WHEN Newcastle actors Bree Cunningham, Jan Hunt, Bronwyn Kanitz and Anissa Thomas put together and staged a comedy called Loser at last year’s Newcastle Fringe Festival they had no idea what winners they would be.
The show, which had several episodes looking at women who didn’t want to be seen as losers, had male and female audience members at its four sessions laughing loudly at the women’s efforts to be winners.
So they have teamed up again for the 2019 Newcastle Fringe Festival, presenting a comedy The Brides of March, which explores how weddings and love are often see through men’s and business operators’ eyes as being for sale.
It looks, among other things, at caterers, champagne usage, and lotharios such as Don Juan and Donald Trump.
The Brides of March will be presented at Hamilton’s Exchange Hotel nightly at 7.30pm from Wednesday, March 20, to Saturday, March 23.
Tickets, $20, can be bought from the festival’s website, newcastlefringe.com.au.
There are nine local shows among the 23 being presented at this year’s Newcastle Fringe Festival, which has a total of 57 performances at seven venues between March 20 and 24.
Four of the venues – the Royal Exchange, the Grand Hotel, The Lock-Up and Christ Church Cathedral – are in the CBD’s eastern end, and the other three – the WEA Creative Arts Space, the Exchange Hotel and Wesley Church – are in Hamilton’s Beaumont Street.
The other local shows include two at the Royal Exchange by renowned singer-comedian Clark Gormley – a revised version of his first one-man show, now called Further Up the Nerdsville Track (March 21, 22, 6pm), and Nerds & Music Play The Fringe (March 20, 6pm), performing with fellow nerd Wayne Thompson.
Stephanie Rochet and Janie Gibson are staging a newly developed work, The Plastic Beach, which has seven Hunter actors - Marissa Saroca, Flame Kimbell, Danielle Asquith, Matt Harper, Matt Heys, Roger Ly and Emma Graham – who escape their lives’ pains (or think they have) by winning places on a hyperreal plastic island, which they hope will be a holiday land.
It’s at The Lock-Up, nightly from March 21 to 24, at 7.30pm.
How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse, which has been an award-winning hit at global fringe festivals since its staging at the 2009 and 2010 Edinburgh Fringe Festivals, is being staged by Dark Stories, a group that takes people in Newcastle, Maitland and Sydney on tours of areas where major crimes occurred and stages crime-related shows.
Like most Dark Stories shows, this is directed by David Prickett and has performers interacting with audience members to determine who will survive the zombie apocalypse.
It is at the WEA Creative Arts Space, nightly from March 20 to 23 at 9pm.
The other fringe shows will include a return season of because there was fire, which premiered at the 2018 Fringe and won the Best New Production award.
Written by Adelaide’s Jamie Hornsby for Central Coast youth group Japuka Productions, and looking at two teenagers trekking around Australia, it has toured nationally, including to this year’s Adelaide Fringe, and will have its final staging at the WEA Creative Arts Space, nightly from March 22 to 24 at 7.30pm.
For more information on the festival visit newcastlefringe.com.au
Dogfight: The Musical. Newcastle Theatre Company, at the NTC Theatre, Lambton.
Ends March 23.
THE dogfight of the title is a practice that apparently was popular with many American soldiers heading off to the Vietnam war in the 1960s. On the night before they flew away they got together for a party, bringing with them a supposedly ugly woman they had met.
The man who brought what they decided was the ugliest woman won a monetary prize they had contributed to.
While that might sound like an unlikely subject for a musical, writing team Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (music and lyrics) and Peter Duchan (book), have made this an engaging story. And this production’s director, Adelle Richards, and her team certainly have watchers laughing and moved by the characters’ words and activities.
Shaun Young is a relatable Eddie Birdlace, who picks up Rose (Rachel Davies), a would-be singer who is a waitress in her mother’s diner. The pair work well together, with Davies voicing in the song Nothing Short of Wonderful, as she tries to choose the right dress for their get-together, her hopes that the outing will lead to further involvement.
The other cast members, including Drew Holmes who amusingly plays several very different roles, also contribute to making it engrossing.
* * * * * *
Hermit Crabs and Meteors. Bearfoot Theatre, at the Royal Exchange, Newcastle.
This charming new play, by 18-year-old Tyler Atcheson, continues the success of the Newcastle young actors company that staged it in developing new works.
A lot of amusing and intriguing words and actions were packed into its 50-minute running time, as Eugene (Harry Lyddiard), who lives alone in a beachside house, wakes up to find that a small glowing meteor has crashed through the roof and landed on his coffee table.
Neighbours, most of whom he has never met, come to find out what happened, with one, surly Mr Codsfish (Phil McGrath), blaming the meteor for the disappearance of his pet hermit crab. Watchers get to see a variety of different hermit crabs (but are they real?) and the meteor leads to unusual voices being heard.
McGrath and Allison Van Gaal, who was initially seen as a grim roof repairer, amusingly delivered those voices. And director Riley McLean also ensured that Annie McLoughlin’s young schoolgirl and Savannah Geddes’s eccentric woman were engaging.