and adorable puppet across the stage in her big adventure.

This production does a wonderful job of showing not telling as it cleverly depicts the cricket mad Koalas in direct contrast to the footy loving Wombats, the outrageous tango-dancing Miss Lily and of course the palpable sorrow of The Last Potoroo. McInnes’ Miss Lily is fabulously flamboyant, cavorting about the stage with humour and pizzazz. It crackles with subtext and wit as The Last Potoroo warily eyes Miss Lily’s big sharp teeth at dinner time, quaking after being told she only eats ‘little things’ which elicits a palpable gulp then chuckle of relief at the offering of fish and chips! I cannot overstate how clever and funny this piece is – the story arc of the Wombat Dad discovering his talent and passion for badminton is played subtly but is important for children to see they can be who they are even with the pressures to conform. The Last Potoroo’s morals are shaken in a perfectly thrilling nightmare sequence that Critti-Schnaars brings vulnerability and charm alongside the spectacular antics of the feather boa and deliciously creepy lighting by Karen Cook.

Everything about Miss Lily’s Fabulous Feather Boa speaks to the heart. It takes big concepts such as self-identity, the morals of stealing, self-expression, loneliness, and community, and exhibits them through visual cues, comedy, and a stunning musical curation by Lee Buddle. Michael Barlow‘s direction wholly encompasses the spirit of the story with its laid back holiday vibe and seamless transition into multiple characters. There is a poignancy felt in the loneliness of The Last Potoroo and pure joy ripples through the audience in the show’s heartwarming conclusion. Make sure you get to Miss Lily’s Tropical Holiday House and treat yourself to a rip-roaring, Aussie flavoured hour of fun!

You can get your tickets to Miss Lily’s HERE and can even purchase the original book in a package!

Interview, on now

IN CONVERSATION: New Live Sessions at Crown kick off in April with all girl tributes to Elvis and ABBA

Interview | Laura Money

When Crown Entertainment heard about Darlene Gianoli‘s cancelled FRINGEWORLD 2021 shows they decided to get in touch and do something about it. Now, Gianoli’s crack team of girls are set to entertain you at Crown in the old EVE Nightclub space in a series of Live Sessions across April. Gianoli has been entertaining Perth audiences for over 25 years and is one of the best in the business. She got a group of five girls together to provide unique and diverse music that speaks to multiple generations. We caught up with her to find out what her shows are all about.

An Elvis show I can understand, but why the ’68 Comeback Special?

Right, so Elvis had been in the army and in movies for so long he hadn’t been singing – he was pretty much forgotten. I’ve got a book on the ’68 Comeback Special and there was one point and this was really interesting – Elvis was really out of the public eye because of movies he was out of the public eye as a singer. People had forgotten him, so in that 9 or 10 years things had changed. Now I know just from working even in the corporate industry in Perth things change every 10 years, my acts only last for about 10 years because then the next generation comes through and you either have to change up what you’re doing or do something completely different.

So in this book, Elvis lived in LA in this high rise – he was there with his family and his whole crew and they were getting ready to go talk to agents about the ’68 Comeback Special and he said to his crew “I’m going to go downstairs on Hollywood Boulevard and I’m going to see if people recognize me.” He wanted to see if he was remembered – if he had done that ten or twenty years before he would have been mobbed. So he actually went down and he was standing on the footpath and no-one took any notice. And I thought that was really interesting.

Now, in 2018 it was the 50th anniversary of the ’68 Comeback Special and in America they did what they called an all-star tribute to it. And it was great! They had Post Malone, they had J-Lo, and all the modern singers and what they did is, they did it on stage in the round, just like he had done. It was very much an intimate audience – they only allowed two hundred people in the audience. And he did an acoustic set on this round stage, so what they did in 2018 they replicated that so they had it in the round with a small audience and they recorded it live for tv.

When I saw that, I thought ‘I’m going to do that with girls’ – that’s what I want to do, is grab five girls and put this together with a live band. So wee got a small band and just did it acoustic and I was really pleased with it because that’s what it was in the original ’68 Comeback Special. It was hugely successful – now whether people had seen the all-star tribute I don’t know but that was the angle and that was where I got the concept from to do it. Interestingly enough about 6 months or so before this project, I set up a group in Perth with another singer Narelle Bell for Perth girl singers/entertainers/musicians. We have over 400 members and we’re so supportive of each other and in this group I met this bunch of girls – there’s about three generations of girls in this show so we all bring something different.

Clearly, feminism and female empowerment is something you’re passionate about. How does it feel in the industry right now?

As a singer it’s been like the last 6 months, when I put the show together last year the vibe of the show wasn’t as powerful and female solidarity centred as it was the most recent show. One of the questions was ‘is your show an all female show?’ Everyone’s aware of it now. With female singers in Perth it used to be all about being gorgeous and skinny up there in a sparkly costume and it doesn’t have to be that – I wanted to break that whole cycle. It’s been so empowering for us. Yeah, I’ve been working in the corporate scene for over 25 years and the last 6 – 12 months has been amazing.

When I set up this group I asked for four girls to work with and they’re all so different. We all come from different musical backgrounds – it works so well because we actually blend together rather than all having the same kind of voice – we’ve got me corporate showgirl. We’ve got Gemma Luxton who is back in Perth after being over east – she’s huge in the country music scene. Libby Hammer who is the jazz diva of Perth, Zoe Simpson is more a rock singer. And then Natalie Martinic – she’s the soul singer of the group – big bluesy soul. The five of us are so different but it works.

So, how did the ABBA show come about?

My background is corporate but I always do cabaret but you either like cabaret or you don’t. I always look at what the audience will like – I still want to love the music I’m singing – but I try to keep things a little more mainstream. It’s about getting up there, having fun and making the audience feel good about themselves and do songs they know. My strength is making people smile and making them happy. So I always look at what is current so I did that with the Elvis show – I mean of course I want to sing Elvis but at the time the All-Star concert had just been done so let’s take that inspiration. And as far as the ABBA show, the Mama Mia movies are still popular and have brought ABBA’s music to a whole new generation so I though let’s do an ABBA tribute with the same girls ( we don’t need the boys) and we’re using a backing track. I wanted to specifically work with the Mama Mia movies so I pulled out the story from that. Donna in the movies when she passed away the daughter got her diary, so what I did was I found some replica diaries and I pulled out all the best positive lines that were in the movie and we use the songs that were in the actual movies and with our little diary we call out the quotes from the diary. They’re all inspiration and at the end of the show we want you to walk away with inspiration and a smile on your face and a happier outlook on life.

The moment we started performing people are singing straight away! By the second song, everyone’s up dancing. That just blew my mind!

What’s next for you?

I really want to work with the same girls. The guys from Ace’s Cabaret (Fringe) want us back next year so I’m thinking it might be girls gone Queen. Something like that and I just love the idea of five girls doing Bohemian Rhapsody!  

The Live Sessions at Crown start on Friday 9th April 2021 and you can grab your tickets HERE

Featuring all female line-ups of a variety of music from Elvis and ABBA to Buble and The Andrews Sisters!

Image credit: Naomi Reed Photography

on now, PERTH FESTIVAL, Review

PERTH FESTIVAL | Whistleblower | 5 Stars

Review | Laura Money

The Last Great Hunt are well known for their signature blend of live-action filmed in front of their audience and live streamed to screens all while performing their work. This unique style, last seen in 2019 Festival hit Lé Nør [the rain] and 2020 lockdown classic Bad Baby Jean combines cinematic tropes and live action with hilarious improvisation and parody. Whistleblower draws on this winning formula and ups the ante – in a reality tv/escape room mash-up the likes of which have never been seen before. Part classic theatre, part role-playing puzzle, Whistleblower takes a willing audience member and places them firmly in the starring role in a live film where they dictate the action. Complete with soundproof set and real-time alternate storylines, the player discovers they have woken up in hospital with amnesia and must find clues and uncover the events that occurred prior to the awakening. Whistleblower is fast-paced, hilarious, and ingenious theatre that pushes the boundaries of every genre it inhabits. And it’s damned entertaining!

So, how does Whistleblower work? Well, ticket holders have the option to purchase a participatory ticket or an audience ticket – meaning that if you opt in to participate you could either become ‘the player’ or an extra helping all the action along. ‘The player’ is in safe hands – helped along by the incredibly talented crew from The Last Great Hunt who facilitate the action as characters who advance the plot in an interactive narrative. If this sounds like someone guest starring in a Whose Line is it Anyway sketch, then you’d be wrong. This is immersive theatre writ large – with ‘the player’ whisked off into sound-proofed modular rooms that are moved and changed up depending on the choices made by each player. Confused? Don’t be – ‘the player’ is placed in a hospital bed and told to close their eyes – upon opening they find that they’ve been moved into a hospital room complete with hidden cameras and a bunch of clues that will help them ‘escape.’ They are now ‘Charlie Baxter’ a movie star with amnesia who is under arrest after suspicious actions the night before. The Last Great Hunt specialise in controlled chaos – they have different sets ready, different characters ready to have more or less to do with the plot depending on which pathway is chosen. At the end of solving each room this Choose Your Own Adventure presents like a video game whereby ‘Charlie’ must pick what comes next.

The strength of this work is its capacity to adapt – in a plot full of twists and turns the algorithm of possibilities must be almost limitless. Set and Costume Designer Tyler Hill, along with Amalia Lambert and Danielle Chiltonn have crafted a perfect set within a set. Referencing classic film noir, B-movies, and featuring a distinctly cheesy 80s vibe that corresponds brilliantly with the green-text on black background of early video games, the aesthetic of Whistleblower is the middle of a Venn diagram of Twin Peaks, The Dungeons & Dragons Arcade Game, and an Escape Room. Hill’s design of modular shipping containers that can be moved and utilised at short notice is innovative and put to good use as the pacing of the show ebbs and flows – each performer springing into action at a moment’s notice. I cannot overstate how clever this set is – it’s literally being created in front of us and moved around like a giant Rubix Cube – when the uncanny valley visuals and parody performances are added everything comes together like poetry in motion. Whistleblower is a wholly brilliant work – every single element contributes to a fully realised theatrical piece. At the front of the stage we see the ‘behind the scenes’ action – usually relegated to the wings, this crew is celebrated front and centre. They are controlling the cameras and the screens. Cleverly zooming in on clues and evidence so that the audience can play along, and urging Charlie on to discover every clue and advance the story. They are also creating a living, breathing soundtrack to accompany the action. Original music composed by Rachel Claudio is sampled and looped live as Charlie chooses their destination or a moment of tension is required. It’s like DJing a live video game, and we’re more than here for it!

The immersion is fully realised as a stellar cast deftly move the story along and gently guide Charlie if they appear to be going off track or are simply stumped. It’s a brilliantly devised work from little things subtly showing Charlie who they can trust – for example in the hospital room is a poster of Jo Morris as Employee of the Month and when she arrives as the nurse helping Charlie, she dispenses information under the guise of a chatty fan. Charlie instantly knows they can trust Morris’ character and is even told to ask anything they want in order to get the full picture. There are live broadcasts on the tv into Charlie’s room and certain names and locations are placed in prominent positions around each location. As each Charlie picks different people to align with, we see some actors given the lead over others but everything is driven by a strong plot with no gaps. The talent of the performers allows for the smooth running of the show, so that even if their Charlie is reticent or not much of a talker, the show remains entertaining and accessible to the audience. The front-stage behind the scenes crew are also on hand to intervene with a smartly placed phone call or emergency broadcast if need be.

Everything about Whistleblower is impressive. The flawless set, plot, and acting mixed with brilliant tech and innovative style creates an experience that you could happily enjoy over and over. It’s the kind of show that just needs to be experienced live as – much like your favourite video games – there is something different to be discovered every time. So, immerse yourself in the theatrical virtual reality of real time and enter the algorithm – the one guaranteed variable? You’ll have a great time.

Whistleblower played as part of PERTH FESTIVAL 2021 but will probably be back in the future. To keep up with what’s next for The Last Great Hunt click HERE

FRINGEWORLD, Review

FRINGEWORLD 2021 ENCORE | What Makes a Musical a Musical – The (Musical) Cabaret | 5 Stars

Review | Brandon Shier

Procrastination. Let’s face it, we’ve all been there – and if you haven’t, you’re lying. Picture this: you have a uni assignment in your creative writing course due in 24 hours, and you’re attempting to write an epic musical… but you haven’t started yet. This is the very predicament our protagonist faces in Grey Lantern’s production of What Makes a Musical a Musical: A (Musical) Cabaret; a hilarious and surprisingly heartfelt show that does exactly what it says on the tin, and then some.

The setting of this musical may be painfully familiar to many struggling writers: on stage is a small desk with an open laptop, a pile of books, and three empty cans of Red Bull. Our protagonist breaks the fourth wall and explains to us that he has the idea to write a musical, but he’s stumped on ideas. Playing out like a Red Bull induced fever dream, he is guided by a figment of his imagination- whose accent hilariously changes throughout the show- as he directs an imaginary cast to play out all his ideas. Together, our protagonist and his guide weigh up good and bad ideas, discover why a plot is important and battle his increasing self-doubt through brilliantly arranged original showtunes, complete with catchy refrains and endless references to popular musical theatre, not to mention sock puppets, too!

The show cleverly pays homage to various musicals and styles from Rodgers & Hammerstein classics to Cats and Hamilton, but it’s not just the ardent love of musicals that keeps this show flying. There are eight talented performers here alongside two excellent musicians, with voices so loud and harmonies so beautiful that you’d think there were sixteen performers if you closed your eyes. The humour here is also witty and astute, with a sharp-witted jab at white people writing persons of colour. It gets painfully honest about creativity and procrastination, as well as self-doubt. “Do I hate having money?” wonders our protagonist at one point as he sits drinking away his sorrows lamenting his decision to take up a creative writing course. The show may take an emotional turn, but it never loses its balance and stays constantly engaging and hilarious all the way to the end of the show, where you find yourself wishing that it would never end. What Makes a Musical a Musical serves up loads of charisma, heart, ambition, and brilliant musical numbers through such a short runtime that it positively makes you wonder “how did they do all of that in just one hour?!”

What Makes a Musical a Musical were affected by the 2021 Fringeworld shutdown but recently played at Subiaco Arts Centre as part of the Encore. To find out what Grey Lantern are up to next, click HERE

Review

You’d be in deNILE if you didn’t enjoy Murders on the Nile Downstairs at the Maj!

Review | Laura Money

Cruise down the Nile in style with the murderous bunch from Cluedunnit and put yourself directly into an Agatha Christie story where you not only bear witness to but solve the murders! This is Murders on the Nile, the latest installment of Murders at the Maj – a series of dinner theatre shows that take the classic murder mystery genre and create an immersive experience complete with three course meal and brilliant entertainment. Put your safari hat over your thinking cap and gear up for a jolly good show that follows the twists and turns of the famous river and leaves you crying for your Mummy!

Master of theatre, Robbie Burns is back as his alter ego Jonathan Maplethorpe – crime writer extraordinaire. He skillfully drives the show through its Egyptian themed plot and gets you all in the mood to solve a crime. The room is decked out with replica items from Tutankhamen’s tomb, so realistic one expects to look out the window and see the Sphinx! As Maplethorpe conspiratorially drops hints of articles to read and tidbits about the host of characters they artfully duck and weave through the tables, allowing us to get to know them a little better. Of course, the keen detectives are there to give the actors a grilling – something they are all more than capable of weathering – each actor skillfully answering in the way their character would, never once dropping their guard. The actors are improvising – from the suffragette curator of Egyptian antiquities to the toff who funded the expedition, and the married archaeologists straight out of the pages of Agatha Christie’s diary itself!

