Running behind, so here are some of my Talk Fringe reviews. First The Jane Austen Experience Present Somewhere Under The Rainbow:
From the moment Jennifer Kingwell and Todd Dickens descend the stairs to the stage, singing to each other from across the crowded auditorium, you know that this musical duo has that certain chemistry and that you are in for an excellent show. And they don't disappoint as they present the songs from their new CD Somewhere Under The Rainbow. The later addition of bass guitar, drums, and cello for some of the songs deepens the sound magnificently. The lyrics are complex and thematically intriguing; they write songs that are well-suited to them, both in voice and theme. Mellow, relaxed, and yet strong and upbeat. Well worth seeing when they hit the Fringe again next year.
Their new album is available at Bandcamp at only A$10. And being Bandcamp you can listen to it all. I particularly liked Phoenix and Song for a Siren. But judge for yourself. I for one will be catching them next time they come here.
I initially chose them as a possibility because for some reason the show's title attracted me. Then I listened to their music and had to go. Only to discover that they had a number of existing fans amongst my friends who had neglected to tell me about them earlier. Oh well. Now I know better.
Mar. 13th, 2012
Axis of Awesome World Tour 2006:
After performing the same show for a 150 years things are bound to get slightly stale. One would have hoped for a slightly more development in the on-stage patter and jokes in the intervening year, but it followed much the same themes as in previous shows. If you've never seen them live (and you should really do so), then it will excellent fun and you will enjoy the patter immensely, but if you are a fan with fond memories of the previous shows, then a lot of humour will be lost in the predictability of the punch lines. Still, if you are a fan you will be going anyway, because they are always worth seeing live.
As for the songs themselves, which may be considered the important part of the show, there were a number of old favourites as well as some new ones, all of which (old and new) were thoroughly enjoyable and had the audience laughing and applauding wildly. And occasionally inappropriately. The performance was polished and professional, and quite enjoyable.
[And I second the bringing of tennis balls for after the show. Or ping pong balls.]
There were a couple of new songs for the show, such as the Floppy Man song (I'll leave you to imagine what that will entail), but mostly it had been performed before (but not previously recorded. This was essentially the live performance of their new CD Animal Vehicle which may also explain the same schticks being used in the show (almost all of these songs were new last show). Good music.
Although on writing this Birdplane is making a come-back in the earworm stakes (last time it lasted three months). TION, where are you when I need you!!!
Sound & Fury Present Doc Faustus:
The show itself is excellent, as always. Richard, Patrick and Ryan do an excellent job presenting a piece laden with many in jokes and humorous asides derived from many works (not just Faustus and every Western movie ever made). It was lots of fun and enjoyed heartily by the audience. There was much laughter.
One particular problem I felt with this show is that Faustus is a rather obscure play, although most people should have a basic familiarity with the plot. Taking the time to watch the 1967 film starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton before attending the show would probably serve to enhance the enjoyment of the show. [Alternatively reading the play is always an option.]
Another similar problem is that the knowledge of American westerns (and in fact American history) is not as pervasive over here as it is in the US (their heyday in Oz being a few decades ago), so for example, knowledge of the theme to Davey Crockett was lost on many of the younger members of the audience. [Or even the knowledge that the Alamo existed at all, in at least one case, which meant that some of the show wasn't understood until it was explained afterwards. Something unlikely to happen with a US audience.]
Finally, over the last couple of years Sound & Fury seem to have been always stuck with the wrong sized stages at the Fringe - usually ones that are rather too large for them. Their shows don't really suit the large landscape available, preferring a more intimate venue. This contributed to a lot of needless running around for them again this year, especially since they couldn't quickly slip around the backdrop for a quick-change (a necessity for a Sound & Fury Show). I definitely would like to see the show again in a more suitable venue (although perhaps performing in a barn was appropriate to the dominant theme of the show).
Still, I can't wait for next year's show. Rumpleforeskin, wasn't it?
I do think that the long season and large stage had gotten to them, for they seemed a lot more tired. I think we probably want to go earlier or later in the season next time.
