02 October 2014

Fringe part 8

My goal is 30 Fringe shows. I'm close. I've seen more than I've written about because time, brain imploding and exhausted.

Elbow Room and Speakeasy
1 October 2014
Northcote Town Hall
to October 5

Prehistoric made me want to take drugs, see bands and scream at middle aged people like me. It's hands down a highlight of this Fringe.

Already seen at the recent Brisbane Festival, director and writer Marcel Dorney's work looks at the 1970s Brisbane punk band scene through the magnified lens of now. We're reminded by the actors – who weren't even born in the 70s – that this was a time before history began, before what we had for breakfast was photographed and recorded, and when music recordings had to be physically found and bought.

It's hard to remember that Queensland was considered a police state in the 1970s and early 80s. The super conservative Bjelke-Petersen government were corrupt and the police were unaccountable and violent. Kids in bands were beaten up for being kids in bands and community station ZZZ was the heart of rebellion. I remember going to Brisbane in 1988 and pot was still buried and hidden in the back yard so that it could never be found in the house. 

It was also a time that created some amazing bands. Imagine 1970s and 80s music without the The Saints or The Go-Betweens!

But this work is so much more than nostalgia. By jumping in and out of 1979 and now, it creates a palpable memory of being 19 and 20 and being angry, lost and voiceless, and of finding friends and finding power, hope and a voice in music.

With a powerful cast (Kathryn Marquet, Sarah McLeod, John Russell and Reuben Witsenhuysen) from Brisbane, the 35-year gap between then and now disappears and it'll make you want to watch Watership Down stonned.

And Ed Keupper is playing at the Melbourne Festival on Saturday 25 October! He formed The Saints in Brisbane, who released Prehistoric Sounds in 1977, and is the Ed who left the band in the conversation about this album in Prehistoric.  I first saw him in 1989 in a club in Perth.

1 October 2014
Long Play
to 5 October

It's time, comrades. It's time to remember the "It's Time" campaign and Gough Whitlam's program for a country with free education, universal healthcare and equal rights. I grew up thinking that this was the baseline for any Australian government. It's devastating to know that today we have a government and opposition that are making us hurtle backwards to a time when this 1972 campaign seems progressive and impossible. Can anyone imagine the current Labor party running a campaign like that?

Gough is a 30-minute visit to Prime Minister Whitlam's office some time after his dismissal as PM by Governor-General John Kerr on 11 November 1975. It's a great little history lesson, but an audience who are happy to pay $30 dollars for a short show about Gough Whitlam probably already know much more about the dismissal than is on the stage.

It's a dramatised lecture more than a piece of theatrical storytelling. Theatre allows us to question and imagine and ask "what if?". I wanted to see something about Gough that I didn't know or had never imagined. I wanted to see something that reflected on now and let us cheer more than just the memory of a man.

It's also time to remember that the villain of this story, Malcolm Fraser, is now a hero of the small l liberal left. Fraser was so horrified by the Howard government's policies that he resigned from the party he once led and is one of the most vocal and articulate critics of Abbott and mates. I recently went to see Fraser talk about his new book. The room was filled with middle aged, middle class liberal lefties. Fraser has become a hero to those who cursed his name. Listening to him talk about current politics, all I could think was if they won't listen to the hero of their own party, what hope do we have of making them listen to us?

After Ever After
2 October 2014
Fringe Hub, North Melbourne Town Hall, Rehearsal Room
to 4 October 2014

Rama Nicholas's After Ever After grim Grimms may be the funniest fairy tale ever.

Nicholas knows that the original tales recorded by the Brothers Grimm are far from the happy-ever-after blah blah of today's bedtime stories, so she's written the ultimate sequel that's feminist, filthy and sexy.

Set in a post-happily-ever-after village, Red Riding Hood is in ninga training in preparation for Wolfie's release from gaol, Snow White's daughter is chatting with the mirror that tells the truth, Rapunzel's up the duff again, and Hansel's got really fat and trying to woo Red.

As a solo work, Nicholas plays all 20 characters without a hitch – and there are songs to make every Disney Princess reclaim her power and march into the world demanding so much more than a dull fuck with a dull prince.

Some of these were on AussieTheatre.com.

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