The plot is masterfully thought out, rendered both realistic and thrillingly entertaining by the terrific cast. You have a three course meal to provide food for thought and detailed reproductions of evidence. Burns is the perfect host – he delights in holding all the cards and teases the genre he so clearly loves. Murders on the Nile is the perfect mystery – it contains clues as slippery as asps in a basket, the mystery peaks at the right part of the pyramid, and the action is as hot as the desert! So, book your tickets now to this deftly performed, loving homage to the genre and you too could be thinking on your feet, surrounded by the jewels of the Nile.

Murders on the Nile has sailed down the river, however Cludunnit have several other shows on as part of their series Murders at the Maj. You can get your tickets HERE

on now, PERTH FESTIVAL, Review

PERTH FESTIVAL 2021 | The Sum of Us | 5 Stars

Review | Laura Money

Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company are no strangers to Perth Festival, having presented Hecate last year, a Noongar retelling of MacBeth. This time, Director Eva Grace Mullaley takes things closer to her own queer experiences with The Sum of Us – a brilliantly sharp and funny character study that cuts to the core of familial relations. Following widower Harry (Bruce Denny) and his gay son Jeff (Matthew Cooper) the play is mostly a two-hander that examines family love and support – with the occasional tensions that naturally arise. This is the first time Yirra Yaakin have presented a queer work – hopefully not the last as they do it so well – and their use of a fully First Nations cast creates solidarity within the LGBTQI+ society – intersectionality is important as it really is everyone’s story. Acted with heart, directed with passion, and delivered with style – The Sum of Us is the show to see this Perth Festival!

Bryan Woltjen‘s gorgeous set is like a warm embrace from the 90s. It’s nostalgic and homely, capturing the essence of its inhabitants perfectly. From battered looking vertical blinds, to a pine table setting and feature wall to tug at your memories Woltjen conveys the simplicity of this no frills family. The centre of the stage comprises of a dance floor – a proper parquetry one – enabling the elegance of dance as a language to permeate the performances. Both love interests – Janine Oxenham and Joshua Pether have dance backgrounds, not acting and they bring a beautiful physicality to the show that has perhaps been missing in past productions. This is where Mullaley plays to her strengths – her vision is so acute, she uses people in innovative ways to create a unique and intuitive vision. With so much back and forth in love, especially new love, Mullaley uses the waltz and the tango to represent the ups and downs and trust one must place in their (dance) partner. There is heart pouring out of every bit of this production, from the tension on the dance floor, to the feature wall and even the simple character nuances played to perfection by each actor.

At the core of the play is Harry and Jeff’s relationship – they are soulmates in a way, tethered to each other through love and understanding, even if sometimes it’s misplaced. Cooper is equal parts brash young twenty-something and responsible, respectful young man. He plays Jeff with a deep affection for his father and the pent up frustration of being unlucky in love bubbles away slightly under the surface. Colloquial language and gentle teasing create the perfect sadness for the final scenes as both Cooper and Denny have undeniable chemistry, you could really believe they are father and son. Bruce Denny is the affectionate and supportive father figure we all want in our lives. His Harry is so endearing you just want to be wrapped up in a conversational hug with the guy. He speaks to Jeff with unabashed affection, ribbing and supporting him at the same time. Denny’s delivery is perfect – from gentle chastising about wearing pink shirts and not liking lasagna to his passionate and hilarious monologues, Denny brings Harry to life with earnestness and affability.

Threading itself though the play is a sense of hope – a feeling that things are on the up for these two. And why not? Cooper injects a guarded optimism into Jeff – wearing the new shirt, happily bringing Greg (Pether) home, and gleefully teasing his Dad about his grandmother. When Jeff brings Greg home and they start making out on the couch, the air fizzing with sexual tension in a hot exchange choreographed by Claudia Alessi the audience feels the longing themselves. You almost can’t be mad at Denny when he joins the couple on the couch, completely oblivious to his son’s situation but brimming with genuine positivity and affection for not only Jeff but anyone who might share Jeff’s life in the future. He’s like a puppy dog – loyal, fun, positive, and a bit annoying. There are moments of absolute pain and heartache which the actors treat with such depth it shows their immense skills – without the hilarity of the opening act, one cannot feel the effects of the darkness to come. Denny shines as he and Joyce (Oxenham) open up and share with one another. Oxenham is brilliant here – vulnerable and sensitive, her fears of being hurt again and confusion about homosexuality are expressed with a poignant tear glistening in the eye – it’s a special performance.

The Sum of Us takes palpably relatable characters and shows us that we are all the same. Cooper is inspired as he gives his version of the ‘if you prick me do I not bleed’ speech and Denny steals the show with his phenomenal solliloquy claiming that he could never be ashamed of his son. His impassioned plea to no-one as he expresses that he is disappointed that Jeff will never have the same things he values so dearly, such as children or the love of a woman, but it is as he declares his absolute love and devotion to his son that will break even the most stalwart of hearts. Yirra Yaakin have knocked it out of the park, so far it’s probably landed firmly on the East coast proving that Perth theatre makers deserve to be on the world stage.

You can catch all the action of The Sum of Us HERE

Keep up with The Fourth Wall on Facebook and @fourth_wall_media on Instagram to see what we’re up to this Perth Festival 2021

on now, PERTH FESTIVAL, Review

PERTH FESTIVAL 2021 | Whale Fall | 5 Stars

Review | Laura Money

When a whale dies, it doesn’t float, it falls down down down into the bottom of the ocean

So begins Whale Fall in a stunning opening monologue by young actor Ashton Brady to a darkened stage, it appears as if he is floating down into the stage’s abyss himself. It’s an interesting opening to The Kabuki Drop‘s show commissioned by PICA and co-presented with Perth Festival, and serves as a clever metaphor throughout the the piece for identity and how one can achieve transcendence through atoms shifting and changing before finally ending their journey. Formed by Melissa Cantwell, The Kabuki Drop are no strangers to thoughtful and innovative theatre and they really deliver with Ian Sinclair‘s brilliant Whale Fall. With a simple yet effective set, fantastic acting, and heartfelt character development complete with complex and emotional relationships, this is theatre in the raw.

Nadine (Caitlin Bersford-Ord) stands on the cusp of her old life and new – hesitantly yet assuredly braving the dunes to place her feet firmly in the ocean, the tug of the tide taking her back to her childhood home. Consisting of a large angled jetty-like stage embedded in pure white sand, the design by Bruce McKinven creates depth in a small space and alludes to the pull of the ocean which represents the past and also the dead whale analogy. McKinven’s innovative use of secret pockets continue to delight as the set opens up to us alongside its cast. Beresford-Ord is such an expressive performer – her guarded attempts to appear flippant when talking to her ex-husband Irving (Luke Hewitt) carve a deep wound in her heart and her lack of understanding, yet burning desire to do so concerning her son Caleb (Ashton Brady) is expressed with every downcast eye – the defenses clouding her face with a curt nod and pursed lip. Hewitt’s Irving is a wounded and compassionate individual, he plays him with understated passion that bursts forth in red-hot anger and recedes into heartbroken tears. The opening scene is intense, an unravelling mystery that speaks to the injustice and pain of the past.

Sinclair’s writing is brilliant as he uncovers the mysterious elements of the past with sharp dialogue and alllusions to a shared past. Who is this mysterious Caleb and why are Nadine and Irving so caught up in his well being? What’s wrong with him? Nothing, as it turns out. Brady’s Caleb is a curious and quirky boy who loves the natural world, in particular the ocean, who appears wise beyond his years. He’s also transgender – and Brady provides a nuance to the character borne only of experience. Caleb must navigate his own identity at a tender age while combating the many well-meaning adults in his life – and some of the not so well meaning ones. Tension is rife between Beresford-Ord and Hewitt as Nadine grapples with the loss of her daughter, not quite prepared to embrace her son. There is an unspoken language that crackles around these two phenomenal actors – they square off in every scene, unable to remain civil for very long as every betrayal, argument, and devastation inflicted upon each other appear to resurface. Hewitt speaks with a permanent lump in his throat and his new partner Tarlina (Alexandra Steffensen) is unable to understand either one of them. Steffensen provides a calming poise to counter the two hot-heads, yet it is her very calmness that makes her an infuriating character. Whale Fall specialises in other people assuming they know what is right for each other but failing miserably to do so.

Ashton Brady gives the performance of a lifetime, though no doubt there will be plenty of other moments of triumph in his future. He is one to watch, as he appears wise beyond his years – a young yet wizened philosopher, contemplating the big issues – identity, sexuality, rejection and relationships, fitting in – that should not be thrust upon children. Cantwell’s direction uses Brady to his full potential, allowing for hiariously frivolous moments like waking up his Mum in the middle of the night, perching him imp-like on the table, legs dangling to indicate playfulness but also poignancy in his discussion about not going in for a swim. Make no mistake – Whale Fall is gritty, intense theatre. While there are absolutley beautiful moments of surprising levity, the majority of the show is a tense gut-punch waiting to happen. Brady’s navigation of self is an absolute rollercoaster – from pure confidence in his artwork and marine biology facts (delivered in a cute and quirky way) to ritualising memory and grappling with how Hayley will always be a part of him, his interpretation of this complex character should be applauded.

Whale Fall is the dark thriller you never expected, full of twists and turns, secrets, lies and betrayals. It worms its way deep into the psyche and continues to burrow long after you’ve left the theatre. Caleb’s haunting soliloquys punctuate the piece with poignancy and grace – as each character could at one point be considered the whale. Everything is addressed maturely yet it isn’t afraid to get messy and tangled, as in real life sometimes there just aren’t answers. Kabuki Drop have delivered a timely and important work. With transgender representation at the fore, Whale Fall is a sensitive and honest exploration of identity and acceptance that is sometimes hard to watch, but never shies away from the truth. It’s stunning theatre.

Whale Fall played at PICA as part of Perth Festival. Even though the show is over, you an check out what The Kabuki Drop are up to HERE

Keep up with The Fourth Wall on Facebook and @fourth_wall_media on Instagram to see what we’re up to this Perth Festival 2021

on now, PERTH FESTIVAL, Review

PERTH FESTIVAL 2021 | The Cherry Orchard | 4.5 Stars

Review | Laura Money

Our house is a very, very, very fine house with two cats in the yard, life used to be so hard, now everything is easy because of you

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

When people think of nineteenth century Russian literature, they don’t often associate it with 80s Australia. Thankfully, Adriane Daff and Katherine Tonkin think along those lines because their adaptation of Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard is the perfect fit for 1980s Perth – it’s full of the boom and bust economy, cheap suits, fashions, and the hedonism of the decade. Black Swan State Theatre Company have really nailed it with this production – a whole experience that takes classic theatre and rips it from the proscenium arch to land at Perth’s foreshore in a stunning immersive evening that weaves the audience into the show. Cleverly adapted by Daff and Tonkin, and instinctively directed by the brilliant Clare Watson, The Cherry Orchard takes you in as family, and you feel its highs and lows palpably. Quite simply, it’s intelligent and fun theatre with a focus on entertainment.

This production, presented as part of Perth Festival takes place at the beautiful, if slightly crumbling Sunset Heritage Precinct. There are four parts to the play and the audience walks from location to location as the sun sets throughout the duration of the play. Food and bars are available, all themed with a delightful Russian twist – Peorgies anyone? – and the whole thing is on point for its theming. There is an absolute buzz sitting in the first location – a hall with parts of a house set up – Zoe Atkinson is at the top of her game with phenomenal set and costume design. There are instantly recognisable elements from the wooden family table to the pipe bed and older, slightly kitsch couches that were probably a few generations in. It’s her absolute attention to detail that shines here – from references to popular culture (Kieran Clancy-Lowe) has a distinct Michael Hutchence look, to a hilarious apron, tongs and distinct picnic setting, to the perfectly chosen costumes later at the fancy dress party. It’s truly a delight for the eyes with a focus on reality, so while there are a few bright over-the-top items like neon mesh, the majority of the costuming reflects what we really wore rather than a dress up version – think distressed denim ruffle skirts as opposed to going full Madonna.

A Homecoming

This first section sees Ranyevskaya (Hayley McElhinney) return to the family homestead complete with entourage Yasha (Kieran Clancy-Lowe) and Charlotta (Michelle Fornasier), her daughter home from boarding school, Anya (Bridie McKim) and brother Gayev (Brendan Hanson). There is anticipation and a little foreshadowing set up before they even arrive by family maid Dunyasha (Emily Rose Brennan), her love interest and family accountant Yepikhodov (Sam Longley) and very old servant Firs (George Shevtsov) running around with nervous energy trying to get everything ready. There are also neighbours in Lopakhin (Ben Mortley), Piss-Cheek (Humphrey Bower) and Trofimov (Mark Nannup) plus the angry daughter who was left behind, Varya (Grace Chow). Confused yet? Yeah, me too – this is my only criticism of this adaptation – as these characters and their relationships are based off of their nineteenth century Russian counterparts, they retain their names and relationships to one another. I think there’s an inconsistency if they’re happy to name Pischik Piss-cheek why not just go full Australian? The changing of governess and manservant to general hedonistic entourage of Charlotta and Yasha respectively is clever, yet too many vestiges of class structures of nineteenth century Russia are present. There are a few jarring moments as the language moves from Aussie slang to a heavy Russian name.

The homecoming is everything a woman with an entourage should expect – hedonistic, jubilant, late night and celebratory and it’s easy to get swept up in it all. McElhinney is perfectly cast, equal parts overly dramatic and gaily frivolous, she cavorts about the stage ensuring that every eye is upon her. Of course, Hanson’s Gayev is not to be outshone as he joyfully gets drunk and toasts to the 100 year old bookcase in what should be ridiculous but he makes it hilarious. Hanson as Gayev is everyone’s silly uncle from their childhood and instantly loveable, despite his often catty remarks. Clare Watson’s direction is deft and clever, as people in the audience turn their head to look for the orchard or the front door, knowing full well it’s not actually there. Every character is distinct and played well, fitting into a different stereotype which helps to figure out who is who.

A Family BBQ

The audience is then invited to promenade down to the river bank to a family bbq where Clancy-Lowe and Longley are barbequeing and playing a Casio keyboard. They improvise unmicrophoned until the crowd settles in. Here, Lucy Birkinshaw’s lighting design comes to life as this act is performed at the setting of the sun. Birkinshaw subtly illuminates a beautiful gum that serves as background to the bbq using soft oranges and reds that change as the sun goes down. It’s stunning. Having established who everyone is now, the cast can have fun and also begin to address their desires, fears and failures. Brennan and Clancy-Lowe get up close and personal sexual tension crackling between them, Shevtsov and Fornasier share an intimate moment discussing belonging, and McElhinney gives a haunting soliloquy about how she feels unloved and taken advantage of. Mortley almost seems to drop his sleazy businessman persona and offers her a moment of human compassion. He is so expressive in his eyes, the betrayal cuts deeper later on.

Being set firmly in the 80s, all of the tensions and philosophy surrounding the Bicentennial are addressed intelligently and sensitively by Daff and Tonkin. Nannup stares unflinchingly at the audience and reminds them that the land they are on belongs to his ancestors. It elegantly breaks the fourth wall and conveys the responsibility we all have in ensuring that history is never repeated or perpetuated. As the sun sets on the second act, we are prompted to reflect on our connection to the land we occupy and the river we walk alongside.

A Party

Hedonism abounds in the party of the decade! Atkinson’s costuming is on point and Dr Clint Bracknell‘s blistering sound design shows off his knack for using music to infuse pop culture of the era into the work. Every single song is cleverly curated to reflect the situation – from Our House forming the idyllic homestead to Burning Down The House when all seems to go to shit (pardon my French.) There are even classic party hits like I Want to Dance With Somebody and clever nods to the original Russian play in Rasputin. The party takes you straight back to the silliness of parties in a dare I say, more innocent era – it represents the end of an era, not only for the family in terms of ownership but for Perth’s moneyed elite in the Bond era, the last hurrah before economic crashes. The set is perfect, I’m sure everybody had an outdoor dining set like that at some point and each character’s fancy dress costume is so fitting! McHelhinney shines as either Madonna or Monroe depending on how you view it, Bower is so funny in his sherrif on the horse – he cavorts about with an occa brashness that garners more than a few smiles, and Longley steals the show as a pickle. Yep, a pickle. His downtrodden comedic style is endearing, and he manages to elicit both sympathy and laughter – a rare talent. Even Chow brilliantly depicts her high strung Varya by dressing as Princess Leia but not really wearing the buns properly – as though she will go along with a party but still wants to be taken seriously.

The whole thing goes downhill upon Mortley’s return and McElhinney gives the performance of a lifetime. Mortley blindly celebrates in drunken exuberance as McElhinney leans upon a chair supporting her lest she collapse, ashen faced and bewildered. She is amazing as her whole world crashes down and the remnants of her former dramatic self are shocked into actual despair. Mortley plays drunk well, a bounce in his step as he surveys the devastation around him.

A Farewell

It is with heavy tread that the audience make their way back to the main hall to find it stripped of furniture and full of packing boxes. People are visibly upset to see the set removed, as it almost served as another character in the work. Each actor mills about, some with purpose and some in denial and there is one last moment for McElhinney and Hanson to stand in the empty room and reflect – it is a pale imitation of their opening moments together, coming full circle. Ending on a poignant note with Shevtsov’s Firs breathing his last breath at the very place he took his first, this segment cleverly pays homage to its source material. It does seem a little at odds with the stylistic aesthetic of the rest of the show, however by placing the action in a separate stage, Watson gives a respectful nod to how the traditions of theatre have changed allowing them to put on such an immersive experience while acknowledging all that came before her. It’s details like this that make The Cherry Orchard an absolute triumph.

You can get your tickets for this unique experience HERE

Keep up with The Fourth Wall on Facebook and @fourth_wall_media on Instagram to see what we’re up to this Perth Festival 2021

on now, PERTH FESTIVAL, Review

PERTH FESTIVAL 2021 | MoveMoveMove | 4.5 Stars

Review | Laura Money

MoveMoveMove is a gripping and arresting hour of movement that spans three unique venues in site specific physical theatre. A Blue Room Theatre initiative by curator and mentor Tyrone Earl Lraé Robinson the work utilises the individuality of the venues and imbues them with meaning, informed in a magnificent loop by the spaces themselves. What follows are three contained pieces of dance that explore the human condition, self identity and expression, and our capacity to support or devastate each other. Robinson’s curation is inspired and elegant – each piece sits alone yet also at the intersection of human expression and desire – perfectly following on from one another, building layer upon stunning layer. This is punch in the guts theatre that grasps you by the throat and does not let go until you transcend the self reflected back at you.

Beginning in the basement of The Rechabite, ‘Unearthly’ is a pulsing, spitting frenzy of energy – a violent expression that reclaims space and sovereignty over oneself. Choreographed and performed by Bernadette Lewis and Natalie Allen the figures vacillate between madness and self-possession in a spitting and fizzing back and forth across the basement space, weaving in between pillars, plastic linings, and the audience. Tess Stephenson‘s haunting and rapid sound design creates a jolting vibration that serves as heartbeat to the piece. With erratic flashing lights sometimes harsh and at others creating shadows, lighting designer Joe Lui reflects the performers’ confused minds. Harpy-like in disjointed, unnatural movements they perform lucidity simultaneously with insanity in a sharply balanced work.

Promenading between spaces through Northbridge the audience is connected by headphones that force one to hear and feel every step they take. Among the sculptures and garden of the State Theatre Centre WA is Lauren Catellani’s ‘To Place’ – a calm and organic intertwining of form that sees bodies, sculpture, and material bond with the natural world. Sound designer Alexander Turner places microphones and sensors in strategic places over the central sculpture in the garden. Digitally manipulating the natural sounds that resonate through its curves and the trees nearby, a unique and haunting soundscape speaks to the most primal parts of us. Performers Mitchell Spadaro, Michelle Aitken and Mani Mae Gomes are born anew to these sounds as they interact in a spiritual offering to nature itself – hearing and reacting to its unseen but now heard essence.

Finally, we end up in The Blue Room itself upstairs in intimate playful spaces that invite smiles and comfort. There is ‘grass’ on the floor and ‘clouds’ in the ‘sky’ in site and costume designer Kaitlin Brindley’s bold and effective aesthetic. ‘The Walk’ is a playful examination of self-identity and artifice – it rejects the previous piece’s natural vibes and renders them fake. Choreographer and performer Tahlia Russell is shiny and exuberant in a fun-filled joyous dance complete with glittery body suit, blonde wig, and sparkly tasselled jacket. Her siren song attracts everyone who has ever danced with abandon in front of their mirror. Peter McAvan continues the party vibe with his fun sound design. Of course, it doesn’t take too long for things to get weird as Russell moves us into the next room where the performance delves further into performing self and how we reflect the world back onto itself. Russell is a wonderful performer and the look is whimsical yet introspective causing the audience to think about their own self expression.

MoveMoveMove is a bizarrely brilliant work that inhabits the spaces of the city as though they were convolutions in the brain. It’s visceral expression elicits contemplation and excitement and encourages a mental reimagining of space and time. Yes, it’s deliciously weird but it is also amazing.

MoveMoveMove has SOLD OUT. You can try your luck on the waiting list HERE or check out what The Blue Room are doing next HERE

Keep up with The Fourth Wall on Facebook and @fourth_wall_media on Instagram to see what we’re up to this Perth Festival 2021

FRINGEWORLD, on now, Review

FRINGEWORLD 2021 | Absolute Weirdo | 4.5 Stars

Review | Laura Money

Let’s face it, Robbie T is an Absolute Weirdo. A self-confessed magic tragic, Robbie is here to open up and perform tricks that will make you laugh and blow your mind – not a bad way to spend your evening, hey? Robbie’s charm is in his awkwardness – he deftly performs magic while still waiting for the scars of previous social anxiety to heal. His philosophy is that nothing is as it seems, and this is the perfect analogy for mental health. Robbie opens up and weaves a poignant story of growth and change under uncertainty – all the while displaying his magic right in front of you. It’s just that you’re not able to see things Robbie’s way yet. Seeing Absolute Weirdo can help with that!

It’s difficult to review a magic show as, much like a magician I don’t want to reveal all, but suffice it to say that Robbie’s tricks are absolutely jaw-dropping. Of course, anyone can do tricks, but not everyone can craft a beautiful show with a theme that reveals every part of oneself and Robbie boldly and unflinchingly bares all using the magic to emphasise his point. All of the music is curated with Robbie’s signature twisted sense of humour – from Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ to Aretha Franklin belting out ‘Think’ while Robbie does a comedy bit, it all knits together to reveal who Robbie really is. He candidly shows pictures from his childhood, including highly embarrassing fashions and unfortunate wardrobe malfunctions and also projects up excerpts from his school diaries. This is all while building up our trust. Robbie’s comedy bit about how he revealed to his father he wanted to be a magician is hilarious as are certain innocuous seeming comedy bits involving drawing and mind reading. It is only at the end that these funny bits contribute to the whole and you realise Robbie T is a certified genius.

Trust is an important factor in magic and mind reading. It’s also important in relationships and mental health. Robbie seamlessly weaves this feeling of absolute trust and safety throughout the entire show – from the beginning when he asks for an audience member’s mobile phone to a heart thumping trick with nails and paper bags he endears himself to us with his vulnerability and charm. The finale of the show is where Robbie cuts himself open and bares his beating heart to the audience – not literally, I mean he’s good but that’s just morbid – and it’s a stunning squence of mesmerising sleight of hand accompanied by a heartfelt and raw monologue. Robbie gets you thinking deeply, and even though there are a few blockbuster moments of sheer WOW, it is his capacity for sharing and sheer openness where the true magic lies.

Absolute Weirdo is still going on in FRINGEWORLD 2021 Encore! You can get tickets HERE

Keep up with The Fourth Wall on Facebook and @fourth_wall_media on Instagram to see what we’re up to this FRINGEWORD 2021

PERTH FESTIVAL, Review

PERTH FESTIVAL 2021 | The Little Mermaid | 4.5 Stars

Review | Laura Money

There are many ways to tell a story, and The Little Mermaid is a tale about a tail that has been interpreted and retold countless times. The classic fairytale is shared with us by Freeze Frame Opera, an innovative company that seek to introduce new audiences to opera and make it accessible, so this time they turn their sharp and intimate hand to a well known story. Beautifully presented at The Ballroom at Government House the production transforms an already charming venue into a wonderland of magic. Dvorjak’s opera Rusalka is delightfully reworked to tell a relevant coming of age story where multiple types of love are celebrated and growing up embraced. It’s a truly charming rendition of classic opera for contemporary times.

Director Rachel McDonald brings together the quintessential elements of the opera and the beloved fairytale and combines them into an exquisite experience. The Little Mermaid story is easily identified through its story, energetically narrated by Jessie Ward who acts as conduit between the characters and the children. McDonald’s directing is sharp as Ward flits in between the characters at times offering advice and others explaining the plot to the audience. Ward is a natural with children. Her affability gives them confidence to interact with the story and its characters, often to deafening results! Robbie Harald brings the story to life with stunning set and costumes. Each character has a distinguishable look that still remains thematically cohesive – from Rusalka and her father’s coral crowns to the sea witch’s harsh makeup coastal life is referenced in an instantly recognisable concept. Fun and charming elements continue to delight such as a ship suspended above the stage in all its majesty and little touches like pirate bunting or makeshift costumes but it is the rippling effect of material flowing bountifully, cascading from an upper balcony to journey down through the audience during Rusalka’s aria ‘Song to the Moon’ that cements this piece as an absolute winner. Culminating in a moonrise to remember, Jerry Reinhardt’s lighting design brings a softness and the blue is both serene and melancholic, allowing both feelings to sit with one another.

The Little Mermaid is a phenomenal adaptation. It renders opera accessible in a playful way that serves to showcase the form beautifully. As mentioned, Jessie Ward weaves the story together, unafraid to ask the children what they think is going to happen next, or encourage them to boo and jeer at the witch. Combining stunning music and vocals with classic pantomime and children’s theatre techniques each performer becomes a firm favourite. Prudence Sanders is stunning in the classic princess role – she is elegant and her vocals heart-wrenching as the moon song is performed with so much feeling the children cheer at its restoration. Her father, Robert Hofmann strikes the balance between noble and loving, providing a tenderness not usually present in a children’s show which is thoroughly refreshing. Of course, in this show the damsel saves herself – with a generous guiding from the enthusiastic audience – but there is a handsome prince, and Jun Zhang keeps his cool even while hamming it up with the dog Fluffy and interacting with the kids. Despite Rusalka being the heroine here, it is hands down the tremendously talented Caitlin Cassidy as Ježibaba the witch that steals the show. Strong and confident vocals call out across the whole room and even the boos from the children spur her on. It’s always fun to play a villain, and Cassidy relishes this role, clearly enjoying every second of it.

This is an important show to take children to as it celebrates opera in a way that demonstrates theatre can be at once silly and elegant. It’s irreverent energy embraces the audience with the thrill of folk lore and storytelling, and its phenomenal music – playfully arranged by the wonderful Caroline Badnall will see this version firmly cemented in young people’s guides to classical music. Not only do the children get to enjoy a wonderfully sophisticated opera but there is also tea, face painting, and games on the lawn afterwards all included in the ticket. The Little Mermaid is an immersive experience, so come and swim in Rusalka’s river and celebrate artistry at its finest.

The Little Mermaid was part of PERTH FESTIVAL 2021 and has finished, however you can check out what Freeze Frame Opera is up to next HERE

Keep up with The Fourth Wall on Facebook and @fourth_wall_media on Instagram to see what we’re up to this Perth Festival 2021

FRINGEWORLD, Review

FRINGEWORLD 2021 | Nadia Collins: Chrysalis (a work in progress) | 4.5 Stars

Review | Laura Money

Nadia Collins is an absolute favourite of The Fourth Wall – we love her in everything she does, so when given the opportunity to review a work in progress we leaped at it headlong into the fray. And it does not disappoint! Chrysalis (a work in progress) sees Collins tackling mother nature as she reenacts a nature documentary live on stage, with hilarious results! As it is only a work in progress, I’m sure some of the details will change by the time you see the show again but it’s worth pointing out that in my opinion, there’s not a lot to do. Through classic clowning techniques and improvisation, Collins creates a hilarious and silly show that savagely calls out the natural world and our hopeless misunderstanding of it. And it’s genius.

Donning a robe and attempting to maintain an angry demeanor, Collins is hilarious as the formidable Mother Nature – lecturing us through suppressed giggles. The premise is refreshingly shambolic – a state Collins is perfectly suited in – things are chaotic from the audience reaction to the clearly uncertain dialogue. This is Collins’ strength – she excels at awkward comedy and doesn’t take herself too seriously. Homemade costumes continue this genius-level haphazardness from plastic bag jellyfish to velcro flower petals, Collins’ face says it all as she embraces the slipshod appearance of the show. Chrysalis has a chaotic energy that keeps you on your toes throughout – there is anticipation as each miracle of nature manifests out of what appear to be mounds of detritus on the stage but transform into actually quite clever designs.

Collins nails every minute of this show. Her audience interaction game is strong as she communicates well and makes everyone feel comfortable, like being involved in a shared joke. From the time lapse of flower growth to the crepe paper spider web, Collins gives her all and the result is a clever and funny show that capitalises on shared knowledge and makes kick arse pop culture references. I appreciate the subtle use of the American Beauty when the plastic bag jellyfish is floating in the ocean, and the Armageddon sountrack gets a pretty good go, too. Overall while this may be a work in progress, it’s a damn good one. All the puns are on point, the savagery of nature is hilarious – although there are some things you probably shouldn’t laugh at but Collins makes them so funny – and of course, the silliness of the show caps everything off. You know the old saying truth is stranger than fiction? In this case, truth is funnier than fiction – this pisstake is on point!

Chrysalis ran during the FRINGEWORLD 2021 Encore season but we’re confident it will be back.

Keep up with The Fourth Wall on Facebook and @fourth_wall_media on Instagram to see what we’re up to this FRINGEWORD 2021

on now, PERTH FESTIVAL, Review

PERTH FESTIVAL 2021 | Archives of Humanity | 5 Stars

Review | Laura Money

Tracing the human experience through its journey from primordial slime to the teeming collective gracing this planet today, Archives of Humanity meditates on the essentialism of human life, distilling it to its core in a tumultuous and dynamic expression that weaves its pattern in a jawdropping choreographed piece that speaks to the primal self and what it means to be a community. This show is perhaps Co3‘s most ambitious project – a culmination of Artistic Director Raewyn Hill‘s stunning vision and the company’s unwavering capacity to impress. It stares humanity directly in the eye and charts its messy yet hopeful journey with over twenty diverse dancers performing their guts out, stripping back life itself to its core in a viscerally present work. It’s perfectly impressive.

