Fringe World 2015: The Freak and the Showgirl Greatest T.I.T.S. (Totally Inclusive Theatrical Spectacular)

The Freak and the Showgirl

The gorgeous Julie Atlas Muz, who holds the titles of Miss Coney Island and Miss Exotic World, told the audience right at the start of The Freak and the Showgirl Greatest T.I.T.S that things were about to get f*cking crazy – and she was not wrong!

I said it on the night right after seeing the show, and I’ll say it again – you haven’t done Fringe Festival if you haven’t seen The Freak and The Showgirl. Combining song, dance, nudity, comedy, freak show, strip show, more nudity, booze, political incorrectness and vaudeville, this show is what the festival is all about: pushing boundaries, blurring lines, incredible amounts of laughter, an audience craning forward on the edge of their seats, and an underlying messages of acceptance and radical self love.

The showgirl (Julie) and husband Mat Fraser (the freak) put on one hell of a show that was absolutely buzzing with energy and bursting with originality.

The duo opened the show with a lively dance number that let us all know just what to expect, before getting up close and personal with the audience. Mat Frazer – actor (American Horror Story: Freak Show), artist, writer and musician – kicked things off with a frank and open discussion of the ‘elephant in the room’ in as he talked about phocomelia (a condition which causes ‘seal-like’ arms, in his case as a result of his mother taking the morning sickness drug Thalidomide during pregnancy). Equal parts funny and heart-warming, he talked about the relationship between disability and entertainment, showcasing a clever wit, subversive lack of political correctness, and a playful sideshow style.

The Freak and the Showgirl Greatest TITS

Julie kicked things off with a twist on the ‘sexy cop’ routine, showing us she could bump and grind with the best of the best, pushing the boundaries in a way that felt completely true to character.

After a tribute to friend and disability advocate Stellar Young, the pair launch into a vibrant whirlwind of performances: a look into the history of freaks and sideshows; a hilarious ukulele number; a video of a singing vagina that left the audience in turns squirming uncomfortably in their seats and howling with laughter; a terribly accented homage to Australian culture, complete with a half-naked tap dance to Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport (and a perfect dig at both Rolf Harris and Tony Abbot);  and an unbelievable naked interpretive dance number that left me wondering just how they get away with what they do.

Without a shred of shame, self-consciousness or anything other than total acceptance, Julie and Mat gave us their all, and this is what makes them really stand out from the crowd. Because spectacle and theatrics aside, the lasting impression left by this show is of two people who are incredibly comfortable with their bodies and their sexualities – The Freak and the Showgirl was a true a celebration of the glorious reality of humanity, imperfections and all.

(Tonight’s show was the pair’s last in Perth, but you might be able to catch Julie and Mat at Adelaide Fringe – check out their Facebook page for all the details, and make sure you have a chat and buy some merch after the show, because they’re both incredibly lovely and friendly).

Skull and Crossstales Freak and Showgirl

 *I was given free tickets to this show in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own. 

Fringe World 2015: Wyatt Nixon Lloyd – 200 Voicemails

Wyatt Nixon Lloyd

When Wyatt Nixon Lloyd asked for a show of hands from those who hate voicemail, you could tell we were just the right audience for his new show. Wyatt Nixon Lloyd – 2000 Voicemails speaks to all of us who find voicemails frustrating, a waste of time and downright annoying, taking us on a charming and honest journey through his life without this facet of modern technology.

Using real voicemails left received (and ignored) several years ago, multi-award winning actor, comedian, musician, director, improviser and comedian Wyatt Nixon Lloyd weaves a rich and personal tapestry that was highly relatable and left the audience grinning as we pondered – could ignoring voicemails be one of the greatest life hacks ever?

The show covered a flurry of topics from growing up in the country, to conversations with housemates, workmates and bed mates, through missed opportunities, voicemails from unknown people and the very few messages Wyatt wished he’d actually listened to at the time.

“Like all good procrastinators, I’ve turned ignoring work into an art form. I have been so good at putting off listening to them that the only way i can force myself to do it is public trial by fire,” Wyatt said.

While clever in concept, and generally a lot of fun, it was the tales of growing up on a farm and an incredible prank played on a mate while working in radio that got the most laughs; the events looked back on with a sense of nostalgia were the ones that clicked the best. Often the voicemail messages themselves felt rushed and secondary to the action, as if they were merely a tool to get from one story to another. I couldn’t help but wonder – if Wyatt himself hadn’t cared enough about these messages to listen to them, why should we?

That said, I don’t doubt that with a little polishing this could be adapted into a highly successful concept. It has a great foundation, and Wyatt himself is genuine, enthusiastic, and easy to like, making this an enjoyable performance regardless.

I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for Wyatt next time he comes to town, and I look forward to seeing more of what he has to offer.

Tonight is you last night to check this one out, at 8:30pm in the Pleasure Garden.

* I was given free tickets to this show in exchange for my review (thanks Wyatt Nixon Lloyd). All opinions are my own. 

Fringe World 2015: El Bizarro

El Bizarro

Promising a hedonistic carnival atmosphere and delivering with the perfect mix of glamour and the bizarre, El Bizarro nailed the sweet spot that comes from being both entertaining and professional.

While definitely guaranteed to make you hold your breath in awe, the talented tribe of sideshow freaks, misfits and stunning beauties refused to rely on cheap tricks, instead putting their bodies, minds and wits on display in an act that was (despite blood, nudity, fire, stunts and pain) professional and polished.

All three shows in El Bizarro’s Fringe World 2015 line-up were sold out, and when the crowd began lining up outside the Big Top tent well in advance of the doors opening, we knew we were in for a treat. As MC Magnus Danger Mangnus pointed out, many in the audience had seen one (or several) the performers before – allowing the tent to fill with awe and trepidation about what was to come. However, organisers Danger Cabaret went out of their way to ensure the impressive line-up of local, national and international guests made it a night to be remembered with largely previously-unseen acts.

Peggy 'The Legs'Malone by by Jason Matz Photography

The charismatic and energetic Magnus Danger Mangnus was there to guide the audience every step of the way, with the performances nicely paced and broken up to provide small moments of relief.

Peggy ‘The Legs’ Malone showed off an incredible contortion act unlike any I’ve seen before, drawing murmurs of wonder from every corner of the room. Her moves went beyond the impressive and went so far as to draw disbelief – I still have no idea how she pulled off some of those positions!

The Astonishing Johnny Domino put on a strong performance (pun intended), as has been the case every time I’ve seen him; Miss Sina King and Vivian Marlowe added a good dose of sparkle and sass; and the devilish Russell Bruner delivered a clever combo of vaudeville, dance and boylesque.

Russell Bruner Photo by Insomniac Studios

Odile Devine and Cupid’s Avatar gave us a charming and quirky dance duet with some incredibly cute and funny moments, and Aurora Galore closed out the show with lots of fire and finesse, holding the flames in her mouth for moments that seemed to stretch out into forever.

The show was well and truly stolen by Circus Carnis, who gave us a delightful warm up number featuring macabre costumes, wicked piercings and the over-zealous use of a staple gun, before returning to dazzle with their signature suspension moves. I was surrounded by gasps of both fear and delight as the Reverend Butcher ascended to the dizzying heights of the Big Top tent, while Jade swung energetically beneath him. Self described as delightful, disgusting and deranged, their antics were enough to make the audience cringe and recoil, while keeping them entirely mesmerised and unable to look away.

Weird but wonderful, a celebration of the macabre and a incredible display of a wide range of talents, El Bizarro was cohesive, collaborative, and loads of fun, with just the right amount of shock and awe. Abandon all tedium, indeed!ElBizarro_CircusCarnis_

Poster by Danger Cabaret, photo 1 by Jason Matz Photography, photo 2 by Insomniac Studios, photo 3 by RM Photographics

*I was given free tickets to this show in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own. 

Small moments 3

The blank page can be a daunting thing – so daunting in fact, that it paralyses and prevents any writing from being done. So I’m putting an end to it by sharing some small moments with you. Postmodern, literary fiction in the form of thoughts, feeling, sentences, but most importantly, words on the page. 

Her body is no longer her own. She is bruised and ruptured.

She is torn asunder.

The salted tears run down her face, stinging the cracked and torn flesh, wrenched under his gaze.

Her throat trembles. What has she become?

“My dear,” he smirked, “they’re only words”.

Fringe World 2015: Jekyll X James Cactus Blastus

Jekyll X James

Silly and ridiculous while still remaining clever and well thought-out, Sydney’s Jared Jekyll and Cameron James delivered a high energy, musical sketch comedy show unlike anything I’ve seen before.

I should point out that this is not the kind of show I would usually go out of my way to see, but I’m really glad I gave it a chance when the invitation came along. With no expectations and no real idea of what I was getting myself into, Jekyll X James Cactus Blastus left me laughing (and shaking my head in bewilderment) for almost an hour.

In the intimate Noodle Palace setting, the Cowardly Cameron James and Jekyll the Kid took us on a journey through the Wild West, from Hell’s Mouth to Heaven’s Pussy, with skits covering everything from armed robbery and a surprising endearing brothel visit to a race from the law and a hanging, all accompanied by clever and catchy musical interludes.

With lots of slick, in-character improvisation and audience interaction, Jekyll and James tore down the fourth wall making several visibly uncomfortable audience members part of the show (much to the delight of those looking on). The resulting awkwardness was something that could never have been scripted, and yet worked perfectly in the spirit of the show.

These two comedians were not afraid to cross the line of political correctness, delivering mildly racist, crude, and several downright disturbing scenarios in a fun and good-natured way that never failed to draw laughter from the audience.

Cactus Blastus was hilarious and pretty damn cool, the kind of fun show reminiscent of late drunken nights with your mates and those stories that are hilarious at the time but only receive a raised eyebrow when you try to explain them to others later on; combining physical comedy, disastrous accents, a lot of musical talent, witty one-liners and over the top setups that go all out to get a laugh, Jekyll and James charmed their way into my heart.

