Combing the Fringe... ~ theatre notes

Monday, September 13, 2010

Combing the Fringe...

Every September for the past five years, Ms TN has looked up from her desk to see the Melbourne Fringe Festival bearing down on her like an express train, or that rock that Wil E. Coyote intended for the Roadrunner, but which somehow is getting bigger and bigger in the air above him... And every year I hand in my Critic's Badge, and go and have a good lie down, because trying to choose between almost 5000 artists at around 150 venues makes my head explode.

This is where Fringe creative producer Emily Sexton comes in, because she's not only overseeing a festival which last year increased its box office by 42 per cent, and which seems to be miraculously combining the best of curatorial flair with the ideals of open-access culture: she has time to take the fearful crrritic by the hand, and to gently suggest some interesting pathways through the chaos. And this year I will share the TN recommendations with you all.

But first, get your shiny program, because it really is shiny this year, and a big felt pen. Ready? This is going to be fast.

Top of the list is a Melbourne Fringe venture conceived by Sexton herself. Visible City is a hugely ambitious cross-artform venture, employing 12 contemporary artists from Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and China to generate a new take on "live art" in the urbs. Visible City happens across the city, and is not being programmed: part of the fun will be finding out when and how, and you might just stumble across it by accident. Keep your ear to the ground for this one.

Some of the dance is happening just down the road from Ms TN, in The Substation in Newport. Intimate Exposure presents solo, duo and trio work from some of Melbourne's most exciting dance artists, Carlee Mellow, Jade Dewi Tyas Tunggal and Amelia McQueen, with dance films by Dianne Reid. Also keep an eye out for Love Hunter, a fusion of dance, theatre and comedy at the Fringe Hub in North Melbourne, in which "friends talk, rave and whisper about love". Sounds intriguing.

There's plenty of circus, but look out for Mothlight, on at the Fringe Hub, which crrritic John Bailey describes as "absolutely at the razor's edge". And Suitcase Royale fans will be curious to see Royale regular Miles O'Neill in his first solo show, Miles O'Neil's World Around Us, at the Lithuanian Club, based on some old super 8 videos.

As for the theatre: the Dog Theatre in Footscray is presenting a la carte, an exploration of physical and visual theatre by Born in a Taxi, the Public Floor Project and Well & Son. La Mama is giving us Ridiculusmus in Total Football (some of you might have seen an early draft of this at last year's Fringe, and it should be a hoot). Telia Neville, winner of the best newcomer at this year's Comedy Festival, is presenting For Whom The Bell Tolls at the Lithuanian Club, which promises to be "an intimate look at the genesis of a genius".

Shaun Tan fans will be agog - I know I will - to see Mutation Theatre's version of his beautiful graphic novel The Arrival, which is on at the Docklands. And I am very excited to hear that Uncle Semolina & Friends are back, this time to perform Peter and the Wolf at the Collingwood Underground Carpark.

Malthouse and Hayloft are presenting Thyestes at The Tower, which, like all classical drama, involves fratricide, adultery, incest, betrayal, exile and other nice human behaviours. And I'm intrigued by the premise of The Endarkenment, a "pedal-powered opera" that summons up our post-grid future in what sounds like a Riddley Walker-type argot.

Look out too for Bambina Borracha Productions, with a one man show Words They Make With Their Mouths and an immersive production of Under Milk Wood. Lastly, the excellent Adelaide director Daniel Clarke is bringing his production of John Clancy's The Event to the Fringe Hub, which I reckon will be well worth a punt. Some of you will have seen Clancy's Fat Boy at Red Stitch earlier this year.

It's all beginning on September 22 and stops on October 10, just in time for the Melbourne International Arts Festival. Yes, folks, Melbourne's annual cultural orgy is less than 10 sleeps away. And you can find details on all these shows and more, and book online, at the Fringe website. See you there!


Emily Sexton said...

Thanks for this Alison, some great shows in that overview!

Just wanted to clarify that I'm Melbourne Fringe's Creative Producer; and - this celebration of independent art is so deep and so comprehensive, and of such a high standard, that beyond any recommendations the best thing TN readers could do would be to close their eyes, open the (shiny) Festival Guide and see where the pen falls...


Alison Croggon said...

Oops - apologies for the misnaming, and will fix. And the donkey-tail method duly seconded: there's a lot of depth in this program.