As the piece is a representation of migratory movements throughout human existence, one begins with an immersive walk through the stunningly unique set. Created by the community, the Bird Makers Project saw people create black birds from personal garments that hold memories or meaning as a way to connect during isolation. The resulting exhibition is a beautiful collection of stories and expressions of emotion by the WA community – their thoughts and stories suspended above in a soaring and hopeful act of transcendence. Journeying through this collective accumulation of life moments, one has the opportunity to dip their toe in the water by merely being present amongst the works or diving in, fully immersing themselves into these shared experiences with an app that allows for more insights into the project. After filling oneself up emotionally, the audience takes its seat and awaits the natural extension of the migration story. The stage is set – a deceptively simple square of compact builder’s sand resembling a giant rodeo – and a ripple of excitement washes over the crowd. We are about to see something special.

The strength of this work is its simplicity – designed, devised, and directed by Raewyn Hill, her intuitive design skills knit perfectly with the choreography and imagery that convey a playful yet intense piece of physical theatre unafraid to stretch the soul to capacity. Drawing lines in the sand symbolically traces humanity’s compelling journey across this very earth, the dancers churning the sand into new patterns that dramatically scatter in a bid for transcendence. Eden Mulholland‘s theatrically visceral score thrums through the entire work, anchoring it with a richness of sound that speaks to the vitality of the piece. Combining original composition and dramatic well known works such as Vivaldi’s Gloria, Mulholland draws from a deep well of artistic expression and intelligently embeds historically important work into the musical journey of Archives of Humanity. Hill is constantly evolving her practice and motivations, and with this piece she explores the fundamentals of humanity in a series of moving vignettes that flow effortlessly into one another – a moving tableau of life itself that builds up both a sense of community and individualism in exquisite and tumultuous movement.

Visually, the whole thing is stunning. The ensemble of dancers all reference a collective of humanity throughout different eras in a heady mix of Tudor ruffs, Victorian nightgowns, 80s catwalk pieces that are rendered timeless when shaken together like a snow globe to create a cohesion present in both movement and aesthetic. Hill dives headfirst into an exploration of community and the support one has for humanity, at times it’s business as usual and figures move in synch but individually – weaving in and out of each other’s pathways in harmony. At other times, perhaps representative of tumultuous times such as war and pestilence the floor churns with bodies throwing themselves at life in a visceral display of desperation. In all of these moments the one thing that remains solid is the physical support given to one another – the performers move in blocks of people, literally and figuratively supporting one another be it on each other’s shoulders or to simply catch another dancer as they fall. Each performer represents a vast array of experiences from physical age and gender, to echoes of previous generations and perhaps that is what makes this work an entire experience.

Archives of Humanity is the physical embodiment of its statement – a visual representation of humanity’s journey that speaks to all. It’s a multidisciplinary, multigenerational, and dynamic piece – the essence of human experience incarnate. Boiling and bubbling over with raw humanism, this bold piece will keep you on the edge of your seat as you watch these performers push themselves to the brink of existence itself. Let Co3 drag you into their frenzied world – picking up the invisible lines of historical humanity and wrenching them seething and pulsing back into the world, their hearts beating loudly once more.

You can get your tickets to the greatest show on earth HERE and download the app prior to your visit HERE

Keep up with The Fourth Wall on Facebook and @fourth_wall_media on Instagram to see what we’re up to this Perth Festival 2021

FRINGEWORLD, Review

FRINGEWORLD 2021 | The Great Debate: Girlz rule, boys drool – a 90s musical comedy! | 4 Stars

Review | Laura Money

Who here remembers the 90s? Tighten your butterfly hairclips, adjust your bandana and get ready to Spice Up Your Life because Backstreet’s Back, Alright in The Great Debate: Girlz rule, boys drool – a 90s musical comedy! Tone Deft Choir are here to settle the question of the ages once and for all – were girl bands or boy bands better in the 90s? I’m going to be honest, as someone whose formative years were shaped by this music, I would rather forget it than celebrate it, but the kids from Tone Deft are big believers in leaning into the cringe! I heard songs that lay dormant in my little soul for 20+ years that happily leapt out in a series of clicks, claps, and affirmative head shakes – oh and a lot of white girl dancing. The show is a light-hearted look at the music most of us want to forget but still have a soft spot for – it’s a fun night out with passionate people and ok music – with a few bangers chucked in for good measure.

The majority of Tone Deft Choir look like they were born in the 90s so you can be forgiven for not taking much stock in their opinions of the music. After all, they weren’t spending their lunchtimes and sleepovers painstakingly recreating the entire Spice Girls Concert live in Istanbul that their Dad taped for them off the telly with their besties and sister in the 90s *cough* and neither was I. Ok, so that example was a little too specific to be anything but real – my point is, like many of us Tone Deft Choir are nostalgic for an era they didn’t necessarily experience, though why they chose 90s girl and boy bands is beyond me! As much as I sound like I’m blasting these kids, I actually had a great time – the debate is sophisticated and the right amount of silly. Both sides talk to the culture of growing up in the 90s rather than just the music – I mean they’d be on a pretty thin argument if it came down to musicality alone – and both teams hit the nostalgia hard. As in, they understand the struggle it was to have to pick one boy band member to stan whilst actively shunning the rest but not really because N*Sync is lyfe. The debate is a bit weak, in that it’s too scripted and should be more improvised but I suspect this will happen with time and I can’t wait to watch the show evolve.

Of course, being a choir Tone Deft not only debate the music, they also perform it. With energetic arrangements by accompanist Gavin Nicklette each song strikes the balance between homage and pisstake as the choir lean in to the kitsch and blast out the tunes. There are some absolute bangers from Wannabe to Chasing Waterfalls this act skips from musical genius to tacky af and perform them with the same gusto. The energy off these guys is crackling – donning their finest 90s attire, what looks like a rag tag bunch of kids were involved in an explosion at the Op Shop, the choir even bust out the dance moves of the era – sadly no breakdancing but I’m willing to let that slide. Of course, there are some points that are a little unfair – can Savage Garden really be considered a boy band? Tenuous. And a little bit of poor feminism that could have been explained better – seriously, the reason more male artists appear in the top charts and sales is because no matter if the work is absolute tripe, male artists are deemed more legitimate than their female counterparts. Just look at any Top 20 lists and there are a disproportionate amount of men on it.

Overall, The Great Debate is a wicked night out. The concept rocks, the songs are cringy yet hit you right in your choker clad throat. Will it ever be resolved? Perhaps not but going to the show you are guaranteed clever mashups and medleys, fun digs at a culture you experienced and probably miss like tazos and basketball cards, and incredible voices raised in jubilant, if tacky, music. Awesome.

Unfortunately the Great Debate is over but you can check out Tone Deft Choir HERE

Keep up with The Fourth Wall on Facebook and @fourth_wall_media on Instagram to see what we’re up to this FRINGEWORD 2021

Article, Interview, on now

WA Opera set to reach biggest audience with their GALA performance in the park this weekend

Article | Laura Money

Friday 26th and Saturday 27th February will mark the 30th anniversary of WA Opera‘s Opera in the Park – a huge summer concert that will this year be livestreamed so that everyone can see it even if they can’t make it to The Supreme Court Gardens. To mark this special achievement, West Australian Opera is rolling out West Australian stars for City of Perth Opera in the Park 30th Gala Concert which will feature audience favourites from the world of opera and musical theatre. The Fourth Wall caught up with Young Artist Brianna Louwen and Principal Artist Caitlin Cassidy ahead of the gala to get an insight into the show.

The real winner here is the audience – making the show accessible to all is a beautiful thing. Cassidy was highly impressed with Chris van Tuinen‘s artistic projects used to connect people during COVID, from podcasts to virtual operas and how he managed to keep WA Opera in front of Perth audiences. ‘It’s solutions like that that are going to keep opera alive and relevant in tough times.’ She doesn’t consider opera to be at war with technology, however they aren’t always associated with each other. Adapting and using technology to keep reaching out to people is key to revitalisation. Louwen says ‘there is a perception that opera is quite insular and it’s everyone just patting each other on the back, but I think we’re starting to get out into the community more and that’s the thing that will make longevity happen. I think having friends who aren’t opera singers and being a normal person helps too!’ Something else Louwen is interested in is all of the smaller opera companies around Perth: ‘they’re doing lesser known pieces in really interesting spaces and in really interesting ways, taking opera and putting it into a modern setting. Going down that niche route is always going to be successful.’

Opera in the Park will be live streamed across the Telethon Community theatres in Bassendean, Murdoch and Burswood which will generate a new audience entirely. You can also watch from home. ‘Having these televised artistic events is not a terribly new idea – like Leonard Bernstein’s young person’s guide to the orchestra series – but I think in Perth it’s taking off.’ Cassidy.

Cassidy believes in the importance of contributing to the opera scene in Perth – ‘I did travel overseas, I studied in New York and recently performed with Opera Australia in Sydney, but I do love to come home! I always like to come back and share and see the incredible work that Perth artists are doing.’ Louwen made the leap from choirs to opera in her chorus debut in Don Giovanni and feels pretty grateful to be able to do it. She made her principle debut last year in The Nightingale and can’t wait to turn her hand at Mozart in the coming year.

Cassidy doesn’t want people to be alienated by opera: ‘it’s an artistic language, nothing to be scared of and it’s for everyone.’

[Opera is] the human spirit brought to life

Caitlyn Cassidy

Being able to perform in the gala concert is such a special occasion for these ladies. Cassidy remembers the first time she got up on stage with WA Opera – she used to go to the opera on special occasions as a child, and remembers the first year becoming a Young Artist and performing on the His Majesty’s stage. She’s excited to be performing with her operatic heroes on stage in the gala and with her friends from WAAPA. Louwen is super happy to be in the Young Artist program as she always loved singing. She remembers watching Carmen when she was 14 years old and being totally amazed by it and realising that she wanted to do it – it’s exciting to stand on stage now and get to sing music from Carmen, bit of a dream come true. As Louwen is not a principal artist, she doesn’t get to do any solo reportoire but is having a ball singing in the ensemble pieces. All of the big, celebratory pieces are sung by ensembles – ‘There’s something really amazing about singing inside the crowd that’s wonderful. It’s nice to be able to perform as part of that in the gala concert.’

So, what will people get out of the gala concert this year? ‘The great thing about a gala is you don’t have to shape the singers around the opera, you can choose to show off all of these amazing singers in their best light using their best repotoire. I think it’s a nice light reprieve for everyone – it will be a big party!’ says Cassidy. While they haven’t been given a choice in pieces, Cassidy is over the moon to be duetting with Emma Matthews and Sara Maciver and can’t wait to bust out the Habenera from Carmen. The gala will feature all your favourites – it’s going to be a huge celebration and we can’t wait!

You get to hear some of the most iconic and beautiful pieces sung by the best singers in the world all on the doorstep of Perth. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Briannah Louwen

You can check out Opera in the Park from the comfort of your home HERE

Keep up with The Fourth Wall on Facebook and @fourth_wall_media on Instagram to see what we’re up to this Perth Festival 2021

FRINGEWORLD, Review

FRINGEWORLD 2021 | Theatre of Bondage | 4 Stars

Review | Laura Money

What could be more quintessentially FRINGEWORLD than a show called Theatre of Bondage? It has everything you’d expect – ropes, kink culture, hot wax, a black box art studio located off Pier Street up a few hundred stairs. But here’s what you probably won’t expect – a beautifully crafted history lesson in sensuality and pleasure, tied up in emotional and fun artistic vignettes. This show is like the practice of bondage itself – a bit intimidating to get into but sexy and intriguing to watch. It takes elements of kink and exploits their natural theatricality, resulting in a dramatic and exciting show that you’ll keep coming back to in your mind.

Theatre of Bondage traces the history of Shibari, the Japanese ritual of erotic rope binding – because of course the Japanese came up with something like that. Your host with the most is Mr James Sta-Maria (aka Starma Llama!) and he mixes up the vignettes with personal stories, fun anecdotes, and facts about Shibari. Throughout the evening we are treated – and I mean treated as the show is a pleasure to watch – to a series of Shibari pieces that each serve to stimulate in a different way. There is a gateway bind to get you into the scene – Mandie Sta-Maria shows us the basic techniques with Daniel Campagnoli who then launches into a full routine with her, complete with ceiling truss and hot wax drips. I’m making it sound more violent than it is – the pair engage in an elegant dance placing trust in each other and the music and choreography combine to create a beautiful journey. Luna Agneya displays the self-love aspect of Shibari in a stunning and exciting expression of power over oneself.

Each dance is perfectly suited to the style and people performing it – Dany Cox and Jenna Elliott walk the tightrope of faith and trust while wholly deriving pleasure both for the binder and the bound. They demonstrate the heat and magnetism Shibati can bring while journeying through the process where the untying is as important as the tying. Wrapping things up with a group dance between Sta-Maria, Agneva and Tristen Tan the team show their fun side and keep things light and sexy with a cute routine that is hard to top. Theatre of Bondage is a sensual and exciting show that takes the fear out of bondage and ties up your evening in a neat little bow – and it even invites you to get involved but only with the safety of classes. Do not try this at home, but definitely think about it in the bedroom!

Theatre of Bondage has finished in Perth but is still available in Adelaide Fringe and you can get your tickets for the interstate shows HERE

Keep up with The Fourth Wall on Facebook and @fourth_wall_media on Instagram to see what we’re up to this FRINGEWORD 2021

PERTH FESTIVAL, Review

PERTH FESTIVAL 2021 | HOUSE | 5 Stars

Review | Laura Money

There are some tales that are so enduring they embed themselves in our hearts the moment they begin. Barking Gecko Theatre is in absolute top form with this Perth Festival production of HOUSE – an instant classic. Drawing on a rich vein of whimsy, playwright Dan Giovannoni and Director Luke Kerridge have once again struck gold in their emotionally rich tale of grief, courage, and acceptance that feels like a long-established fairy tale. HOUSE is utterly captivating, from its hopeful message of acceptance to its magnificent set and perfectly loveable cast every element of this show is beautifully rendered. It’s a magical tale with a capital M – adventure writ large – large enough to envelop each boy and girl in the audience and fill them with courage and hope. This is a rather special show, indeed.

Giovannoni and Kerridge are in familiar territory with HOUSE – a lonely young girl (the loneliest child in the world in fact) is whisked away and rescued by House and its crew – flying above the clouds so she can heal and learn to accept herself. It’s pure wonder – which is right in this duo’s wheelhouse. The pair have a wonderful knack for taking the essence of childhood literature, containing it in a pressurised script and blasting it in huge colours and whimsy all over the stage. It’s a wondrous formulae that I, for one, can only see taking off much like said House of this work. There’s something irresistibly madcap about this pairing that we all get to benefit from – their writing is exquisite – each character describes grief as a tightening feeling in the chest that they thought would go away but doesn’t, articulating a very feeling is like capturing lightning in a bottle. Their concept is amazing – a magical house that rescues lonely children from around the world is instantly recognisable as possessing all the hallmarks of a wondrous children’s tale. Their world-building is absolutely stunning – from the imaginative ways a house in the sky would operate to the ins and outs of daily life, the environment suits the story perfectly.