I really do think the show would be a great success in the US, but there were a few miscues dealing essentially with American culture. For example our racism sensitivities move in a different direction from those of the US.
Although a Peter Pan based story is a apparently a possibility. (Rumpleforeskin is a running joke).Hey! A show where my default icon is entirely appropriate...
Coriolanus is one of the lesser known of Shakespeare's plays, not because of the play lacks any theatrical qualities, but rather that the proper appreciation of the play hinges on a knowledge of the Roman political system (especially of the early Republic), as well as early Roman history. It is also rather difficult to engage with the principle character, as an important them of the play that he is not given to either self reflection or undue speech and, unlike Hamlet or Macbeth, is therefore not given to soliloquise. He is the very model of a stoic Roman general.
Basically it is set in the very early Republic, when the Latin tribe of Rome's major enemy was the neighbouring Volsci tribe (in a war started by Tarquin, the last of the Roman Kings), and concerns the rise of Gaius Marcus Coriolanus, a Roman general, who defeated the Volcsi at Corioli in 493 BC. However he fell pray to the bicameral nature of the Republic when he was encouraged to seek the position of Consul, primarily due to the machinations of two tribunes, who turned the plebians against him (at the time the tribunes were the officers of the Plebian Council who maintained the interests of the common citizens in the face of the patrician-controlled Senate (whose job was essentially to ensure that no king arose again in Rome). And as such was banished for uttering words against the plebians and their tribunes (incidentally it was the corruption of these elected politicians - the tribunes - that eventually led to the fall of the Republic; Augustus later took full control of the office to prevent it from happening again).
Anyway, a banished Coriolanus finds his way to the Volsci King and offers his services against the Rome that had almost raised him to the highest rank and then torn him down so precipitously. He leads the Volsci to the very gates of Rome, only to turn aside at the last moment by the pleas of his wife and mother, and forges a lasting peace (which will eventually lead to the Volsci being one of the Italian tribes that make up the Roman Empire - and effectively indistinguishable from the proper Latins of Rome.
Anyways, Ralph Fiennes has recently written, produced, directed, and starred in a BBC production of Coriolanus that does a reasonably good job of presenting this complicated situation to a modern audience. Like the previous BBC production of Julius Caesar, it is set in modern times with modern military equipment. The character of the tribunes shines forth as they are willing to do anything to ensure that Coriolanus does not gain the Consulship (which would interfere with their political ambitions). Their joy at "winning" is shown nicely turning to ash when they receive news of the latest Volsci intrusion, led by none other than Rome's former General. They send the loyal Romans in to try and convince Coriolanus, but none can stay his hand. Interestingly, as in the play, the tribunes get away with it at the end.
Is it an indictment of the 1% (the patricians) and their troops, or is in indictment of the 99% (the plebians) and their corrupt politicians (the tribunes). Or the story of a soldier who will burn on a pyre of his own pride and honour (something I can appreciate). Watch it and see.
I like adaptations of Shakespeare. I think my favourite is Ian Richardson's Richard III with it's theme of the rise of fascism in the 1930s, although I also like Anthony Hopkin's Titus Andronicus, and it's industrial goth Goth army.My favourite version of Julius Caesar was the aforementioned BBC production. Whilst I've seen The Scottish Play performed in many genres my favourite is Akira Kurosawa's (or maybe that should be Toshiro Mifune's) Throne of Blood. More Shakespeare for me later today!
Just saw John Carter in glorious 2D. [They put the 2D sessions on at the most inconvenient times (I believe that the closing credits are the only part of the film where you get any actual benefit from 3D - all the rest is CGI modified 2D).] Great film. Makes me want to ressurect my Martian D&D game (although that owes slightly more to Michael Moorcock's Mars trilogy than Edgar Rice Burroughs).
It hewed relatively closely to the spirit of the books, produced, written, and directed by someone who plainly loved them and wanted the experience to be as authentic as possible.
And the good news is that there is a new costume idea for all the Slave Leias, that being Wedding Dress Dejah.
That only leaves the Carson of Venus series untapped.