Oh Fringe World!

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It’s the final week of Fringe World and I am having more fun than a hipster at Bogan Bingo. We had a great season of Not Much To Tell You at The Blue Room Theatre, and although I very much enjoyed the show run, it was a relief to wake up on the final morning and not have to wonder about ticket sales.

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After bumping out my final show, I needed to find a way to unwind after a week of shows. I left The Blue Room Theatre thinking, food? Eat everything in Northbridge? Or maybe collapse onto one of my friends? Then, we walked past robot busker guy, and I had my answer.

In my downtime after Not Much To Tell You finished, I have been soaking up everything Fringe has to offer. Most particularly, many shows by many very fine and talented artists. I’ve just come from Brian Finkelstein’s First Day Off In A Long Time, which was a masterful example of honest, vulnerable storytelling, and pretty damn brutal. I guess any story that takes place on a suicide hotline is going to be brutal. But Brian’s a master at keeping the tension just bearable – and he’s bloody funny.

Last night I caught the Lords of Luxury and had my biggest laughs so far this Fringe. These four suited-up gentlemen had me gripping my sides like an idiot. It turns out what I really like in my sketch comedy is absurdist pop culture references, deadpanning, and wigs (see: Slumber Party Time Travel).

Adam Peter Scott’s Book Fight was an education in Stephen King’s back catalogue. Ostensibly a game show where panel guests answer questions about books, it was really a competition to see who could bring the most snark. To my mind, the night’s winner was burlesque performer Sugar du Joure for her handling of Adam Peter Scott, who kept groping (word choice intentional) for jokes about her ample neckline. (Scott, staring: “My mind’s gone blank.” Sugar: “It’s always like that.”)

A sweetly absurd adventure through dystopia was She Was Probably Not A Robot. Delightful, silly, and shot through with an unexpected vein of poetry. Stuart Bowden had the audience on side from the start, and pulled us into his cartoonish, faintly threatening world with ease. I’m a heart-fan of dystopian storytelling anyway, but Bowden’s spandex antics won me over the rest of the way. Also, great beard.

Fringe World, you are the bomb.

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Three Strikes (Source: The Blue Room)

“Three Strikes could only happen in LA”, Feb 2012

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A review I wrote for Perth Now‘s coverage of Fringe World, as part of the Buzzcuts Perth program. Published in February 2012 on PerthNow.com.au.

Has Jay Leno ever handed you a steak sandwich? Well, it happened to Brian Finkelstein.

Three Strikes is the true story of ridiculous events from Brian’s life, focusing around the American Writers’ Strike of 2007. At the time of his third strike, Brian was a comedy writer for The Ellen DeGeneres Show in Los Angeles. He found himself walking in circles holding a picket sign for reasons he barely understood.

Three Strikes (Source: The Blue Room)

Brian’s style of delivering his story is at once coarse and endearing. You can’t help liking the guy. You might feel that maybe you shouldn’t like this guy, since he starts off the show by telling the audience to shove their mobile phones where the sun don’t shine. In the beginning, he paints himself as an apathetic slacker with no beliefs or values. However, as the story progresses, Brian teases out more of his past, and reveals key events that brought him to that writers’ picket line in LA. His growing disillusionment with the world has a universal ring to it.

It is a fascinating story, and not just because he met Jay Leno. Brian compares the American Writers’ Strike of 2007 to the Haymarket Massacre of 1886 (an anarchist violent protest over working hours), and he does so with piercingly funny wit.

This one-man show boasts a cleverly written script (by Brian himself), hilarious characterisations, and powerful use of the stage space. With a running time of 50 minutes, the story never overstays its welcome, and it is a brilliant addition to any night out.

The show takes place in the PICA performance space, which is perfectly located in the beautifully decorated cultural centre. Afterwards, you can wander up to the Urban Orchard to discuss Brian’s story over a beer.

Three Strikes finishes this Saturday, so be sure to book your tickets before this master of storytelling jets back to LA. This might be your last chance to see him perform – who knows when he’ll go on strike again?