And what a story! Beginning in the tradition of Roald Dahl or Enid Blyton, the parents are horrible people and ship poor Cathelijn (pronounced Cat-a-line) off to live with her Aunt in the forest. Chanella Macri as Cathelijn is the most loveable protaganist to grace the stage. Children will empathise with her being ‘too big, too loud and too much’ and laugh at her absolute passion for life despite being constantly beaten down. There’s something delightfully tragic about this happy-go-lucky yet depressed everyman and Macri plays her with a delicate balance of self-doubt and zest for life. When everything goes wrong – I’d like to applaud the team from not shying away from tragedy – and she is rescued we are fully immersed in Cathelijn’s journey. Barking Gecko are an immensely talented bunch as it is, and they have brought together an exceptional team to provide an extraordinary show. Designer Charlotte Lane and Contraptions Designer Philip Millar provide a stunningly whimsical set complete with impressive whirligigs, inventions, hidden compartments, and a whole lot of quirky features! Running the gamut from an oven that cooks whatever you want (it should always be hot chips) to a chair that changes its size to fit you, the entire set is like a comforting embrace – exactly what HOUSE represents. Magical moments abound when the set design shows off and House takes to the sky, eliciting more than a few gasps and jaws on the floor in wonder. A cloudscape completes the scene and the audience is in for a visual treat the entire show.

Not only is the set a veritable Willy Wonka of a design with nooks and crannies that reveal themselves in magical detail, but it reflects its inhabitants to a T. Piotr the incomparable Isaac Diamond runs around with a colander on his head, always talking a mile a minute and feeds this energy back into House. Things have a tendency to break around him and he is sometimes not careful enough to prevent damage. Diamond fizzes with the pure zest that children naturally possess but doesn’t over do it. Both Diamond and Macri portray children in a realistic way which is countered by the wonderful grey-haired Elka (Nicola Bartlett) – a mad scientist type who has boundless energy and zany ideas. Bartlett is a wonderful companion for Macri and Diamond and their chemistry is palpable. Whilst she is an enigma for the majority of the show, Bartlett’s quirks are hilarious and she places Elka firmly in the realm of most adorable characters ever. Each actor is distinct in their characters and the show uses them to explore multiple ways of being.

Stunning lighting and soundscape devised by Richard Vabre and Rachel Dease respectedly complete the simply magical atmosphere. Both serve to bring the picture book design to life and creates a contained world of wonder and delight where the sky is the limit. HOUSE is a lesson in grief and acceptance wrapped up in a charming, whimsical adventure. Cathelijn is loveable and the story is ‘too big’ for anywhere but the stage, ‘too loud’ to be read at bedtime, and ‘too much’ fun for all the family. It is already a firm favourite of mine and I will treasure its beautiful message of love and acceptance and how one can sit with dark feelings even if they identify as whole. HOUSE is where hope truly lies.

HOUSE ran as part of Perth Festival 2021 but check out Barking Gecko’s website HERE to see when it will be landing in Perth again

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FRINGEWORLD, on now, Review

FRINGEWORLD 2021 | Disney in Drag UP LATE: A Perverted Parody | 3.5 Stars

Review | Laura Money

It’s absolutely no secret that I adored Disney in Drag: Once Upon a Parody – a tight, intelligent show that takes Disney classics and scrutinises them in a hilarious way. Disney in Drag UP LATE: A Perverted Parody takes the essence of the earlier show and twists it into a cabaret style evening of filthy songs, bawdy entertainment, and more jokes about genitalia you can shake your booty at. It’s more of a traditional cabaret than a fully immersive story with a through line, however this works well – maybe just advertise it like that to avoid disappointment. Each act takes beloved Disney material, be they songs or characters, and sends a scathing message about gender norms, healthy sexual activity, hell even the environment gets representation! It’s a raunchy and hilarious night out, up late with all of your favourite characters that ends on a massive buzz!

Keeping us all swashbuckling along is our amazing host, Captain Cooked (Mita Hill) who has enough ‘plank’ jokes to keep the boat afloat all night long, if you know what I mean! Hill’s crowd work is exceptional and she stays in character the whole time – throwing out innuendo after innuendo and laughing raucously at her own puns. And rightly so – the puns will give you the jolly rogering you need to laugh all night! Hill is great – check out the running gag of different things in place of her hook – she has an excellent rapport with the audience and each of the acts throughout. Except Ursulabia (Emma MacMillan) which is a gut wrenching shame because MacMillan is indisputably talented – her parody of Poor Unfortunate Souls is 100% a highlight – she is just misplaced here as a joint MC. Hill loses momentum and the pair lean towards in-jokes and appear to put each other off. The other poor unfortunate thing is the character of Ursula is a long-term mainstay in the drag community – the original design was based off of a drag queen and I find it baffling that a man did not take on this role (or at least a woman of size). I’m not saying that drags have sovereignty over the character – to do so would be to miss the point of this show entirely – anyone can dress up and express themselves in their own way, but it does fall a little flat here. Casting choices aside, the costume is phenomenal and MacMillan’s turn at ‘Gender Normative Roles’ is hands down the best song in the whole damn show. The lyrics are scathing and clever and the message is on point for 2021.

Sex positivity is the theme here, and the Disney in Drag crew are clearly in their element. Mixing bawdy outrageousness with dazzling voices and clever lyrics, they turn every song and act into a lesson in debauchery. Jae West kills it as the Queen of Hearts (no pun for her, let’s try to think of one, hey?) in a brilliant number about female pleasure sung to the tune of ‘Be Prepared’ complete with some secrets under her skirt. Joseph Andrin gets us hot and steamy as Tartzan, playfully leading the audience in a gentle bit of interaction. His ability to communicate meaning without speaking is inspired and he gives a sexy twist to a classic bit – every bit the vaudeville star. New to me is Ben Kay as Cruella – who doesn’t need a drag name as, let’s face it she already had one! Kay’s number is pure cabaret and so funny – his facial expressions could cause the spots to jump right off of your puppy as he saunters around the stage in a classic drag number. If it seems like I’m just listing the acts at this point, you’d be right but that’s only because there is a lack of cohesion in this show. With separate acts all linked by the MC and no major plot line UP LATE would do well to format itself in a more classic cabaret fashion.

At first, I was inclined to encourage this show to focus on the villains as the other one is mostly heroes and while I do still think this idea has merit – especially as villains are more fun and highly sexualised, I am inclined to believe that Stefan Testi revealing Belle’s sexual encounters with the Beast are so tittilating they won me over! Testi brings the heat and, while a little soft in his volume, makes himself heard as we all lean in to be given the salacious details. It’s not subtle. It’s not overly clever. It’s steamy af. And I’m ok with that! Speaking of steamy, at one point this show descends into a strip show beginning with the 5 dwarves (all the women mentioned plus Alex and Ashley Nissen) all donning their flanno and shorts to give us the Magic Mike treatment. Then we have the sexy Andrin as Jazzman and Testi as Miss White joined onstage by the original Hairy Godmother himself – Owen Merriman as Maleficent perform an NSFW strip tease that will pop the genie out of the bottle! Ok, we’ve had sex, songs – what’s next? Ah yes, snow. I mean blow, oh hell DRUGS! The final number sees Alex and Ashley Nissen taking on Disney’s newest Queens to finally ‘Let it Go’ – I mean ‘Let it Snow’ – it’s the moment we adult Disnerds have all been waiting for, a Frozen parody so we can all justify belting out the song at karaoke. And it doesn’t disappoint. Not only are the Nissen’s great singers, they throw everything they have at the roles to create a clever and just downright hilarious finale. Look, if you’re not going to get a happy ending through love, you might as well turn to drugs!

Disney in Drag UP LATE: A Perverted Parody is a good solid cabaret. It may not have the subtlety or sophistication of its sister show, but it’s still a great night out. There is an entire generation of kids who grew up with Disney that are now fully sexual adults. They desire sex positivity, kink behaviour, and even environmental reform (the show covers a lot of issues) but they also like to have a good time and every now and then blast out their favourite Disney songs. So, get filthy with the UP LATE crew – be prepared for a lifetime of memories, strap in (on) for your magic carpet ride because if this show doesn’t scar you, no filthy thing will.

This show has run its course in Perth playing as part of FRINGEWORLD 2021 but check out The Hairy Godmothers on Facebook to see what the crew are up to.

Keep up with The Fourth Wall on Facebook and @fourth_wall_media on Instagram to see what we’re up to this FRINGEWORD 2021

FRINGEWORLD, on now, Review

FRINGEWORLD 2021 | (Not) The Bachelor Live Hosted by Luke Bolland | 4 Stars

Review | Laura Money

Ah, love – the one thing that connects us all. We see you all on the dating apps, trying desperately to find someone. You know who can help with that? Luke Bolland – unlike the cold, unfeeling television producers who only want to see a scandal, Bolland really does want to see a love match. (Not) The Bachelor Live – I can’t believe you’re getting away with this, to be honest – takes the format of the popular television show, combines it with Let’s Make a Match and the twisted yet hilarious mind of Bolland and provides all the drama, scandal, and yes LOVE that goes with it. All in front of a live audience, which is way better than watching it on tv.

Even though this show is a full pisstake the contestants are real, and Bolland pays them the utmost respect. People sign up for the show and are chosen in advance after answering surveys on compatibility. What follows is our lucky bachelor speaks to three women and Bolland gets them to play a series of games before picking a winner. Bolland is the perfect host – keeping us all laughing with his quick quips and witty asides. He is a natural comedian who keeps things ticking along and endeavours to place his contestants firmly in their comfort zones. Of course, double entendres abound in a hilarious parody of love (read: sex) as things get hot and steamy. Honestly, you’ll laugh your head off at the games – there’s compatibility in question as we find out whether they’re dog or cat lovers, trust and honesty is on the line as they ask the bachelor anything, and of course there are some physical games too.

(Not) The Bachelor Live is everything you expect it to be and so much more. It’s a real life, real time courting with pheremones flying and sexual tension at an all time high. If you were skeptical about this show, don’t be – Bolland joyfully leans into the tackiness of the situation while still providing an entertaining and romantic evening and if that isn’t talent, then tell me what is. Come and fall in love – whatever love is with (Not) The Bachelor Live and enjoy a raucus night out.

You can grab your tickets to find love HERE

Keep up with The Fourth Wall on Facebook and @fourth_wall_media on Instagram to see what we’re up to this FRINGEWORD 2021

FRINGEWORLD, on now, Review

FRINGEWORLD 2021 | Good Dick Energy | 4 Stars

Review | Laura Money

Ok, ok I know what you’re thinking – this show is going to be super dirty and full of dick references. Well, it is full of dick jokes but the good kind – the funny kind. Grant Mushet has Good Dick Energy according to an audience member from a previous show. What does that mean? Well your guess is as good as mine, but Mushet thinks of it as having the balls to get up and do stand-up comedy even when he might bomb out. Believe me, bombing out is the least of Mushet’s worries in this FRINGEWORLD 2021 show! He’s a natural comedian spinning tales and telling jokes with an affable and carefree nature, and it’s absolutely worth the $20.

Grant Mushet is a loveable Scotsman who has lived in Perth long enough to have a good few sets and a string of ‘tight fives’ about the place. Retiring his material after this very show, Good Dick Energy is Mushet’s greatest hits – regaling us of stories when he first moved to Perth (well, Rockingham!) and the colourful cast of characters he has met along the way. Mushet’s style is casual and laid back – he turns standard anecdotes about Scotland and his upbringing and funny stories into the twisted musings of a whacko. I say this with the highest regards – Mushet is hilarious. This dark Polyanna sees things differently but with a surprisingly happy go lucky attitude – who else can see the up side of knife crime, unicorns, and lawn bowls?

Good Dick Energy is, on the surface a good, solid stand-up comedy show. Mushet happily peels back the surface layers and provides intelligent, nuanced, and surreally hilarious observations – it’s highly entertaining. There are ebbs and flows but even the ebbs are funny in the hands of this deftly affable guy who plays with the audience with great skill. Go and get some Good Dick Energy from Grant Mushet – you won’t regret it!

You can catch the ENCORE season of Good Dick Energy HERE

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FRINGEWORLD, on now, Review

FRINGEWORLD 2021 | Black Santa | 4 Stars

Review | Laura Money

Affable and funny, Emo delivers the goods with Black Santa – a laid back and hilarious hour of storytelling, banter, and jokes. Stripping away the clutter of everyday life, Emo shares his stories through a casually observant lens, each one a puzzle piece for us to slot in so that by the end of it, we’ve completed the picture. The comedy is subtle, the delivery friendly, and the barbs are gentle – Emo is an absolute hit!

Playing to a white-washed audience, Emo delights in ‘messing with you’ – don’t worry, he assures us that he is used to standing in front of crowds of white people – just usually he’s in court! This is the tone of the night – a gentle ribbing at race differences and stereotypes that sits more as funny observations than politically charged commentary. Emo tells stories of casual racism that are more about his sunny-side-up take on life than about race. There are hilarious fish out of water tales – like being pulled over by the police in Montreal and panicking because he didn’t speak French, and being asked for ID on his 30th birthday at a liquor store. Both of these stories rely on Emo’s Bugs Bunny-like cheekiness rather than cultural differences but certainly have the white people in the audience (myself included) squirming in their privilege.

A show with Emo is an education that feels like a fun night out with a bunch of mates. Emo is that one guy at the table nursing his Hennessy and regaling the group with funny stories. His delivery is laid back and confident, his smile infectious, and his attitude overwhelmingly positive. Black Santa is an hour of brilliant storytelling interlaced with an education on black culture in Australia and delivered by a grinning, natural comedian. It’s 100% worth the wait for the talent to arrive on Black Time!

You can check out the comedy stylings of Emo HERE

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FRINGEWORLD, on now, Review

FRINGEWORLD 2021 | Farm Backpacker (Subclass 417): Takashi Wakasugi | 4 Stars

Review | Peter Spence

Welcome to a second year in Australia, all you gotta do to stay here for a second year, is pick some fruit, and stay in a hostel, sharing a room with 8 other backpackers, where the standard of hygiene is an experience in itself.  

It’ll be fun they said.  

Being from the Japan, one of the cleanest and most hygienic countries in the world with some of the most advanced technological conveniences in the world, to squishing into a backpacker hostel on a farm may be a shock, a very big shock … a very gross shock!  

Takashi Wakasugi returns to Perth with another sell out show, bring laughs and a tale of caution to the world of being a backpacker on our farms. Farm Backpacker (Subclass 417) is a hilarious journey through the eyes of someone who has lived it first hand, and came out of it with a stronger sentiment and a much stronger stomach.  

Selling out shows all throughout this year’s FRINGEWORLD Festival, and with similar fashion to his whole time in Australia, a break in the middle of the season – no fruit picking this time. You can’t help but fall in love with Takashi’s demeanour, as his adorable naivety draws you in before a hard to understand “f@*k you” comes at you with a sweet smile. A show that has us all laughing and wondering how we would handle 3 months living in the squalor of a farm life, jammed into a tiny room with a bunch of internationals.  

Last year he made us giggle with the sell out show “Welcome to Japan”. This year he makes us laugh out loud in the Laugh resort@ The Shoe: Bar & Café.  