My only wish was for a louder guitar to add a bit more bad-assery to the show, although I realise this was likely a result of venue restrictions rather than artist choice.

Catch Jekyll X James at the Noodle Palace at 10:20pm on Wednesday 4th and Thursday 5th February (but be quick to get your tickets as they’ve been selling out).

JEKYLL-X-JAMES

Photos by Jeremy Belinfante  

 *I was given free tickets to this show in exchange for my review (thanks A-List Entertainment). All opinions are my own.

Fringe World 2015: Frisky and Mannish – Just Too Much

Frisky and Mannish

If you publicly disdain pop music yet somehow find yourself irresistibly singing along to Miley on the radio; if you’ve ever had a Taylor Swift song stuck in your head; and if you somehow know the lyrics to most of the songs in the charts even though you always listen to Triple J, then this show is for you.

While in the past UK duo Frisky and Mannish have been all about providing a pop music education via fun mashups, hilarious satire and cheeky medleys, with Just Too Much the focus is on divas, excess, sassy insults, and a look at just what happens when pop goes bad.

With glorious costume changes ranging from sequined gowns to roller-skates with glittery socks and a down and dirty pirate outfit, the glorious Frisky and Mannish tackle all the big issues from feminism to celebrity breakdowns in this hour of madness. They mash together some of our generations most recognisable pop acts, from Beyoncé, Sinead O’Connor and Robin Thicke to Lady Gaga, Courtney Love and Miley Cyrus in a cleverly penned display of non-stop entertainment that borders on the absolutely ridiculous.

As I’ve come to expect with this duo, #JustTooMuch was about the music more than anything, and they hit the mark each and every time, showing diversity in range and style.

While there was the occasional song that I didn’t recognise and the odd very-British reference that didn’t quite get the expected reaction, the mentions of Sandra Sully and WAAPA were a hit with the locals and went a long way in endearing Frisky and Mannish to the audience. Throw in lashings of quick wit and outrageous characters developed to a tee, a Lorde quiz game show, some delightfully childish bickering, dazzling getups, glorious pouting by Mannish (and some rather revealing costumes choices, oh my!), a bewildering dream sequence and a truly hilarious bit with a burger that left my cheeks sore from laughter, and you’ve got yourself a clever show that knows just how to push the boundaries.

If I had to sum up #JustTooMuch in just one word, above all else (hilarious, innovative, enthusiastic and surprising) I’d say it was good ole fun – not just for us, but from the looks of things, for the performers as well.

If you want to see what Fringe World is really all about, go see Just Too Much, it’s on at 9:30pm in the Circus Theatre in the Perth Cultural Centre every night from now until Sunday 1st February.

Just To Much

 *I was given free tickets to this show in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own. 

Fringe World 2015: Trixie and Monkey The Time is Ripe

Trixie and the Monkey by ELI-SCHMIDT

Where else but Fringe World can you witness the marriage of a monkey and a burlesque performer, and then celebrate with union with impressive acrobatics, aerial trapeze tricks, an ode to bananas and of course some good old-fashioned tassel spinning stripping?

New York’s award winning burlesque circus comedy duo Trixie Little and the Evil Hate Monkey are back at Fringe World for the third year in a row with The Time is Ripe, celebrating their 14 years together. Combining crude comedy, stunning costumes and striking routines with audience involvement that will make you squirm in your seat, you’ll want to make sure you bring an open mind and a sense of adventure for this inside look into a unique love affair.

2501_TRIXIE-MONKEY_BANANA-PEEL_STEVE-PARKE_EFUL_MEDIA

The show starts with a white wedding and quickly delves into the inner workings of Monkey’s brain (and bottom), sultry burlesque dances that are ever so ‘a-peeling’ (trust me, when you see the impressive costuming you’ll understand that pun), tumbling acrobatics, a Kama Sutra inspired aerial number that will make you gasp, a gypsy who reads people’s sex future (and an audience member who, quite literally, had to gaze into the crystal balls), a smattering of spanking, loads of champagne and a rendition of Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” unlike any you’ve seen before.

While I felt that some of their jokes fell a little short and that the audience interaction and camaraderie wasn’t as strong as it could have been, this was overall a fun and surprising show. Trixie and the Monkey even hung around afterwards for photos and a chat, and more than one Fringe-goer was surprised when monkey jumped on them for the photo op.

Skull and Crosstales with Trixie and the Monkey

With highly skilled sexy-smart antics and a charming love-hate dynamic, Trixie and Monkey’s The Time is Ripe was a laugh-out-loud feast of cheeky comedy and sexy stripping that I’ll never forget.

If you hurry you can catch The Time is Ripe tonight and tomorrow at 8:30pm in the Pleasure Garden.

Otherwise, you can see the Evil Hate Monkey in Briefs: The Second Coming and Club Briefs from 28 January to 9 February.

Photo 1 by Eli Schmidt, Photo 2 by Steve Parke

 *I was given free tickets to this show in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own.