(Published in Rip It Up)

(2004 Reviews)

The Lunar Tent
Saturday, February 23rd

Stephen Sewell's The Secret Death of Salvador Dali is an intense journey through the bizarre life of a 'genuine fruit cake' and inspired artist, with a two person cast swapping roles throughout. Give yourself patience to adjust to this technique. It is immensely effective. Assuming in turn the roles of Dali, his sister, father, wife, and lover, Julie Eckersley (principally the women in Dali's life) and Trevor Stuart (principally Dali) give superb performances that grow stronger as the play unfolds. This is excellent, entertaining, serious theatre that makes you smile, think, and grimace - no mean feat in a venue that is more suited to comedy and circus. Go and see it. Four stars.

The Lunar Tent
Saturday, February 23rd

I had given up watching jugglers. I mean, it has all been done, right? Wrong. Gadgets is not just a juggling show, but a core part of its attraction is 21st century juggling - juggler as percussionist, acrobat, mime, and digital human pinball machine. All introduced by Eric the electronic dog. Eric does a great job of warming up the audience (once you attune to his accent), and adds a touch of the risqué. Live music (bass, sax, drums, keyboard) provides great complement and anticipation to the main action. I really enjoyed Gadgets. Definitely a bit of 'toys for the boys' syndrome, but original and quirky. Continuity could do with a little more polish, but Eric's ironic 'very smooth' closing comment sent me away smiling.

The Lunar Tent
Saturday, February 23rd

The Happy Sideshow is a group of four engaging personalities who enthrall and disgust with a series of acts that you're not likely to see again, or forget. Animal traps, beds of nails, fish hooks; tongues and nipples doing what they shouldn't. If it weren't for the fact that Shep Huntley and his crew of freaks were obviously having such a good time stretching the limits of their bodies, it would be disturbing. The Happy Sideshow make the grotesque funny. Space Cowboy swallows everything in sight, and Captain Frodo (Rubber Man) does excruciating things to his body. It all builds to an erotic finale as Tiger Lil gets down and dirty with an angle grinder, the air thick with industrial sparks and the smell of burning metal. Great stuff.

Stephen House
The Mars Bar Theatre
Thursday, March 7th)

Award winning playwright Stephen House returns to acting in this self-penned one man monologue on the seamier side of life. Wandering through the lives of the less fortunate House contemplates the emotional condition of his own life. Loneliness and despair are the common threads, but this bleak outlook is tempered by moments of ironic and plaintive song, and a wisdom of one you sense will not just stop at the point of adolescent self-pity. A purpose written score/soundscape by George Kallika neatly mirrors House's thinking, and House gets the balance of verse and dialogue just right in what is almost performance poetry. The Café of Life is a marvellous metaphor for bringing the play to its surprising, uplifting conclusion. Though I suspect House is a better writer than actor, his sincerity and sense of intimacy guarantees the success of this production. Really enjoyable.

by Anton Piatigorsky
The Chapel
Friday, March 8th

Confident young man patient challenges older charming and authoritative woman psychiatrist. So begins the verbal joust in this short intellectual play from Canada by Anton Piatigorsky. We are all familiar with the 'hide behind religion to obscure personal neuroses syndrome', and Adam R. Tzaddik's exotic defence is rooted in an ancient Jewish sacred text. For a while it serves him well as he draws his doctor into the world he has constructed to ensure his feelings don't matter. She maintains that his feelings do matter, and employs a Freudian approach to dent his armour. The fascination lies in wondering who will win. Treated to two strong performances by Alexander Jones as Adam and Gertraud Ingeborg as the Doctor, the audience is the real winner here. Neither religion nor psychoanalysis look too good when the play comes to its abrupt end.

Trevor Stuart
The Amazing Lunar Tent
Sunday, March 10th

Late on a warm autumn night is not my ideal time to see a black comedy about sex with animals, masturbation, farting in public, eating faeces, and autopsies, but I needn't have worried. Trevor Stuart (already seen this fringe in the excellent Secret Death of Salvador Dali) and his one man show on every taboo known to humanity made me laugh more than cringe, and think more squirm. This is a very funny show. Facts about taboos are presented in an interactive lecture format with accompanying slides, a stream of jokes, and plenty of audience participation. "Where do you draw the line," Stuart asks, "between acceptable behaviour and the unthinkable?" Well somewhere during this show the line moved! Serious fun.