You can hear Takashi’s story HERE

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FRINGEWORLD, on now, Review

FRINGEWORLD 2021 | Justin Sider is D!ckless | 4.5 Stars

Review | Sarah Soulay

Justin Sider is D!ckless presents a very powerful message on a very important issue in a light hearted and palpable way, including everyone in the discussion while also making a point that there is nothing left to discuss. From the get go, Justin Sider expresses to the audience that he has created a safe space for the LGBTQIA+ community, including a trigger warning. This displays his conscientious attitude towards others and you immediately get a sense of how warm and welcoming he is.

The concept of a playboy on a mission to find his missing ‘eggplant’ before a big competition is absurd and yet Sider makes it absolutely hilarious. This is not sick and twisted humour, this is down to earth slap stick comedy at its finest. Not only does Sider have a stunning voice, but he can also throw down a mean rap verse while being utterly hilarious at the same time. He is witty, funny and an absolute joy to watch. There is some light audience participation, but not once does Sider make anyone feel alienated or put on the spot, he is respectful and guides his chosen audience members through everything.

There are areas that could use some finessing, however, given that it is a one man show, and Sider jumps from character to character in some awesomely bedazzled outfits, I would say overall it is a job well done. In the end, the moral of the story here is genitals do not define gender, end of discussion, and we love it. Justin Sider is D!ckless is definitely a show for those who want a safe space to listen to a different voice make important commentary on an important issue in a fun, open and accepting atmosphere.

You can check out Justin Sider for yourselves HERE

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FRINGEWORLD, on now, Review

FRINGEWORLD 2021 | DIVAS – The Drag Revue: Fierce & Fabulous | 4.5 Stars

Review | Laura Money

Va va voom – this show is hot! DIVAS – The Drag Revue: Fierce & Fabulous delivers in a big way – big hair, big boobs, big vocals, and big dance moves! It’s a drag show with punch that celebrates each Queen’s passions and talents, defiantly paying homage to lesser known acts but killing it every step of the way. Oh, and did I mention the dancing? These guys put your Year 6 lunchtime Spice Girls routines to shame with every shimmy, shake, and saucy move. The costumes and choreography will delight every calisthenics instructor’s heart as the show leans in to its kitsch and plastic 90s roots. It’s 100% fantastic!

At the helm of DIVAS is the incomparable Dean Misdale whose style and sass is on show with every song. Belting out classics from Whitney Houston to Boy George, Misdale has killer pipes – those high notes are punchy af and come straight from a double-D chest voice that absolutely slays. And did I mention those pins? Damn. Misdale keeps everything together with razor sharp wit and whip-quick retorts especially when the crowd gets a little rowdy. It is as Ursula from The Little Mermaid that sees Misdale in his element. A longstanding choice for many drag queens, Ursula epitomises the drag attitude – she’s silky, biting, and a bad-ass – Misdale slinks about the stage in utter delight, richly performing the hell out of ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’ – colouring the piece with personal remarks and hitting every. damn. note.

Sassie Cassie shows us what she’s all about with her hilariously rubber-faced lip synching. Her turn as a cute Marine is equal parts adorable and terrifying, as she embraces the kitsch and runs with it – backwards and in heels. Cassie is so sassy that every single piece is a brilliant game of ‘what is she going to do next?’ – she’ll keep you firmly on the edge of your seat. OMG, that face! Sassy Cassie contorts her face in exaggerated lip-wavering, huge oral actions, sarcastic as hell eye rolls, and is always on the beat. She absolutely slays in her disco number – stripping back her layers and throwing shade at everyone in the room. Then there’s Fay Rocious – the limber limbed, sexy showgirl with the killer diller moves. Her homage to Marilyn and the bad girls of the 1950s is raunchy and fun. The make-up is on point and a fitting tribute to the divas who came before. Of course, there are more contemporary pieces – Rocious’ routine with the boys is straight out of a diva’s playbook – she is the quintessential drag act, complete with co-ordinated dance moves and phenomenal talent.

Of course, no drag show is complete without a little eye candy – Alex and Flynn deliver the goods with their tight tops and shorts, sparkling alongside the girls and holding their own. They are both amazing dancers, not only keeping up with the Queens but displaying some damn fine moves of their own. The little smiles on their faces as they fully embrace the silliness of the moment is worth the ticket price alone! Both boys are hilarious in the ‘Barbie Girl’ routine, open to ridicule but just taking it all in stride. DIVAS – The Drag Revue: Fierce & Fabulous is exactly that – fierce, fab-u-lous and full of dazzling talent. It gets all the clicks from me and is a glittery, gay, and glorious celebration of drag – with banging tunes that will keep you pumped up all night long!

You can party hard with the DIVAS HERE

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FRINGEWORLD, Review

FRINGEWORLD 2021 | Crushers Comedy Gala | 4 Stars

Review | Kieran Eaton

What makes a successful comedy night? Big atmosphere and lots of laughter, which is what this show at The Rechabite delivers in huge quantities. The venue has an old, eerie feel to it with an odd industrial style that is ironic given the location is in the heart of Northbridge. In direct juxtaposition, the format of the night is predicably standard. There is an affable MC who does some crowd work and bit of material, then one another the MC will introduce an act to do about ten minutes of stand-up comedy. If you want to go to this night on multiple times, you can because they will mix up the line-up. Crushers pride themselves on having only the best acts in town and so this night we were treated with the masterful MC Ben Darsow, the cool-cat Rory Lowe, the lawyer larrikin Corey White, the loud and proud Janelle Koenig, and the say it how it is Amos Gill.

As a master of ceremonies, Darsow knows how not to make the show about him. He has an enthusiastic energy that warms even the biggest cynics and his banter is cheeky but friendly to keep the crowd on side. When Lowe is brought on, there is a presence on stage that grabs the attention of the audience and gives it a good shake. His main shtick was that he wanted to be cool like rappers but drew attention to how comedians never are.

Then a Ben Cousins look-a-like in White, came on and self-claims to be, “The second-best comedian out of Bassendean,” – and we all know the first (Rolf Harris). White is a clever joke writer with an amusing dry style in making uncomfortable ideas hilarious.

As Koenig has been on TV and radio, she knows how to work an audience and even get them on stage. She can improvise, play guitar and her gags are not bad either.

Finally, we have Gill, who blend right amount of making fun of himself (Millennials) to poke fun at others (Boomers). Gill has supported the hugely successful Jim Jefferies and you can see similarities in their delivery.

If you want a festival show with less frills and frivolity than The Crushers Comedy Gala is your kind of night. This will show will crush any work week blues.

The Crushers Comedy Gala is over but keep your eye out around Perth as these comedians are always performing somewhere!

Keep up with The Fourth Wall on Facebook and @fourth_wall_media on Instagram to see what we’re up to this FRINGEWORD 2021

FRINGEWORLD, In Brief, on now

Christmas was late this year, forgive Santa, he was running on Black Time. Emo explains in his FRINGEWORLD 2021 show Black Santa

After winning the state finals of the Raw Comedy Competition, Emo Majok made a successful debut in Melbourne and FRINGE WORLD 2019 with his show, Not Quite Grown – He doubled down in 2020 with Just Your Typical Aussie. He’s back to dig a little deeper into his experiences of culture-clash, with side-splitting stories of adjusting from a refugee camp in East Africa to gifting out jokes globally with his new show Black Santa. We caught up with Emo to find out all about his latest show.

What is your show about?

To describe what the show is about I really have to take you back to my childhood. Coming from a migrant family from two refugee camps and being introduce to the western culture of Santa, Tooth Fairy, Superman, Batman etc we never had any of the sorts in our likeness. Black Santa is my take on a fictional character in our likeness. He is our voice, our take on our differences. Black Santa is all about my story, my experiences of culture-clash, side-splitting stories of adjusting from a refugee camp in East Africa to gifting out jokes globally.

Favourite part of the show, no spoilers!

My favourite part of the show? I have no favourite part of the show, I love the whole show from beginning until the end – I take the viewer on a journey.

The show is both high and chilled energy all at the same time. Viewers arrive as strangers and leave as new fans and supporters. You really leave feeling like you know me personally after I’m done, I’m that open at my shows. We cover everything from Covid, my parenting, one night stands, my comedy tours in New york and Canada, being pulled over in Montreal by a cop who started our encounter with speaking in French and freaking me out. We talk about the current state of the world and anymore without giving away too much.

After the craziness of 2020 how do you feel participating in FRINGEWORLD 2021?

Like most people 2020 impacted me in ways you can’t imagine but I took a positive approach. During lock out all I did was prepare for the first opportunity we got to step up back on that stage. Hard work beats talent and I’d like to think I’ve got both. Night after night we have been packing out our fringe shows. That second lock down really came out from no where though hahaha!

Apart from your show, what other shows would you recommend?

Man so many great shows, any show from The Laugh Mob, Rory Lowe, Joe White just to name a few.

Describe your show in 3 words

Different Out Look

You can grab your tickets to Black Santa HERE

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FRINGEWORLD, on now, Review

FRINGEWORLD 2021 | ARCANA: Order of the Divine | 4.5 Stars

Review | Sarah Soulay

Have you ever wanted to see tarot cards come to life? Then, look no further than ARCANA: Order of the Divine. This cabaret variety show has everything from sultry burlesque, to fiery acrobatics, to good ol’ comedy. Each act embodies a different major arcana in the tarot deck, with each performer putting their personal spin on it. From beginning to end, nothing is what you would expect, and everything is fun, sexy and exciting.

The performance begins with a mini group routine, with intriguing cult vibes, as we are then introduced to our superb host Kiara Macri. Macri plays The Fool, she is fun and lively and takes you on this mystical journey through the ups and downs of your personal enlightenment. With an amazing singing voice, clever segues and gags into each performance, Macri knows how to keep a crowd buzzing.

Speaking of fun and clever, Kitty Litteur is absolutely adorkable as she amusingly saunters around the stage, performing hilarious sleight-of-hand magic while presenting her take on The Magician major arcana. Her antics have you in raptures as she is driven absolutely bananas by magic gone wrong. She is completely fun to watch, and I hereby deem her the costume quick-change assassin.

Getting a bit darker, Fifi Fontaine projects the intense, sinful and grungy aspects of The Devil card. With her sharp yet sultry movements Fontaine gets you addicted to her presence and leaves you wanting more. Absolutely hilarious, is all I can say about Madame Demi Diva. She is a dancer extraordinaire, and her energy and enthusiasm immediately lift the audience. Everything about her routine is fun and exciting. She is sexy and witty and has a very unique approach to The Tower card, which is greatly emphasised through her sharp chaotic movements. Madame Demi Diva definitely takes “let your hair down” to the extreme in the best way possible.  Absolutely a stand out of the night.

As usual, Smokey Labare sets the stage on fire, literally. Her magnetism is without question perfectly embodying The Sun as every movement is electrifying. Smokey Labare is always an exciting act to watch.

Every performer is professional, magnetic and a general joy to watch. The theme of tarot is unique and interesting, and I love how well each performer embodies their particular major arcana. From ZAP Circus as the Lovers to Whisky A’More as Justice there is a card in the deck for everyone’s fate. If you love burlesque, the circus or you are really into divination, this is definitely the show to see.

Have your cards read with ARCANA HERE

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FRINGEWORLD, on now, Review

FRINGEWORLD 2021 | MAN-BO | 4.5 Stars

Review | Laura Money

Attacking toxic masculinity and looking damn good while doing it, MAN-BO is the action-packed satire we all need in our lives – it’s 80s, it’s hilarious, and it’s a blistering attack on stereotypes all wrapped up in a balls-to-the-wall hour of heroism. Sam Dugmore is MAN-BO, a biting mashup of 80s action heroes with a slightly camp edge. His mission: to make you laugh! Dugmore rushes headlong into his piss-take of men’s suppressed anger and the outlet of war and violence through physical comedy, live montages, and surprisingly complex action sequences that would actually stand up against some of the mega films being referenced. So stop holding out for a hero – because he just kicked down your door!

Dugmore is MAN-BO – the ultimate action star. He thrashes about the stage in a scathing parody of hyper masculinity complete with Action Man figure – brilliantly pulled out of his fly (it’s a subtle dig at the lack of genitalia in these emasculated dolls) and performs iconic action star moves. Speaking in a (mandatory) aggressive ‘merican accent Dugmore flexes and carves a manly path for himself across the stage all with a steely squint and Fabio-fabulous hair. After receiving the call, MAN-BO is wrenched out of retirement and forced to once again save the day. Director Jessica Clough-MacRae brings the best out of Dugmore as her innovative staging and use of classic clowning techniques shine in Dugmore’s deft hands. His training sequence is absolute genius as every single facial expression and butt flex garners full belly laughs – giving the audience an ab workout as well!

With just the right amount of audience interaction, this grenade keeps ticking along in a tightly written, edge of your seat plot. It’s impossible to not laugh throughout – Dugmore leans in to the character, walking stiffly as though burdened by his muscles, dashing everything against the wall when he’s finished with it, miming helicopters, parachutes, and dirt bikes so convincingly you’ll feel like an extra on the set. In fact, Dugmore relies on a host of audience members to round out his story and gets them onstage in a gentle but hilarious way every time. Tackling the one-dimensional traits applied to action heroes in MAN-BO‘s roilling noooooooooo called out every time someone dies and sharply declaring a nameless female character as aiding his story alone, the show lands an intelligent punch of cultural criticism right on the writer’s room’s nose.

Dugmore is a delight to watch and MAN-BO is a rollicking, fast paced action movie heightened to highlight the harm that a lack of nuance can do. It’s ironic, as Dugmore’s performance is perhaps the most nuanced in Fringeworld 2021 – he executes perfect clowning and mime to create sympathy for a non-existent dog, changes his voice and through ridiculously bad costuming and accents imagines a full cast of characters, flawlessly switching from the Colonel to MAN-BO to the Russian with aplomb. MAN-BO is a macho, cheesy, cultural cringe of hypermasculinity that cracks with wit and silliness. Dugmore’s acting skills are second to none and I would happily press rewind as soon as the tape is over – you’ll want to see this show over and over again!

You can catch the hottest action star on the planet HERE

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FRINGEWORLD, Past Production, Review

FRINGEWORLD 2021 | Ross Vegas – Recurrence | 4.5 Stars

Review | Kieran Eaton

When you hear the name Ross Vegas your mind does not think of a middle aged Fremantle man. However, once you hear this man’s repertoire of sound tricks, you will be in a casino-like trance that helps Vegas explore mind blowing ideas. As a multi-skilled entertainer from the mean (or not so mean) streets of Hamilton Hill you get the strong impression that his mastery has been honed by performing to varied audiences – one moment may appear like a street, the other an eccentric philosopher.

Watching this show you see the passion in Vegas’ eyes in describing the power of music. As he details, “music is something we just take for granted.”
Vegas attempts to delve deeper into what makes music and our intuition to see patterns in beats that fuses spiritual transcendence with scientific methodology. There are still plenty of silly gags to keep things light that the perfect balance is struck for a festival show. Vegas creates a warm energy but at the same time knows how to gee the audience up to interact with him when needed. If you want slickness, you may be disappointed as there is casual approach that makes the show feel unpolished. However, if you have watched live comedy for a while you will know that comedians tend to deliver material organically (just like a Freo hippie) to show a natural side to lull you into sense that it is his stream of conscious.

