::adelaide fringe festival::

Vintage fringe.  This is the stuff you go look forward to stumbling across.  Bob Log III (the third, not 3) is a gimmick,but an
damn entertaining one.  A singer-songwriter and one man band, Bob’s hook involves performing in a crash helmet and body
suit with an old telephone for a microphone which protrudes from his helmet and captures and distorts his heavy Arizonan
drawlnicely (see photo’s).  This man from Tucson Arizona swaggers onto the stage with an air of confidence and a guitar.  He
seats himself and after establishing a comfortable repartee with the crowd he launches into some of the most mind-
numbingly fast slide-guitar this side of the cosmos.  A wise friend once told me ‘there is a fine line between genius and
insanity … and you cross that lines when you strap a pair of cymbals between your thighs’.  Bob Log’s cymbals are at his feet
and if we can judge him by the way he plays his music, he is a man completely possessed.


In a similar vein to Mr Log III, this Victorian string quartet defy convention.  They are the nu skool string set.  Inspired by
everything from post-rock to dub, this troupe first made a name for themselves with the indie kids for their arrangements of the
likes of The Strokes, Radiohead , The Beastie Boys and Nina Simone.  However, it is their originals which are
the most inspired, so whilst wrapped in the warm wooded walls of the famous Spiegeltent*, this quartet takes us all on a
beautiful melodic trip, past preconceived notions of what it means to extend a bow beneath your chin and into the misty ether.

Travelling Wooden Circus Tent of Belgian Origiins Song Scapes by Bindi Blancher/ John Brennan

Vocal experimenteurs Bindi Blancher and John Brennand have spent 15 years in collaboration, experimenting with the audio-
sensory and spiritual qualities of the human voice.  They combine to present a rich spiritual exploration of sound.

Each piece is generated from a unifying idea, created in a freeform way,based on a single thematic construct.  Inspired by the
Gyoto Monks, John casts a deep meditative chant upon which Bindi’s higher tones soar and pass through.  Her voice rises
and breaks up his monotone.  This is as much a spiritual exercise as a musical exploration and performance.  Bindi and John
begin each of their sessions together with joint meditation which centres them and builds a spiritual bridge upon which their
sounds pass.  They begin their performance staring into each other and as they move closer their voices climb together until
you can actually see an electrical charge passing between them.  Astonishing, yes.   They continue and as he releases
sounds of the earth rumbling she moves away, leaving him to unravel and churn this dialogue with himself.  Suddenly John
picks up a chair and moves around the room.  Possessed by an ape he is now playful, but frightening.  As John breaks off and
stops, Bindi addresses the room from above, like a bird.  Perhaps a mating call, her voice is tremendous and fills the
room completely.  They enter into a beautiful rhythmic dialogue.  It builds and swirls, engulfing them completely.  We are very
much onlookers.

Lost Babylon Shifting Point and T_factory

Some productions are best approached with caution, some are best not approached at all.  This production is clearly one of
the latter.  Lost Babylon promised to be an exciting exploration of the half-world in which science fiction meets reality; a
cautionary message for a generation wrapped in plastic, shielded from real risk and looking for trouble …. Think an
onstage version of The Running Man meets Series 7 : The Contenders.  

Sadly, this collaboration between Shifting Point (Aus) and t_factory (Tokyo) fails to get remotely close to the sort of production
quality required to make this concept work.  This ambitious international collaboration was sadly more of an odd coupling than
a marriage made in heaven.  Forgotten lines and accents so heavy as to render certain characters completely unintelligible
amplified what was otherwise a tedious and frustrating affair.

The Good Body  Adrian Bohm

The Good Body is Eve Ensler’s follow up to her global smash The Vagina Monologues.  In a sense, it takes up where The
Vagina Monologues left off, tackling a different female body part … this time it’s ‘the stomach’.  Ensler examines what it means
to have a ‘good body’.  Creating awareness of the unhealthy female  bodily preoccupation is hardly new territory, however,
it is fresh in its delivery in this production.  Australian actress, Leah Purcell (recent films include: The Proposition, Somersault,
Lantana) does a sound job of delivering the monologue, almost good enough to forgive her for doing so with script in hand!

This sort of fundamental paranoid vanity initially strikes me as the stuff of a female Woody Allen.  Indeed, there is an ugly kind
of post-modern, self conscious humour in exposing the lengths to which people go to placate the ugly vain beast within.  
However, more often than not, this humour is forced.  The real affect is drawn out when Ensler lets her anger seep through
and we see the Woman baring her teeth behind a collagen-enhanced smile, which cannot conceal her seething anger.  The
bitterness and frustration which follows the failure of vain attempts at achieving the impossible levels of beauty and charm she
seems to accept as benchmarks.

Ensler takes us across the world and examines the different perspectives of bodily identity from women from Italy to Africa.  We
see the frustration of Isabella Rosellini, the ageing Italian model who claims she was fired from her position for wielding too
much power.  Fired for upsetting the balance in a female industry which is controlled by males at every turn.  We
also meet the woman who undergoes vaginal reconstruction surgery for the sake of her husband’s lagging libido but then
finds herself unexpectedly fatigued following his new-found passion for lovemaking.

In the end Ensler has succeeded in drawing us through her own dark seemingless hopeless passage of vanity into an
appreciation of the beauty of the body in all its forms.

Article and photographs by Toby Moritz

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *