Add to Ian's Fringe schedule:
Mager & Smythe: In Search of Atlantis (Saturday 25th Feb; 9:45)
Would dalmeny like to suggest a date for Who Me? (Thu 8 Mar, Fri 9 Mar, Sun 11 Mar, Wed 14 Mar, Fri 16 Mar, Sat 17 Mar). If molokov_au wants to go, then Thu 8 Mar is probably best, otherwise I'd suggest Wed 14 Mar.
Also, if anyone else wants to go to Axis of Awesome with me, speak now if you have a favoured night!
Feb. 23rd, 2012
I think that if I hadn't seen and liked Jeff Achtem's other shadow puppet shows (Swamp Juice and Sticks, Stones and Broken Bones), I would have enjoyed Slapdash Galaxy quite a lot more than I actually did. This is not to say that it's bad, because it wasn't. There was even an awesome moment of "wow" that rivalled the moment of "wow" in Swamp Juice, that will almost literally blow you away. But I'll leave you to discover it for yourself.
The problem is that, for me, a lot of the magic of his previous shows had been in taking bits of scrap and waste that look like nothing at all and making the shadows he creates with them come alive. And that magic cannot help but draw you deeper into the story and the journey he portrays. This year the shadow puppets, whilst still being made out of scrap, were much more conventional in nature. And I found myself missing that lack, because I was not drawn as deeply into the story as I was with Swamp Juice. The focus of the show was mainly on the gimmicks (for want of a better word), which, while technically impressive in and of themselves, really needed a tighter and more cohesive narrative to draw them together into an operative whole.
Then again it was a rather ambitious and somewhat chaotic production for a one-man show, and this also hurt the cohesiveness of the story. It required Jeff to switch contexts (and position on stage), very quickly, and setting up for the next scene. These pauses to set up for the next scene didn't help the continuity, and probably should have been filled with title cards to help distract the audience. At the end of the show it definitely looked like the stage had lost the war in the slapdash galaxy, with debris from the show scattered all around.
Still the saga of the Father and Son and their Magic Fish, as they attempt to escape a galaxy at war in their rocket ship and make it to the far-distant fabled Pearl Galaxy was an enjoyable one. And the special effects were incredibly impressive, as one might expect in an SF adventure, even a low budget one such as this. And Jeff's ability to make his shadow puppets come alive is unequalled. But, sadly, the magic fish just wasn't quite magic enough.
It's still an excellent show and highly recommended, especially if you have never experienced his work before. And I wasn't joking about that moment of "wow" in the show. It has to be experienced for yourself, and is well-worth the price of entry on it's own.
Tucked right up at the back of the Garden are some of the smaller venues of the Fringe. The Small Room is one of them, and it is here, late at night, that you can find Munfred Bernstein's Cabinet of Wonders. Munfred is a world traveller, and collector of curiosities from the five corners of the world, and his show essentially consists of pulling interesting curiosities out of The Cabinet and then spinning stories about how he came to own these trinkets, interspersed with some quick musical interludes. As such it has a deep resonance with the old Victorian Music Hall, as well as the well-heeled Victorian habit of collecting knick-knacks (like elephant-feet umbrella stands and the random Egyptian mummy), from all over the world and calling that interior decorating.
As such I suspect the show will be rather hit or miss, as such shows generally rely on a good chemistry with the audience to succeed. A small audience unwilling to dispense with their innate detachment and not involve themselves with the conversation coming from the stage would make the performer's task harder, as was indeed the case on the night I saw him. But if the audience chemistry is right (which is unlikely given the modern Adelaide audience brought up on non-interactive shows and television), I predict that you'd have a jolly good show, say what.