The glue of his out-there material is his beat box – so comfortable that you barely notice it is there! Vegas loves to wax lyrical and even when there is a technical glitch, he can smoothly get back on track. This unique performer throughout is true to himself in this honest display of spoken word with a beat that keeps you feeling. Ross Vegas – Recurrence is a wondrous journey that will leave you tapping your feet with joy.

Ross Vegas played during FRINGEWORLD 2021 but keep your eye out for more Perth shows.

Keep up with The Fourth Wall on Facebook and @fourth_wall_media on Instagram to see what we’re up to this FRINGEWORD 2021

FRINGEWORLD, on now, Review

FRINGEWORLD 2021 | Alcohol is good for you | 4 Stars

Review | Kieran Eaton

Sam Kissajukian is a confident comedian. This Sydney based comic is so confident that he will make you laugh that he has set himself a challenge to down some vodka, every time there is lack of laughter from a punchline. Funnily, you could see it more that it is an excuse for an alcoholic to drink more alcohol – he did seem to down the vodka quite easily. If you expect this youngish man to have any deep messages you may be left disappointed because his craft is more geared towards the drunk.

Kissajukian embraces the large crowd with gusto, the crowd are diverse and he recognises this – early on he divides the crowd by saying one half is not quite drunk and the other is full off their faces. This is not a hard challenge for him as from the outset the drunk side displays a drunk heckler that is biggest interactor of the night – even though she makes no sense while attempting to converse with Kissajukian. Because she makes no sense this fun loving guy mostly ignores her attempt at trying to improve the night but by the end but by the end, when the audiences start vocalising their annoyance Kissajukian gets her to be more silent by asking the crowd if she is helping the show. This ability to be likable is the strength of this small statured man – especially since much of his material gets a mild response. The shambolic nature of the night works as it feels like you are just getting drunk with a mate.

Mixed into this drunken journey that would vary each night is material based on his heritage, sex life and his views on Perth – including some amusing PowerPoint slides that he downplays. By the end of the night you feel that you have only got into small talk with an hour to delve deeper into things. Kissajukian is like a mid-strength beer, light and too much might make things messy. So, if you like your comedy like that then the FRINGEWORLD 2021 show Alcohol is good for you, is a show for you.

You can get your tickets to drink responsibly HERE

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FRINGEWORLD, In Brief, on now

One-man vs himself. A feel-bad comedy about heroism. Find out why MAN-BO is the stupidest parody this FRINGEWORLD 2021

Heroes never die…they just cry deep down inside. Sam Dugmore (The Latebloomers Scotland! & The Bakers) is back as one of the greatest action heroes of all time, MAN-BO. MAN-BO must un-earth his ruthless man skills to confront his greatest nemesis…himself. We caught up with Dugmore ahead of the show to find out what it’s all about.

What is your show about?

MAN-BO is an explosive physical comedy that parodies the epic action hero film franchise of Rambo! The great thing is that you don’t need any prior Rambo knowledge to enjoy the show! It’s a mash-up of 80’s power dancing, epic action montages, singing, multi-rolling, audience interaction, crazy battle scenes and most importantly, raw emotion. MAN-BO tries to figure out ‘what it’s all about’, grappling with his own anger and rage as a buffed up action man, whilst trying to ‘let love in’! 

Favourite part of the show, no spoilers!

We will go into battle folks so be prepared to bring your A-game! 

After the craziness of 2020 how do you feel participating in FRINGEWORLD 2021?

It’s wonderful to be here performing again. Even with all the restrictions that have just taken place, I feel blessed to be able to share some laughter and fun with humans again, live on stage! Can’t beat it. 

Apart from your show, what other shows would you recommend?

Ohhh go and see my friend Oliver Nilsson in THE BAROQUE directed by the wonderful Britt Plummer. ATTENBOROUGH AND HIS ANIMALS with Clownfish Theatre’s Jonathan Tilley and Jess Clough MacRae (Director of MAN-BO) and my other show with The Latebloomers, THE BAKERS (one more show on Sunday the 14th at 5pm!) 

Describe your show in 3 words

Epic, ridiculous and WILD.

Grab your tickets to the action show of your dreams HERE

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FRINGEWORLD, on now, Review

FRINGEWORLD 2021 | FIRE | 4 Stars

Review | Laura Money

Kalyakoorl Collective triumphs with its debut play, FIRE – a sharply written, intimate work that explores familial relationships and the heart that lays at the core of their new production company. In Noongar language Kalyakoorl means forever or infinite and we are confident that this company will be as enduring as its heartfelt message in this inaugural work.

Writer and performer, Ebony McGuire takes casual and heated discussions alike from her sisters and family and distills them into a sharp and cracking dialogue. FIRE is a brilliant two-hander deftly played with heart and soul by McGuire and Nadia Martich – their dynamic is pure alchemy as they unflinchingly stare hard topics like grief and fear directly in the eye – with each other as support. McGuire’s capacity for storytelling is impressive – she takes her Nan’s story and shows the audience what she was like without resorting to just telling us – Holly (Martich) is making roo stew but using the recipe Nan made up to impress her Iranian neighbours all those years ago. Holly’s reticence to move on is expressed in her deep need to pay homage to Nan by cooking and she stubbornly sets in, much to Melissa’s chagrin.

Woven into the situational play are brief interludes where McGuire and Martich perform a poem about a Willie wagtail – Noonook Djiti djiti – in both Noongar and English. Accompanied by birdsong and a beautiful, calming soundscape by composer Sophia Hanseon-Knarhoi the performers weave and move in a cohesive and dreamlike dance, choreographed by Martich. Their synchronicity in both movement and voice is utterly transcendent as one feels a deep connection to land and story. These moments fall on the girls’ characters as the calming spirit of their Nan, whose death was at first a wedge between the sisters but ultimately serves as their reconciliation.

I can’t overstate how clever the language is here. McGuire and Martich are so natural with each other, their dynamic is 100% believable. They dance and skip from gentle teasing and laughter when reminiscing, to full blown arguing and rage over small things that are meaningful only to the individual. It’s their capacity to bounce back, slowly and grudgingly as the two open up and become trusting of one another again that gives this production its winning formula. It resonates on so many levels but none more than the fact that it doesn’t completely resolve – that’s the charm of FIRE – it’s perfectly realistic, entirely relatable, and utterly heartfelt.

Get your tickets to this heartwarming show HERE

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Coming Soon, In Brief

Natalie Bassingthwaighte, Paulini, Rob Mills, Alexander Lewis & Mark Furze are set to star in CHESS THE MUSICAL this June at Perth Concert Hall

That’s right, you heard it here folks! A star-studded cast is headed to Perth (with two extra shows added!) in Chess The Musical – a cold-war allegory following two grand chessmasters from America and Russia in the 1980s. Featuring the iconic music of Benny Andersson & Björn Ulvaeus (ABBA) with book & lyrics by Tim Rice, the worldwide stage hit Chess The Musical will be presented as a semi-staged concert style production at Perth Concert Hall from the 3rd – 5th June 2021. Tickets go on sale tomorrow (Tuesday 9th February) so get in quick!

This production is part of a tour around Australia and stars Logie-nominated and recent star of Chicago Natalie Bassingthwaighte; Aria chart-topping vocalist Paulini; New York Metropolitan Opera singer Alexander Lewis; semi-finalist in The Voice 2020 Mark Furze; musical theatre favourite Rob Mills; opera singer Eddie Muliaumaseali’i, and musical theatre all-rounder Brittanie Shipway with backing by twenty-five professional musicians from Perth Symphony Orchestra.

Inspired by extraordinary real-life events (although thinly veilled) Chess The Musical tells the story of a complex love triangle combined with dramatic political intrigue, set against the background of the Cold War in the early 1980s, where Soviet and American forces attempt to manipulate an international chess championship for political gains. You’ll recognise some of the classic songs, too such as I Know Him So Well – recognised in the Guinness Book of Records as the biggest selling UK chart single ever by a female duo – and the upbeat pop favourite One Night in Bangkok, music from Chess The Musical is known the world over, with the original concept album described by Rolling Stone as having a “dazzling score (which) covers nearly all the pop bases”.

Chess The Musical is going to be an absolute hit here in Perth, so don’t miss out on your chance to get tickets NOW

FRINGEWORLD, on now, Review

FRINGEWORLD 2021 | The Baroque | 4.5 Stars

Review | Laura Money

The Baroque is one of those FRINGEWORLD shows that elicits the question – what am I watching? It’s a hilariously stupid hour of escapism that draws upon every form of comedic tradition, hearkening back to the baroque era itself. Unique doesn’t even begin to cover it – I’ve never watched a clown ponce about onstage to baroque music before, and I loved every silly second of it!

Oliver Nilsson plays Syphilis – an ostentatious aristocratic dandy complete with white breeches and ruffled shirt. He’s a brilliant character actor whose facial expressions range from the haughty to the pained, but everything is perfectly exaggerated and funny. Nilsson’s talents in clowning create a well-rounded and silly character, who is larger than life and stupidly enduring. His physical comedy and pure charm elevate the gags from silly jokes you’d expect from your uncle to sophisticated, nuanced ones. Nilsson’s commitment to the sketches are what really nail it – he takes a silly and not particularly stand-out bit about attempting to eat a fish-eye and pulverises the joke until the phrase flogging a dead horse becomes an understatement. But it is the hilarious over-the-top flogging of the joke that makes it come full circle and create laughter anew – it’s a stupidly funny bit that is played to perfection by Nilsson in his expressions and commitment.

The jokes are not all subtle – but Nilsson’s roguish grin and winks and nods to the audience turn them into clever bits. There is the set up with the window and the raven – honestly, Nilsson is so ridiculously talented – he takes a simple bird arriving at his window and turns it into a believable event. With minimal dialogue but maximum body language, Nilsson creates a memorable and hilarious show that is not only set in the baroque era but intelligently pays homage to the humour of the era as well. Cavorting about the stage in wigs and makeup, eating food of the aristocratic and turning their lifestyle into a bawdy jaunt is a brilliant modernisation of medieval theatre practises that I am more than happy to see return to the stage. Every fart joke, sexual innuendo (I admit, I always love a pearl necklace reference), and general attack on the ostentatious Syphilis fits in remarkably with the title era, and it’s nothing short of genius.

See something different this Fringe, and while The Baroque is weird, it’s also whacky and wonderful so go and catch Syphilis while you can – you’ll love it!

You can get your tickets to the hottest show of 1521 HERE

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Article, FRINGEWORLD, on now

Top shows to see after LOCKDOWN this FRINGEWORLD 2021

Article | Laura Money

Are you champing at the bit to get out and about again after lockdown? Pop your mask on, and throw open your door because FRINGEWORLD 2021 is back on, baby! So, after a week of the spotlight only shining from your fridge and always getting a front row seat on your couch it’s time to perfect that cat-eye and finally see some live theatre again. Not sure what to see, but want to support the artists? We’ve got you covered with our top Post-Lockdown Shows to see.

DANCE SHOWS

Mark McGowan has laid down the law and decreed that the only people allowed to dance in this post-lockdown period are wedding guests, dance studios – and FRINGEWORLD performers! Sucks to be the ballet, right now. Fringe is never short of dance shows but here are our recommendations:

80’s Mixtape | 5th – 7th Feb

A circus cabaret that pays tribute to the bygone days of big hair and leg warmers? We’re in! Be dazzled as circus artists display feats of strength and grace both in the air and on the ground. Set to a catchy playlist of 80’s tracks that are sure to have you bopping along in your seats. The MC is the amazing Andrew Silverwood – a Fourth Wall favourite. Check out our review of his solo show HERE to find out more.

A-Z of Dance | 5th – 14th February

Dave Callan (MICF Gala, JJJ, Rove) & dancers return to dance you backwards through the alphabet from Zorba to Aerobics. See why Dave’s 80s aerobics video got half a million views on Facebook alone! Callan is always hilarious and if you can’t dance along, you might as well watch a big hairy Irishman cavort about the stage. Wait until you get to ‘S’ – Beyonce will never look the same again!

CABARET

Life is a cabaret, old chums – so come to the FRINGEWORLD cabaret! Let’s be honest, this kind of thing is better live – and not just from your own living room. We see you belting out your favourite showtunes while decluttering your kitchen cupboards, now it’s your turn to hear someone else!

Big Stupid Fun Club | 5th, 10th – 12th February

During lockdown, the legendary Tomas Ford rallied the troops together and put on a livestream of fringe artists all to raise money for artists whose shows were affected by the sudden closure. If that isn’t enough reason to support this remarkable man, I can also say he’s a really good performer. Big Stupid Fun Club is a bunch of circus, burlesque, comedy and other performers all putting on the ultimate variety night, so go and check it out!

Reuben Kaye & The Kaye Hole | Until 14th Feb

Reuben Kaye is amazing; the show perfectly walks the line between hilarious and tear jerking and Reuben Kaye is overall a phenomenal performer. Armed with a powerful voice, an immaculate stage presence and tear inducing hilarity, Kaye takes you on a journey through the ups and downs of his life in an entertaining, and at times, heart wrenching performance spectacular.

And for late-night debauchery look no further than The Kaye Hole – a variety night like no other. You can’t tell us it’s on too late as if you weren’t binge watching Bridgerton till 2am ‘just for the drama.’ See what we had to say about the shows HERE and HERE.

COMEDY

If being stuck at home for five days with nothing todo but try all the restaurants that deliver via UberEats, has taught us anything it’s that we’re not that funny. Ok, I might have convinced myself that my cat’s meow of derision is a laugh and that I should work on a tight five but let’s be real – comedy should be left to the professionals. Lucky for us, there are some damn good acts still going!

Luke Bolland: Beside Himself | 6th – 14th Feb

Luke Bolland is a Fourth Wall fave! We have seen pretty much everything he has ever done – or so we thought. Beside Himself takes you through the multiverse of Lukes and presumably the multiverse of reviewing – see my brain is itchy now! Thank goodness this show is light on the science and heavy on the laughter. It’s a great way to see how you could have responded to lockdown but will be thankful that you didn’t. Check out our review HERE.

Attenborough and his Animals | 6th – 14th Feb

Getting sick of not being able to travel? Well, calm down Karen – none of us can. I don’t know about you, but I’ve watched a lot of Attenborough in my time. So, how do you combine your love of nature documentaries with a desire to get out and about? Go and see this show, of course! It’s a hilarious live docco in which they play all of the animals – just see it to believe it! Check out what we thought about the show HERE.

CIRCUS

Step right up and enjoy a night of circus! The carnie folk who live an itinerant life are used to ups and downs but maybe not lockdowns. If you found yourself climbing the walls during lockdown you’ll be in good company when you see these acrobats – once you figure out how to eat popcorn through a mask…

Off Chops | Fri & Sat nights till 13th Feb

With the nightclubs shut, Off Chops might be the closest you’ll get to an all night banger. Featuring comedy, acrobats, and impressive aerials, this will be the best night out, in but while out you’ll ever get! Check out our review HERE.

Elixir | 5th – 14th Feb

We get it, you’re home alone with a big collection of ‘elixir’ – we’re not going to judge. But wouldn’t it be better to go out and enjoy elixir with friends? These boys are fun and good looking with so much talent. Elixir is an instant smash-hit! It’s circus and comedy – a clever and fun night out, with more than enough cheek from these incredibly sexy men. Go and drink your own elixirs and enjoy the boys! Check out what we had to say about them HERE.

THEATRE

There is absolutely nothing like the immediacy of live theatre. The thrill as you take your seat and the lights go down. The hush that falls over the crowd – hell the crowd itself! Staring at a screen doesn’t quite feel right does it? Go and see some theatre gems the minute you get the chance.

With Fire in her Heart: The Edith Cowan Story | 6th & 7th Feb

I’m tempted to just say WOW and leave it at that! This show is everything that The Fourth Wall loves about theatre. It is brilliantly written, intelligently composed, dynamically directed, and acted with its own fire in its heart. And it’s based on a true story about a woman we should all know more about. See our FIVE STAR review HERE.

FIRE | 5th – 14th Feb

Two sisters, two sides, and everything that has been left unsaid. Holly and Lyss haven’t seen each other for years, so of course, living together was the perfect way to reconnect. FIRE follows two women as they discover how to be sisters once again and the culture that continues to call them home. See our interview with writer Ebony McGuire HERE.

BONUS SHOW – JUST BECAUSE!

Disney in Drag: Once Upon A Parody & Up Late: A Perverted Parody | 6th – 13th Feb

Ok, ok, so both of these shows have sold out, but new restrictions have meant that not all tickets holders will even get to see the shows! Fourth Wall urges you to get down to FRINGEWORLD half an hour early, pull up our reviews and have a cheeky read while waiting in line because you don’t want to miss these guys and girls in action. Subvert the norm, sing along, bust out your evil Queen and you’re guaranteed a happy ending. Check out our review HERE.

Keep up with The Fourth Wall on Facebook and @fourth_wall_media on Instagram to see what we’re up to this FRINGEWORD 2021

FRINGEWORLD, In Brief, on now

FIRE is female, first nations, and fierce. Fantastic!

Two sisters, two sides, and everything that has been left unsaid. Holly and Lyss haven’t seen each other for years, so of course, living together was the perfect way to reconnect. But what happens when the memory you had of someone you held so close, is a far distance from who stands in front of you now? Written by Ebony McGuire (Cloudstreet) and presented by the hot new Kalyakoorl Collective, FIRE follows two women as they discover how to be sisters once again and the culture that continues to call them home.

What is your show about?

Lyss and Holly haven’t spent this much time with each other in years and with no room to breath, things are getting heated. FIRE is a show about two sisters, who haven’t had the opportunity to tell each other how they really feel, until now.

Favourite part of the show, no spoilers!

Nadia is an incredible artist and having her on board has meant that we have been able to delve into and play with the language in a really special way. This has been the most exciting part of the process for me. These beautiful moments are sprinkled throughout the piece. But I won’t say too much more, so you’ll just have to come and see it. 

After the craziness of 2020 how do you feel participating in FRINGEWORLD 2021?

With 2020 and all its craziness, I somehow managed to be pretty fortunate throughout it. It sparked the idea to create a fringe show and it was also the year I was able to form Kalyakoorl Collective. I’m so excited about being a part of FRINGEWORLD 2021. Not only is this my first time making a Fringe show but it’s also my first time writing a show for the stage and we have an incredible team who are just as passionate about this piece as I am. So I am excited, of course, how could I not be? 

Apart from your show, what other shows would you recommend?

Sense & Spontaneity, With Fire In Her Heart: The Edith Cowan Story, An Evening with Phil Walley-Stack. And Millicent Sarre’s Friendly Feminism for the Mild Mannered.

Describe your show in 3 words

Family, forgiveness, history.

FRINGEWORLD, In Brief

This maverick comedian brings a much needed neurotypical voice to the fringes of FRINGEWORLD 2021

Gerard Maroney is a comedian’s comedian. He goes rogue at every chance he gets and makes comedy out of life in a way a neurotypical person can’t. Maroney is one to watch!

What is your show about?

There is not one central theme my whole show is based around. What I hope my show is about is an assortment of stuff put together that gives the audience some great laughs after 2020.

Favourite part of the show, no spoilers!

Trying some new stuff and seeing how that works. Being my first show and only deciding to jump on fringe 2021 in December.  The 2nd show Kieran (Fourth Wall reviewer) was there for I riffed about the reviewer being there the stress only joking,  and then gave the crowd a bit of background his flaming alternative to. The last time I saw Kieran perform I had to leave the room to breathe again. Just seeing what new things work and what I have to tweak to get stronger is what I enjoy and no spoilers there. 

After the craziness of 2020 how do you feel participating in FRINGEWORLD 2021?

I thought a family member having serious health issues before COVID would be a challenge during COVID its a whole new rubicon to cross. I’m enjoying fringe after 2020 and the saying shit happens. It’s a nice and fun distraction running around marketing a show last minute, having fun working stuff out on stage etc. 

Apart from your show, what other shows would you recommend?

There’s a heap of WA comics’ shows that are meta and it shows their talent can do different types of comedy/other things besides just their usually strong suit etc. But if I have to pick the one most meta act that blows my mind and its like watching magic I’m not sure how it’s done. It’s Mandy Knight she is so fucking bad ass. I thought Jon Pinder makes it look flawless compared to her he is a hack. Obviously he is not that is a joke I make with him. She is so bad ass I compare to Ridley from Aliens she is always the one that survives. That might not make sense but she is a fucking badass.

Describe your show in 3 words

ADHD montage of themes

Work it Out has finished at FRINGEWORLD 2021 but you can still catch Gerard Maroney around Perth.

Read our review of the show HERE

FRINGEWORLD, on now, Review

FRINGEWORLD 2021 | Next Stop: Reality | 5 Stars

Review | Emma Brand

We have all experienced the ‘joys’ of public transport. In Next Stop: Reality, the audience join Harriet on her first train ride on one of the most famous public transport systems in the world; the London tube. From the strange characters who ride these trains, to the very British announcer, to the mid-ride meltdown (red signals will do that to you), this show has complexity and allure.

Harriet, is a twenty something bright eyed (think deer in headlights) go getter, who is on her way to somewhere important via the London underground. Harriet demonstrates through micro-moments and flashbacks how she came to be on this train. These micro-moments allow us to learn about what risks are to her, and what her future may hold. Moments of realisation and breakthroughs are heightened as the audience slowly start to root for her to make it through to the end of this short train journey. The way Harriet is weaved into a perfect storm of social insights, personal anecdotes, reflections and comedy makes this performance unforgettable.

Madelaine Page who wrote and acts in this performance, performs in a way that is it hard not to be fully engaged with the story. One woman shows are tough to pull off, but Page surpasses all expectations. Everything comes together in this performance; the clever writing, the relatability and the effortless transitions between micro-moments to reality and back again. I am always impressed when lighting and sound directly influence the mood of a performance successfully. Next Stop: Reality really highlights how to do this in a way that segments moments and really focuses in on the emotion of Page’s portrayal. 

The story felt bitter sweet as it harks back to what will perhaps be a bygone era. The era of saying this is not working for me, I need to travel. This show, perhaps not deliberately, made me really miss having the option to travel, to say screw it, I am going take this risk and travel for me. Suddenly moving countries and having to adapt to their public transport, including learning where to go and social ques, is something that may not happen for a few years. It also reminded me that no matter where in the world you are, you will always be able to subject to the ‘joys’ of public transport. 

The train is ready to depart. Get your ticket HERE to join the ride!

Keep up with The Fourth Wall on Facebook and @fourth_wall_media on Instagram to see what we’re up to this FRINGEWORD 2021

FRINGEWORLD, on now, Review

FRINGEWORLD 2021 | Disney in Drag: Once Upon A Parody | 4.5 Stars

Review | Laura Money

A noble quest to find your one true love, adventure, glitzy dresses, and make-up galore all with a happy ending – Disney in Drag has you covered in Once Upon A Parody. Strap in – or on, depending on which part of the show you’re up to – for a wild ride through Disney’s beloved movies – it’s a singing, dancing, camp wonder of a show you’ll want to come to over and over. It’s a simple concept – take classic movies, iconic characters, and singable songs and give it an Aussie, drag twist. The Hairy Godmothers absolutely nail it, as they delve into the darker side of Disney – you know, the one you already inhabit – and keep you laughing all night long.

Despite never having an openly queer character, Disney has a long tradition of fans projecting themselves onto their characters. Whether this is joining in on the iconic ‘I want’ song where you yearn for something you don’t even know, or delighting in the camp movements of Disney’s sinuous villains, children have been placing themselves into Disney movies for decades. Our protagonist, a pants-role heroine played by Jae West knows it’s cliche but sets out to find her one true love. The second the first notes of ‘I can go the distance’ from Hercules blast from the speakers, there is a knowing ripple that excitedly moves through the audience. This is the power of Disney in Drag – and while it’s a sharp parody, it clearly comes from a place of love. West summons the Hairy Godmother (Owen Merriman) who gives her a glass slipper and tells her that it will fit her true love.

The plot is loose but it’s the characters we’re here for anyway. Merriman is hilarious as the Hairy Godmother – full beard, Aussie occa accent, and enough beer and other supplies hidden up his skirt to last us this whole lockdown. He is every bit the pisstake in his pink poufy dress and wig. The jokes are so good, puns galore and he just keeps the show rocking along. Each Princess that West encounters has got something going on. There’s Areola (Ariel, duh) played by Alex Nissen who wants to be part of the kink world. You’ll come for the gags and stay for the whips and chains! Nissen’s voice is clear and sweet – a complete contrast to the lyrics she is singing. Stefan Testi as Blow White is the most extra character to grace the stage. He takes Snow White’s dated mannerisms and gives them a Ru Paul update – sashaying about and teasing the dwarves – inviting them to look up her short skirt.

There are lessons in patriarchy – this parody is a sharp one that educates too. Disney in Drag calls out the very culture that has been perpetuated by stereotypes in Disney movies, especially when so many of its young audience were grappling with self-identity. Ashley Nissen dressed as Peter Pan represents the lost boys – a bitingly satirical commentary on how boys in the patriarchy have lost their way – and sings a parody of ‘I’ll Make A Man Out of You’ from Mulan. There is a lot to unpack here as it layers the concepts of masculinity and scruitinises them against double standards for girls. My favourite line is ‘don’t victimise your daughters, educate your sons.’ as it sums up the responsibility we all have to the next generation. Freeing women’s health and normalising reproduction is also addressed in a memorable and hilarious display of period painting with Pocahontas (Mita Hill).

The strong messages surrounding narcissism, hedonism, and appreciating yourself for who you are run deep and for that I am thankful. Seeing Jasmine (Joseph Andrin) admit that she uses old pics in her ‘Cinder’ profile – a brilliant joke, by the way – and then lament that dating in a digital era is a whole new world resonates. The big win for me comes with the swagger of Emma MacMillan – I defy you to find a better Gaston parody or bigger appreciation for self-love than the ‘strap-on’ song. On the surface, Disney in Drag: Once Upon A Parody is a hilariously raucous, adult romp that twists and strips back the Disney genre. But it is so much more than that. It’s an intelligent yet light-hearted look at the movies that shaped us into LGBTQI+ and everything in between adults, despite touting a heteronormative, patriarchal message. It shows what we could do to make the world of Disney more inclusive and gently guides you through how this can be achieved. This parody has the happiest of endings, because it celebrates everyone in the audience – and that’s the most wholesome thing in the world – acceptance.

You can try your luck for tickets HERE but much like the rest of Disney it’s sold out

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FRINGEWORLD, on now, Review

FRINGEWORLD 2021 | Luke Bolland: Beside Himself | 4.5 Stars

Review | Laura Money

Luke Bolland is an exceptionally versatile comic – his skills in ‘clown acting’ are absolutely brilliant and he is forever changing up the themes of his shows. Beside Himself is a cracker of a concept – it taps into multiverse theory and utilises Bolland’s surprisingly good acting chops as he converses with alternate versions of himself. See, we all have the capacity to change our future, but what if we hadn’t made that decision back in year 5, or chosen to go to the gym rather than eat takeaway? Bolland takes a strong hard look at himself and answers the question: what if?

Beside Himself developed during the lockdown of 2020 when Bolland found himself unable to work and with plenty of time on his hands. The show is either a brilliant exploration of the self or the ravings and subsequent decline into madness but as with all madness it walks the fine line of genius as well. Bolland’s alternate selves are hilarious characters – from the polygamist to the magician(s) and the singer/songwriter, Bolland interacts with pre-recorded versions of himself. This is clearly one of Bolland’s strengths – the deliberate fourth wall breaks and ‘screw ups’ are played perfectly and they will have you in fits of laughter. I honestly lost it laughing at the running gags and each of the characters’ comebacks. It turns out that the other Bollands, while ranging from good guy to arsehole all delight in teasing this Bolland who we have grown to know and love.

The true strength of this show is its writing – Bolland’s enduring commitment to the gag and his self-aware chiding is 100% on point. Some of Bolland’s straight stand-up in between the video parts is a bit dated. But that, my friends is the beauty of it! His subtle parody of 90s stand up comics comes from a place of love and of course, is where it all started for him. One of those ‘life changing decisions’ he bangs on about all show. Bolland’s lean in to his geeky side and love of daggy shows like Sliders and Degrassi is perhaps his funniest stand-up work. The climax of the show is brilliant and relies on many of the clever jokes implanted throughout the show. And you’ll still be laughing your head off at Bolland’s new found confidence in magic. Luke Bolland: Beside Himself is more a blisteringly clever piece of theatre than a stand-up show, and its strength truly lies in Bolland’s affable and funny nature. Go see it – you’re guaranteed a laugh in every multiverse!

You can get your tickets to the show HERE

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FRINGEWORLD, on now, Review

FRINGEWORLD 2021 | VIKINGS! | 4.5 Stars

Review | Laura Money

Fancy a hilarious and heartwarming adventure featuring acrobatic vikings? Well look no further than VIKINGS! the charming and funny children’s show that’s great for all ages. Featuring local WA legends of circus Ella Norton and Aidan Bayliss, VIKINGS! is a delightful romp through misty mountains, stormy seas, tall trees and dark caves. Watch as this hilarious pairing leap and dive about the stage in a heroic adventure as they discover their true strength.

Thor has lost his hammer. Yep, that Thor – the one from Norse mythology, and only the bravest, strongest and most competent hero shall be chosen to retrieve the hammer. Enter Ragnor (Bayliss) – the best viking warrior in the South village. He regales us with his exploits and looks every bit the viking – blonde topknot, tunic, sword. But what’s this? Here comes Ulf (Norton) the best viking warrior in the North village! Ulf is a little clumsier than Ragnor but still every bit as strong. What follows is a hilarious battle of the show-offs as this pair of rivals perform feats of strength and circus tricks. After it is decided that they shall both go on the quest, each character is fleshed out a little more.

Bayliss and Norton are absolutely laugh out loud funny – their chemistry is undeniable and they are able to perform tricks that show off their individual skills and personalities. Bayliss is vain and strong – his hero worship of Thor becomes a running joke that the kids delight in. His tricks are impressive – from balance and strength with Norton to amazing juggling and a really impressive trick at the end that I’m not going to give away. Norton’s goofy Ulf appears rubber limbed but pulls off a hilarious rope routine, brilliant balance, and shows off her mad skills with the biggest yoyo you’ll ever see! Their adventure is studded with funny asides, clever jokes, and many, many tricks.

VIKINGS! is the ultimate in children’s entertainment. It’s funny, charming, quirky, and shows off the talents of Norton and Bayliss perfectly. And the ending will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside.

Grab your tickets for weekend fun HERE

Keep up with The Fourth Wall on Facebook and @fourth_wall_media on Instagram to see what we’re up to this FRINGEWORD 2021